Inspiring stewardship with the Latino Community

The North Carolina Coastal Federation teamed up with Mano al Hermano, a community-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower Latino families through education and positive integration programs. With grant funding support from the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership, the federation supported Mano al Hermano’s summer literacy program this year. This reading program involves Latino students from kindergarten through fifth grade. An adult volunteer visits the students’ home once a week throughout the summer, reading together and completing a follow-up activity. With the federation’s participation in the program, the three books the students worked through all had a coastal learning theme.

Throughout the summer AmeriCorps member, Amanda Miller, has been reading with and providing activities for a first and fifth-grade students in Manteo. Every week they learned new things about estuaries, oysters, oceans, and salt marshes. “I most enjoyed relating educational activities with the readings from each book and with the federation’s work. Though I was there to teach the students, they also taught me, I learned several new Spanish words,” said Amanda.

All these lessons were building up to a field trip for the students participating in the summer literacy program to visit Jockey’s Ridge State Park and explore the federation’s living shoreline project. At the park the students participated in various interactive elements, to tie together everything they’ve been reading. Thanks to our project partners from the North Carolina Aquariums and Tyrrell County Soil and Water district, the students learned about watersheds, our water planet and the importance of native species. Along the living shoreline, federation staff engaged the students with seining expeditions and marsh grass plantings.

Kay Minis who oversees the summer reading program shared, “The children had a wonderful time and will be talking about their experiences for days to come.  We were all so impressed with the variety of activities and knowledge you all shared with us.”

The federation’s education intern, Daniel Salazar helped initiate and coordinate this collaboration. He also has been working with Juntos, a group that supports high school aged Latino students and their families. The Juntos students were volunteers for the field day, traveling from Columbia in order to help out and serve as role models for the elementary students.

After much anticipation about 60 students and their families arrived for the field trip eager and excited and left with smiles of satisfaction and joy on their faces. “Thanks to you, our children are much more aware of all that surrounds them here on the Outer Banks,” added Kay.