Bringing redwoods science into everyday conversations

New League Councilor Jorge Ramos is a climate scientist focused on communication and community

Jorge Ramos, League Councilor
Jorge Ramos, a new Councilor for Save the Redwoods League, aims to expand young people's understanding of carbon cycling and sequestration in ecosystems.

For many people in 2020, the pandemic prompted withdrawal to indoor spaces. But for League Councilor Jorge Ramos, it presented an opportunity to explore the coast redwood and giant sequoia forests he had never seen firsthand.

Ramos has a Ph.D. in ecosystem ecology with a focus on carbon cycling and has expanded this work to include science education and climate communications. But none of this work brought him to the tall trees until his appointment in late 2019 as associate director for environmental education at the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve of Stanford University.

“It’s one of those things when you come to California, people come up to you and tell you that you have to go to Yosemite, Sequoia, and Humboldt,” Ramos recalls. “I realized pretty fast that I needed to explore all of those places.”

When the COVID shelter-in-place restrictions eased in the middle of the year, but remote learning continued, Ramos realized that he could hit the road while continuing to teach virtually. His tour of the redwoods took him to Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park, Sequoia National Park, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Redwood National Park, and everything in between.

While the experience was inspiring, Ramos said it was also a little bittersweet, as he was unable to travel with family or friends or share it with others due to the limitations brought by COVID-19.

For Ramos, sharing the wonders of nature is an important theme in everything he does, but his perspective is a little different than others’.

“There are a lot of great groups like Latino Outdoors and Outdoor Afro that focus getting people outdoors, particularly people who haven’t had those kinds of opportunities in the past,” he says. “My goal is to add this component of science and conservation, to invite these groups into an understanding of how these ecosystems function.”

The climate scientist in Ramos is particularly interested in the growing understanding of carbon cycling and sequestration in ecosystems among young people who will have a lifelong stake in the changing environment.

“Younger people are already thinking about the climate and carbon storage,” he acknowledges. “We shouldn’t underestimate the amount of knowledge young people can acquire on a hike.”

Since joining the League Council in early 2021, Ramos has already brought this perspective to the organization’s diversity and engagement efforts.

“I was excited to join the League, learn more about these unique forest ecosystems, and get involved,” he says. “I look forward to working with the members of the League so we can all continue to protect and restore these forests through authentic and inclusive connections with the public.”

About the author

Garrison Frost is the League's former Director of Communications.

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