Monique Byro is a Panamanian-Jamaican first generation naturalist from Miami, Florida who advocates for diversity in the outdoors regularly through her work. With multiple degrees from the University of Florida, she specializes in community engagement and volunteerism in the National Park Service while emphasizing inclusion outdoors.
Monique entered the field of conservation as a community outreach and engagement intern with the Latino Heritage Internship Program at Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park. There, she immediately noticed a void in the field for people of color and people of diverse backgrounds. She capitalized and built upon this void to spearhead the first Latino Conservation Week events in the state of South Carolina, collaborating with county and state partners. In the midst of this project, she compiled data on inclusivity and marginalized spaces, including a methodology for improvement that was later presented at the Department of the Interior.
Monique served as a Community Volunteer Ambassador through the Americorps VISTA program where her work directly influenced structural frameworks of National Park Service volunteer programs, supporting over 20 NPS sites and creating opportunities for diverseaudiences to become engaged in parks and stewardship. She has created foundational documents for programming at multiple sites. During this period, she also acted as a member of the National Park Service southeast region’s volunteer program advisory board.
Monique recently served as a Volunteer Coordinator and Park Ranger at Mount Rainier National Park. There, she built partnerships with groups like Latino Outdoors and focused on creating opportunities for underserved communities of the greater Seattle area to enjoy the park’s natural and cultural resources through projects such as meadow restoration, bat monitoring, and more. She was honored to represent the park and the LGBTQA+ community by walking in the Seattle Pride Parade in uniform. She represented the park with the understanding that, historically, the communities of which she belongs to have not been represented and that visibility is the first step towards making individuals feel safe in spaces that are strange to them (like volcanos and glaciers, who knew?).
Monique thrives through sharing her passion for the outdoors with folks who haven’t had the opportunity to enjoy outside comfortably. Through her work, she has been able to enjoy caving, backpacking, snowshoeing, and other activities - experiences that were inaccessible before taking on these roles. Although these experiences challenge her, she continues to lean into them more and more.
Monique’s hope for serving as a member on NPCA’s Next Gen Advisory Council is to continue showing people that there’s no single way to enjoy the outdoors, and there’s no one look you need to have to fit into the field. She aspires to make the outdoors accesible to a variety of audiences, and she hopes to lead in stewardship and conservation with every step she takes in her career.