Forest-Wildlife Major Interns With Heart of the Gila

Raquel Parga

© Western New Mexico University

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 world. “To complete our observation sheets, we look around the environment we’re in and note which species of trees and plants are most dominant there,” she said. “When you’re in college, sometimes you think you won’t use every skill, but you have to use them.”

During her university career, Raqeul has also picked up some life skills, having started a family before some of her peers. “All the professors are helpful and caring. They understood my situation,” she said.

This is a Western New Mexico University student profile, Stampede: Faces, Stories, Lives. Please get in touch with the names of other interesting Mustangs, and we’ll consider sharing their stories here.

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