Written by Danielle Toya
My name is Danielle Toya. I am Native American from Jemez Pueblo, New Mexico. I grew up in Jemez Pueblo where the environment around me is filled with natural places: my backyard is a forest, field lands, and a ranch. In this place, I was able to make the best memories and learned how to plant, garden, raise cattle, and live life to the fullest. I am still learning about my environment as I continue to explore and adventure in it.
I am currently in school working towards earning my Associate Degree in Geographic Information Systems, also known as GIS, which is mostly learning to create maps. What made me interested in GIS was working as a crew member for the FSYC (Forest Stewards Youth Corps) summer program. Working with the Jemez Natural Resource Department, we learned how to use Avenza to pinpoint the location of headgates that regulate water flow in the Pueblo acequia system. This allowed me to see the ways GIS could be used in and out of Jemez.
The summer FSYC program helped me see the bigger picture of how GIS can be used in natural resource management, and of the importance of protecting natural resources. This program was a big learning experience for me. Now, my mentorship with the Forest Stewards Guild has given me a chance to build experience while earning my Associate Degree. GIS is such a broad topic and being an intern with the Forest Stewards Guild gives me time to explore different career options.
This mentorship with the Forest Stewards Guild was a great choice for me, to continue working for them on a weekly basis and getting to sit with Guild staff and listen to their experiences and projects they work on. Through my internship, I’ve gotten to experience a working office environment and field projects, including going on a field tour to observe a prescribed burn with Leonora and Rachel, learning about Home Hazard Assessments with Gabe, resume-writing and interview prep with Liz, GIS map creation with Sam and Matt, and working on a wildfire report with Zander.
Guild staff members have also provided me with advice to help me narrow down my career choice and have helped me get my future started by mentoring me to learn. I am grateful for this opportunity allowing me to get an idea of my future and I am grateful for the help of Guild staff. I wish to build on my knowledge and education to someday help preserve and protect our native lands.