Luis Joel Méndez González’s Field Notes

Every week in the climate, science, social justice, and environmental spaces is as diverse as Uproot’s membership. Field Notes, our week-in-the-life blog posts, are snapshots of the varied experiences that make our community so vibrant. 

Field Correspondent

Name: Luis Joel Méndez González

Pronouns: he/him

Location: Puerto Rico

Job description:  I am a reporter on climate change for Puerto Rico´s Center for Investigative Journalism.

Years of experience: 2

Social media handles: Twitter: @m_joel17 Instagram: @m_joel17

One word to describe your week: enlightening

A Week in the Life

Here is a picture from my first day at SEJ´s Combating Science and Disinformation Workshop.


I usually pack my bags days before I fly to a journalism conference or any other type of event. Many times before, when I do this in a rush, I can forget a toothbrush or even my laptop. This year, I won a Diversity Fellowship to attend the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) Annual Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It’s already 10:00 p.m. My mother picked me up at my apartment because I needed to be at the airport two hours before the flight. I wonder if that´s a Puerto Rican thing. It is a sixteen-hour trip in total, with one layover at Newark International Airport. I was going to take a book with me to read during the flight, but I chose not to do it because I really wanted to sleep during the flight.


A flight from Puerto Rico to Pennsylvania usually does not take more than four hours. This time, that wasn’t the case. I had to wait more than 20 hours for my layover at Newark Liberty International Airport. I tried to make the best use of time, like working on an investigation I expect to publish by the end of the year after spending half of my savings on a cold sandwich and an iced coffee. Finally, I got to my hotel at 5:00 p.m., I would say. I wanted to explore the city, but I was exhausted and needed to rest.


I arrived in Philly last night and went to Wawa and bought a Mac & Cheese, a milkshake, and a spicy burger. (Yes, I love buying cheap food at gas stations.) I organized my outfits for the week in my room and went to sleep. I woke up Tuesday at 6:00 a.m. in order to have time to eat breakfast and be at my first workshop on combating science and climate change disinformation as early as possible. I went to the registration table, and got my tag, but they forgot to add my second name or initial: Joel.

Always trying to dress accordingly to the city…


I woke up at 5:00 a.m. to get pretty for my all-day tour in Delaware. Every time I have a journalism assignment or a workshop, I always like to be on point. I carefully pick my shoes, my hairstyle, my shirt, and my jeans. In order to be confident with yourself, you need to like your look. We departed from Pennsylvania at 7:00 a.m. There were three stops as part of our tour: Fowler Beach in Casco Bay Lines, a working poultry farm in Middletown, and Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Milton, which was my favorite. It was an enlightening visit because I got to know about their tidal march and beach restoration project, considered one of the largest ecosystem restoration projects east of the Mississippi River.

During the tour, I met Angely Mercado, a fellow Puerto Rican and uprooter. I was happy to see another Latinx person at the conference. To be honest, sometimes I felt excluded because of the language barrier. It was hard for me to socialize, as I always do, also due to the cultural differences between me and other colleagues. Angely and I spent hours on the bus sharing our favorite things about being from the island.

I had never visited a chicken farm before!


After a long day of back-to-back workshops, I went to a reception organized by Climate Central and Impact US at Strangelove´s. I wasn’t going to attend because the temperature was near 50ºF, combined with heavy rains and strong winds. However, it was a unique experience, and I wanted to meet others. With a spicy margarita on hand, I had a good conversation with Catalina Jaramillo and Ignacio Calderón, two fellow Latinx reporters based in the United States. I also attended the Uproots Project’s National Convening.

Thank you, Uproot, for my shirt!

Saturday and Sunday:

After a long week in Philly, I ended up exhausted. I had a couple of good workshops in the morning, but I missed eating rice with beans and swimming at the beach. I was counting my hours to get back to the island. In the evening, SEJ celebrated its traditional closing dinner, this time at the Brooklyn Bowl. I grabbed something to eat and got back to my hotel. I wanted to go to bed early because on Sunday, I had to go to the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum and then go back to Puerto Rico.

I was surprised by Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge.

From the Wild:

Three most-used emojis?


Hobby you keep thinking about but haven’t picked up yet?

That’s a good question. I would love to read more.

What is one thing you always do when visiting somewhere new?

Take photos and eat good food!

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