Empowering the Next Generation of Stewards of New Mexico
As a proud member of the Zuni Pueblo and a senior at Zuni High School, I fully support Senate Bill 9, the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund. I have seen firsthand how outdoor programs can change the lives of young people in New Mexico, and I believe that the Legacy Fund will help ensure that these programs can continue to make a difference for generations to come.
In the summer of 2022 I was lucky enough to participate in an outdoor program through the Zuni Youth Enrichment Program (ZYEP), which is funded in part by the Outdoor Equity Fund. It was a trip to Chaco Canyon with a group of other Zuni youth, and it was truly transformative. Before that trip, I had always enjoyed spending time outside, but I had never really thought about the deeper meaning of our relationship with nature.
Chaco Canyon was a turning point for me. Seeing the incredible architecture of our ancestors, and learning about how they lived in balance with nature, really opened my eyes. I realized that my ancestors had a much deeper connection to the land than I ever imagined. And I also realized that it is up to my generation to continue that legacy.
That trip to Chaco Canyon gave me a new perspective on my role as a steward of the environment. It also inspired me to pursue a career in firefighting. Both my grandfather and my father were "hotshots" from Zuni, and I have always looked up to them as role models. But after visiting Chaco Canyon, I knew that firefighting was more than just a family tradition – it was a way to protect the air, land, and water that are so important to my community and my culture.
That's why I am so passionate about the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund. This fund will provide a permanent source of funding for outdoor programs in New Mexico, including the Outdoor Equity Fund. This means that more young people like me will have the opportunity to experience the transformative power of the outdoors.
The Legacy Fund will also help to create jobs in outdoor recreation and conservation. As someone who is just starting to think about my own career, I know that this is an important issue for many young people in New Mexico. The outdoor industry is a major economic driver in our state, and the Legacy Fund will help ensure that it continues to grow in a sustainable and equitable way.
But most importantly, the fund is about investing in the future of our state. New Mexico is home to some of the most beautiful and unique landscapes in the world, and we have a responsibility to protect them for generations to come. The fund will help ensure that our natural resources are managed in a way that is sustainable and equitable, so that everyone can benefit from them.
I urge legislators to support Senate Bill 9. This is a historic opportunity to create a better future for all New Mexicans. By investing in outdoor programs and conservation, we can ensure that our state remains a land of enchantment for generations to come.
Cody Cachini is a senior at Zuni High School.