Spotlight on: Gabriel Otero
In our first profile, we spotlight Gabriel Otero, Colorado Plateau representative at The Wilderness Society and a Next 100 Colorado coalition member since summer 2019.
How does your job help make Colorado’s outdoor spaces more diverse, equitable, and inclusive?
I focus on making outdoor spaces more diverse, equitable and inclusive by working with historically unrepresented and disenfranchised communities. Public lands belong to all of us, so making sure all members of our communities are welcome and their voices are heard in the management of our public lands is the right thing to do. The Wilderness Society has made a commitment to equity and access to public lands for everyone. On the ground, this means providing leadership and opportunity for the communities we work in. It also means meaningful engagement and relationship building. The work comes in many forms, including hikes, educational events to discuss local and national policy, comment writing workshops, meeting with elected officials, film screenings, etc. It’s really about meeting people where they are and recognizing that because of systemic inequity they haven’t had a seat at the table. It is most important to listen and respond to and work side by side with unrepresented communities, and in turn elevate their voices.
How has Next 100 Colorado changed the way you approach your work?
Next 100 Colorado hasn’t changed the way I approach my work, but it does align with it. I’m a Chicano and come from a family of activists so I was taught about the inequalities in our country from an early age. Next 100 Colorado’s mission of addressing equitable access to public lands is great and I hope leaders in our state continue to support this work.
What is your favorite outdoor spot in Colorado?
It’s hard to pick a favorite spot, because there are so many good ones depending on what recreation activity you like to do. Overall, I really enjoy spending time with my family anywhere on the Grand Mesa.
What is your favorite outdoor activity?
Hunting, fishing and hiking are tied as my favorites.
Who inspired your career in conservation/the outdoors?
My inspiration comes from God, in the sense that we all have a responsibility to be good stewards of the land we are blessed with so that future generations can enjoy it too.