This National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15), we celebrating by highlighting Latinx conservation leaders who inspire us!
Today we introduce you to Mirna Manteca, Mexico Program Road Ecology Coordinator at Wildlands Network. We asked her to share about how her conservation goals have shaped her career and about her experiences as a Latina working in conservation.
I’m Mexico Program Road Ecology Coordinator for Wildlands Network based in Cananea, Sonora, Mexico. I lead the road ecology projects in Sonora, working in research, management, and communications in conjunction with NGOs and government agencies to advocate for the establishment of appropriate mitigation structures in our highways and reconnect our landscapes and wildlife. I’m co-chair of the Latin American and Caribbean Transport Working Group of the IUCN’s Connectivity Conservation Specialist Group, and co-founder and co-director of the Asociación Mujeres y Conservación, a volunteer initiative that aims to empower, highlight, and support women conservationists in Latin America. In my day-to-day work, I try to foster local leadership, whether it be a senior road engineer or a young biology student, I believe there is much power in local community-led conservation.
I feel proud to be a Hispanic conservationist! I’m often asked if I feel afraid or unsafe working and living on the Mexico side of the borderlands, and the truth is the only time I have feared for my safety was during bitter experiences with the Border Patrol on the US side. I might have been a professional conservation scientist doing my job, but I was still judged by my nationality and my color.
In spite of the overwhelming conservation and environmental justice issues all over the world, there is a quote that never ceases to inspire me from Berta Cáceres, a Honduran environmental activist and indigenous leader murdered in 2016: “Juntémonos y sigamos con esperanza defendiendo y cuidando la sangre de la tierra y los espíritus.”
Stay tuned for more profiles on Latinx in conservation! In case you missed it, check out our last highlight of Mayor Regina Romero.