Wildlife/Law Enforcement Student Completes Practicum at State Park With Alumnus

“I have always been passionate about protecting and preserving wildlife but was unsure what education to pursue to qualify as a game warden. When I found WNMU and the wildlife/law enforcement degree, I knew it was exactly what I wanted,” said senior wildlife-law enforcement student Jeff Bell. The native of Key West, Florida, said, “Growing up, I saw what could happen to an ecosystem if it is not properly maintained. After moving to New Mexico and seeing this beautiful land and the amazing animals, my desire to become a game warden and protect this place only increased.” For his senior practicum experience, Jeff chose to work at City of Rocks State Park alongside WNMU alumnus and Park Manager Gabe Medrano and a couple others, performing maintenance work, riding along with Gabe to enforce park regulations, and contributing to operate the visitor center. “One of the best experiences so far has been seeing all the wildlife that inhabits the park. I’ve seen barn owls,...

Art Major Draws on Muse for Successful Internship

“In my art pieces, subconsciously, I’d l put in elements of wildlife and nature,” said WNMU senior Yen Chu. Intertwining her artistic tendencies and her environmental concern, she now interns with Gila Resources Information Project — managing their social media channels and helping plan the group’s upcoming Gila River Festival, among other assignments which range from designing marketing materials to organizing photo shoots. “I never realized how much there is to do,” she said during her second week on the job. “Because it’s a nonprofit, everything is really self-propelled.” As an art major at WNMU, Yen has noticed many of her classes have touched on the environmental impacts on art, making her consider identity as it relates to place. “Creating art, I was once really focused on the network between people, but it’s broadened into how we relate to our surroundings as well as each other. “I want people to reconsider where they see themselves in the...

Senior Applies GIS Knowledge With Local Nonprofit

WNMU senior Nichole Bouvet once worked in corrections and was into conservation and hunting in her free time so dreamed of perhaps becoming a game warden. But her professors persuaded her to minor in geographic information systems. “I’d still love to work with the U.S. Forest Service,” she said, “but there are so many opportunities in GIS.” Having the course requirements behind her, Nichole sprung for a summer internship and senior practicum with the Silver City Watershed Keepers, a sister to GRIP. She started doing data collection in Pinos Altos Creek, San Vicente Creek and Silva Creek. Points of interest she was collecting include legacy trees—“the oldest, most beautiful ones”—around which the Watershed Keepers can work to minimize invasive species and allow local trees to flourish. She’s also marking homeless camps to help the Town of Silver City understand where people are staying and find somewhere safer for them to go. The organization's overall aim...

Forest-Wildlife Major Interns With Heart of the Gila

Grant County native Raquel Parga is finishing up a forest-wildlife degree at WNMU, doing her senior practicum with Heart of the Gila, and raising an almost two-year-old son. “I’ve overcome some obstacles in my life but I’m still going strong with my degree,” she said. Feeling fortunate to have been born in a place surrounded by forest, Raquel chose to stay in her hometown and pursue a bachelor’s in hopes of working in hydrology or ecology with the U.S. Forest Service. “I always loved being outside. The world seems kind of small at times, but when you’re out there, it’s so vast,” she said. Raquel opted to do eco-monitoring for Heart of the Gila “since the Gila River is one of our biggest assets here.” Over the past month, she has been in the field, testing the waters for PH levels, dissolved oxygen, total dissolved solids and so on. The experience has opened her eyes to how much of the hands-on and classroom work she does at WNMU applies in the real...

Greenhouse Enables Student Research

The new greenhouse under construction outside Harlan Hall is thanks to the U.S. Department of Agriculture grant the university obtained last summer to build a research program in nano-enabled agriculture. The facility will enable WNMU undergraduate research experiences that explore solutions to global problems hindering the industry’s ability to sustain the growing population. But this grant also supports undergraduate students looking into ways to achieve food security and improve the sustainability of agriculture. In partnership with former WNMU natural sciences faculty member Dr. Illya Medina Velo, the university’s Dr. Bill Norris, Goyce Koeppl and Chala Werber are continuing to lead students in testing nano materials on local soil to improve agricultural practices....

