2023-24 Earth Grant Students

A woman smiling in a field facing the sun, wearing a black sleeveless dress and a nosering.

Adrianna Yazzie (she/her) participated as a senior majoring in Natural Resources who describes herself as "a hardworking, kind, and patient person who loves the outdoors and being around people and animals." Adrianna is moving to Tucson from Northern Arizona this year to complete her undergraduate degree, and explore careers related to water and natural resources. She describes her indigenous roots and cultural heritage as central to her identity, and water accessibility issues in her home community as influencing her passion for sustainable water management. Prior to Earth Grant, Adrianna completed various field and data projects with the Arizona Conservation Corps in Wupatki National Monument, Walnut Canyon and Grand Canyon. Through Earth Grant, she supported Indigenous agricultural and restoration strategies at Flowers and Bullets' Midtown Farm.

Over summer, Adrianna will be returning to her home and family in Flagstaff, AZ and introducing them to her new dog! After the summer ends, she will begin working with Arizona Conservation Corps and Americorps doing conservation fieldwork full-time before returning to higher education to finish her undergraduate degree in Natural Resources.

A woman with long blond hair standing in a garden

Alyssa Brady (she/her) participated as a senior majoring in Illustration and Design who considers herself a lover of all things creative. She takes inspiration from the natural world in her art, and her experience growing up in Tucson has informed her passion for water security, climate change, and environmental justice. Her previous work includes formatting and design for the Arizona Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, an undergraduate student-led academic journal. Through Earth Grant, Alyssa worked on the marketing team of Sonoran Institute, to create public outreach content, support social media engagement, and engage with the public in person at events.

A woman in a red dress with a necklace standing in front of a tree

Alyssa Wood (she/her) participated as a sophomore who describes "creating her own major" through majoring in History with minors in Education, Southwest Studies, and Entrepreneurship. Alyssa grew up with a close relationship with desert plants and animals, and is passionate about creating experiences for youth to also build relationships with nature. Alyssa supported environmental education camps and field trips at Cooper Center for Environmental Learning as her Earth Grant internship. Her ultimate career goal is to lead a school where students "develop a genuine desire and excitement towards learning based on an exploration and appreciation of the environment they live in," by centering both local environment and global issues in the curriculum. She will continue her development by working with the CART program.

A woman in a baseball cap standing in front of a grassy valley between snow-capped mountains

Anya Kincannon (she/her) participated as a senior majoring in Environmental Studies with a minor in Global Health. She spent the previous semester studying abroad in Sydney, Australia, learning about the Australian environment as an active participant of student social justice club UTS SOUL. She previously worked as an intern for City of Tucson's Housing and Community Development Department, as well as supporting public workshops for the City's Climate Action Plan. These experiences prepared her well for her Earth Grant internship with Southwest Decision Resources, where she assisted with the facilitation of multiple public planning processes, including the City of Tucson's General Plan, the Southwest Adaptation Forum annual meeting, and the Arizona Cross-Watershed Network. She summarized her experience in the presentation linked below.

Anya's internship presentation (pdf)

Following graduation, Anya Kincannon will be working abroad in Sydney, Australia for the next year to conduct fieldwork in dendrochronology research before heading off to graduate school in Fall 2025.


A person smiling outside with short hair and a maroon button down shirt

Arden Holloway (they/them) participated as a senior double-majoring in Urban and Regional Development and Arabic. Arden identifies as a queer non-binary hiker, birder, and plant identifier who grew up in rural upstate New York, but has lived short-term in both Costa Rica and Rabat, Morocco. Their experience in Morocco specifically helped to develop a critical lens on the effects of colonialism and resource extraction for colonized lands and people around the world, and ultimately the connections between environmental and social justice. Through Earth Grant, Arden worked with Tucson Audubon to apply their skills in digital mapping to prevent invasive plant spread in the Tucson area, and raise community awareness about invasive plants, like the map that they created about invasive saltcedar in Tucson (linked below). Outside of Earth Grant, Arden was also an intern with Watershed Management Group and an executive board member of Students for Sustainability.

Arden's saltcedar map (pdf)


A woman in a pink tank top standing in a canyon, smiling

Ava Bezaire (she/her) participated as a junior studying Landscape Architecture, who dreams of a career designing outdoor spaces for wildlife and humans, whether these spaces are backyards or public lands. Ava is passionate about accessibility in the built environment, so that people can walk, bike, or take public transportation easily and safely. Through Earth Grant, Ava will be working with Emma Stahl-Wert LLC, a rainwater harvesting and sustainable landscaping design-build company. In this internship, Ava was both installing rainwater harvesting systems and native landscapes, and educating others on the use and benefits of these systems. In her free time, Ava loves photography and taking photos of friends, family, and unlikely beauty in the world.

