What is Nature Niños New Mexico?


Nature Niños was created in 2019 as a youth initiative of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation. For over 100 years the New Mexico Wildlife Federation has protected our waters and wildlife, ensured access to public lands, and provided opportunities to pursue the outdoor traditions that make New Mexico unique. The Federation believes strongly that the future of our public lands, our wildlife, and our democracy lies in the hands of our future generations. As the Federation's youth initiative, we are an entry point. We expand access to the outdoors, share all it has to offer, and invite youth and families who might not readily access the outdoors into a safe, inclusive, and welcoming community where we build skills and grow the next generation of conservationists, land stewards, and recreationalists.


At Nature Niños we connect families across generations to learning in the outdoors. We offer free and low cost programs like summer camp, day programs, family hikes, and community events. We also partner with schools, teachers, and organizations across New Mexico to expand the horizons of outdoor education.

Family Programs

Nature Niños' trusted, professional team offers free and low-cost programs for families including summer camp, day programs, family hikes, and community events throughout the year. Together, across generations, we learn to fish, hike, shoot a bow, harvest and eat wild foods, track wild game, nature journal, and so much more. Whether you're an experienced explorer or new to the outdoors, there is a place that's just right for your family and we're here to help you find it.

School Partnerships

Nature Niños works with New Mexico schools to offer nature field trips to students K-12. These hands-on experiences are expert-guided and age-appropriate. We cover academic standards while also creating a memorable adventure, developing social-emotional skills, and connecting students to themselves, each other, and the natural world. Outdoor education has so many benefits that we'd love to bring to your school!

Teacher Workshops and Professional Development

In response to research, outdoor learning has become a priority for schools, districts, and public education departments across America. In 2021, New Mexico passed legislation in support of outdoor classrooms and professional development. The Nature Niños team has been preparing for this exciting new horizon. As New Mexico's lead for Project Wild, we pair decades of experience in outdoor education focused on public lands with partnerships across the country. We offer workshops, a toolkit, and professional development opportunities for teachers who are interested in developing research-backed skills in a peer-driven community of outdoor educators.

Youth Program Development

Though we're headquartered in central New Mexico, our mission is statewide, connected to the New Mexico Wildlife Federation's 100+ years protecting New Mexico's wildlife, habitat, and public lands for all. We partner with communities and organizations across the state, helping envision and plan community-driven youth and family programs that connect the next generation to the outdoors and everything it has to offer.

Please visit our Programs Page to see all the amazing opportunities that Nature Niños is offering our New Mexico youth, from PreK to High School.

Sarah Candelaria

New Mexico Wildlife Federation

Youth Program Director

Nature Niños Staff & Volunteers

Nature Niños is a team of New Mexico Wildlife Federation staff dedicated to encouraging nature experiences and broadening our youth's knowledge in environmental conservation and preservation. 

Sarah Candelaria

Youth Program Director


Sarah Candelaria, an outdoor enthusiast and educator, is the Youth Program Director for the federation. Sarah lives on a small urban farm in Albuquerque with her family. Some of Sarah's earliest childhood memories involve trout fishing and deer hunting with her dad in central Nevada. Sarah and her family spend their free time at their cabin in Pecos; fishing, hiking, camping and enjoying the great outdoors. She attended Chaminade University, in Honolulu Hawaii, and graduated with a Bachelor's of Science in Early Childhood Education and is currently attending NMSU for a Masters of Social Work. She's traveled the world for many years helping to bridge the gap of international acceptance with high school exchange student programs across the globe. An advocate for ensuring that the families and communities here in New Mexico know the importance of providing kids with an abundance of time to explore high-quality outdoor learning environment

Laura Lewis

Project Manager


Laura Lewis joined the NMWF as Nature Niños project manager in early 2022. Her works on managing projects focused on youth and family engagement. In addition to duties with Nature Niños, she provides local coordination for the National Wildlife Federation's ECHO (Early Childhood Health Outdoors) program and for Project WILD environmental education. Lewis moved to Albuquerque from Northern California in 2011 to attend the University of New Mexico. Her passion for the outdoors was largely sparked and cultivated by her work for the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps. There she worked on land management projects, such as fire fuel reduction and trail maintenance. Laura also worked with FoodCorps to assist integrating garden and food education in schools. Laura believes that food can be a connector between earth conservation, community relationships, and active participation in promoting healthy and accessible environments. Laura spends her free time exploring New Mexico, finding new trails to hike, reading, and cooking. She also continues trail work with the New Mexico Volunteers for the Outdoors.

