Welcome to the Evolving Man Project’s ‘Evolved Man of the Week’ profiles. Each week we will highlight an individual that embodies what it means to be an evolved man, famous and non-famous men alike. The world needs to know their stories and deeds. This week’s honor goes to the Regional Outdoors Coordinator for the Sierra Club, wildlife biologist, and activist, Sergio Avila.
Born in Mexico City, Sergio was raised in Mexico’s Zacatecas state. Both of his parents are medical doctors. They helped Sergio and his brother develop an appreciation of nature and geography.
“We spent a lot of time outdoors, and I grew up feeling a connection with the land,” says Sergio. “From a young age, I loved animals, especially predators, and cats were the group I most preferred. I used to dream that I had a lion.” High school was a turning point for Sergio. “I had a teacher who made me see I could expand my interest in nature by studying science.”
After receiving a degree in biology from the University of Aguascalientes, Sergio spent nearly a year living with the Tarahumara people in the Copper Canyon region of Chihuahua, Mexico. He conducted wildlife studies to help protect the area from the impacts of logging. Here is Sergio in his own words about learning about nature and wildlife from the indigenous people’s of Mexico:
“I learned more about biology at that time than I did in four years of college because it was applied biology,” … “I first learned about tracking there. The Tarahumara are master trackers. They can even follow individual people and can point to footprints and say, ‘That is my cousin.’ They also taught me about the medicinal properties of specific plants.”
Currently, Sergio leads the Sierra Club local level outdoors programming in the Southwest. His goal is to increase the number and diversity of people connected to nature throughout the states of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada. He wants to serve a role model to the youth of color to show them that there are other paths to success available, especially in the sciences, where blacks and Latinos are highly underrepresented.
Previously, Sergio worked as a Conservation Research Scientist with the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, where he led collaborative efforts on connectivity for wildlife, habitat restoration, education, and interpretation in the Sonoran Desert region of Sonora, Baja California and Arizona. Sergio graduated from the University of Baja California with a Master’s degree in Arid Lands Management, and the University of Aguascalientes with a B.S. in Biology. For over sixteen years, Sergio has gained extensive training and experience working in remote areas of northwest Mexico and the U.S. southwest on wildlife conservation and research, and on challenges related to wildlife movement across the US-Mexico border.
In the past decade, Sergio developed and led an international Conservation Program in Mexico, with the mission to create a network of conservation lands to allow wildlife movements and to monitor and protect the biodiversity of the Sky Island Region. His field experience includes working with jaguars, pumas, ocelots, Cactus-ferruginous Pygmy Owls, Santa Catalina rattlesnakes, California sea lions, and Monarch butterflies.
Sergio Avila has made quite an impact on his community and in the lives of countless people. His activism and advocacy for the communities and wildlife that call the US-Mexico Border home as the Trump Administration’s push for its border wall. I’m humbled to call him a colleague and friend. We at the Evolving Man Project wish Sergio Avila continued success in the future. Today, we honor Sergio Avila as this week’s Evolved Man of the Week.