Farida Baouab (she/they) participated as a senior majoring in Psychology with interests in sidewalk astronomy and public outreach in science. Before transferring from Illinois, she tutored youth in SAT Prep and STEM subjects, inspiring her to think of science communication as a source of empowerment, especially in underserved communities. Farida continued to follow this passion through Earth Grant by working with AZ Department of Forestry and Fire Management as an assistant for the Arizona Magnificent Trees Program. Farida supported this program through environmental outreach, public presentations, collecting data from Magnificent Trees all over Arizona, digital mapping, and creating a tree-measuring guide for volunteer data collectors (linked below).
Isabel Barón (she/her) participated as a sophomore studying Environmental Science and Business. As a Latina and LGBTQ community member, Isa has learned the importance of community building as a vehicle for change, especially in the environmental sector. In her future career, she hopes to affect this kind of change within the business industry, to increase effective sustainable practices, which she described in a public talk at the 2023 Student Showcase. Following her interests in sustainable agriculture, food systems, business, and green infrastructure, Isa worked last year as the Marketing and Outreach Specialist for Compost Cats, whose mission is to divert organic waste and raise awareness in the community through community education and programming such as the Foodcycle and Bucket programs. Through Earth Grant, Isa continued to work with Compost Cats and expanded her role into more public communications and environmental education. Watch the educational video here that Isa made about the Foodcycle program, a large scale composting program managed by Compost Cats in collaboration with City of Tucson Environmental and General Services and participating Tucson restaurants.
In summer 2023, Isa will be continuing her professional journey into corporate sustainability as an intern with Climate Change and Sustainability Services at Ernst & Young.
Claudia Benites Silva (she/her) participated as a senior studying Sustainable Built Environments at UArizona and Architecture at her university in Peru. There, her interests in sustainability, architecture, and urban development led her to co-create an educational program on carbon footprints and volunteer with community members to turn an abandoned lot into a park. Through Earth Grant, Claudia continued to follow her passion in sustainable architecture and urban planning by working with Emma Stahl-Wert LLC, a small business specializing in residential rainwater and greywater harvesting landscape installations, certified arborist tree work, pruning and water harvesting classes, and water harvesting education. Her role included collaborative program-planning, outreach development, and communication materials design.
Mekayla Crawford (she/her) participated as a senior majoring in Environmental Science and a self-proclaimed treehugger. Having grown up around indigenous Dakota communities, she witnessed the unjust environmental impact placed upon them, fueling her passions in conservation. Mekayla was able to follow her interests in conservation research and science communication through Earth Grant by working with the Pima County Office of Sustainability and Conservation. In this role, Mekayla worked in the Ecological Monitoring Program, developing a native plant data management system and regularly participating in fieldwork monitoring plants and animals on County land. In spring semester, Mekayla created a report (below) on Pima Pineapple Cactus restoration through greenhouse growth, transplanting, and monitoring to be used by County staff in the ongoing effort to monitor this threatened species.
Following graduation, Mekayla will be participating in a summer internship with the National Park Service and continuing her academic journey in the fall, pursuing a master's in environmental science at the University of Arizona.
Isabella Feldmann (she/her) participated as a senior majoring in Molecular and Cellular Biology and minoring in Marine Science. From childhood, Isabella has always loved the ocean and been passionate about ocean health. This led her to become interested in the potential use of natural resources as alternative medicines, especially invasive species, and public education about these species. Through Earth Grant, Isabella worked with the Sonoran Institute’s Santa Cruz River Program. In this role, Isabella led field research for an ongoing study of trash in the Santa Cruz River, and contributed to and maintained the study’s database. Learn more about her research with the conference poster she created and presented in collaboration with co-intern KyeongHee Kim, below.
Following graduation, Isabella will be completing her Accelerated Master’s Program (AMP) in Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Arizona researching marine microbes in the Amazon plume, after which Isabella plans to focus her professional efforts towards whale shark research and protection.
Carolina Gutierrez (she/her) participated as a senior majoring in Natural Resources and Biosystems Analytics & Technology. Carolina became fascinated with nature as a kid with an intense love for nature documentaries. She returned to southern Arizona after studying abroad in Seoul, South Korea in summer 2022, to learn how other cultures and countries approach environmental issues. Through Earth Grant, Carolina continued to pursue her interests in science communication and wildlife conservation with Tucson Audubon Society as their Conservation Intern. Within this role, Carolina collected and managed data on native wildlife, collaborated with restoration crews, and created media pieces about ongoing conservation projects, which she summarized in the presentation linked below.
Following graduation, Carolina will be continuing to support ecology research in Dr. Renee Duckworth’s lab, and she looks forward to her professional future in ornithology.
