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8 Winners Selected for National Park Foundation’s American Latino Expedition


WASHINGTON – The National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, today announced the eight individuals selected for the 2014 @American_Latino Expedition. In its second year, this Expedition engages diverse audiences and inspires exploration and stewardship of America’s national parks, all the while highlighting American Latino culture, history, and contributions across the National Park System. The program is conducted through the National Park Foundation’s American Latino Heritage Fund (ALHF).

Through a partnership with Go RVing, Aramark, the award-winning food and hospitality partner for national and state parks and other leading leisure and cultural attractions across the country, leading outdoor gear and apparel retailer REI, and Columbia Sportswear, ALHF has selected eight dynamic social media influencers and bloggers to participate in a national park adventure to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

“The National Park Foundation and all of our 2014 @American_Latino Expedition partners are thrilled to announce this year’s participants, and we look forward to experiencing their upcoming adventures with all of you online,” said Neil Mulholland, president and CEO of the National Park Foundation. “We’re eager to read about their travels and see the incredible moments they capture on film, inspiring all Americans to explore our national parks, enjoy the wide variety of activities they offer, and discover the connections they have to American Latino heritage and culture.”

The 2014 @American_Latino Expedition participants are:

Daily Baez of Covina, California
Daily is the founder of DailyCurlz, a bilingual lifestyle blog with a curly twist, and a Spanish language YouTube channel. She discovered blogging as a way to share her personal journey to a healthier lifestyle, which included putting an end to chemically relaxing her hair and embracing her natural hair.

Ramon Gonzalez of Chicago, Illinois
Ramon is an urban garden communicator and community builder. He’s the writer behind the popular MrBrownThumb garden blog. Ramon has taught thousands that growing their own food and flowers is easy and accessible to all. In addition to writing about and photographing gardens, he’s an avid seed librarian, community garden board member, and sought-after garden speaker.

Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack of Highlands Ranch, Colorado
Yvette has devoted her life to her three passions: her family, developing healthy Latin-inspired recipes, and educating others about how to enjoy traditional cultural cuisine in a healthful way while keeping traditions alive. She writes about her culinary adventures on her award-winning blog,, is a professional recipe developer, a YouTube vlogger, and is the co-author of Muy Bueno: Three Generations of Authentic Mexican Flavor.

Melanie Mendez-Gonzales of San Antonio, Texas
Melanie is the creator of ¿Qué Means What? – a Latino lifestyle blog based in San Antonio, which began with her own “cultural identity crisis” as a Mexican-American out of touch with her heritage. She currently writes to inspire others to celebrate their own culture with stories about familia, education, Latinos in entertainment, and more.

Lizza Monet Morales of Costa Mesa, California
Nicknamed “The Ultimate Tomboy In Heels,” Lizza is an actress, producer, and bilingual journalist who shares her adventures and her love for all things travel, beauty, lifestyle, tech, gadgets, cars, fashion, and philanthropy on her blog

Ramon B. Nuez Jr. of Staten Island, New York
Ramon is a landscape and urban photographer, freelance writer, teacher, father, and husband. He is also impassioned about nature, meditation, yoga, and family. He shares his passions at Ramon B. Nuez Jr. Photography.

Vianney Rodriguez of Aransas Pass, Texas
Vianney is the founder of the award winning blog Sweet Life. A proud Tejana, she enjoys sharing recipes that are inspired by her childhood memories, her Mexican heritage, the global food culture that makes up South Texas cuisine, and her love of margaritas.

Staci Salazar of Little Elm, Texas
Staci describes herself as a daughter, sister, wife, mom, and friend. Her blog, 7 On A Shoestring focuses on lifestyle and family. In addition to being a wife and mother, her daily grind consists of networking, writing, photography, promoting, editing, and so much more.

“We look forward to hosting this diverse group of @American_Latino Expedition participants at Grand Teton National Park,” said Superintendent David Vela. “Their stories told through social media will surely broaden an understanding of the wonders of Grand Teton for diverse audiences and help to inspire hearts and minds in the process. Their words may also develop appreciation for the cultural significance of all national parks, as well as foster future stewards of our collective American heritage.”

The Expedition will focus on education, park stewardship, outdoor recreation, careers with the National Park Service, and more. Participants will meet directly with National Park Service staff. Expenses, including air travel, lodging, and most on-site tour and excursion fees will be covered by the National Park Foundation and the 2014 Expedition partners. Expedition participants will also visit a local REI store to be outfitted for their trip.

Established in 2011, the American Latino Heritage Fund of the National Park Foundation works to improve the representation of American Latino heritage in, visitors to, and the long-term stewardship of America’s national parks. ALHF has provided significant support for the nominations of historic places including César E. Chávez National Monument in California and Casa Dra. Concha Meléndez Ramírez in Puerto Rico.

To learn more about the work of the American Latino Heritage Fund and how to support these important efforts, visit For more information on the National Park Foundation and how to support and protect America’s national parks, please visit

The Go RVing Coalition, formed in 1994, consists of RV manufacturers, component suppliers, dealers and campgrounds. Go RVing works to provide the public and media with pertinent information about the benefits of RV travel. For more information visit

Aramark (NYSE: ARMK) is in the customer service business across food, facilities and uniforms, wherever people work, learn, recover and play. United by a passion to serve, our more than 270,000 employees deliver experiences that enrich and nourish the lives of millions of people in 22 countries around the world every day. Aramark is recognized among the Most Admired Companies by FORTUNE and the World’s Most Ethical Companies by the Ethisphere Institute. Learn more at or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

REI is a $2 billion national multichannel retail co-op headquartered outside of Seattle. With more than five million active members, REI serves the needs of outdoor adventurers through innovative, quality products; inspiring classes and trips; and integrated customer service that allows shoppers to buy great gear and clothing in any way they want. REI has 135 stores in 33 states and and Anyone may shop with REI, while members pay a one-time $20 fee to receive a share in the company’s profits through an annual member refund based on patronage. Membership in the co-op also includes special promotions and discounts on REI Adventures trips and REI Outdoor School classes.

Columbia, the flagship brand of Portland, Oregon-based Columbia Sportswear Company, has been creating innovative apparel, footwear, accessories and equipment for outdoor enthusiasts since 1938. Columbia has become a leading global brand by channeling the company's passion for the outdoors, and an innovative spirit of "trying stuff", into technologies and performance products that keep people warm, dry, cool and protected year-round. To learn more, please visit the company's website at

Located in northwestern Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park preserves spectacular mountain scenery, extraordinary wildlife species and a remarkable assembly of cultural and historic resources. The rugged Teton Range—a central feature of the park— rises over 6,000 feet above the valley floor and includes the iconic 13,770-foot Grand Teton. The legendary Snake River and several glacial lakes add an aquatic dimension to the sage-covered valley of Jackson Hole. The park's world-renowned landscape attracts nearly four million visitors per year and offers an array of recreational activities for all ages and all abilities.

The National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks and nonprofit partner to the National Park Service. Chartered by Congress in 1967, the National Park Foundation raises private funds to help PROTECT more than 84 million acres of national parks through critical conservation and preservation efforts, CONNECT all Americans with their incomparable natural landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history, and INSPIRE the next generation of park stewards. Find out more and become a part of the national park community at