We bring together undergraduate students from Mexico and the U.S. through our paid Path of the Jaguar Internship summer program. With mentorship from past interns, Sky Island Alliance staff, and conservation partners in the region, each intern experiences how wildlife and water science helps protect the Path of the Jaguar – the landscape and community where jaguars once roamed freely between Sonora and Arizona and can again. Our interns share their own cultures and perceptions of the borderlands with one another, gain firsthand experience setting wildlife cameras and surveying springs in the field, and build community connections that will support them as they forge new career paths in conservation.
Resumen del Programa
Reunimos a estudiantes de nivel superior de México y los EE. UU. a través de nuestro programa de verano con beca “Pasantía Camino del Jaguar”. Con la tutoría de pasantes anteriores, el personal de Sky Island Alliance y socios de conservación en la región, logramos que cada pasante comprenda cómo la ciencia del agua y la vida silvestre ayudan a proteger el Camino del Jaguar; el paisaje y la comunidad donde alguna vez los Jaguares vagaron libremente entre Sonora y Arizona, un lugar en el que pueden volver a hacerlo. Nuestros pasantes comparten entre sí sus propias culturas y percepciones de las tierras fronterizas, adquieren experiencia colocando cámaras de vida silvestre y examinando manantiales en el campo y construyen conexiones con la comunidad de conservacionistas que los apoyarán a medida que forjan nuevas carreras en conservación.
My name is Aleidys Lopez Romero (she/her/ella) and I am a fourth year undergraduate majoring in Women’s Studies and Sustainability Studies at the University of Florida. I had the privilege of interning with Sky Island Alliance in summer 2021 thanks to the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program. During this internship, I gained a newfound appreciation for water and its extraordinary power to shape landscapes, I earned invaluable hands-on experience with habitat restoration, and I created unforgettable professional connections. For these reasons, I am beyond excited to be coordinating SIA’s Path of the Jaguar Summer 2022 Internship program. As an internship coordinator, I will be primarily located in Tucson, AZ and I will be leading many of our virtual meetings, accompanying interns on certain field work experiences, and serving as a readily-available resource for staff and interns alike. I cannot wait to meet and make lifelong memories with you all this summer!
Mi nombre es Aleidys Lopez Romero (ella) y soy estudiante de cuarto año de la carrera de Estudios de Mujeres y de Sostenibilidad en la Universidad de Florida. Tuve el privilegio de hacer una pasantía con Sky Island Alliance en el verano de 2021 gracias al Programa de Becas de Conservación Doris Duke. Durante esta pasantía, obtuve una nueva apreciación para el agua y su extraordinario poder para dar forma a los paisajes, obtuve una experiencia práctica invaluable con la restauración del hábitat y creé conexiones profesionales inolvidables. Por estas razones, estoy más que emocionada de coordinar el programa de pasantías Camino del Jaguar este verano. Como coordinadora de la pasantía, estaré ubicada principalmente en Tucson, AZ y estaré dirigiendo muchas de nuestras reuniones virtuales, acompañando a los pasantes en ciertas experiencias de trabajo de campo y sirviendo como un recurso disponible para pasantes.
¡Estoy ansiosa para conocerlos a todos y crear memorias de por vida este verano!
My name is Miguel Francisco Enríquez Galaz and I live in Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico. I have a degree in Biology. I started participating with Sky Island Alliance through the Internship for the Conservation of Pollinators in 2019. I had a great experience getting to visit new places and learning the importance of pollinator gardens. After the internships, when I was a student at the Universidad de la Sierra, I helped Sky Island Alliance lead a Bioblitz in Sonora. I participated again in the following Binational Internship in 2020. During this internship, I had multiple trainings on identifying species documented on the trail cameras part of the Border Wildlife Study and FotoFauna project. Through these experiences, I learned about the wildlife found in the sky island region and completed my undergraduate thesis on the use of trail cameras to document wildlife species in the region. I am now working with the Sky Island Alliance as a “Sonoran Wildlife Specialist”. I can’t wait to meet you and pass on the knowledge I’ve learned about wildlife camera trapping!