Sophia Hammer (she/her) participated as a sophomore double majoring in Political Science and Global Studies with a minor in Spanish. In her past internship at Arizona Jews For Justice, she worked on multiple social action projects surrounding issues of houselessness, immigration, and environmental justice, which led her to volunteer at the Kino Border Initiative in Nogales. Sophia continued to fulfill these passions through Earth Grant by working within the International Rescue Committee’s New Roots program, which supports recent refugees to Tucson in growing culturally appropriate food and generating revenue through farmers’ markets. In this position, Sophia worked onsite in the gardens as well as supported program planning to increase the capacity of the New Roots program, illustrated below in the informational booklet she made to promote awareness of the program: IRC New Roots Internship Highlights. Following the Earth Grant program, Sophia is continuing her studies and assisting with research on youth protest behavior with Dr. Jennifer Earl.
Bella Howe (she/her) participated as a senior studying Conservation Biology with a minor in Communications. As a native Tucsonan, Bella cultivated a love for the Sonoran Desert. This love and some encouragement from a high school science teacher led her to pursue a career in environmental education and STEM. Bella brought her passions for improving access to nature and supporting underrepresented communities outdoors to her Earth Grant internship with the Cooper Center for Environmental Learning, an educational center that works with PreK-12 students from across Southern Arizona with hands-on, discovery-based programs in environmental learning, with a focus on Title I schools. In this role, Bella assisted in curriculum development, program planning, teaching, and other program-related tasks, like the increased signage she implemented for visual learners detailed in the slides linked below. Bella and her work at Cooper Center were featured by local news channel KGUN9. After graduating, Bella will be relocating with her family and continuing her professional journey in environmental education in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Matthew Jensen (he/they) participated as a sophomore majoring in Microbiology and double minoring in Spanish and Ecology & Evolutionary Biology. As a queer Latine and Boy Scout alum, he knows the ways in which community resilience can protect rights, engender a sense of belonging, and ensure safety, contributing to their interest in climate advocacy. Matthew was able to pursue these interests through Earth Grant by working with the Watershed Management Group on the River Run Network program, which works to restore Tucson’s heritage of flowing creeks and rivers through community outreach and field projects. In this role, Matthew contributed to two major initiatives, the removal of Arundo donax invasive species from Tanque Verde Creek and the binational beaver survey effort along the San Pedro River. See below an informational presentation they made for community groups about WMG’s weekly Arundo removal workshops.
Amrita Khalsa (she/her) participated as a senior majoring in Food Studies with a minor in Spanish. As a Tucson native and former baker with childhood travel experience, she has grown passionate about food and how it relates to both culture and community in diverse ways. She previously channeled this passion into her volunteer work for Iskashitaa and Mission Gardens, and continued to do so through Earth Grant by working with Flowers and Bullets. Amrita assisted with harvesting produce, attending to general farm maintenance, supporting distribution, and coordinating community events. Visit the Flowers and Bullets website to see the new improvements Amrita made and learn more about the organization’s core team.
Following graduation, Amrita will be taking time for rest, recovery, and friends and family before continuing her professional journey in community- and food-centered roles. She will also be presenting on food and storytelling at the 2023 Knowing Food conference, hosted by Boston University.
KyeongHee Kim (she/her) participated as a junior double majoring in Statistics and Data Science. Since moving to Arizona, she has grown deeply interested in the environmental issues surrounding water scarcity, sustainability, and quality; and she hopes to contribute her own efforts to these issues through data management and analysis. Through Earth Grant, KyeongHee worked with the Sonoran Institute, which works directly with residents and the environment in southern Arizona and northern Sonora to create a healthy, flowing Santa Cruz River from Mexico to Marana. In this role, KyeongHee led field research for an ongoing study of trash in the Santa Cruz River, and contributed to and maintained the study’s database. Learn more about her research with the conference poster she created and presented in collaboration with her co-intern Isabella Feldmann below.
Kimberly Laney (she/her) participated as a senior studying Spanish with a minor in English. Kimberly discovered her interests in environmental protection and conservation during a Geology course. She now aspires to work on invasive species control and envisions herself as a future interpretive park ranger. Through Earth Grant, Kimberly worked with AZ Department of Forestry and Fire Management as an assistant for the Arizona Magnificent Trees Program, where she increased public awareness of forestry and urban forestry through collaboratively creating public communications materials in English and Spanish.
Maria Mata Robles (she/her) participated as a sophomore studying Sustainable Built Environments with a minor in French. Maria is a Mexican international student, feminist, and environmental justice advocate with a passion for sustainable city planning and an interest in improving public transportation programs. Through Earth Grant, Maria was able to pursue these passions by working with Southwest Decision Resources, a Tucson-based organization that works with a variety of partners to collaboratively address conservation and community challenges throughout Arizona and the Southwest by supporting the design and implementation of collaborative natural resource management and community development efforts. In this role, Maria provided key support for several local and regional projects ranging from climate adaptation to urban planning, including the community input process for the City of Tucson's General Plan, as summarized in the presentation below. Following the Earth Grant program, Maria accepted an offer to extend her internship with Southwest Decision Resources for the following year, with support from the RISE program.
