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, I volunteered with UCSB Adventure Programs as an outdoor trip leader and guide.
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 an advocate for environmental justice aware of how Indigenous people are often withheld from their environmental rights. I want to address these issues, educate and learn from others, and work towards a positive change within the community.
Sitka, Alaska - Jesse is serving as the Marine Ecosystem Outreach & Research VISTA at the Sitka Tribe of Alaska. She comes to our program from another VISTA placement as the Community Engagement Specialist at the Martha O'Bryan Center in Nashville. She has also previously completed an internship at the Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network in Cape Town, where she assisted with research on lobster trade. With STA, Jesse is promoting community understanding of safe subsistence harvesting practices and marine ecology, coordinating youth interns and developing educational curricula about ongoing STA research.
Anchorage, Alaska - Rachel is serving with The Chugach Regional Resources Commission (CRRC). Born and raised in Anchorage, she is excited to be back home in Alaska after spending several years in Oregon. She received her B.A. from Willamette University in 2019 and subsequently joined an Oregon outdoor education non-profit as an instructor, spending her days teaching kids about the flora and fauna of the Willamette Valley. She also has an impressive track record of community service, having volunteered at her parish, through her high school, and in Haiti. As the Environmental Management and Youth Engagement VISTA, Rachel is helping design a youth engagement strategy to involve youth in natural resource management and planning, and is conducting outreach and partnership development for CRRC.
Anchorage, Alaska - Erin is the Natural Resource and Environmental Planning VISTA at the Chugach Regional Resource Commission (CRRC). She has extensive experience working at the state, local, and federal levels to mitigate and manage the impacts of climate change on natural and traditional resources. Her first VISTA placement several years ago with the Native Alaskan Village of Eyak initially launched her career in natural resource management and climate change adaptation with tribes. After spending time in Michigan working on clean transportation technology, Erin is excited to be back home, where her VISTA position allows her to work towards community-based solutions to environmental and economic challenges. She also loves taking advantage of all the hunting, fishing, hiking, skiing, and other outdoor activities Alaska has to offer.
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.
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.
Red Lake, Minnesota - Shelly is the first AIHEC VISTA member serving at Red Lake Nation College. She has a background in anthropology and recently earned a Master's in American Indian Studies from Arizona State University, where she focused on federal Indian law and policy. With family ties to the Haudenosaunee community in upstate New York, she has volunteered at multiple cultural events that promote local Indigenous traditions through storytelling, art, music, food, and political awareness. As a VISTA at RLNC, Shelly is supporting the college's new extension program and its mission to promote holistic wellness and sustainable living grounded in the Ojibwe language and culture. Her role involves assessing community mental health needs through surveys and developing experiential programming based on cultural knowledge and practices to improve community mental health.
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.
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.
Kristina is a recently evacuated 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.