Class Year

16

Current Hometown:

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Job and Employer

Rio Grande Campaigner with WildEarth Guardians

Work:

With WildEarth,  I’m in essence a local diplomat trying to renegotiate what’s known as the Rio Grande Compact. The Compact was written in 1938 and governs the way water is allocated. Unfortunately, the original language never included groundwater considerations or ecological protections. I’m working with the states of New Mexico, Colorado, and Texas, with the US Congress, with civil society groups, and with the Pueblo, Ute, and Apache Nations to improve the Compact to save water, improve environmental considerations, save endangered species, and ensure there’s hope for the future in the region.

Community work & family

I’m outside all the time. This is the most beautiful place in the world and there are always new adventures here. I also like going to what are known as the Lannon Lectures – literary lectures in Santa Fe. I look forward to them every Wednesday. And, of course, I love to eat green chile. It’s a staple.

Graduate School

I decided to work before going to graduate school, although I’m thinking grad school is in my future - probably a law degree and some concurrent graduate degree.

Senior project:

I made a short documentary film about the Rio Chama, a tributary of the Rio Grande. That film focused on the cultural and environmental complications of using and managing water in New Mexico. Cultural, ecological and historical complexities abound in that watershed and there are loads of competing claims. I was trying to reconcile all these competing claims.

Internship:

I worked at the Palace Press as a lead press printer’s apprentice to Tom Leech. We printed both local writers and historical writing and also did some paper making. Tom and the Press are amazing – they work to create and promote New Mexican history through the craft of lead type printing. Not only did I get to learn an incredible skill, I also got to meet all these literary figures; those encounters were what inspired my senior project.

Human ecology in action:

The best way to answer this question is through an example: It was during my job interview for WildEarth. The team asked me if I was a “bio-centric” or an “anthropo-centric” individual. I had the perfect answer in my experiences with human ecology – that those two things and perspectives are fully integrated. I cannot think of those two things separately anymore … all because of my experiences with human ecology and COA.

A COA experience that was particularly significant or memorable:

In my first year, I met this guy Alan DeCheubell. He’s a woodworker in the town of Bar Harbor and he was suffering from the slow degradation of his vision and needed hands. I started off helping him on projects. Then we started brainstorming and we decided to build a kayak and I wound up doing a credited independent study with Alan building a baidarka, a traditional Aleutian kayak. We used lines from the UC Davis Anthropology library and by the end of that process, we wanted to get more COA students engaged in building. So, I then proposed to Darron, COA’s president, and to the college’s Academic Affairs Committee that we should do a course with Alan as the instructor. So, we did. We structured a credited group study in Alan’s shop. We had to develop the curriculum, conduct safety checks and be insured, and all sorts of other things you might not think about on the first cut of an idea. And we did it. And it was incredible.

Considerations for prospective students:

Going to COA is an adventure. You’re not always going to have a signpost … but YOU get to forge ahead with your interests and with the community around you, so that you woodworker as a student. Because of the culture of the school and the community, that empowerment is nourished and the responsibly. Students come away with an incredible education, adventure skills, and life skills and they become functional people. That experience in college is not at all common. You become a capable person and a person capable of making an impact in the work.