At the Up on Top after-school and summer program in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, leaders talk about “planting a seed” of inspiration for their youth. For Marquis Engle, the seed planted with the Conservancy has blossomed into a full-blown love of the parks.
Marquis, the Program Director at Up on Top, saw the ocean for the first time at a Muir Beach meeting of the Mo’MAGIC collective of nonprofits and youth-serving organizations. Since then, Conservancy shuttles have taken Up on Top youth to Muir Woods, the Golden Gate Bridge, and beyond.
“Everything slows down for you when you’re there,” Marquis said of the parks. “You can go as fast as you want to go, not as fast as the city is telling you.”
The Conservancy and our partners at the National Park Service and Presidio Trust continually create bridges for people to discover national parks. In the fall of 2018, the Parks Conservancy and its partners offered shuttles to Crissy Field Day, a celebration of the beloved park’s past and future. Our Roving Ranger truck is cruising into its sixth year of bringing park rangers and information to community festivals, schools, and beyond. And in conjunction with the San Francisco Public Library’s Summer Stride program, we offered nine free shuttle trips from libraries to parks in 2018.
Ranger Fatima Colindres has a story to tell about community engagement. Video
For Ranger Fatima Colindres, the shuttles are key to engaging even more community groups, like Clinica Esperanza and Hamilton Families. The former is a program of the Mission Neighborhood Health Clinic offering support to HIV patients and families, the latter aides Bay Area homeless families.
Ranger Fatima, who came to the United States from El Salvador at age 6, tries to create park joy in others because of her own experiences.
“When I met my first park ranger right here in the GGNRA (in high school), it gave me a dream and now I’m living my dream,” Ranger Fatima said. “So I want to be able to provide that same hope and that same dream for those family members coming out to the park for the very first time, so they can see themselves here in the future, whether it’s just enjoying the parklands or working here like we do, because this place belongs to them. And they belong here.”
Marquis is one of those people who felt like he belonged, needing only one connection to fall in love with parks. And the Parks Conservancy and our partners are working to create thousands more connections every year.