When graduate student Jazmin Castillo came to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, she noticed a lack of community for Latin American students interested in natural resources, so she decided to make her own.
Castillo founded Latins for Natural Resources during the 2018-19 school year as a way to educate people on outdoor recreation, Latin American culture and how these two areas intersect. The club meets on Mondays from 3-4 p.m. in Hardin Hall Room 228.
Castillo, also the club’s president, said most natural resource sciences students grew up hunting and fishing, which is a background she does not have. This lack of experience motivated her to give students like her a space to feel welcome.
“It was hard to ask questions surrounded by those people,” Castillo said. “There also weren’t many Lantinx students in my major, so I asked myself how I could get outdoors and create a community for Latinx students.”
Aspen Schoenrock, a sophomore biological systems engineering major, said she has been a member of Latins for Natural Resources since last year and is currently the club’s treasurer.
Schoenrock said she comes from a rural town where people spend a lot of time outdoors and she hopes that, through the club, she can show other people how fun the outdoors can be.
“I come from a small town in Kansas,” Schoenrock said. “That’s why I was eager to join the club and eager to spread the word about experiencing nature as a whole.”
Castillo said the group is currently focusing on recruiting members and becoming better known on campus. She said club meetings are open to anyone, mostly focus on information about outdoor recreational activities and often have themes.
“In the past, we’ve had meetings about backpacking and birding and how to get into those kinds of outdoor hobbies,” she said. “This semester, we’re going to be having a meeting about hunting, and hopefully we can get a speaker from Nebraska Game and Parks.”
According to Schoenrock, the group’s first big event, the Latino American Pop-up, was scheduled for October but is moving to the spring semester. She said the event will focus on different types of Latin American cultures and how natural resources have shaped those cultures. For the event, the club will team up with other groups on campus, such as the Office of Academic Success and Intercultural Services, to ensure that all cultures are represented accurately, Schoenrock said.
Castillo said more details about the event will be available on the Latins for Natural Resources NvolveU page soon.
Both Castillo and Schoenrock said the club isn’t exclusive to Latin American students, but focuses specifically on how natural resources impact Latin American culture.
“I think the club is a really good opportunity to meet people who love the outdoors, even if you’re not Latino,” Schoenrock said. “When I was joining, that was a fear that I had, but Jazmin is very accepting of all people interested in the club.”
Castillo said she noticed that there wasn’t a group at UNL encompassing all Latin American students, which is why she included the word “Latin” in the club’s name.
“We want to show people that not all students in the Latinx community are Mexican,” she said. “Each culture is unique and deserves to be showcased.”