Experiencing Awe in the Redwoods and the Rainforest

Deborah Zierten, Education & Interpretation Manager, in the Ecuadorian rainforest.
Deborah Zierten, Education & Interpretation Manager, in the Ecuadorian rainforest.

Over a decade ago, I had the amazing opportunity to live in Ecuador and immerse myself in the culture and beauty of this Latin country. My primary goal, besides beefing up my Spanish, was to learn, experience, and have that once in a life-time opportunity to be in la selva, the rainforest. I knew at a young age that biology and the natural world were passions of mine, so visiting one of the most iconic forests on the planet was high on my list.

Here in the United States, learning about the Amazon rainforest seems to be a key component in a child’s education. La pulmonas del mundo, you learn, it gives us and all of the animals that live in these forests — monkeys, pumas, anacondas and more — the oxygen we all need to breathe.

Nothing prepared me for my first canoe ride down the Río Cuyabeno into the flooded forest of the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve. The tree diversity, amazing bright greens and birds flying by, simply took my breath away. This is a memory I hold with me to this day. This forest, an important natural treasure for the country, is unfortunately visited by more tourists than Ecuadorians. Part of that is due to access, financial resources and the fear of the unknown or what might be there.

Experiencing the redwoods is astonishing, amazing and overwhelming.
Experiencing the redwoods is astonishing, amazing and overwhelming.

When one of my Ecuadorian friends, who works in la selva, came to visit me here in California, the one place he wanted to visit was our iconic forest, the redwoods. He had heard so much about them, seen many pictures and was ready to experience the tallest trees in the world. When he finally encountered these beauties, el se acostó en la tierra y miró por arriba. Looking up at these trees was the only proper way to take them all in. For him, visiting the redwoods was similar to my experience visiting the rainforest — it was astonishing, amazing and overwhelming all at once.

Similar to the rainforests of Ecuador, our redwood forests are often visited more by tourists than by young people in California. Some of the same barriers exist as well, such as access to these forests and the fear of spending time in an unknown place.

Tomorrow kicks off Latino Conservation Week (external link) and the League is proud to support an event to send 20 young Latino adults from Los Angeles to Sequoia National Park. They will collect scientific data on sequoias, hike the Giant Forest and learn about stewardship. This is just one example of how we work to eliminate those barriers through the League’s education and outreach programs and make sure that todos tienen an oportunidad a visitar las sequoias!

Tags: , , ,

About Deborah Zierten


Deborah joined the League's staff in 2013 as the Education & Interpretation Manager. She brings with her extensive experience teaching science, developing curriculum and connecting kids to the natural world.

How to Find Awesome Dog-Friendly Redwood Hikes


For many of us, dogs are treated less like pets and more like family. It only feels natural to bring our dogs—with their cute, wagging tails and unbounded enthusiasm—along with us as we explore the redwoods this summer. If you need suggestions on where to go, consider these delightful and dog-friendly redwood hikes.

José González Promotes Discovery in the Outdoors


Outdoor adventure is often characterized as a highly idiosyncratic pursuit, one that engages a single individual with the challenges of nature. That’s all well and good, but José González, the founding Executive Director of Latino Outdoors, promotes another perspective: connecting communities and families with the power and beauty of the planet’s wild places.

Leave a Reply

Join our newsletter

Get the latest redwood updates in your inbox
   Please leave this field empty