Indige-FEWSS Features

Celebrating our Trainees' Accomplishments

Reflections from 2022 trainee summer internships and community engagement 

Read & Watch Reflections

IndigeFEWSS Mexico Immersion Trip Reflections

Chrisa Whitmore

As a participant in the Mexico Immersion Trip, Chrisa reflects on the enrichment of her knowledge and experience by diving deeper into traditional food customs of the Mayan communities. She recalls a warm, embracing environment within the community, and connects the experience of cooking and laughing together to the household she grew up in. She found a new appreciation for the origins of certain foods on the trip, and has a new appreciation for the relationship the community had to the land they thrived off of. 

Leaves and fruit

Chrisa writes, "I was filled with enthusiasm to be in an environment dedicated to the study of food, water, and plant pathology." She reflects on how impressed she was by the collaboration of farmers and researchers through Centro de Investigación Científica de Yucatán (CICY). Chrisa deeply wants to go back to visit the community and encourages a collaboration between U of A and CICY, as well as the promotion of cultural competency trainings. 

Mayan Temple

IndigeFEWSS Mexico Immersion Trip Reflections

Saray Argumedo

Saray recounts her experience on the Mexico Immersion Trip as one of immense importance to her. She recalls how connected she felt to the place and its inhabitants, and treasures the impact it had on her heart. She emphasizes how sacred water is to the community, and recalls the palpable pain within the community when witnessing the damage done by outsiders who view the land from a lens of greed. 

Saray writes, "...I reminded myself as my elders have taught me, to always show up as a distant relative. A distant relative that was willing to listen, to learn, to exchange stories and to help each other in whichever way possible." Saray relates academia and community by stating how community projects and exchange allow us to connect theoretical frameworks to everyday life. 

IndigeFEWSS Mexico Immersion Trip Reflections

Jackie Rybin

When reflecting on her experience with the Mexico Immersion Trip, Jackie recalls the invaluable opportunity to learn more about traditional foodways of the Mayan peoples. She discusses helping to prepare shared community meals and gaining hands-on insight. 

Sunset over village

Jackie was honored to meet the community members and foster sincere and supportive connections; she hopes for future collaborations. She also hopes her teachings on nutrition requested by the community will aid in health outcomes by uplifting maternal and child nutrition in particular. 

Elevated garden bed

Jackie recalls: "... I enjoyed learning about Mayan history, culture and traditions through visiting archeological sites significant to ancient Indigenous Mayan peoples and another Mayan community focused on keeping their language, culture, and traditions from being lost to future generations."

IndigeFEWSS Mexico Immersion Trip Reflections

 Wilzave Quiles Guzmán

In her reflection of the Mexico Immersion Trip, Wilzave talks about the time spent learning about water resources and usage within the community. She emphasizes the value of a connection between her profession and local communities, writing "Elevating the local knowledge and using what they already know to share knowledge about scientific terms and findings that could be valuable for a community's well-being is essential."

Community building

Wilzave recounts learning about biotechnology within Mexico. She fondly looks back on spending time within the community and learning about their cooking practices, language, history, and spiritual practices. Likening the environment to her home in Puerto Rico, she appreciates the beauty of differences and identities. She encourages collaboration between the U of A and CICY, and wants to promote the importance of maintaining boundaries within the community when outsiders are present. 

Wilzave selfie

IndigeFEWSS Mexico Immersion Trip Reflections

Nikki Tulley

As a participant on the Mexico Immersion Trip, Nikki was reminded of why she started her academic journey, as well as the love and passion that drives work with the Indigenous community. She recalls impactful conversations with members of the Mayan community about their lives and hopes. She talks about discussions with community members and comparing their experiences of how their Indigenous identities have impacted their success in the western world. This encouraged her to consider co-development as a means of fostering solutions. 

Group food gathering

Nikki believes the trip participants can help the community by sharing their experiences on the trip and the feelings that were brought up within them from their time spent there. She encourages this sharing as a means of helping the community sculpt a way to conduct ecotourism operations that preserve the community's wishes and well-being. 

Hiking in the jungle


IndigeFEWSS Mexico Immersion Trip Reflections

Chantel Harrison

Chantel reflects on her experience with the Mexico Immersion trip as memorable, educational, and personal. She recalls being welcomed into a community that focused on creating a sustainable economic future through highlighting their culture and values. She was excited by the educational opportunities offered by CICY and emphasizes how remarkable their combination of education, research, and outreach to address environmental issues was. She sees an opportunity for the US to learn from the CICY efforts in integrating agriculture with community outreach to cultivate agricultural and economic success. 

Chantel looks back on connecting with the community in meaningful and respectful ways, and discusses sharing ideas for the future. She writes, "... I felt grateful for their willingness to host us and share their experiences and knowledge with the group. More specifically, I appreciated their willingness to share their culture, history of the community, and the challenges they face." She remembers noticing similar challenges within the Mayan community and Native communities of the US, and is encouraged to modify her work to meet needs of the community through incorporating their culture, agricultural roots, and favorite produce. 

Trainee Spotlight: Christopher Yazzie

Join us in celebrating IndigeFEWSS trainee Christopher Yazzie and his participation in the 2023 AEESP Research & Education Conference! This year's conference ran from June 20th through 23rd under the theme "Responding Together to Global Challenges." 

Christopher presented an oral presentation titled "Feasibility study of secondary effluent treatment with microfiltration and nanofiltration for food production in Navajo Nation." He reports that the presentation went well and he enjoyed meeting several people in his specific research field. He recounts the trip as a success, and he got to meet several authors of papers he's read at his first conference specifically for Environmental Engineers. 

Chris Yazzie at AEESP Conference 2023



Trainee Spotlight: Chantel Harrison

Join us in celebrating IndigeFEWSS trainee Chantel Harrison as she shares about her recent experiences and accomplishments:

"At the end of October, I received a scholarship to attend the Native Women Lead's Business Retreat in Santa Ana Pueblo, NM. I participated in the Pow Wow Pitch with over 25 women in the Start-Up category. I pitched about my business Indige Planted LLC, which is an education-based business that provides services and products that encourages others to reconnect with our plant relatives through garden and nutrition opportunities. I also shared information about controlled environment agriculture and the potential of developing a solar-powered hydroponic system that could be deployed throughout Indian Country. My business and mission of increasing healthy and Indigenous foods received the community's vote and I was awarded $7,000 from eBay to invest in prototyping a hydroponic system.

Chantel with Ebay check

In November, I participated in a discussion panel hosted by the Desert Botanical Gardens about Honoring Heritage and Identity: Return to Indigenous Food Sovereignty. Other panelists included Ajo Center for Sustainability. 

Lastly, I was interviewed by Native Health's Native Talk Arizona to talk about my work with Indige Planted and now Indige Flora, which is a temporary program under Indige Planted with the mission of inspiring creativity and mindfulness through floral art. 

Chantel Interview Flyer

I may have a few other projects coming up in the spring. However, my focus still remains on the greenhouse project and partnering with Native Seeds/SEARCH, and of course, graduating."


Congrats to the award winning team of the 2021 STEM For All video contest!

The video "Rising to the Call: Indige-FEWSS Navajo COVID-19 Response" won in the categories of Public Choice and Facilitator's Choice.

Check out our award winning video featuring Nikki Tulley, Manuelito Chief, William Borkan, Sarah Abney, Jaymus Lee, Karletta Chief, Vasiliki Karanikola, and Torran Anderson

Watch the video