November 1, 2023

A Night to Remember: IDNR at Chicago White Sox’s Hispanic Heritage Night

Photos by IDNR Office of Communications.

The music pulsed to a Latin beat as the Hispanic Heritage Night Celebration moved from the parking lot into Guaranteed Rate Field for a late season Chicago White Sox game.

Waiting on the concourse was a team of Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) outreach staff and volunteers, there to greet baseball fans on a perfect fall evening.

It was the first event in a new partnership between IDNR and the White Sox, as the two venerable organizations sought to connect loyal baseball fans with their second love, outdoor recreation. IDNR’s newest theme, “Everyone Belongs in Nature,” turned out to be a principle that aligned closely with the Hispanic Heritage Night theme of inclusive celebration.

A group of people visit the Illinois Department of Natural Resources "Everyone Belongs in Nature" Tent. A man poses next to smokey the bear while a woman takes his picture with her cellphone.

The agency’s Divisions of Fisheries and Licensing, and the Office of Community Outreach, were on hand to introduce some of the 30,000 fans in attendance to the IDNR’s combined missions of conservation and community engagement.

Sharing Our Message: Giveaways, Smokey Bear and More!

As the evening sky darkened and the stadium lights came on, IDNR representatives distributed more than 5,000 can koozies, fishing bobbers and copies of the 2023 Illinois State Park Guide. Guides to hunting, trapping and fishing regulations, printed in English and Spanish, were available to be sure all could enjoy the outdoors safely and responsibly. These items clearly point our baseball fans to IDNR resources, of course all were a big hit!

Capping off the IDNR presence was the beloved icon, Smokey Bear. Smokey danced, posed for pictures and without uttering a word, served as a reminder of our collective responsibility to prevent wildfires and protect our environment.

Let’s go Fishing! More Than Just a Pastime

Fishing is more than a hobby. It offers significant advantages for both mind and body. In our hectic lives, nature provides a serene space for contemplation and a break from daily stressors. Specifically, fishing helps sharpen concentration, builds patience and improves hand-eye coordination.

Fishing has always brought families and communities together. By highlighting the joys and benefits of fishing at Hispanic Heritage Night, IDNR staff inspired more individuals to try this wholesome and fulfilling experience.

In Chicago, specifically, locations from Lake Michigan to local park district lagoons, offer a plethora of opportunities for novice and advanced anglers alike.

Celebrating Hispanic Contributions

IDNR acknowledges that everyone, irrespective of their background, has a place in nature and a vital role to play in the care and conservation of our state’s natural treasures. Hispanic Heritage Night offered a wonderful platform to reinforce this message and celebrate the rich diversity that makes Illinois unique.

A Look Ahead

A woman stops by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources "Everyone Belongs in Nature" tent. She picks up an Illinois State Park Guide. Two staff members stand by to answer any questions.

Outreach staff view this extraordinary evening as a crucial milestone in IDNR’s continued work to make nature accessible to all. The enthusiastic response from the crowd reaffirmed our belief that the message “Everyone Belongs in Nature” is not just a slogan, but a creed that resonates with individuals from all walks of life.

IDNR’s participation in Hispanic Heritage Night highlighted the vital role of teamwork. Cohesion among IDNR divisions and effective collaboration with the Chicago White Sox contributed significantly to the success of the event.

To all those who joined us for this memorable event–Kevin Irons, Frank Sladek, Jamie January, Jeramie Strickland and, of course, Smokey Bear—we extend our deepest gratitude. We look forward to future opportunities where we can loudly and proudly declare that, indeed, everyone belongs in nature.

José Miguel Burgos serves as the Chief External Affairs Officer for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), where he leads the Office of Community Outreach to new heights, guided by the message “Everyone Belongs in Nature.” With a rich background in state government, community programs, and education, Burgos stands as a dynamic advocate for impactful change. In his role at IDNR, Burgos bridges the gap between the department and external stakeholders, fostering strategic partnerships that amplify the department’s mission.

Burgos holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of Illinois-Springfield and a Translation Studies Graduate Certificate from the University of Chicago.

Share and enjoy!

Submit a question for the author