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Hola Ranger: My Journey Through the National Parks
Hola Ranger chronicles the captivating life story of a Latino growing up in the farmlands of Southeast Texas, his first visit to a national park, and his rise to become the first Latino director of the National Park Service. Packed with family images and entertaining anecdotes, Vela provides a fascinating insight into what it takes to work in and protect a national park while honoring all who have served their country in protecting our nation's most special places, and all of the stories that they contain. Hola Ranger reflects his desire to inspire the next generation of diverse conservation stewards, advocates, and workforce.
Prior to his appointment as NPS acting director, Vela served as superintendent of Grand Teton National Park, as the NPS's director for workforce and inclusion, and as director of the NPS Southeast region. He advocated strongly for passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, and shortly before resigning from the National Park Service in 2020, issued a statement about equity, justice, and the fight against systemic racism, saying: "The National Park Service commits to lead change and work against racism. Specifically, we will work together in building strategies and tools that effectively engage all communities so that we become better allies for inclusion, equity, and equality. We also commit to work with our partners and supporters to engage in more dialogue with communities who have been missing from the discussions for far too long. In addition, we commit to doing a better job of listening and building a genuinely more inclusive environment both within the agency and with external communities."