My name is Elena Gonzales, and I live north of Santa Fe, New Mexico, in a small town in the Española Valley. I will be entering my senior year of high school this upcoming August. At home, I am surrounded by mountains, and have grown to appreciate the land I live in. Many of my childhood days were spent fishing and hiking in the forests surrounding my town. From a young age, my parents taught me to be resourceful and value the earth we live on.
Growing up near organic farmers greatly impacted my view of nature. I quickly learned ways of avoiding pesticides, and being a conscious farmer, such as crop rotation and creating compost to reduce household waste. In addition to learning how to be a healthy farmer, my family taught me how to support a healthy environment. Anytime we would go camping or hiking, we would be aware of the impact we were creating. We would always leave the forest the way we found it and pick up any trash left by other people.
This summer I was given the opportunity to work as an intern for the River Source of Santa Fe. We have had both field days and office days, where I am able to work on river restoration projects as well as compiling and analyzing data. For instance, I learned how to build one rock dams to create more oxygen and a deeper pool for fish (see photo to left). With this internship I have been able to further my understanding of the human impacts on the environment. By collecting data and developing restoration strategies, River Source has also furthered my interests in environmental science.
On my first week working for the River Source, we held a fishing and water quality clinic at Cochiti Lake. There, we were able to demonstrate proper fishing techniques as well as how to rig and bait a fishing rod. We also showed the children how to sample and test the water. Working with local children benefited our organization’s mission to cultivate environmental stewards and helped enable students the ability to protect and use their homeland. Hopefully clinics such as this one will pique children’s interest in their environment and surroundings, and expand their ability to give back to their community and to restore and protect water and the earth.
This internship has broadened my interests in earth and environmental sciences. After my senior year of high school, I plan on attending New Mexico State University, where I will study environmental science. After college, I hope to stay close to home, where I can still visit the forests I have grown to love.
With thanks and gratitude,
note from Rich – we are honored to work with Elena and look forward to staying in contact and supporting her continued growth into the future.