Olivia Martinez

Charter Partnership & NASP Coordinator

Olivia is a former Pre-K teacher, working with young children ages 3-5 years old. She is currently a student at Fort Lewis College majoring in environmental science. Olivia was a Rocky Mountain Youth Corps member, providing services and training for New Mexico public lands. She was able to participate in a U.S. Forest Service Internship where she developed and taught life science curriculum for elementary school students. She loves teaching, exploring and nature!

Amy Mathis

Community Class Coordinator

Amy graduated from Kutztown University with a BFA in Music and Theater and she also holds a BS in Geology from New Mexico Tech. Amy has been a lifetime outdoor enthusiast with a focus on camping, backpacking, and hiking. She has been a dedicated instructor for local Cub Scout and Boy Scout organizations on Maui and currently here in Albuquerque where she teaches Basic Scouting Skills, assists in leading High Adventure outings, and is a Merit Badge Counselor. Her other interests include birding, plant identification, cross-country skiing, alpine skiing, and gardening. Amy cares deeply about the world around us and understands that our children are our future.

Adam C. Okoye

ABQ Assistant Educator

Adam was born in Ankara, Turkey and spent his formative years living there and in multiple U.S. states. He has traveled to multiple countries and continents, learning much about various cultures and natural life. His education varied from private, public, international, parochial, as well as home schooling. After moving back to Albuquerque, he completed his high school education at Sandia H.S. and obtained an AA degree from Mesalands Community College in Tucumcari, NM. His love of nature, prehistoric life and wildlife influenced his choice of college. While at Mesalands he was able to take paleontology and natural science courses as well as participate on dinosaur digs and volunteer at the Mesalands Dinosaur Museum and Natural Science Laboratory. Adam has volunteered at the Albuquerque Biopark, Botanical Gardens, and Aquarium, and has also volunteered and received training from the Valle De Oro Wildlife Refuge. He is an Eagle Scout, and his interests include the outdoors, nature, conservation, paleontology and Anime. He is passionate about sharing his knowledge and educating youth about nature and the preservation of endangered species. 

Laura Flores

Communications Coordinator

Laura Flores has been an educator for over 12 years and is now joining the Nature Niño's team as the Communication Coordinator. She has always had a strong connection with the outdoors stemming from camping and gardening with her parents and sisters at a young age. She loves that she is able to take what she has learned and share these traditions with her own family. Laura's desire to share safe, fun, and accessible opportunities is deeply rooted in her community. In her free time she continues to volunteer for Latino Outdoors and Mana de Albuquerque. By providing outdoor connections to the youth of New Mexico she feels she is creating a love for her state, deeper awareness for local and global conservation, and joyful experiences which will continue for generations.

Chan Dreyer

ABQ Assistant Educator

Chan is one of the assistants at Nature Ninos. They're super artistic, enjoys crocheting, likes to paint, make jewelry, and hopes to become a tattoo artist one day. They also enjoy spending time outdoors by skating, hiking, taking their siblings out to a park, or just to go out to take pictures. Chan grew up in a large family with 6 siblings, mom, and aunt in a small farm town in Illinois, then all moved to Albuquerque in 2018. They have several pets like rats, rabbits, a guinea pig, a poodle, snakes, bearded dragon, fish, and a turtle. Chan enjoys teaching people about the outdoors and loves telling facts about bugs and animals in hopes that others will learn to be interested in the animals or creatures that are outdoors.