My interests in environmental conservation

My name is Tian Sandoval and I am from San Felipe Pueblo and the Zuni Tribe. My interests in environmental conservation have led me to participate in the youth internship with River Source. I recently graduated from Santa Fe Indian School and I am now pursuing my goals in environmental ecology and restoration.  

The River Source internship experience has impacted me in many indirect ways, such as introducing a new sense of mindfulness when it comes to environmental stewardship.

The experience has impacted me to consider the many factors that make up many of today’s critical issues. One factor is the lack of societal awareness regarding the conservation of watersheds. What I mean by this is that not many people have an environmental mindset yet. They lack the awareness of the benefits of maintaining the land and the watersheds and how their individual efforts can cause significant change overtime. From picking up trash to maintaining the natural lay of the land to prevent erosion and other issues stemming from human contact. 

This impacts future generations. 

After a week into our internship, we have opened the doorway for much potential change within the Santa Fe watershed. During the course of our internship we traveled to various communities along the Rio Grande and the Santa Fe Watershed to tackle the issues stemming from poor management practices, wildfires, historical drought and from the lack of societal awareness regarding healthy management practices. From building erosion control structures to educating the youth about the significance of environmental stewardship, our meaningful actions have given us hope for future endeavors.

During this program, the one thing that hit home for me was the importance of educating the youth. We can haul rock all day long, but educating the next generation and giving them the insight and the perspective to care for and be more mindful of where they live and where their water comes from is essential for future survival. 

Before the Watershed Academy, I thought about environmental work as small groups of people with a common goal, but now I see it as a call for humanity to recognize the critical moment we are in. With this in mind, I aspire to pursue higher education in conservation ecology along with community-based leadership.  

Over the course of this internship I had gained much appreciation for the various members and organizations that helped make this internship successful. First and foremost, I’d like to thank Rich Schrader and Carlos Herrera for their never-ending efforts to plant the seeds of knowledge into each of us. Individuals such as Allen Hook, Bob Finely, Toner Mitchell, Ellenor Mearns & Kathryn Mahan went above and beyond to provide us with an abundance of value and knowledge from their personal and professional experiences. I’d also like to thank the NM Youth Conservation Corps, LANL Foundation, McCune Foundation, Nusenda Credit Union, River Source, NM Forest & Watershed Restoration Group for “fueling” this three-week adventure. With these common aspirations, we have gained friendship & partnership that will (hopefully) ensure future sustainability and restoration efforts.