Nandita Parekh (she/her) participated as a senior studying Environmental Science while working as a garden manager at the UArizona Community Garden. Her time as a garden manager and other professional experiences cultivated her interests in environmental justice and science communication for marginalized communities. Through Earth Grant, Nandita worked as a research assistant at the Ramirez-Andreotta Integrated Environmental Science and Health Risk Lab, specifically to measure environmental contaminant levels in the UArizona Community Garden. See the conference poster linked below to learn more about the methods and results of Nandita's investigation. Following graduation, Nandita will continue to work in Dr. Monica Ramirez-Andreotta’s lab.
Gaby Parra (she/her) participated as a senior studying Natural Resources with a minor in Mexican American Studies. Growing up in a predominantly Mexican American community, Gaby witnessed the effects of environmental racism firsthand, fueling her passion for community engagement and environmental education. Gaby brought this passion to her previous roles at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, the Bio/Diversity Project, and the Immigrant Resource Center at Pima Community College. Through Earth Grant, Gaby continued her professional journey with the Ramirez-Andreotta Integrated Environmental Science and Health Risk Lab, which uses an environmental justice framework to investigate the fate and transport of pollutants in environmental systems, exposure pathways, cultural models of communication, and methods to improve environmental health literacy. In this role, Gaby supported a community-based soil testing project in Miami, Arizona, a collaborative project in Cleveland, Ohio, to test child blood lead levels, and other environmental health efforts, as summarized below. Gaby will continue to work in Dr. Ramirez-Andreotta's lab after Earth Grant. This summer, Gaby will be working as an intern through the Latino Heritage Internship Program at Zion National Park focusing on environmental outreach and education with the Latine community.
Chloe Penna (she/her) participated as a senior double majoring in English and Professional & Technical Writing and double minoring in Environmental Science and French. Throughout her college career, Chloe has explored her passions in sustainability, green learning, food insecurity, and librarianship through her work with the Pima County Library, Compost Cats, and her ongoing role as the Garden Manager of the UArizona Community Garden. She continued to pursue these interests through Earth Grant by working with the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona Nuestra Tierra Garden. In this role, Chloe helped with greenhouse production of seedlings and saplings and providing other low-cost garden materials to Tucson residents, and assisted in the installation and maintenance of educational food producing spaces. As part of her internship, Chloe wrote and designed interpretive signage for the Nuestra Tierra Garden plants that can be swapped out with the seasons, which will be printed bilingually after translations are added by staff (example below). After graduating, Chloe will be spending a peaceful summer in Tucson and continuing her academic studies at the University of Arizona pursuing a master’s degree in English Language and Literature.
Sydney Perry (she/her) participated as a senior studying Environmental Science with an emphasis in Leadership, Sustainability, and Communication. Her four years in the Blue Chip Leadership Program and current position in the transportation department at Tucson Medical Center allowed her to develop the leadership and teamwork skills that prepared her well for working with Compost Cats. Sydney has served in the roles of Compost Specialist, assisting with compost maintenance and system building, and later on as a Marketing and Outreach Specialist. Through Earth Grant, Sydney supported communication and education initiatives for Compost Cats, including working with social media communications, graphic design, tabling events, and environmental education initiatives.
Kate Richter (she/her) participated as a senior studying Natural Resources who is passionate about environmental protection. She credits her childhood summers in Anchorage, Alaska as one of the main influences to spur her interests in natural resources management, public engagement, and equitable conservation. Through Earth Grant, Kate worked with the Collaborative Conservation and Adaptation Strategy Toolbox (CCAST), who works to support land managers in improving ecosystem function and meeting management goals by facilitating collaborative conservation. In this role, she drafted and edited case studies for publication on the CCAST website, and supported Communities of Practice (networks of practitioners, researchers, and policy makers) for non-native aquatic species, grassland restoration, drought management, and pollinator conservation. Read a case study Kate wrote about the floodplain restoration of salmonid habitat in Washington state here.
Anna Rogers (she/her) participated as a senior studying Environmental Science with a minor in Public Health. She credits her 8th grade teacher for sparking her interest in environmental science and passion for environmental education, which has led her to various experiences in science communication, environmental literacy, and sustainability. Through Earth Grant, Anna worked with the Center for Biological Diversity's Population and Sustainability program, which addresses the impacts on wildlife and the environment that are caused by human population pressure and destructive consumption and production. She researched and summarized a variety of environmental action and protection plans from a range of organizations and agencies in order to communicate those ideas as written reports, social media posts, articles, and blog posts. Anna compiled the report linked below, discussing the results of a website scan analyzing current conversation about links between conservation, reproductive rights/care, and population growth. Following graduation, Anna will doing a summer internship with the Freeport-McMoRan Sustainable Sourcing team.