After her Earth Grant internship, Ava is planning to take on an internship  with a multi-disciplinary architecture firm in Chicago and continue to explore her interests in the built environment. She's looking forward to spending time with family and friends as well during her time in Illinois. 

A man wearing a checkered shirt, yellow gloves, and a cowboy hat, kneeling in a barn surrounded by sheep

Charles Goolsby (he/him) participated as a sophomore majoring in Rangeland Management with a minor in Government and Public Policy. He describes his identity as a "complex web," of being a gay man with a disability raised with "cowboy upbringing" in a rural Arizona ranching community. Last year, Charles worked as a lab assistant with Dr. Rachel Gallery on a USDA project to predict precipitation affects on rangeland health. Through Earth Grant, Charles worked with Pima County Natural Resources to manage and monitor key plant and animal species on County lands, and support native plant propagation. In the future, Charles aims to pursue a career in sustainable agriculture as well as promoting LGBTQ+ inclusivity in the agricultural community.

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Divine Kickingbird (she/her) participated as a law student who describes their upbringing on the Navajo Nation with teachings of the fundamental principles of conservation from their family, elders, and community members as core to their identities and values. Divine Kickingbird is Hashtł'ishnii and born for Nahiłii. She was born in Tsé Bit A'í. Her early experiences in summer residential programs like the 2010 American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp and the Native American Science and Engineer Program (NASEP) heavily influenced her later work at the Indian Health Services Hospital in the COVID-19 vaccine and testing clinic and at the University of Arizona doing lab work on antifungal medicines for immunocompromised individuals. Through Earth Grant, Divine worked with ReNew Earth Running, an organization based in Minneapolis, MN whose mission is to heal the environment by restoring land to the stewardship of Tribal Nations and Indigenous Leadership. In the future, Divine aims to apply the knowledge and skills she will develop to her professional goals of revitalization of her homeland’s environment and cultural traditions.

A woman smiling in a striped shirt and hoop earrings

Emily Morel (she/her) participated as a senior double-majoring in Environmental Studies and Latin American Studies and is an Afro-Latina through her Dominican and Mexican roots. Emily describes experiencing environmental racism through lack of access to healthy food and proximity to highway pollution growing up in City of South Tucson as a primary source of her knowledge and passion for environmental justice. Prior to this internship, Emily taught environmental science in both Spanish and English at Hollinger Middle School with the Bio/Diversity Project, and organized the grassroots "Earth Day for the Hood" event in South Tucson. Emily brought her organizational skills and passion for community to her Earth Grant internship with Flowers and Bullets, where she worked to support and formalize the larger organizational and administrative structures of this collectively-run community organization as it grows.

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Fatima Sanchez (she/her) participated as a sophomore majoring in Engineering, who describes herself as someone continuously learning and taking action on environmental issues, as well as learning and connecting to her Mexican-American culture. Through Earth Grant,  Fatima worked with the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management's Magnificent Tree Program, to support the monitoring, documentation, and public education related to trees throughout the state of Arizona. Fatima envisions a future career supporting organizations and businesses to shift their operations towards greater sustainability.

A woman in a white shirt smiling in front of trees and a sunset

Grace Adams (she/her) participated as a senior majoring in Environmental Science with a minor in Music. Grace describes observing the lack of public awareness and understanding of environmental issues as a primary reason for her passion for effective and engaging science communication, which she has focused on throughout college. Grace led communications and education activities at Compost Cats through her Earth Grant internship, to engage students and community members around composting and other sustainability strategies, as illustrated in the portfolio of marketing materials she made (linked below). Outside of Earth Grant, Grace was a Drum Major with the Pride of Arizona Marching Band, where she not only conducted the Pregame and Halftime shows, but organized events and facilitated rehearsals.

Grace's Compost Cats marketing materials (pdf)

Compost Cats video (Youtube)

Following graduation, Grace will be making the most of a restorative summer before continuing her higher education journey in Fall 2024 at the College of Eller to complete her Master’s degree in Marketing.

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Illiana Samorano (she/her/ella) participated as a sophomore majoring in Environmental Science with a minor in Spanish. Her diverse work experience includes being a tax assistant and administrative staff at Pima Community College, and Illiana is currently an ASEMS scholar and a WISE mentee. It was through an ENVS course the previous year that Illiana learned there is a Superfund site just five minutes from her home in southern Tucson, and motivated to learn more about environmental justice and take action. Through Earth Grant, she supported community-engaged research in environmental justice communities to help residents protect themselves from environmental health risks, with the Ramirez-Andreotta Environmental Science and Health Risk Lab. She describes her experience in her digital zine “Finding My Roots Through Research”, linked below. Illiana aims to pursue a career in environmental policy where she can also use her Spanish-English interpretation skills.

