Posts Tagged ‘Fabiola Lao’

Welcome to LA: Introducing Fabiola Lao

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

This is Michael Carroll once again, and I’m delighted to introduce you to one of the two Wild Forever Future Fellows.

We’re so excited to have Fabiolo and Desmond Johns as our inaugural fellows. They’ll be spending a year at The Wilderness Society working on campaigns in California and Arizona. Our goal is to help them find their footing in the land protection world and hopefully carve out a career path as a land protection campaigner.

You’ll be hearing from them over the course of their fellowship and what it’s like to take that first step in land protection work.

Here’s Fabiola.

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Greetings from Los Angeles!

Yes, you read that right! You’re probably wondering why someone from The Wilderness Society is blogging from Los Angeles, of all places. To most people, Los Angeles is equivalent to Hollywood and its celebrities, and if one is to think of the outdoors, the beach is most likely the first thing that comes to mind. But there’s so much more to the town and region that I call home.

One of the nation’s biggest national parks, the Angeles National Forest, is my region’s private “backyard,” with beautiful vistas and clear and refreshing rivers. It is home to the San Gabriel Mountains, which has wilderness areas, but as we know, there are always more public lands that need to be protected. And this is where I come in.

My name is Fabiola Lao and I’m The Wilderness Society’s Public Lands Fellow. I’m the inaugural fellow of the Wild Forever Future Fellowship program, and for that I’m incredibly honored and excited. I recently earned my Master of Public Administration degree at University of South California, with an emphasis in environmental management and policy. Before graduate school I worked for almost three years developing policy advocacy campaigns for environmental health and justice non-profit organizations in California. I am a fluent Spanish speaker and writer, a skill that came in very handy when I worked with various Latino communities that were disproportionately impacted by pollution and faced a myriad of environmental justice issues.

Towards the end of graduate school I realized that I wanted to learn more about other areas of the environmental sector. I wanted to expand my professional knowledge base and learn new skills. In my personal live I’m very passionate about conserving, protecting, and respecting our natural resources and wildlife, so I contemplated the idea of searching for a job at an organization that focuses on conservation issues. However, I was a bit reluctant to even start my job search because for one, I didn’t have any experience working on conservation issues. Secondly, I knew that shifting gears from working on environmental justice issues to conservation ones was going to be an interesting adjustment. My reluctance didn’t last long because a few days after I had this fleeting thought about changing fields, a friend sent me the job description for my fellowship position. I knew it was a sign and I didn’t hesitate to apply.

It has now been a few months after the initial interview and three weeks into my fellowship. I have been learning so much already and have met new colleagues who I’m really looking forward to working with during my fellowship. I will be working on the San Gabriel Mountains Forever campaign, which is spearheaded by a broad coalition of non-profit organizations, community, and conservation groups who have come together to protect wilderness, and wild and scenic rivers in the San Gabriel Mountains.

A main goal of the fellowship is to recruit and develop the next generation of conservation and public lands leaders. As the first fellow of TWS’s Wild Forever Future Fellowship, I am very excited and honored to be given this amazing opportunity. I am really looking forward to gaining a comprehensive understanding of public lands conservation campaigns, and most importantly to me on a personal level, for the opportunity to share my passion for the environment and our public lands with the Latino community in the San Gabriel Valley. As a Latina and an environmentalist, being able to engage more Latinos in the conservation movement, a movement that we have historically rarely participated in, is both humbling and empowering.