2022-23 Earth Grant Students and Projects

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Farida Baouab headshot

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 AZ, and making a digital map. View the tree-measuring guide Farida made during her internship below: 

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Isabel Baron headshot

Isabel Baron (she/her) is 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. 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 will continue to work with Compost Cats, expanding her role into more public communications and environmental education.

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Claudia Benites Silva headshot

Claudia Benites Silva (she/her) is 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 will continue following 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 will include collaborative program-planning, outreach development, and communication materials design.

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Mekayla Crawford headshot

Mekayla Crawford (she/her) is a senior majoring in Environmental Science and a self-proclaimed treehugger. Having grown up around Dakota communities, she witnessed the unjust environmental impact placed upon them, fueling her passions in conservation. Mekayla will be 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 will work in the Ecological Monitoring Program, developing a digital photo management system and regularly participating in fieldwork monitoring plants and animals on County land.

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Isabella Feldmann headshot

Isabella Feldmann (she/her) is 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 will be working with the Sonoran Institute’s Santa Cruz River Program. In this role, Isabella will lead field research for an ongoing study of trash in the Santa Cruz River, and contribute to and maintain the study’s database.

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Carolina Gutierrez headshot

Carolina Gutierrez (she/her) is 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 will be returning 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 will continue to pursue her interests in science communication and wildlife conservation with Tucson Audubon Society as their Conservation Intern. Within this role, Carolina will be collecting and managing data on native wildlife, collaborating with restoration crews, and creating media pieces about ongoing conservation projects.

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Sophia Hammer headshot

Sophia Hammer (she/her) is 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 will continue 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 will work onsite in the gardens as well as support program planning to increase the capacity of the New Roots program.

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Bella Howe headshot

Bella Howe (she/her) is 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 brings her passions for improving access to nature and supporting underrepresented communities outdoors to her Earth Grant internship with the Cooper Center for Environmental Learning. Cooper Center is 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 serving marginalized communities. In this role, Bella will assist in curriculum development, program planning, teaching, and other program-related tasks.

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Matthew Jensen headshot

Matthew Jensen (he/they) is a sophomore majoring in Microbiology and double minoring in Spanish and Ecology & Evolutionary Biology. As a queer Latine and Boy Scout alumnus, 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 will be 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 will assist with two major initiatives, including the removal of Arundo donax invasive species from Tanque Verde Creek and the binational beaver survey effort along the San Pedro River.

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Amrita Khalsa headshot

Amrita Khalsa (she/her) is 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 has previously channeled this passion into her volunteer work for Iskashitaa and Mission Gardens, and will continue to do so through Earth Grant by working with Flowers and Bullets in their Barrio-Supported Agriculture program, a weekly produce subscription available to local community members. Amrita will be improving upon the system designed during last year’s pilot program as well as harvesting produce, attending to general farm maintenance, and assisting with distribution.

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KyeongHee Kim headshot

KyeongHee Kim (she/her) is 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 will be working 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 will lead field research for an ongoing study of trash in the Santa Cruz River, and contribute to and maintain the study’s database.

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Kimberly Laney headshot

Kimberly Laney (she/her) is 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 the invasive species control,and envisions herself as a future interpretive park ranger. Through Earth Grant, Kimberly will be working with AZ Department of Forestry and Fire Management as an assistant for the Arizona Magnificent Trees Program, to increase public awareness of the field of forestry and urban forestry, and encourage connection to and protection of trees in Arizona.

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Maria Mata Robles headshot

Maria Mata Robles (she/her) is a sophomore studying Sustainable Built Environments with a minor in French. She 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 will be 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 will be providing key planning support for the 2nd annual AZ Cross Watershed Summit, which will focus on watershed management and climate adaptation.

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Gaby Parra headshot

Gaby Parra (she/her) is 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 will continue 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 will conduct research to further understanding of environmental contamination and contribute to community education around environmental health issues.

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Chloe Penna headshot

Chloe Penna (she/her) is 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 will continue to pursue these interests through Earth Grant by working with the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona Garden Programs. In this role, Chloe will help with greenhouse production of seedlings, saplings and other low-cost materials, assist in the installation of native food plant producing spaces, and support the Health and Garden Education Coordinator with the Farm to Child Program, which supports the development of local school gardens and community green spaces.

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Sydney Perry headshot

Sydney Perry (she/her) is 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 aided her in the past year working at 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 will increase her role in leading communication and education initiatives for Compost Cats, including working with social media communications, graphic design, tabling events, and school learning initiatives all across Tucson.

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Kate Richter headshot

Kate Richter (she/her) is 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 will be working 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 will draft and edit case studies for publication on the CCAST website, and support Communities of Practice (networks of practitioners, researchers, and policy makers) for non-native aquatic species, grassland restoration, drought management, and pollinator conservation.

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Anna Rogers headshot

Anna Rogers (she/her) is 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 will be working with the Center for Biological Diversity in their 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 will be researching and summarizing 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.

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Kelly Rushford headshot

Kelly Rushford (she/her) is 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 will be working with 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. Kelly will be supporting their environmental education efforts, assisting with educational activities, outreach events, composting trainings, and more.

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Ashley Smith headshot

Ashley Smith (she/her) is 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 will be working 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.

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Maya Tainatongo headshot

Maya Tainatongo (she/her) is 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 is passionate about community outreach and environmental education within conservation, and will be pursuing those passions through Earth Grant by working with two local organizations: the Borderlands program of the Sierra Club and Flowers & Bullets. In the Borderlands Program, Maya will support community organizing, education, and advocacy events (virtual and in-person) around environmental issues with borderlands communities. With Flowers & Bullets, she will assist in the improvement of the Barrio-Supported Agriculture program as well as support daily maintenance of the Midtown Farm.

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Phillip Tran headshot

Phillip Tran (he/she/they) is 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 will be able to further pursue 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.

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Alfredo Vasquez headshot

Alfredo Vasquez (he/him) is 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 will be working 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 will get to apply his plant identification knowledge and vegetation monitoring skills in various field work opportunities ranging from ecological restoration to invasive plant management.

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Jonni Zeman headshot

Jonni Zeman (she/her) is 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 will be working 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 will get to apply her plant identification knowledge and desire to gain fieldwork experience in various opportunities ranging from ecological restoration to invasive plant management.