Celebrating Zoe Fullem’s Contributions to the Borderland Community

Zoe Fullem joined our staff in the very first days of Covid craziness of March 2020. She met me in Elgin, AZ for a few days of action-packed camera deployment along the U.S.-Mexico border in the Huachuca and Patagonia Mountains. We were setting up our Border Wildlife Study and at the time, the rugged mountain roads and the vistas across the unwalled border took our breath away. Zoe powered up steep terrain with a smile on her face and immediately settled into the role of leading our field campaign to document the wildlife community at risk by border wall construction. Over the following months, Zoe’s passion for people in the borderlands showed through and she soon became our Community Science Manager. She welcomed new FotoFauna partners, trained volunteers in Spring Seeker, and diligently championed inclusion, diversity, equity, and access across all aspects of our program work.  

One of Zoe’s most significant accomplishments was convening and leading our paid Internship Program – recruiting and engaging Sonoran students from Universidad de la Sierra, undergraduates from the Tohono O’odham Community College, and the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program. In 2021, Zoe made our dream to support the next generation of transboundary conservation leaders a reality by hosting our first multinational, multilingual, multicultural cohort of seven students. Her kind and thoughtful demeanor made the internship program a safe and interesting place for learning and cultural exchange—resulting in all students saying they would 100% recommend the program to others. We will build on Zoe’s tremendous work and host an expanded cohort of students this summer, using the framework Zoe established to create more opportunities for young professionals. 

This spring, Zoe and her husband welcome a beautiful baby girl and Zoe has left her role with Sky Island Alliance to focus on her new family and next chapter of life. We will miss her so much and are grateful for all the ways she brightened our organization, inspired the next generation and made a mark on the borderland community.