Skip to content

Day After Earth Day: Tree Planting, Spring Cleaning & Youth-led visioning for Skatepark

April 23, 2021

Sponsor a tree in honor of a loved one and beautify the Questa Park: or by calling 575-635-2934.


Let’s come together in solidarity with local youth to mark Earth Day alongside thousands of other communities around the world. Today, Friday, April 23rd, the day after Earth Day, 10 am – 3 pm, join Vida del Norte’s Active8 youth, Mayor Mark Gallegos and community volunteers at the Questa park, to plant trees, celebrate natural beauty, work to maintain assets at the park and brainstorm ideas to create a cohesive plan for future improvements. 

Also, the Taos Behavioral Health SUCCESS** program will be hosting a SUCCESS ART Gallery on April 23 from 10 till 2 at Questa Youth Center. SUCCESS students use art to express Struggles, Life and SUCCESS. Come experience their work.

All local youth are invited! Please come to create the vision for a skatepark and other projects at the park. All are welcome. If you have them, please bring work gloves and yard cleaning tools, water bottle a hat and layers for variable weather; we’ll have extra gloves donated previously by Questa Lumber and Hardware and additional tools on hand as well, plus lunch for all volunteers.

This project is coordinated by LEAP (Localogy), VIDA del Norte Coalition and Village of Questa. Funding is provided by LOR Foundation, Questa Economic Development Fund, and individual donors. Partners are Taos Behavioral Health SUCCESS program, North Central Food Pantry, and Questa Farmers Market and Taos Bakes.

Continuing a Legacy of Youth Leadership

“The more our youth and we all put back towards our Earth in recycling, repurposing, and planting, we will hopefully find a balance within our whole ecosystem,” says Questa Mayor, Mark Gallegos.

The Questa Park we enjoy today, exists in large part due to the vision and diligence of the Playground Superheroes Project, a group of eight Questa High School student interns hired through a work-study program in 2013-2014 with Chevron Questa Mine, Community Build and the Questa Economic Development Fund.* These motivated students helped transform the Questa park. 

Now, the Vida del Norte Drug Free Coalition’s Active8 members are continuing this legacy of youth leadership as they envision innovations at the Questa park. Plans for a skatepark and other ideas for improvements will be explored and presented on April 23rd. The Active8 youth leaders are Angelica Lovato, Araceli Gonzalez, McKayla Martinez, Kalena Trujillo, Kaylee Piper, Amalia Gonzalez , Alianna Gonzalez, Ashlynn Rael. New recruits are Dominic Vallejos, Patrick Vallejos, Marlayna Vallejos and Esperanza Vallejos.

The first Earth Day was celebrated 51 years ago on April 22, 1970. This holiday was created by U.S. Senator, Gaylord Nelson, to mark the importance of keeping our planet healthy and clean, and for people to renew their commitment to make positive changes in their community. LEAP’s Earth Day celebrations in Questa, started with a suggestion from Starr, artist, seamstress and friend to many, who passed away in January, 2021. LEAP’s first Earth Day event was the 2014 opening reception for “Seeds: Time Capsules of Wilderness,” an exhibition of artwork by Alta Vista elementary students at OCHO Art + Event Space. Starr’s remarkable Earth Day turtle Banner hung in the window.

This year for Earth Day, gathering outdoors to work safely together is especially meaningful. The day will include planting drought tolerant trees, irrigation system repair, removal of invasive plant species, trash pick-up and brainstorming park improvements. Of course, a hearty lunch for volunteers will be provided midday. Progress on site is our goal, but what’s more important is having fun, strengthening friendships by working together in service and amplifying youth and community voices to shape the future of our park and beyond.
To join the VIDA youth leadership team, contact Maria Gonzalez, or (575)779-2260.

Where: Questa Municipal Park (by the Library and Youth Center)
When: Friday, April 23rd 10 am – 3 pm (the day after Earth Day)
Who: Everyone is welcome!
Cost: Free, lunch provided for volunteers

Event Contact: Claire Coté (LEAP) – (575) 224-9066
Youth & Future Skatepark Contact: Maria Gonzalez (VIDA del Norte) – (575)779-2260

*Sourced from:

**SUCCESS (Students Using Courage Confidence & Emotional Support for Success) is a high paced program that offers clinical mental health, CCSS, academic and community support to Student’s age 8 thru 19 in Northern New Mexico. SUCCESS seeks to support adolescents and teens transition into adulthood with skills to navigate emotional stability, healthy decision making and self-advocacy. The unique programming SUCCESS program offers allows for students to engage in Milieu Based therapy groups to, virtual or face to face group therapy and activities along with wrap around services to support life, financial, social, emotional, behavioral, and recreational life domains.  Our Culturally competent programming allows for our students to experience activities outside of their socioeconomic or cultural situation. The program demographic includes students with IEP, Developmental delays, cognitive deficit. Severe Emotional Disturbance, Severe Mental illness, JPO involvement, CYFD protective services involvement, gang involved and substance abusing clients. Approximately 90% of our students come from local Latino, Native American or Anglo families that suffer the effects of generational trauma and colonization. Currently SUCCESS program offers Individual, family, group, and Milieu therapy with a theoretic foundation in family systems and client centered therapy. Active group therapy includes Girls group, Boys Group and LGBTQIA group with a desire to expand to meet additional group needs.  SUCCESS also uses a trauma-based approach to support emotional stability and treatment.  

