Hope Restored, Life Beyond Distance Learning

Hello. My name is Cristian Chacón, and I am a student at Santa Fe High School. In the Summer of 2021, I was lucky enough to be chosen for an internship at River Source, a small company specializing in watershed restoration, education, and research in New Mexico. Our goals for this 2-week Internship were to learn about hydrology, stormwater harvesting, water conservation, and invasive species.

This was my first working experience. And I feel fortunate to have learned from Rich Schrader, and his colleagues, field educator/scientist David Fay, and water scientist and Cochiti Pueblo member, Carlos Herrera. They taught me safety, river monitoring (like water depth, observing bank damage, and looking for invasive species), and erosion control. We also had a session with Aaron Kaufman, who taught us about  stormwater harvesting. An employee from the City of Santa Fe taught us about water conservation. And I learned to pilot a drone. I am very proud of the video footage I shot using the drone.

I also learned about new and exciting concepts such as hydrology, and riparian ecology (for example, the conflict between human and wildlife uses of riparian areas).

I am very grateful for my experience at River Source. The last year of distance learning was an extremely difficult, and painful experience, especially for someone with learning challenges. I was not in a good place mentally or emotionally. Working with the River Source team has made a huge improvement in my outlook, and my mental and emotional well-being. I am part of a Teen Group in El Dorado, hosted by a licensed counselor, and he has remarked that this experience has been great for me, and has made a noticeable difference in my mental health and well-being. On behalf of my family and myself, thank you very much for this opportunity.