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Nuestro Desierto program allows valley residents to earn California Naturalist Certification

This summer, valley residents can earn a California Naturalist Certification and college credit through UC Davis by participating in the Nuestro Desierto program.

Colin Barrows, the co-founder of the Cactus to Cloud Institute, says that the program is especially beneficial to those who are interested pursuing a career in the environmental field.

 “It's a great way to get a few general education credits under your belt, learn a little bit about our local desert and tie things back together there. Also, if you're out of school and you may be in a job where you want to have that certification and improve your job skills. That's an option too," said Barrows.

 The aim of the program, which was created by the Cactus to Cloud Institute and the Council of Mexican Federations (COFEM) in Coachella, is to teach participants about the natural history of the valley and how they can become environmental stewards for their community. 

“Stewardship is kind of like a state of mind. It's something you're always building towards, right? Nobody's perfect. We're all learning as we go." Barrows said.

This year’s Nuestro Desierto cohort will meet twice a month in-class and in nature to learn more about the desert ecosystem, scientific program-solving, communications training and community service from June until August. 

This certification program, which typically costs over $300.00, is free of cost due to funding from the Outdoor Equity Grants Program, through the California State Parks Office of Grants and Local Services. 

Applications are open to all but preference may be given to young adults from low-income or mixed-immigration households in the City of Coachella. 

“We also have to recognize that it's not the same for everybody. Not everybody has those opportunities and not everybody is talking to the the folks who may be of immigrant status, or first generation who have come to the Coachella Valley who call this place their home, but nobody's talked to them about these opportunities," said Barrows.

The next Nuestro Desierto information session will be held on May 20. from 10 a.m. to 11a.m. at the Coachella Library. 

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Tatum Larsen


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