Mi nombre es Miguel Francisco Enriquez Galaz, vivo en Agua Prieta, Sonora, soy Licenciado en Biología. Inicie participando con Sky Island Alliance en la Pasantía para la Conservación de Polinizadores 2019, en la cual viví grandes experiencia conociendo lugares que jamás pensé conocer y aprendí sobre la gran importancia que tienen los jardines polinizadores, siendo en ese momento estudiante de Universidad de la Sierra, posteriormente participé liderando Bioblitz con apoyo de Sky Island Alliance, posteriormente participé en la Pasantía Binacional 2020, durante la pasantía tuve múltiples capacitaciones sobre la clasificación de especies por medio de fototrampeo y sobre el proyecto FotoFauna, en el cual aprendí sobre la fauna silvestre que se encuentra en la región de las islas del cielo, gracias a ello tuve la oportunidad de hacer mi memoria profesional enfocado en la identificación de fauna silvestre. Ahora me encuentro trabajando con Sky Island Alliance como “Especialista en vida silvestre de sonora”.
¡Estoy ansioso por conocerlos y transmitir el conocimiento que he aprendido sobre fototrampeo de fauna silvestre!
My name is Ángel García and I live in Esqueda, Sonora, Mexico. I have a degree in Biology from Universidad de la Sierra. I currently hold the position of “Sonora Springs Specialist” with Sky Island Alliance. I joined this organization through the Binational Internship program in 2020 when I was a student at Universidad de la Sierra. During that internship, I learned about the Spring Seeker project, which gave me the opportunity to explore beautiful landscapes of Sonora as I searched for and evaluated springs together with my family. From that moment, I fell in love with this project because it made me realize the importance of water sources for the functioning of our ecosystems, wildlife, and human activities. Despite their importance, springs are severely threatened by many different factors. For this reason, I decided to focus on Spring Seeker during my internship and build my internship project into a undergraduate thesis. And now, here I am as the Sonoran Springs Specialist! I am excited to share everything I have learned about springs in the Sky Islands and join you on internship activities, workshops, and other fun fieldtrips.
Mi nombre es Ángel García, vivo en Esqueda, Sonora y soy Licenciado en Biología. Actualmente tengo el puesto de “Especialista en manantiales de Sonora” en la organización Sky Island Alliance. Comencé a integrarme a esta organización a través de la pasantía multinacional 2020, siendo estudiante de la Universidad de la Sierra, durante esa pasantía conocí el proyecto Spring Seeker (Buscando manantiales), el cual me dió la oportunidad de explorar hermosos paisajes de Sonora, mientras buscaba y evaluaba manantiales junto a mi familia. Desde ese momento me enamoré de este proyecto que hizo darme cuenta de la importancia que tienen las fuentes de agua para el funcionamiento de nuestros ecosistemas, la vida silvestre y actividades del ser humano y que a pesar de ello están siendo altamente amenazados por distintos factores, por ello aproveché la oportunidad de poder hacer algo al respecto y decidí enfocarme en Spring Seeker para realizar mi proyecto de estadía y convertirlo en mi memoria profesional.
¡Y ahora estoy aquí! Emocionado de poder compartir con ustedes todo lo que he aprendido sobre manantiales en las Islas del Cielo, realizando actividades, talleres y divertidas salidas a campo…
Through data analysis and project development, our participants engage in a mix of water conservation, wildlife monitoring, and community outreach projects. Here’s a sample of what our previous interns worked on:
- Wildlife camera installation and photo analysis for our FotoFauna project.
- Spring survey completion that advanced knowledge of the state of Sonora’s water sources.
- The development of a Spanish field guide for Sonoran wildlife species.
- Interviews with Sky Island community members to understand their interests in natural resource conservation.
Participants of our innovative internship program draw on their experience to lead conservation efforts in their communities and are building a stronger Sky Island conservation movement as a result.
“I always had a love for nature, but I wanted to do lab research – concentrating on specific species. Thanks to this project, my interest in conserving nature in general has grown.” Ángel Godinez, 2020 Intern, 2021 Fellow, and UniSierra Graduate
Meet our Summer 2021 Interns
I am Mónica Montaño, I am from Moctezuma, Sonora where I am currently living. At the moment I am still a student of the Biology career at the Universidad de la Sierra, but I am about to attend the last semester. The classes that I liked the most during my career were zoology, population ecology, community ecology, and limnology.
I think that being part of this internship with Sky Island Alliance and conservation is a great opportunity for growth, and I am excited to take advantage of these two months learning about such interesting topics as the preservation of biodiversity, the current situation of landscapes, plans for conservation, as well such as the techniques that are used and also some associated historical data. Finally, for my next steps in my profession I would like to continue doing conservation work, more than ecological studies, doing field work in general.