Illiana's internship digital zine (pdf)

Following the Earth Grant program, Illiana will be staying in Tucson to continue her undergraduate studies by taking classes this summer, as well as continuing to work for the Ramirez-Andreotta Lab.


A man wearing a t-shirt and blue jacket standing in a lush valley surrounded by mountains

Jakob Heitkamp (he/him) participated as a senior majoring in Environmental Science with a minor in Sustainable Built Environments. He describes his father's influence as a landscaper and his experiences outdoors growing up in the Flagstaff, AZ, area as motivating his passion for restoring and re-wilding land and ecosystems. Prior to Earth Grant, Jakob has assisted with environmental research projects in Entomology and at Biosphere 2. However, through Earth Grant, Jakob supported habitat restoration on the ground by working with Tucson Audubon on projects related to invasive plant monitoring and control, as summarized in his presentation (linked below). Jakob hopes to pursue a career in restoration for diverse ecosystems, from forests to coral reefs.

Jakob's internship presentation (pdf)

Following graduation, Jacob Heitcamp will be taking some time to relax and reconnect with family and friends this summer before continuing to pursue a professional career in ecological restoration work.


Karen Ornelas (they/he) participated as a junior majoring in Natural Resources with a minor in Climate Change and Society, who describes themselves as a "proud, queer, Mexican-American child of immigrants." Karen grew up in the agricultural community of Yuma, AZ, where border politics are part of day to day life. Karen spent the previous summer doing on-the-ground restoration projects with Borderlands Restoration Network's BECY program, which convinced them that they would rather be working outside than in an office. This experience also informed Karen's understanding of the importance of native plant communities for water retention, erosion control, wildlife health, and even food security. Karen supported Flowers and Bullets' Midtown Farm through their Earth Grant internship, supporting both native plant restoration and sustainable agriculture efforts. After college, Karen plans to start their own landscaping business, dedicated to creating food forests and wildlife habitat in people's yards.

A man with cropped hair wearing a blue button-down shirt standing in front of a desert canyon

Kendall Boyd (he/him) participated as a senior majoring in Sustainable Built Environments, citizen of Navajo Nation, and active service member in the Arizona Army National Guard for the past four years. Through course-based and volunteer projects, Kendall has supported design and beautification efforts at El Pueblo Community Center and El Pueblo Park in Tucson. Through Earth Grant, Kendall used his graphic design and community engagement skills to support the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management's Tree City program, like the digital resource library he built. Kendall aims to pursue a Master's in Architecture following graduation, with the ultimate career goal of improving housing security and sustainable building practices in Navajo communities.


A woman sitting on outdoor steps wearing black-rimmed glasses and braids.

Raven Alvarez (she/her) participated as a professional river guide and freshman at Tohono O’odham Community College (TOCC), studying Environmental Science and Native Studies. Raven grew up in Indigenous communities in Northern California, where her time spent white water rafting with family and engaging in other environmentally focused community events fed her passions for youth engagement, ecological stewardship, and Traditional Ecological Knowledge. The previous summer she was a presenter at the National Conservation Training Center's Native Youth Climate Adaptation Leadership Congress (NYCALC) and she is now returning to her ancestral O'odham homelands, living in Sells, AZ, to begin her college education.

Participating in Earth Grant through a partnership with TOCC and Flinn Foundation, Raven worked with the BIORETS teacher training program, a partnership between Dr. Michael Bogan’s lab and the National Science Foundation, where she supported curriculum presentation, river-based outreach, and creative web-based content creation.

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Sawyer Sullivan (she/they) participated as a sophomore majoring in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science, with minors in Spanish and Studio Art, who defines herself as creative and curious about many different-yet-interconnected subjects. Sawyer has spent the last few summers as a camp counselor at an outdoors-focused camp for 3rd and 4th graders, and they describe working with youth as fueling their passion and sense of responsibility for environmental action. This year, Sawyer made creative content and engaged with community members to support the work of Sonoran Institute through an Earth Grant internship with their marketing team. Sawyer is ultimately interested in how art can catalyze connection with nature and change human behavior, and hopes to pursue this interest in a future career.

A woman with short hair adjusting her black and white rimmed glasses, wearing purple fishnet gloves

Sofia Delgado (she/they) participated as a junior majoring in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, who describes herself as "a recovering theater kid in STEM," a fourth-generation teacher, and descendant of Indigenous and Mexican ancestors. Sofia has previously taught environmental science to 6th graders through the Bio/Diversity Project, and supported the National Phenology Network as a NASA Space Grant intern. This year, Sofia made creative content and engaged with community members to support the work of Sonoran Institute through an Earth Grant internship with their marketing team. Following graduation, Sofia hopes to continue to teach and pursue further education related to environmental health and ecosystem restoration.

