Recap from Our 2016 Charles Avery Intern Scholar, Mariah Tanay Ashley

Mariah receiving her plaque at the 2016 AHS Symposium, with Chris Avery

Mariah is a member of the Navajo Nation from Chichiltah, New Mexico. She graduated high school in 2010 from Santa Rita in Tucson, Arizona. She attended Diné (Di-neh) College in Tsaile, Arizona, and received an Associate of Science (A.S.) degree in environmental science in 2013. She then transferred to NAU and graduated with a B.S. in environmental science and geology in May 2016.

Mariah had the opportunity to intern with the USGS, collecting well measurement and water quality data on the Navajo and Hopi Reservations for the USGS Black Mesa Project under Jamie Macy and Jon Mason. The goal of the project was to collect water level measurements to assess the possible depletion of water from neighboring wells. Mariah gained first-level field experience and also rode a cable car across the Colorado River! Through the USGS, Mariah was able to adequately conduct scientific inquiries in accordance to the high standards of the USGS.

Furthermore, Mariah also interned with the City of Flagstaff where she learned how to monitor residential water consumption and helped with the City of Flagstaff Water Conservation Initiative. She gained insight into the political processes of residential water consumption and its distribution within the city limits. Mariah and the City of Flagstaff’s findings were presented at the Annual AHS Symposium in Tucson.

Lastly, she interned with the Navajo Nation Water Management Branch (WMB) in Ft. Defiance, Arizona, evaluating drought conditions across the Navajo Nation using in situ rain gauge information collected by the branch and GIS applications. In collaboration with the NASA Ames Research Center in San Francisco, she gained valuable experience with programming and GIS technologies. Mariah was able to continue her work with the WMB as a full-time employee.

Thanks to AHS and its dedication to helping students navigate their career paths, Mariah aspires to attend graduate school at Colorado State University to study hydrology and environmental policy. Mariah stresses the importance of cultural significance and environmental sustainability. She believes that incorporating indigenous cultural knowledge with western scientific methods is key to combating today’s environmental issues. Her long-term goal includes returning to the Navajo Nation to help her people and her community create a more sustainable environment for future generations.

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