Meet Latino Outdoors' Anahí Naranjo

Anahí explores Mount Rainier National Park in Washington State. Photo: Anahí Naranjo


This article appears in the winter 2021 issue of The Urban Audubon.

By Kellye Rosenheim

NYC Audubon has been forming partnerships to spread the love of birds as widely as possible. A recent, successful collaboration has been with Latino Outdoors, a national organization with chapters across the U.S., including one here in New York City. Its mission statement reads, “We inspire, connect, and engage Latino communities in the outdoors and embrace cultura y familia as part of the outdoor narrative, ensuring our history, heritage, and leadership are valued and represented.” Kellye Rosenheim spoke to Anahí Naranjo, outdoor activity leader for Latino Outdoors, about her organization.

Thank you so much for talking with me. Tell me, if you would, about Latino Outdoors and your involvement.

Latino Outdoors focuses on the Latinx community, but anyone and everyone is welcome. I was born in Quito, Ecuador, and have lived in New York City since I was seven years old.

My favorite activities are walking, hiking, birding, and wildlife watching. Honestly, I could be happy just sitting under a tree with a book. I got involved with Latino Outdoors in 2017, soon after I graduated college and as our local chapter was getting started. I love the outdoors, and I just wanted to have my community with me. It’s been incredible. My fellow leaders are just as passionate about having a good time outdoors. We have all kinds of outings: hikes of different experience levels, a kayaking trip, fishing, birding events with NYC Audubon, journaling in a garden. It’s such a beautiful community.

I notice in your Twitter feed an emphasis on access to nature for all people.

We are very much concerned with the barriers to nature, especially to the BIPOC communities, which are issues that people may not be aware of. Transportation, for example: There are people who would like to see Bear Mountain or the Delaware Water Gap or even places in Westchester, but there is no public transportation.

Another big issue is the lack of representation in the outdoors. That narrative is starting to change. When I was in college, the folks I saw were often white, often male; it is intimidating. I also looked at these expensive boots and fancy gear and wondered, “Is this for me? I don’t see anyone else here who looks like me.” I did feel alienated. And that’s what we really try to tackle. We try to be beginner-friendly; anyone and everyone is welcome, and all our events are free. The Nature Conservancy in New York has been a great partner, helping with transportation. We also rely on public transportation, and one way to make people feel more comfortable is to meet at the subway station and walk together to our event.

We also focus on giving people skills to do things on their own. For example, we have an Instagram Live that shows how to pack a backpack. We try to use everything in our toolkit to reduce those barriers. And we always make sure that the values of inclusion and equity are respected.

I would imagine the pandemic has had quite an effect on your activities.

Since we could not do any outings, we had to rely on virtual programming, and our first event was Birding 101 with you guys. We had people from all over the country joining and they learned something about New York City—that there is nature here. Virtual has allowed us to be even more inclusive.

As with everything, there have been highlights and challenges. I’m very grateful that we can have in-person outings again. We want to have food at each outing, but how do we do this safely? Our communities are struggling, and with funds from National Latino Outdoors we might hand out a sandwich or a wrap at the end of a hike. Being able to sit down and have a sandwich with someone has really helped us build communities during the pandemic.

Your website home page has a section called Recreate Responsibly. There’s some great stuff in there.

Everyone should check out It’s part of a broader campaign involving different organizations and has six bullet points to follow. Latino Outdoors had a major role in its creation. It’s basically how to treat the outdoors and each other with respect.

When we learned about the Christian Cooper incident in Central Park, it hit our community members hard. Here’s this Black man, enjoying the outdoors and confronted by a white woman. Since we are trying to get people of color outdoors, it made us question our position. Mostly, we wanted to send a statement that we condemn such incidents and support individuals who want to experience the outdoors with us. Letting people who have always been there, be there. We renewed our purpose to bring more BIPOC people into visibility.

On an individual level, I remember the times I’ve been “othered” in the outdoors—when someone looked at me weird or someone made a weird comment to me while on a hike—so it was shocking, but not shocking. I felt so much for Christian and his community. He responded so gracefully, but it brings up things for communities of color, fears that it could have been much worse than it was. I have so much respect for the advocacy he’s done and continues to do.

Besides NYC Audubon, do you partner with other organizations?

This list is very long. As I said, the Nature Conservancy in New York has been amazing; we’ve partnered with the American Littoral Society; and I’ve advertised events at the community center where I used to work. We want to break down the dichotomy of nature and non-nature organizations and try to appeal to everyone. And we very much want to continue the partnership with New York City Audubon—we’re very excited about that.

Learn more about Latino Outdoors at

A spring 2021 walk co-led by former NYC Audubon Board Member Kellie Quiñones and Latino Outdoors leaders Anahí Naranjo and Sofia Sainz © Latino Outdoors NYC