FINS Corner is a regularly occurring feature that highlight news, events and what’s-happenings from the staff at Fire Island National Seashore.
Roxana Saravia grew up in Huntington Station and explored South Shore beaches as a teenager. She knew she loved Long Island but knew little about Fire Island until starting an internship as Fire Island National Seashore’s Latino Heritage Intern.
Roxana has been working to connect the Latino community on Long Island with Fire Island National Seashore, and reflects on her experience during Hispanic Heritage Month.
Q: Why do you think the National Park Service Latino Heritage Internship Program is important?
A: I think the Latino Heritage Internship Program (LHIP) is important because it provides young Latinos with the opportunity to gain experience in the National Park Service. The Latino population makes up nearly 20% of the nation’s population, but they don’t visit National Parks frequently.
LHIP interns are working toward getting the Latino community involved and can serve as important role models. I enjoy working with school groups and feel like it’s important for young children to see someone representing them at a place like Fire Island National Seashore.
Q: How do you celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month?
A: Hispanic Heritage month (September 15 to October 15) is a time to celebrate our culture and to recognize the contributions of our ancestors who came from Central America, South America, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Spain.
My family and I celebrate the anniversary of Independence for El Salvador every Sept. 15. There are several parades on Long Island since many Central American countries celebrate their independence during September.
Q: How have you been working to connect the Latino community to Fire Island National Seashore?
A: I have translated program materials so we can make information about programs available in Spanish. In July, I developed a bilingual social media campaign to help celebrate Latino Conservation Week which generated a positive response. I have also connected with the Latino community at special events like Alive After Five in Patchogue and at visitor centers on Fire Island.
Q: How can the Latino community connect with the national seashore in their backyard?
A: People can explore the beautiful beaches on Fire Island, join park rangers for family programs, and kids can become junior rangers. People can also pitch in by volunteering at several different locations.
There is more information on what’s going on at www.nps.gov/FIIS.
Photo: Roxana Saravia works the FINS information table at Blue Point Brewery in Patchogue. (courtesy/ Fire Island National Seashore)