By Canopy Team on April 30, 2021
Juanita is Canopy’s new Youth Program Coordinator. She is a native of East Palo Alto with a B.A. in Chicano/a Studies from the University of California at Berkeley and is excited to use her 5 years of youth engagement and curriculum experience to inspire the teens she’ll be working with to embrace the importance of trees.
We asked Juanita a few questions to get to know her better:
Juanita: I am a native from the Bay Area, born and raised in East Palo Alto. Like many other residents of EPA, I became aware early on in life of the great differences that existed between East Palo Alto and Palo Alto even though both cities are merely separated by a simple freeway. Having attended elementary-middle school in Palo Alto, the moment one crossed that ramp, it was inevitable not to recognize the differences that existed between neighboring cities. As a result, my upbringing inspired me to work with youth and major in Chicana/o Studies. After graduating from college, I took some time to reset and traveled to South America and Mexico. I have worked with youth in various non-profit organizations for the past five years, implementing curriculum, engaging with, and finding new ways to inspire the youth and their families.
Juanita: I am the Youth Programs Coordinator and help oversee the TUF Program.
Juanita: Trees are important because, in addition to providing a healthy environment, they serve as a form of dialogue to explore the inequalities and disparities that continue to exist in the bay area. With the pandemic, schools and organizations have resorted to outdoor avenues, helping start the conversation of reimagining school and work places, but most importantly realizing the importance of trees. I care about trees because trees remind me of my roots and where I come from. We normally only see the trunk of the trees and the branches, but rarely see the roots. The roots hold the power to serve as a reminder of who you are, where you come from and where you want to go or become.
Juanita: As a native of East Palo Alto and holding a B.A. in Chicana/o Studies, I am excited to bring an intersectional and cultural approach to the program. I seek to find new ways to motivate the youth in wanting to learn about the importance of trees, to build an environment in which we can address certain challenges, to question why certain cities or places have a bigger or smaller urban forest, and in addition to finding ways to involve the community in our tree planting events. As a personal goal, I also hope to learn a lot about trees!
Juanita: The Giant Sequoia tree. Apart from being one of the oldest trees in the world, they are resistant to many things.
Juanita: “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
Juanita: I enjoy hiking, reading, traveling, experiencing new cultures and food.
Juanita: One of my personal mottos I live by is “Vive Con Ganas,” the literal translation is “Live with Desire.” With everything that I do, I constantly remind myself of why I do the things that I do, which then helps me give my all in everything that I do. This is exactly what I aspire to bring to the program and the TUFs. I am excited to learn and grow with Canopy!