Hilda Castillo

Hilda Castillo has not wasted a minute of her twenty-two years in the U.S. She came to Sonoma State as an international student to learn English and earn a master’s degree, then returned to Venezuela. Before long the University recruited her, so back she came with her children, this time to stay.

Her education, talents, vision, perseverance and experience as an immigrant helped Hilda find ways to empower Marin’s diverse ethnic population. Helping other Latinas has been especially important. Knowing that Spanish-speaking women had no chance to find jobs that would support their families, Hilda collaborated with the Marin Child Care council and the Canal community Alliance to develop a Spanish-language Family Day Care Training series. Its graduates earn licenses that qualify them to open their own childcare businesses. These women are independent because of Hilda Castillo.

Hilda is the director of Bilingual Studies & Outreach at Headlands Institute. In 1993 she created the bilingual program for Pacific Environment and Resources Center to provide access to environmental education for Latino students who are English learners. Recently she developed the bilingual “Family in Nature” program to educate low-income families and children about the environment.

Her work with English language learners often involves diverse school groups from under-served communities. She even provides scholarships when money is tight. She forged a groundbreaking partnership between the Headlands Institute and the Sausalito-Marin City School District to provide the district’s students, families and teachers with ongoing environmental education and field science experience.

Hilda’s influence is international. She has designed environmental activities for Bolivia and other Latin American countries. She has collaborated with natural history museums, nonprofit environmental organizations, governments, and universities the world over. “You have no idea how much satisfaction I get from doing this work,” says Hilda Castillo, truly a contemporary Renaissance woman.