Sarah Parker ~ NeoRio HOME Featured Artist

December 13, 2020

Sarah Parker lives North of Questa, NM and is a Special Education teacher, artist, printmaker and collector and creator of audio stories for radio. Her piece represents a creative introspective journey into home, family, community, COVID and us as individuals – how we “see” one another and the world around us. Sarah asks the intriguing question: “What if you could see me from the inside? What if my larynx….and my guts were outside of my body?….” Her cube visually explores a response.

Find images, artist statement and audio reflection HERE.

Robbie Steinbach ~ NeoRio HOME Featured Artist

December 12, 2020

Robbie Steinbach is a printmaker, photographer, and book artist living in Taos, NM. Her piece explores freedom in the context of our time: “freedom from illness, divisive politics, irrefutable evidence of climate change, even…at least temporarily, from our homes.” Her audio reflection adds storied personal experiences of liberation, freedom and metaphor in local exploration of Nature.

Find images, artist statement and audio reflection HERE.

Ricky Pass ~ NeoRio HOME Featured Artist

December 10, 2020

Ricky Pass is an abstract and experimental artist living in Taos, NM. Her piece took her on a personal journey through her own experiences of home, family, houses and memories. “This was a piece that knew where it wanted to go” she says. The outcome is a collaged assemblage with a focus on “safety and warmth.” Her audio reflection shares parts of this journey, explores two poignant words and provides a descriptive tour of her work.

Find images, artist statement and audio reflection HERE.

Ruby Sofrae ~ NeoRio HOME Featured Artist

December 4, 2020

Ruby Sofrae is “a woman who works with her hands and seeks to never see a separation between Art and Life; she lives in Questa. Her unique piece, “I am: Home” is accompanied by a poem: 

We’re never truly lost if we are always home.
We’re never truly cold to others if we carry our own flame.
We’re never truly afraid if we feel that we are safe.
We’re never truly sick if we remember ourselves well.

Find images, a short annimation and audio reflection HERE.

Mary Hanrahan ~ NeoRio HOME Featured Artist

December 3, 2020

Mary Hanrahan is a designer and artist living in Taos; her heart homeland is Ireland, where she holds dual citizenship. Her piece reflects her life-long interest in the subject of home and cancellation of a much anticipated trip to Ireland, due to pandemic restrictions. She reflects “My world both shrank and expanded…the box encapsulated my process of….getting ‘tiny’ again and relying on my imagination….” Her cube is a carefully crafted diorama that artfully weaves these strands together.

Find images, artist statement and audio reflection HERE.

Martha Shepp ~ NeoRio HOME Featured Artist

December 2, 2020

Martha Shepp is a multi-disciplinary artist, musician and director/producer of innovative and interdisciplinary shows and performances. Having lived many places, she now resides north of Questa, NM. Her piece is a personal exploration and representation of experiences and insights of home created from her collection of found materials that manifest in an assemblage sculpture. Her audio reflection, spoken quietly and intimately as if to a close friend,  provides a tour of her piece and her thinking behind it.

Find images, artist statement and audio reflection HERE.

Malia Reeves ~ NeoRio HOME Featured Artist

December 2, 2020

Malia Reeves is originally from Taos and “feels lucky” to again call it home. She created her cube in partnership with the Field Institute of Taos, where she works with youth in the warmer seasons and as a ski patroller at Taos Ski Valley in winter. Throughout every season, she is an artist. For her personally and in her work with children, home extends far beyond the four walls of houses and property boundaries into the communities and ecologies of the surrounding mountains and also encompasses the universal truth of change. She chose to represent these ideas with an evergreen Fir Tree.

Find images, artist statement and audio reflection HERE.

Lee Lee and Thatcher Gray ~ NeoRio HOME Featured Artists

November 30, 2020

Lee Lee and Thatcher Gray are a mother and son artist team now living in Blue Hill Falls Maine, but with roots in Denver, CO and Taos, NM. Their diverse artworks “weave visual arts practices into community-based frameworks of eco-cultural preservation and wild land restoration.” They are currently exploring ties between Acadia and Haiti, contextualized in colonial history. Their cube reflects this focus via the metaphor of the nest and eggs as well as the materiality of the box itself.

Find images, artist statement and audio reflection HERE.

Kaitlin Bryson ~ NeoRio HOME Featured Artist

November 29, 2020

Kaitlin Bryson is an ecological artist concerned with environmental and social justice. Originally from Nevada, she received her MFA from UNM and is now assistant of the UCLA ArtSci Center. Her piece is an assemblage of symbolic items that affirm for her that “Home is a place of belonging and containing.”

Find images, artist statement and audio reflection HERE.