Minorities in Niche Fields
by LONDON THOMAS
Let’s take the time to start off with some not so well-known facts:
- Although minorities make up about 40% of the US population, they only account for about 20% of visitors to our national parks, forests, and wildlife refuges. Data from the US Forest Service, National Park Service, and Fish and Wildlife Service suggest deep inequality in the ethnic/racial mix of visitors to our public lands due to lack of access, fewer early childhood experiences and exposure, discrimination, white racial frames, and historical trauma.*
- Over the last 4 years, the US has seen a significant increase in minority representation in agriculture. According to Western Growers, “While the total number of U.S. producers rose by 6.9 percent between 2012 and 2017, the total number of minority farmers—including Hispanic, American Indian, African American, and Asian—increased by 9.6 percent during the same time span”. **
- According to the US Census Bureau, in 2017 about 33,100 Black and African American workers held jobs in the farming, fishing, and forestry occupations.***
“Representation Matters” is not just a quote, phrase, or cute Instagram hashtag. It is a reality for those who wish to see reflections of themselves in occupations they wish to be in. Representation is about empowerment, encouragement, and confidence. Think about when you were younger and you wanted to be a princess or a firefighter. Now think about never seeing yourself in those roles. Would you still want to be the “only one” in those spaces? It is easier said than done but it is not impossible.
Minority representation (or lack thereof) in those fields that tend to be dominated by non-BIPOC and non-POC can have effects, both good and bad, on those seeking to gain exposure, high education, and opportunity to infiltrate. As an undergraduate student studying Recreation Management, I remember studying a variety of places, parks, jurisdictions, and more, but I also remember the vast differences between the rich and the poor, the POC versus the non-POC, and the young versus the old. As a person who grew up outside of the United States, this was a culture shock for me. It was then that I knew I wanted to make a difference and assist with academic exposure and lifestyle exposure to those who once couldn’t afford that luxury (because let’s be honest…it is a luxury).
Honeyism has pledged to work closely with organizations that foster advanced academic opportunities for minority students who wish to enter in those fields in which minorities are not highly represented. In addition to these partnerships, Honeysim has also vowed to give $10,000 in scholarship by 2026 to minority undergraduate students attending 4-year colleges studying Recreation, Agriculture, or Animal Sciences.