MEET OUR TEAM
We are a team of VISTA members and one VISTA Leader, serving at tribal organizations across the U.S. From designing curricula to developing composting systems and organizing workshops, our members work to build capacity in education, environmental stewardship, and health.
In 2019, our VISTA project reached 11 tribal organizations and TCUs. Collectively, our members wrote over 20 grants, secured $408,000 in grant funding for their sites, developed and implemented 67 events and programs, and formed partnerships with 28 other organizations. These efforts have impacted dozens of communities throughout the country, helping them build towards more resilient, sustainable, and healthy futures.
Read about some of our VISTAs and their work below!
Kodiak, Alaska- Hallie grew up in Santa Cruz, California and recently graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Hallie worked on community-based research projects on forest conservation, food systems, and public health in southern Chile and in the Solomon Islands while studying abroad her junior year. Throughout her four years at UCSB, she volunteered with UCSB Adventure Programs as an outdoor trip leader and guide. Hallie currently serves in Kodiak, Alaska as an Environmental Technician and Economic Development Specialist at the Kodiak Area Native Association.
Bay Mills, Michigan- Shannon has experience working outside and researching sustainable agriculture. She previously worked at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, where she gained experience managing wildlife and trails on their preserve and studying methods to combat soil deterioration. She chose to join VISTA because she wants the work she does to be beneficial for a greater cause. She is an advocate for environmental justice and is aware of how Indigenous people are often withheld from their environmental rights. She wants to address these issues, educate and learn from others, and work towards a positive change within the community.
Keshena, Wisconsin - Emma is the Sustainability Practice, Outreach, and Education Coordinator VISTA for the College of Menominee Nation Sustainable Development Institute. Over the course of her VISTA term, she is developing an outreach strategy to raise community awareness of risk and emergency management, natural resource planning, and community resilience. Emma received her B.S. from the University of Georgia, where she worked as a research assistant and then senior lab assistant for the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences lab. She has interned for the Environmental Protection Bureau within the New York Office of the Attorney General, exploring public health and environmental legal issues related to climate change, environmental pollution, and sustainable infrastructure. She is passionate about environmental planning and community development, and is excited to learn about indigenous approaches to sustainability within the Menominee culture.
Fairbanks, Alaska - Madeline is the VISTA Natural Resources Technician for Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC). She has a B.A. in History and Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she completed an internship with the university's Forest Ecology Research Plot. Thanks to her college experience, she is passionate about the intersection of ecology, archaeology, and biology, and how work in those disciplines can serve communities and honor cultural traditions. She bring this passion to her VISTA role with TCC, where she is working to develop a community-based monitoring network. The network will promote inter-community collaboration in tracking environmental changes in the Yukon and Kuskokwim basins to help protect the area's natural resources and safeguard their economic value.
Ketchikan, Alaska- Walter is the VISTA Environmental Analyst at Ketchikan Indian Community (KIC) in Alaska. He graduated from UW-Platteville with a B.S. in Environmental Engineering in 2019. As a student, he served as a Residential Assistant and completed a summer internship with the Platteville Community Arboretum (PCA), where he supported trail maintanance and coordinated volunteers among other responsibilities. With KIC, Walter is working to expand the Cultural/ Natural Resource Department’s tribal citizen engagement program by developing partnerships to improve community access to resources, information, and networks related to cultural and natural resources. He is also supporting KIC projects related to to beach health and water quality.
Keshena, Wisconsin- Jessica is serving with the College of Menominee Nation in Keshena, WI. She graduated from Lawrence University with a B.S. in Biology and Environmental Science in 2019. While in school, she volunteered with her university's garden, supporting garden planning and composting efforts. Before joining VISTA, she worked as a weekend program coordinator at a lodge in Wisconsin. In her VISTA role at CMN, Jessica is now working to build native agricultural opportunities by expanding and coordinate the farmers market, increasing community engagement in the market, and contributing to the development of seed-saving efforts. She is also helping to build CMN’s capacity to conduct agricultural research by coordinating with internship programs at the Sustainable Development Institute.
Chief Lake, Wisconsin- Kristina is a recently returned Peace Corps Volunteer serving in Paraguay, where she worked with agriculture, high schools, and families to promote sustainable agriculture and environmental appreciation. She earned a B.S. in Crop and Soil Science at Virginia Tech with a minor in horticulture, global food security, and international studies. She is involved in organizations such as the Filipino American Student Association (FASA) and PNW REACCH research at WSU. She joined VISTA in order to continue working in Sustainable Agriculture Development and Extension. She has an interest in botany, food security, nutrition, and women in agriculture.
Winnebago, NE- Eleanor is passionate about working towards a world where everyone has a chance to live well. She believes that everyone should have the opportunity to access healthy food, comprehensive education, adequate health care, strong community, safety, and security. There is no need in the 21st century for poverty to exist, given the technologies and resources available. Eleanor loves connecting people to resources, having learned in the Peace Corps that "the answers are in the village," meaning that everything that every community needs is already there. It's just a matter of finding the person or organization that has the appropriate knowledge or resources to solve a given challenge. The Food Sovereignty movement highlights this truth by reclaiming indigenous ownership of food systems. Eleanor seeks to find and organize resources in a way that makes knowledge public and accessible. She is excited to learn more about and contribute to preserving Ho Chunk history and culture as an integral part of the process. Eleanor comes to Little Priest Tribal College in Nebraska from Maryland. She has degrees in Intercultural Communication and History.
Hoonah, Alaska. Jillian is serving at the Hoonah Indian Association in the Environmental department. Jillian grew up in Maryland and graduated from Lindenwood University with a B.S. in Environmental Science and a minor in Cultural Anthropology. In Summer 2019, Jillian worked with Juneau Sciences Laboratory as a silvicultural research assistant and then became an Environmental Scientist with a contracting company at the EPA headquarters in Washington D.C. At HIA
Environmental, Jillian is serving with a focus on community engagement and natural resources. Her work ranges from social media (@HIA_Environmental) to data collection in the remote Tongass National Forest. In addition to her interdisciplinary responsibilities, Jillian works with the Sustainable Southeast Partnership as a part of the Communications team and interacts with partners across Southeast.
Within her office she assists the Hoonah Native Forest Partnership, Coastal Resiliency Program, Indian General Assistance Program, and Youth Engagement.
Washington,DC - Erica is the VISTA Leader for the national coordination of Native American Capacity Building Network. Based at the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC), she works to support the development and implementation of the AIHEC VISTA Project. Erica provides technical assistance to VISTA members and sub-sites and creates community within the program. She also assists with strategic planning, grant writing, developing project plans, reporting, recruitment, and technical assistance systems. Erica holds a BA from the George Washington University in History and Sustainability and is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, having served in educational and youth development in the Republic of North Macedonia. She is passionate about community driven solutions and honoring cultural traditions to solve the challenges facing Native communities.