Advisory Group

Advisors provide experiential and creative input regarding our projects, courses, and teaching approaches. Collectively, these individuals also strengthen the partnerships that help us to have a greater impact in our own communities and organizations.

In alphabetical order

Berlinda Baca – Advisory Group Member

Berlinda is the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Branch Chief for the US Forest Service. She has dedicated her career to helping underrepresented students find their way through the diverse careers paths in natural resources, and successfully make their way into the workforce. She has been an essential partner with Minority Serving Institutions and their students, and continues to develop creative outreach programs in the natural resources community. Berlinda grew up in a farming community along the Rio Grande where she was born and raised, and where she lives today.

Renee Benally (Diné) – Advisory Group Member

Renee is a Natural Resource Specialist for the Bureau of Indian Affairs on the Western Navajo Agency where she assists other employees BIA, Tribal staff, or local communities in improving the rangeland. Renee’s responsibilities include the care of the rangeland, farmlands, noxious weeds, range and weed inventory, range improvement, conservation planning including NEPA documentations, administration of grazing, and agricultural land use permits. Renee was also a part of NARTI’s initial focus groups, and also took the Introduction to Rangeland Ecology course that we offer through this program. Her input has been very useful.

Arthur “Butch” Blazer (Mescalero Apache Nation) – Advisory Group Member

Arthur “Butch” Blazer has extensive experience in working with Federal, Tribal, State and local entities, as well as non-profit organizations, and has held various executive management and leadership positions over his 40+ years as a public servant. He is the former USDA Deputy Undersecretary of Natural Resources, and also served as President of the Mescalero Apache Nation. Butch helped to establish the Native American Fish & Wildlife Society through his passion to keep Native youth connected to the land. He now dedicates his time full-time to advocate for youth and for programs that strengthen Tribal self-determination and food sovereignty. He lives in his home state of New Mexico with his wife, Joyce.

Ashley Carlisle (Diné) – Advisory Group Member

Ashley serves as the Education Coordinator for the Native American Fish & Wildlife Society (NAFWS). Before NAFWS, Ashley earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, and her Master of Science degree in Conservation Leadership from Colorado State University (CSU) in December of 2019. As her master capstone project, Ashley lived in Belize for four and a half months working for Ya’axche Conservation Trust’s Human Jaguar Conflict Program. Her interest and passion in natural resources stemmed from her ranching background. She wants to continue to build herself so that she can be a role model to Native Youth and emerging professionals as well as be the person her people need. Ashley is from Tohatchi, New Mexico.

Robert Compton (Eastern Shoshone Nation) – Advisory Group Member

Robert Compton is from the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming.  He is also a US Army Combat Veteran of 21 years of military service and has been working with USDI Bureau Of Indian Affairs (BIA) as a Rangeland Management Specialist for the past 20 Years in service to our Indian Country in the Northwest Region.  Robert was fortunate to be able to use the USDA Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) to gain valuable working experience and tuition assistance to receive his Bachelor of Science (BS) degree from the University of Wyoming. Robert currently resides in Oregon.

Iric Burden – Advisory Group Member

Iric is the US Forest Service Range Program Manager for the Kaibab National Forest in Arizona. He has traveled around the globe assisting with and supporting conservation projects in Mexico, Africa and Tajikistan.  He has honed his skills in range management working for  over 750,000 of ranch land, but his roots are in Arizona where he was born and raised in the beautiful grasslands of Sonoita where he learned the necessity of conservation. Iric has worked for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service where he provided important assistance to local Tribes, and was instrumental in the development of youth recruitment programs through the state chapter of the Society for Range Management. He lives in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Helena Deswood (Diné) – Advisory Group Member

Helena is the Tribal Coordinator for the Southwest Climate Hub where she enjoys working with agricultural producers and land managers. Helena earned her degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in Animal Science and Masters of Science in Environmental Science from New Mexico State University. She grew up with a dryland farming and ranching background in Neestá, Arizona. Helena has worked in the Tribal Extension field and as an Agricultural laboratory manager. She resides in New Mexico with her family.