Maybeth Yulissa Pinto Santana
My name is Maybeth Yulissa Pinto Santana. I am from Agua Prieta, Sonora. At the moment I am in Puerto Peñasco culminating my social service in a desert bird monitoring project within the El Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve by CEDO (Intercultural Center for Deserts and Oceans). At the moment I am studying a degree in Biology. My favorite subjects are botany, zoology, and ecology.
I am excited to participate with Sky Island Alliance and their conservation internship because I would like to contribute in all possible projects that have to do with caring for the richness and diversity that we have, learn from all the experiences provided and make new friends. I would like to work on something related to the conservation of species or environmental policies and carry out monitoring in an area and determine its vulnerability. For the moment, I would like to work and gain experience and in the future continue with a master’s degree.
Hello! My name is Gabriela Alejandra Smith Ramírez originally from Villa Hidalgo Sonora, currently living in Nacozari de García Sonora with my parents. I studied biology at the Universidad de la Sierra in the municipality of Moctezuma Sonora, where I lived before the pandemic. Taking this degree made me understand some subjects, which became my favorites, such as chemistry, botany, and biology.
I am excited about this Sky Island Alliance internship, for the idea of the knowledge that I can acquire in the course, as well as how fun it can be to learn something new, and to live with other people who are not in my environment. Conservation is an important point since many species can be saved, within the flora and fauna, as well as ecosystems, which are exposed to daily activities, and to ancient methods where they can be affected and reach their extinction.
Fátima Sotelo Molinar
My name is Fátima Sotelo Molinar, I am from a small town in the Sierra Alta called Aribabi, and I currently live and study in Moctezuma, Sonora. I am a biology student at the Universidad de la Sierra. The subject I most enjoyed was edaphology and hydrology because of the field practices we did. I am excited to work on the issue of conservation because it seems important to me to make correct use of the flora and fauna resources that surround us and to restore actions that previously had negative effects on the environment. At the end of my degree, I would like to work in the area of flora and fauna impact as indicators of environmental quality.
Ya’ at’eeh’. Hello, my name is Adrian Morris and I am of Navajo and Laguna Pueblo decent. I am originally from Mexican Springs, New Mexico on the Navajo Nation; however, I currently reside in Northern Arizona. Growing up on the Navajo Nation, I have long been nourished by the natural elegance and mysterious beauty of life in the Southwest. From a young age, I’ve had a curiosity about the world around me and how to find my place in that world. I have a background in art and painting, and I am working towards completing my art degree at Tohono O’odham Community College. Through art, I have been able to channel my connection to place and space in a tangible way that utilizes many ways of seeing light, space, and perspective. Art has been an avenue for me to connect with my Indigenous culture and share that with others.
My name is Aleidys Lopez Romero (she/her/hers/ella). I was born in Cuba, live in Tampa, FL, and currently reside in Tucson, AZ. I am a double major in Sustainability and Women’s Studies at the University of Florida. I love philosophy and environmental courses. I am excited to learn more about the incredible diversity in the Sky Island region and make connections with professionals as well as aspiring environmentalists. My current career plan is to become a professor with a focus on the human dimensions side of environmental conservation.
My name is Cassandra Villegas. I am a tribal member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe in Arizona and currently live in San Diego, California. I am pursuing a Business Administration and Small Business Management Degree at the Tohono O’odham Community College.
I have a 6-year-old son named Jon-Michael. I am invested in learning more about the programs and projects of Sky Island Alliance. I would like to take what I learn back to my tribal community and implement some of the programs.
Resources & Presentations by Our Interns
The Next Generation of Sky Island Leaders:
During this webinar, we shared how our Sister Parks Project in collaboration with the National Park Service led to the creation of a binational internship program for undergraduate students and hear from our 2020 Universidad de la Sierra interns as they explain how our program inspired them to take action in their local Sonoran communities! This event is presented bilingually in English and Spanish.
Evaluation of Water Sources in Sonora’s Sky Islands:
During this coffee break, we had a conversation with UNISIERRA undergraduate and Sky Island Alliance intern, Ángel Octavio Garcia Godinez, about the results of his Spring Seeker survey project in Sonora, MX in summer 2020. Ángel surveyed more than 40 springs with his family, dramatically increasing our knowledge of springs in the area and came across an inspiring array of plants and wildlife including a Sonoran mud turtle.