Mónica Montaño started with Sky Island Alliance as a summer intern in 2021 and is now a Sky Island fellow working to advance our conservation projects in Sonora. Read this fun highlight to learn more about her.
Tell us a little about your background
I was born and raised in Moctezuma, Sonora. My parents the same. Most of my family’s economic support comes from livestock. Since I was little, I grew up watching this activity in the fields and in nature. My dad instilled in me and my brothers an understanding and appreciation for legal, responsible hunting. I believe that this is where my interest in sustainability and resource management comes from, and from there came the idea to do a wildlife monitoring project while I was at the University of the Sierra studying biology. My wildlife cameras were in a Sky Island called La Huerta or “orchard.”
What brought you to Sky Island Alliance?
During the last semesters of my degree, I was presented with the opportunity to apply for a summer internship with SIA. I had already heard about the organization and its conservation work both in Arizona and Sonora. I was lucky enough to be selected for the 2021 internship program. Later, they helped me with my thesis project, which was related to wildlife monitoring and management. After my thesis presentation, SIA offered me to be part of their team, where my main role will be to support conservation projects in Sonora like FotoFauna and Spring Seeker.
What’s your favorite thing about the Sky Island region?
The Sky Islands are very interesting and diverse. At one moment you’re surrounded by a sea of grassland and the next you find yourself among pines, oaks and other vegetation — each different from the other. I think that La Huerta would qualify as my favorite sky island, since it’s the only one that I have had the opportunity to explore and learn a little more about. I’ve seen many wildlife species there such as rabbits, coati, deer, javelinas, and different kinds of birds.
Do you have a fun wildlife encounter you could share with us?
When I was in my fourth or fifth semester of college, there was a teacher who liked to take us out behind the school for his class, where there was a “path” that was used to make scientific demonstrations. One day he had class early, and I had arrived a little late. I joined the group when the teacher had started his class, and I had to stay behind with a classmate. Being in nature, you hear all kinds of birds, insects and the trees moving in the wind. My partner and I heard something and agreed that it was just the branches moving in the wind — but then right behind us a female javelina suddenly ran by. It was such a shock. After that the teacher continued with his class and we joined the group.
What’s one fun fact about you?
My friends and I agree that the field of biology, the study of life, has many interesting branches and jobs with very different duties. For my friends I am always “the daughter of the bad life” — haha — since I always prefer to work hours in the sun, walking and exploring rather than sitting inside a laboratory.
Let’s Play Two Truths & a Lie.
- I love BBQ sauce.
- I’m afraid of snakes, but they are my favorite animals.
- I love to dance.