Kelly Rushford (she/her) participated as a senior majoring in Environmental Science and minoring in Spanish. From her own educational experiences, she began to realize how one can discover their passions through wholesome, empathetic education, much like herself with the field of science. This experience, along with her interests in environmental justice and access to nature, have made her passionate about environmental education, citizen science, and direct action. Through Earth Grant, Kelly worked with Compost Cats supporting their environmental education efforts; assisting with educational activities, school outreach, and composting trainings, such as the vermicompost lesson described in the conference poster linked below. Following graduation, Kelly plans to spend more time with friends and family and working on being a good community member.
Ashley Smith (she/her) participated as a senior majoring in Urban and Regional Development and minoring in History. Growing up, she was always passionate about taking care of the environment, but didn’t get the chance to pursue those interests until transferring to UArizona after two years in military college, when she volunteered with Tucson Million Trees to improve equitable access to green spaces. Through Earth Grant, Ashley worked with the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management as an assistant for the Arizona Magnificent Trees Program. This program publicly recognizes Arizona trees for their size, cultural significance, heritage, and age, to build human connection with trees, increase awareness of the field of forestry and urban forestry, and educate people about trees as critical ecosystem species. View the file below to read the 2022 Arizona’s Magnificent Trees Annual Report that Ashley developed during her internship. After graduating, Ashley will be continuing her service in the United States Army Reserve, as she described in her talk at the 2023 Student Showcase, and she looks forward to a professional future in the environmental sector following the completion of her service commitment.
Maya Tainatongo (she/her) participated as a senior studying Natural Resources with a minor in Spanish. Her three years of ecological restoration work at Saguaro National Park have fueled her interests in conservation work on the US/Mexico border and collaboration with Indigenous communities. Maya pursued her passions for community outreach and environmental education within conservation through Earth Grant by working with two local organizations: the Borderlands program of the Sierra Club and Flowers & Bullets. In the Borderlands Program, Maya supported community organizing, education, and advocacy events (virtual and in-person) around environmental issues with borderlands communities. See the file linked below for some of the posts Maya wrote for the Sierra Club Borderlands newsletter. With Flowers & Bullets, she assisted with harvesting produce, attended to general farm maintenance, supported distribution, and coordinated community events. Maya shared her experiences working at community-based environmental organizations at the 2023 Student Showcase.
Phillip Tran (he/she/they) participated as a senior studying Environmental Science with a minor in Fashion and Consumer Studies. Through their past work in the Vietnamese Student Association and the Asian Pacific American Student Affairs, they gained extensive experience in social media and educational content creation, which later supported them in their creation of the Coalition for Asians and Allies, an organization focused on advocacy for Asian community members experiencing racial and environmental injustice. Through Earth Grant, Phillip further pursued their interests in community engagement and advocacy by working as a research assistant at the Ramirez-Andreotta Integrated Environmental Science and Health Risk Lab, which uses an environmental justice framework to investigate the fate and transport of pollutants in environmental systems, exposure pathways, cultural models of communication, and methods to improve environmental health literacy. Phillip specifically supported CLASH, a community-based project to test child blood-lead levels in Cleveland, Ohio. After graduation, Phillip is pursuing a career at the intersection of fashion and sustainability.
Alfredo Vasquez (he/him) participated as a junior studying Natural Resources who is passionate about botany, ecological restoration, and fire ecology. In his previous work with invasive tamarisk in northern Arizona, Alfredo witnessed the damage done to his local environment and grew interested in learning how to restore native plant species to improve habitats for native wildlife. Through Earth Grant, Alfredo worked with Pima County Natural Resources Parks and Recreation to manage and monitor key resources within the vast conservation network designated by the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan. Within this role, Alfredo was able to apply his plant identification knowledge and vegetation monitoring skills in various field work opportunities ranging from ecological restoration to invasive plant management. Alfredo created multiple property inspection reports like the one below, discussing current environmental conditions on County properties and suggested management strategies.
Jonni Zeman (she/her) participated as a senior studying Environmental Science with a minor in Plant Sciences. As an artist with interests in sociology, entomology, sustainability, and plant systems, Jonni's diverse coursework and mentorship as an ENVS peer mentor helped her learn and become passionate about improving health literacy as a way of increasing resilience in the face of environmental issues. Through Earth Grant, she worked with Pima County Natural Resources Parks and Recreation to manage and monitor key resources within the vast conservation network designated by the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan. Within this role, Jonni was able to apply her plant identification knowledge and desire to gain fieldwork experience in various opportunities ranging from ecological restoration to invasive plant management. Linked below is an example of Jonni using her creative skills to design T-shirt artwork for her internship.