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Diversity and Inclusion

Since the inception of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in 1970, the agency's mission to protect, sustain, and improve our environment is a cause that has united all cultures and heritages. Environmental stewardship is integral to many cultures, and the pursuit of ensuring a clean, healthy environment now and into the future remains DEC's goal on a professional and personal level.

November is Native American Heritage Month, and during this month, we take the time to recognize the work that Indigenous peoples have done, and continue to do, to protect our shared environment. To show respect for our Indigenous neighbors, DEC joined in the process of renaming agency-managed resources. These include Skenoh Island in Canandaigua Lake, Ganowtachgerage Road in Hammond Hill State Forest, and Onãaktokok Fishing Access Site in Rensselaer County. DEC also plays a principle role in the transfer of over 1000 acres of traditional homeland in the Tully Valley of Central New York to the Onondaga Nation as a result of a settlement related to the Onondaga Lake Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Program.

One of the actions DEC is taking is to recognize the role of Indigenous peoples in protecting the environment. This includes the ongoing stewardship of land in accordance with traditional teachings and ecological knowledge despite centuries of dispossession. It also means DEC is working to improve our relationship with Indigenous peoples, while recognizing past challenges.

In August of 2022, DEC created the Office of Indian Nations Affairs (OINA). OINA will lead DEC's efforts to enhance and deepen proactive engagement with State and federally recognized Indian Nations by improving consultation, building shared knowledge, and advancing meaningful cooperation.

DEC Workforce Diversity and Inclusion

DEC is pleased to share the Workforce Diversity and Inclusion Implementation Plan for Fiscal Years 2021-2026 (PDF). This plan outlines our priorities and goals as we continue to cultivate and promote a diverse and inclusive culture where employees feel welcomed and motivated to do their best. These goals and priorities reflect DEC's commitment to support diversity programs; promote continuous learning and discussion of diversity and inclusion; recruit qualified candidates of different backgrounds, experiences, and talents; provide internal developmental opportunities; and assess what more we can do to nurture a supportive and inclusive work environment.

Diversity Resources and Links

Resources include articles, podcasts, and blogs that present the perspective of Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), Latino/a, and Latinx, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and other identities (LGBTQ+) and their experiences in the outdoors and in nature.

More about Diversity and Inclusion:

  • Hispanic Heritage Month - DEC is proud to observe Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15 in honor of the history, culture, and influence of past and present generations of Hispanic New Yorkers.
  • Native American Heritage Month - DEC observes Native American Heritage Month in November as a time to reflect on our relationships with our Indigenous friends and neighbors here in New York and beyond.
  • Black History Month - February is Black History Month. View a special video from the NYS Veterans' Services celebrating Black veterans. Learn about outdoor organizations serving and celebrating people of color, including Outdoor Afro, Hunters of Color, Black Girls Hike Buffalo, and more.
  • Women's History Month - Women's History Month is celebrated each March. Get to know some of accomplished women at DEC.
  • Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month - In May, DEC celebrates Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Get to know several DEC employees who discuss their careers, heritage, and interests.
  • Pride Month Celebration - DEC celebrates Pride Month in June every year. DEC is proud to be a welcoming environment for all people.
  • Juneteenth Commemoration - New York celebrates Juneteenth as an official state holiday for the first time on June 19, 2021. Juneteenth (short for June 19th) commemorates African American freedom in our country. Its history goes back to June 19, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger read federal orders in Galveston, Texas, that declared all enslaved people in Texas were free. While President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation a full two and a half years before the end of the war, it wasn't until the war's end that enslaved people in Texas knew they were free.
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