LEAVENWORTH — The second annual Latino Community Day last month drew 75 visitors, 40% of whom had never been to Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery (NFH) before. “We met our goal!” said Elisa Lopez, project director for Team Naturaleza, the group that organized the event this year.

Team Naturaleza is a group of agencies, organizations and individuals working to invite all our neighbors into the outdoors. A large percentage of Wenatchee’s population identifies as Latino. Many of our newer residents are unfamiliar with how to access trails and parks in the area — and Leavenworth NFH is a de facto park.

We aim to welcome our whole community to the hatchery.

Last year, I assigned Jonathan Blackmon to start a new event to welcome local Latinos to the site. Jonathan, a recent graduate of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee and a fluent speaker of Spanish, came to Leavenworth on a summer fellowship program. He pulled together the first Latino Community Day in just five weeks, laying the foundation for the event to continue. This year, Elisa partnered with Emily Richardson, an AmeriCorps intern for the hatchery, to put on the event.

Dan’s Food Market has been a great supporter from the beginning, donating plates, utensils, cups, cookies, ice, and drinks both last year and this year. Ariana’s Bakery supplied delicious cake, and Tropical Salvadorean Restaurant offered a significant discount for pupusas, a popular Salvadoran food.

Visitors received free raffle tickets to win soccer balls (provided by La Futbol-Era), hiking sticks (courtesy of Team Naturaleza) and fishing poles (courtesy of Friends of Northwest Hatcheries).

Volunteers and hatchery staff set up tents, tables and chairs under the trees in front of the hatchery. North Central Regional Library brought a book cart and led children’s activities. Meshach Padilla of the U.S. Forest Service, Hillary Clark of Chelan-Douglas Land Trust, Judith Pena of the Mid-Columbia Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office and Emily led bilingual tours and hikes. Yuri Urias, Jose Lopez, Christian Barragan and Eliza Zuniga volunteered their help, too.

Children got to try their hand at fishing with a casting game. They learned to use fishing rods and reels, trying to “hook” plastic fish. Success in reeling in a fish was rewarded with free bobbers.

We couldn’t have done this without Team Naturaleza or our great volunteers and partners. We hope our visitors will come back again for other events.

The Wenatchee River Salmon Festival is Saturday and is free to everyone. The hatchery also offers self-guided tour flyers in both English and Spanish year-round, as well as scheduled group tours, and leads free snowshoe hikes in winter, partnering with Team Naturaleza for Spanish-language programs. Entry to the hatchery is always free.

Julia Pinnix is the visitor services manager for Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery.