A Career in the Outdoors: Building Health, Equity and Sustainability

My internship with River Source has been an adventure so far, we have accomplished and learned so many things this past two week. Coming together and working as a group with the other interns was just a blast. On our first day reconstructing the campsite in El Rito we did water sampling for e coli, stream flow, water testing, and finally we spent time observing the campsite before the next days to come. When we began working on the campsite we had made an observation that there were a total of five areas that needed to be reconstructed and made ecologically friendly, and useful for campers/ visitors. The days were very hot and long, but we had put in twenty-one posts, 18 of them for a supported fence that was going to be a non access point for cars as well as a designated area for tents. We needed to move the fire ring away from the creek as much as possible, which we did. We also created a blockage for OHV’s on an area that had become eroded but that allowed foot traffic; we put in a picnic table, a supported fence, as well as posted information posts. A few other things we did while working on this project was create an area for people to enjoy the land as well as respect it. Trails were created for minimum OHV’s as well as information being posted all over from outside visitors as well as locals.

As part of my experience I would like to share some of the article from an Outdoor equity conference I had attended for RiverSource posted in the Albuquerque Journal. “Estrella Weikel, a student at Mesa Vista High School in Ojo Caliente, grew up gardening. To her, clean water and healthy crops at home, while her father worked in construction and sold firewood. That lifestyle,  she says, where she spent so much time outdoors with dirt under her fingernails,” helped me learn that there are other things in life than sitting around and not caring about the environment. It helps me in my life because I can think of ways to make our environment and lifestyle better.

That internship led me to River Source, a New Mexico group dedicated to catalyzing stewardship in water conservation. Last year, RiverSource was awarded a $15,000 Outdoor Equity Fund grant from the New Mexico Outdoor recreation division to continue the work with Mesa Vista and four other New Mexico schools. As part of the curriculum, River Source invited “community leaders who have lived, farmed and worked the land to participate and share their lived experiences and wisdom on what the water meant to all life and why we must preserve it.” Last fall I, Estrella, along with Alyssa Banuelos, an Albuquerque student who went backpacking with the N.M. Dream Team, another Outdoor Equity Fund supported group that fights for the uplifting of immigrant, queer and communities of color, spoke about our outdoor experiences at the virtual Outdoor Economics Conference. Both of us young women shared how the outdoors had inspired us, even in our future career choices. “I’ve always been really observant on what we need to keep our food, crops, and our air sources healthy,” I reported in the article, “so I started looking into hydrology.” Alyssa, who went backpacking for the first time through N.M. Dream Team says she now wants to do what her guides did for her: reach out to youth and get them outside, no matter their level of experience. “

Link to rest of article:  https://www.abqjournal.com/2354551/nm-must-invest-in-its-outdoors-and-its-young-peo ple.html