The ‘Wetland Wanderer,’ celebrates outdoors career, Hispanic Heritage Month

When Lucia Ibarra was growing up in Las Mochis, Mexico, near the Gulf of California, she felt most at home running barefoot, climbing trees, playing in the ocean, and laughing with the sheep and horses on her mother’s ranch.

“Since I was a kid I loved nature. My culture was humans and animals. But I felt like we were all connected and everything had a domino effect,” said Ibarra, who has lived in Asheville, NC for nearly three years.

“When something happened to a living being, something else was affected. It was a chain of changes. I couldn’t put it in words when I was a kid, but I decided to be a wildlife biologist to understand wildlife, habitat management and these ecosystems, and how they were linked.”

The wonder-filled, little girl running wild still shines in Ibarra’s eyes as an effervescent, free-ranging adult, whether she’s engaging with communities to discuss environmental injustice or paddling the Southeastern swamps and bumping into alligators as the “Wetland Wanderer.”

Ibarra is the program outreach manager for Dogwood Alliance, an Asheville-based nonprofit that works to protect Southern forests from industrial logging and works in the intersection of community justice and climate change. During Hispanic Heritage Month, Ibarra said she is proud to be a Hispanic woman in the environmental field, where there are few Latinos.

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