“Ice Cream Girls” Pays Homage to Local Girl’s Sweet Memory

The newly installed bronze sculpture at The Gardens near Light Hall is a tribute to the many generations Western New Mexico University has served since 1893. A trio of WNMU alumni spent six months creating “Ice Cream Girls” to pay homage to one local child’s sweetest memory and to the spirit of community that this institution represents. One summer in the 1930s, sisters Martha and Charley sat outside Light Hall while their mother was in class. A professor walked by and acted on his regret that they waited in the hot sun without ice cream. That experience was integral to their eventual pursuit of education at WNMU and to their lifelong investment in the local community. Before becoming a middle school teacher, Martha went on to make a name for the Lady Mustangs on athletic courts across the region as one of the first inducted into the Women’s Athletic Association Hall of Fame. Charley first worked at married student housing on campus and later worked at a downtown...

Math Faculty Member Earns 2021 Excellence in STEM Award

Since she started teaching in the Western New Mexico University Math and Computer Science Department in 2013, Tanya Rivers has worked to engage the whole community in math, working at the legislative level and empowering learners at the family level. During a ceremony on Thursday, June 10, Rivers will be presented with an Air Force Research Laboratory New Mexico Tech Engagement Office award, meant to honor a New Mexican dedicated to fostering the love of STEM in local kids through meaningful interaction. Rivers is being recognized for her dedication to fracturing stereotypes about math and improving access to education by introducing math and computer programming to young girls through Expanding Your Horizons workshops and leading events at Science Olympiad — both youth STEM education events at WNMU. The award also demonstrates the region’s appreciation of Rivers’ efforts to facilitate successful Family Math Learning nights in conjunction with math and computer...

WNMU Circle K Chapter Serving the Southwest, Welcoming New Members

The WNMU Chapter of Circle K International is made up of Mustang leaders with hearts for service. These students belong to the 12,600 member-strong network, which is sponsored by Kiwanis International, and are active locally and also involved with the organization at a regional level. Immediate Past President Ariana belonged to Key Club, the high school iteration of Kiwanis, and continued her habit of volunteering through the college club, successfully recruiting many of the chapter’s current members. “As a double major in nursing and rehab services, I’ve always had a love and passion for giving to others,” she said. Now current Chapter President Jozette “Zoey” Jarrott is holding the club together during a period of virtual meetings and sparse community events. “We’re trying to focus on service projects,” she said. “This spring, we held an officer appreciation event, delivering care packages to departments around southwest New Mexico.” They were...

School of Education Hall of Fame Inductees Serve Students Across Southwest

Four outstanding educators were selected to be included in the Western New Mexico University School of Education Hall of Fame and inducted during a virtual ceremony this spring. The 2020-2021 WNMU School of Education Hall of Fame inductees are Monica Ortiz Baca, Cindy Murphy Lee, Leland D. Miller and Mr. Darwin K. Bleak. Baca is a three-time graduate of WNMU. She earned a bachelor’s in elementary education in 1983, a master’s in counseling in 1996, and a master’s in interdisciplinary studies in 1998. WNMU recognized Baca for her 38 years of dedication to teaching elementary and special education and for service to her community of Chandler, Arizona, where she both lives and teachers. Her nomination read, “Mrs. Baca provides a safe and supportive place for her students, a place of refuge from the storms of life.” Lee graduated from WNMU with a bachelor’s in botany in 1981 and a master’s in secondary education in 1993. The WNMU School of Education recognized Lee for...

EMNRD Grant Funds Proposed Disc Golf Course Development

Western New Mexico University earned a $141,000 New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resource Department grant to fund Youth Conservation Corps internships for WNMU students, who will design and construct a proposed frisbee golf course. The interns will work closely with GIS professor Dr. Corrie Neighbors and Dr. Kathy Whiteman, who is the Natural Sciences Department Chair and also Director of the WNMU Center for Sustainable Futures and Outdoor Programs. In line with this grant award, WNMU is working to develop a partnership with the State Land Office to lease nearly 140 acres in Maudes Canyon of Silver City, which is near the intersection of Highway 180 the 32nd Street Bypass Road. According to the proposal, this property would be used to construct an 18-hole disc golf course and parking area, meeting community demand and fulfilling some residents’ dream. Only the most minimal improvements necessary would be made in the development of the course, which includes the...