Background/Question/Methods Puerto Rico and its residents, as islanders, must responsibly use, protect, and conserve our natural resources to guarantee ecological services now and for future generations. Despite this, there are more environmental challenges that we face as citizens and communities: deforestation, biodiversity loss, droughts, risk of dangerous hurricanes, among others. Unfortunately, their frequency and intensity increases as the climate changes, primarily affecting low-income communities, who are already vulnerable and burdened by other environmental and social injustice challenges. As environmental science professionals, what strategies we can work on to empower these communities and their inhabitants to take action against strategic social and environmental injustice that affects them, and build on resilience. The curricular integration of the environmental interpretation, scientific experiences, and citizen science participation projects at schools and communities give us the keys to understanding tools and strategy to better understand their realities and needs. Research experiences and projects will be designed, both with the scientific method in mind, but catered to the audience's needs and realities. It leads us to design projects that fit their needs strategically, and at the same time allows them to reconnect with nature, and begin a sense of curiosity that stimulates an intrinsic motivation to learn.
Results/Conclusions Textbooks and classroom lectures overlook local species and issues that may be affecting ecosystems locally; therefore, curricular integration and scientific experiences in classrooms allow us to educate with local and relevant examples, thus making the process interesting and significant for participants. Their interest will be seen and measure through their recurrence of their participation, the roles they assume in each project, their confidence throughout the participation. the skills acquired with the use of equipment and materials, their leadership and, their changes in perceptions and behaviors. The experience is not only transformative for students, teachers, and members of the community, but also for the scientist. The results of place-based environmental education and interpretation allow “Sense Place Learning”, usually about what people overlook or are used to seeing, but not understanding. This approach reinforces community resilience by showing that they are part of the neighbor ecosystem and by protecting the ecosystems around them, they are also protecting their communities. We have the potential to empower, inspire conservation movements and initiatives. I have learned to share my knowledge in a nontraditional way, in which everybody feels cared for and not being judged for what they don't know, and want to genuinely learn.