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Local students seek environmental education at Tenaya Lodge

It began with a simple email. It blossomed into a memorable educational trip for a
group of students.

“We were wondering if the students from Yosemite-Wawona Elementary Charter School could come to Tenaya Lodge for a field trip on Monday, 5/22. We would love to see what the hotel does to reduce, reuse & recycle!”
Upon receiving that e-mail from a teacher at Yosemite Wawona Elementary Charter School, Jorge Negrete, environmental and security supervisor at the Delaware North-owned-and-operated Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite, got to work.

Negrete designed a full day of activities to educate and inspire the young students and their chaperones. Upon welcoming the group in the morning, he showcased Delaware North's proprietary environmental stewardship platform, GreenPath, with an educational presentation and a tour to highlight the resort’s eco-friendly features, including its recycling and composting systems and car charging stations.

After lunch, the students toured the resort’s Wastewater Treatment Plant, then Negrete led them on a scenic nature hike.
“It’s amazing with all the GreenPath aligned initiatives and projects (water bottle filling stations, planting trees, “Zero Waste” goals, etc.), perhaps the most meaningful efforts can be planting seeds of GreenPath information in the minds of young people in hope that their environmental responsibility will blossom and be fruitful in the years ahead,” said Dean Smith, security and environmental manager at Tenaya Lodge, in a congratulatory e-mail to Negrete.
GreenPath Q&A with Jorge Negrete
How did you become involved in your location’s GreenPath program?
The environmental program in the company was growing very fast, and the federal and state regulations as well. In past years, the GreenPath program was assigned as a secondary task to managers, and that's how Dean Smith, the security manager, became security and environmental manager. The need to handle the environmental department wasn't a secondary task anymore, and the General Manager Paul Ratchford decided to add me as a security and environmental supervisor in 2015.
Prior to your current role, do you have any background in environmental management?
I am a retired captain from the Peruvian Air Force and I was assigned to the city of Iquitos. The airbase is in the middle of the Amazon rainforest. I was a pilot there and I was in charge of the logistics of the airbase, and that included waste management and pollution control to be in compliance with government regulation and ISO 14001 standards. We had to be sure that the lagoon that the pontoon planes were taking off from was cleared of fuel pollution, that our above ground tanks were properly inspected and that our planes didn't have oil and fuel leaks. The jungle is a very sensitive environment where the government and especially the Air Force want to preserve. 
Currently, I am studying for an Environmental Science diploma that I am enjoying, looking forward to keeping this path and career.
Why are you passionate about the environment and sustainability?
I think being a pilot gives you another point of view of the world because you can see those amazing forests and jungles, the beautiful rivers and lakes and also behind those walls to see through how we are polluting the land. When you are looking into these majestic places you know that you have to do something to protect them. My commitment to the environment is to protect our land, water and air for our future generations, educate the people and make them part of a conservancy's way of life.
What GreenPath accomplishment are you most proud of?
I am proud of several things that we are doing here at the Lodge, but I think that my biggest accomplishment is changing our associates’ way of thinking in how to recycle, recycle organic materials, reuse items, report environmental concerns and take care of the environment at work and at home.
Do you have any simple tips that other locations and associates could adapt to become more GreenPath-friendly?
Educate our associates to involve them in the environmental program. The information is out there and if we have more and more people involved, we can do great things.
What are your GreenPath goals for the next year?
I want Tenaya Lodge to reach a goal of Zero Waste — we have a plan in place and are working on it. And keep focusing on the education of our associates to improve the GreenPath program.