A woman with long curly brown hair wearing a red shirt, standing in front of a bush

Suvi Birch (she/her) participated as a senior majoring in Environmental Science, plant enthusiast, and active volunteer at the UA Community Garden. Suvi's previous environmental work includes plant research and public engagement at both the UA Herbarium and the Spatial Ecology Lab at University of Massachussetts Amherst, and supporting community-engaged science communication projects as a Diana Liverman Scholar. Through Earth Grant, Suvi worked with Pima County Natural Resources to manage and monitor key plant and animal species on County lands, and support native plant propagation. After graduation, Suvi is interested in pursuing a higher degree in ecology or a related field, as well as continuing to support her local community gardens and advocating for Indigenous knowledge in environmental decision-making.

A person wearing a baseball cap with sunglasses perched on the cap brim, surrounded by trees

Syd Ingham (they/them) participated as a sophomore majoring in Rangeland Management, with a certificate in GIS, who describes themselves as an open-minded, curious, queer, autistic, and creative problem-solver. After spending the previous year supporting soil, root, and fungus interaction research in Dr. Rachel Gallery's lab, Syd switched gears towards wildlife conservation this year through an Earth Grant internship with Tucson Audubon. During their internship, they collected data and reported findings about the Desert Purple Martin’s nesting preferences, linked below. After graduation, Syd intends to pursue the Peace Corps, to work on sustainable agriculture projects hands-on.

Syd's Desert Purple Martin nesting report (pdf)

After the Earth Grant program, Syd will be spending their summer working in Idaho at a summer internship with the U.S. Forest Service, primarily focused on plant identification, before going to Colorado to work on a homestead through the WWOOF network.


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Tasha LaBahe (she/her) participated as a Navajo woman and a senior studying American Indian Studies. Her experiences growing up in a hogan on a small reservation in Northern Arizona have informed her current work and passions surrounding community care and service for Native communities, Native youth, and the environment. Tasha’s classes in Indigenous governance and American Indian studies combined with her experience working for Corazon Latino, a nonprofit focused on environmental conservation and community outreach, have built her skills in research, organizing, and leadership. Through Earth Grant, Tasha brought this expertise to her internships with ReNew Earth Running, a non-profit organization that helps fund environmental protection and healing efforts led by Tribal Nations and other Indigenous organizations, as well as Sierra Club Borderlands, which works to restore and protect the borderlands that have been damaged by failed border policies by advocating for real solutions that address the root causes of complex border problems.

A woman wearing a green shirt in front of greenery wall.

Tommey Jodie (she/her) participated as a junior dual majoring in Nutrition and Food Systems & Food Studies. Her passions and interests, such as food sovereignty, the legitimization of Indigenous knowledge systems, and the visibility of Native communities, are driven by her lived experiences as a Diné woman and her upbringing in a traditional household in the outskirts of the Navajo Nation in Winslow, AZ. Her values have also driven her past work as an intern in The Future of Food and Social Justice: A Youth Storytelling Project, conducted by the Center for Regional Food Studies, and as a scholar in Uplift Climate's Summer Organizing Fellowship. Tommey brought her wealth of knowledge and experience in community organizing, storytelling, and activism to her Earth Grant internship with Native Seeds/SEARCH. Tommey will continue to expand her knowledge this summer and next year through various internships and positions. She aspires to bring her experiential learnings with her in the future to further her education in public health and collaborate with Indigenous communities to enhance connections with food and the land. 

A woman smiling wearing a neon green shirt and patterned jacket, in front of a mountain sunset

Victoria (Tori) Hernandez (she/her) participated as a senior majoring in Environmental Science. Tori's interest in sustainability started with becoming a vegetarian and advocating for vegetarianism within her family. After joining student club Students for Sustainability, Tori got involved in multiple sustainability efforts on campus and beyond. Through Earth Grant, Tori used her skills in friendly and engaging communication to lead public educational efforts with Compost Cats, like the presentation she designed on how to use a tumbler system to compost at schools (linked below). Tori's dream job after college is Sustainability Specialist, or something similar where she can continue to use education to make sustainable change.

Tori's compost presentation (pdf)

Following graduation, Victoria Hernandez will be spending her summer working at a summer camp in Seattle, WA before she moves on towards new adventures backpacking in Europe, working for Americorps, and attending graduate school in Fall 2024 to study tropical conservation.