News Detail

DOI Educational Partnerships Program: DOI D.C. Area Employees Participate in Hispanic Heritage Month Observance Activities

Bureau: Department of the Interior

  NPS employees posing for a photo inside a school

Department of the Interior representatives on Sept. 18 gather for a photo at the Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy, Parkside High School Campus, in Washington, D.C. From left, National Park Service employees David Vela, Margie Ortiz, and Joann Garcia served as guest speakers during school's Hispanic Heritage Month Annual College and Career Awareness Day program.
Photo by Brenda Woods, DOI.

  DOI employee and others speaking to students in a classroom. 
  At far right, Francisco Carrillo, Interior Office of the Secretary, speaks to students at the Capitol Hill campus of Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy during the school's Hispanic Heritage Month Annual College and Career Awareness Day program on Sept. 25, 2013. Photo by Ashlee Lawson.
   DOI employee reading to students in a classroom.
  Sabrina McCarthy, Division of Indian Affairs, Office of the Solicitor, on Sept. 27 reads to students at Ross Elementary School, a public elementary school in Washington, D.C. Photo by Dee Gass.

On Sept. 18 and Sept. 25, representatives from the Department of the Interior in observance of Hispanic Heritage Month served as guest speakers at Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy Annual College and Career Awareness Day programs that featured Latino professionals. Also, on Sept. 27 a Department of the Interior representative served as a guest reader at Ross Elementary School.

Department representatives participating in the College and Career Awareness Day Program at Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy shared their college experience and career path with high school students.  The volunteers included Francisco Carrillo, director of Latino Affairs and deputy director of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, Immediate Office of the Secretary; David Vela, associate director, Workforce, Relevancy and Inclusion, National Park Service; Margie Ortiz, interpretive specialist, NPS; and JoAnn Garcia, park ranger, National Mall and Memorial Parks, NPS.

The employees reflected on their participation in the Annual College and Career Awareness Day Program:

"The students asked engaging questions, and it provided us with an opportunity to make the National Park Service relevant in their young lives, Vela said. "This experience was also personal for me as I was their age when my parents took us to a rally where Cesar Chavez spoke in the early 1970's.  To engage current generations in a school that bears his name was a true pleasure and rewarding experience. 

Garcia added, “We all shared a different part of ourselves with those kids. I can only hope that perhaps something I said or talked made it a whole.  Martin Luther King Jr. once said, 'Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.'"

Sabrina McCarthy, attorney, Division of Indian Affairs, Office of the Solicitor, read to third-grade students at Ross Elementary School a book titled, "Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez," by author Kathleen Krull. The book is about the life of civil rights leader Cesar Chavez. Chavez was the founder of the National Farm Workers Association and champion of migrant workers.     

"The students were remarkably knowledgeable about Spanish words and eager to draw comparisons between Cesar Chavez's life and their own experiences," McCarthy said. "They related Cesar Chavez's work to the work of Martin Luther King Jr. and to the work of President Obama."

Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy operates four campuses in Washington, D.C., and serve students from sixth through 12th grade.   The mission of the school is to prepare students for college and to empower them to use public policy as an avenue to create a just society. Ross Elementary School is a public elementary school that serves students from pre-school through fifth grade.

For additional information about the Educational Partnerships Program and volunteer opportunities, contact Brenda Woods, program manager, at 202-208-3617 or via e-mail

By: Brenda Woods, program manager, Educational Partnerships Program, OS
Nov. 20, 2013