DOI / VISTA Team Projects

Take it Outside NM!

Eileen Davis

DOI / VISTA: Eileen Davis
Supervisor: McKinney Briske
Address: 1800 Marquess Street, Las Cruces, New Mexico 88011
County: Dona Ana
Voice Telephone: 575-525-4334
Web site:
Congressional District: 2
Bureau: Bureau of Land Management (BLM)


The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) may best be described as a small agency with a big mission: To sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

Take It Outside, NM! (TIONM!) is a partnership of agencies, non-profits and organizations with the goal of getting youth and families of southern New Mexico outdoors and appreciating the lands in their backyards. TIONM! is a partnership including the Bureau of Land Management, the Lincoln National Forest, White Sands National Monument, Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park, Oliver Lee Memorial State Park, Asombro Institute for Science Education, Las Cruces Museum of Natural History, the Alameda Park Zoo in Alamogordo, New Mexico State University STEM program, Dona Ana Groundwork, and local municipal and county government institutions. It is not a single entity or organization – it is a concept – collaboration to help youth and families in southern New Mexico by using the collaborative resources and lands as educational, healthy backdrops and stages to help improve local communities. 

About the Surrounding Community

Many of the underserved youth in Dona Ana live in “colonias,” or non-incorporated developments which exist in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. A description of colonias from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is as follows, “The term ‘Colonia’ has been borrowed from the Spanish term for a residential neighborhood. In the United States, a "colonia" has a specific meaning, referring to a community within the mainly rural US-Mexico border region with marginal conditions related to housing and infrastructure. In many cases, these scattered and sparsely populated rural communities were formed when unscrupulous land owners inappropriately subdivided rural lands, offered plots via contract for deed, and made empty promises that utilities would soon be installed. Unfortunately, many people invested their limited resources and never saw those promises fulfilled.” Dona Ana County, NM has a population of 209,856 with 26.6 % of its residents (55,752 people) living at or below the federal poverty level with a 7% unemployment rate. 39.2% of Dona Ana County residents under the age of eighteen live at or below the poverty level. In Otero County around 21% of individuals live below the poverty level. 

The VISTA position will help the BLM and Take It Outside, NM to ensure young people from all backgrounds have access to outdoor recreational and educational opportunities on public lands while fostering future generations of public land stewards. Stressing health, family, fun, and stewardship, Take It Outside, NM! provides opportunities for young people to engage in outdoor recreation, education, service tasks, youth employment, and vocational building projects.


Project Overview

Almost one-third of New Mexico's children live in poverty. DOI/VISTA Eileen Davis is assisting Las Cruces District Office to address this issue in two ways. Eileen is forming a partnership with Dona Ana Groundwork for an interpretive program on BLM lands and implementing BLM's Take It Outside, NM! initiative to encourage citizen ownership of Public Lands and outdoor recreation.

The first step for Eileen is to create a platform that enables the Las Cruces BLM to reach out to local communities, particularly the Colonias surrounding Las Cruces BLM lands, to provide more opportunities for getting youth outdoors and taking ownership of Public Lands. This will be done by working with community partners and community centers, reaching more schools (particularly ones that typically do not have the resources for field trips), working with communities to address their needs to make Public Lands more accessible, and providing jobs and internships for local youth. The second step is to solidify the BLM and the Take It Outside, NM initiative as a recognized and permanent part of the community - in other words - establish the roots of the program in such a strong manner that it becomes a permanent fixture amongst the partners, BLM and the surrounding communities.

Eileen will work with partners to focus on Take it Outside, NM wide initiative on developing education programs that will get local schools outside, community based programs to get families outside, and a developing a volunteer program to sustain these programs. Eileen will also be involved with the Las Cruces District Office project in partnership the Dona Ana Groundworks to hire a crew of young park guides to lead interpretive programs on Las Cruces BLM lands.


Sponsors and Partners

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