Heather Dial – Advisory Group Member

Heather Dial is the West Region Plant Materials Specialist for the USDA-NRCS West National Technology Support Center.  After serving as an active duty airman in the United States Airforce, she began her career with NRCS in 2007 at the Tucson Plant Materials Center while pursuing a degree in Range Management at the University of Arizona.  Heather is involved with developing plant solutions for conservation needs on crop, pasture and rangelands.  She has been involved with efforts in the Society for Range Management and currently serves as the Chair-Elect on the Diversity & Inclusion Committee.

Dr. Diana Doan-Crider – Project Coordinator and Course Instructor

Diana is the coordinator for the Native American Rangelands Training Initiative, and also serves as the Director of Animo Partnership in Natural Resources. Animo Partnership is dedicated to partnering to strengthen underrepresented groups in natural resources through place and culture-based programs that give strong consideration to cultural and traditional beliefs. Diana is a wildlife, range, and landscape ecologist, and directs her projects into cultivating a synergy between natural resource conservation and agriculturally-based communities. She has strong cultural ties to her mother’s homeland of Mexico, and passionate interests that are tied to her family’s own tribal heritage and the teachings of her grandfather who was a Tepehuano native from the mountains of Durango, Mexico. She lives in Texas with her husband, Cody.

Kelsey Ducheneaux (Cheyenne River Sioux Nation) – Advisory Group Member

Kelsey is the owner of DX Beef, LLC, a direct-to-consumer regenerative beef operation. She is the Natural Resources Director for the Intertribal Agriculture Council, where her passion lies in working directly with land managers and producers in promoting regenerative agricultural practices. Kelsey is currently in her second year as a Doctorate in Education Candidate with Northcentral University. Through the experiences of her education and job, she has been able to empower the underserved and underrepresented populations of Indian Country, and works hard to enhance producers’ connection to consumers in an effort to re-localize more resilient food systems. Kelsey is a family-focused individual (including her four legged family of horses, cattle, and dogs), and lives in her homeland in South Dakota.

Zach Ducheneaux (Cheyenne River Sioux Nation) – Advisory Group Member

Zach is part of the third generation to operate the family ranch on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in north central South Dakota. Zach served as a tribal council representative for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe from 2000 to 2004 and became the Tribe’s delegate to the Intertribal Agriculture Council, and secretary of the board, a role he is honored to have filled. However, Zach’s connection to the IAC spans nearly 25 years, as his first professional employment was with the organization as a Farm Advocate from 1994-1997. Today he continues to educate others about the critical role of improved food systems, value-added agriculture, and foreign exports in any successful economic development model in Indian Country.

Yvette Gibson – Course Designer and Instructor

Yvette is teaching faculty in the Department of Animal and Rangeland Sciences at Oregon State University.  She earned her B.S. in Natural Resources online at OSU as a non-traditional student and a Masters of Science in Rangeland Ecology and Management. Yvette is a pioneer in teaching field-based science online, and has led the charge to offer the first online Rangeland Science degree in the U.S.  She is a leading voice in the discussion of whether a field-based science can be taught online and best practices in doing so. Yvette also teaches for the Native American Rangeland Training Initiative and NRCS.

Dr. Ruth Hall (Three Affiliated Tribes) – Advisory Board Member

Dr. Ruth Hall is descended from the Fort Peck Sioux and Assiniboine, and holds degrees in Environmental Science, Elementary Education, Organismal Biology and Ecology, and Forest & Conservation Sciences. She has worked for multiple tribal and non-tribal institutions of higher education. Currently, she is the Co-Principal Investigator of the NSF Willow Project where she is the lead social science researcher at the University of Montana and is the Director of Native American Studies at Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College. She lives in North Dakota with her children.

Norman Jojola (Pueblo of Isleta) – Advisory Group Member

Norman currently serves as the Natural Resource Manager at the Northern Pueblos Agency for the USDI Bureau of Indian Affairs.  He attended New Mexico State University, and received BS Degrees in both Wildlife Management and Range Management. He was formerly employed with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and has used his education and skills to partner with Tribal communities in the management of their natural resources. Norman has invested much of his time into the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society where he helped to implement their youth conservation programs to instill the importance of cultural values and traditions in natural resource management. Norman lives in New Mexico where he remains active in Tribal conservation activities.

Janene Lichtenberg – Advisory Group Member

Janene joined the Salish Kootenai College faculty in 2013 and helped develop the Wildlife and Fisheries Degree Program. She courses about wildlife ecology, habitats, conservation, and management, and recently joined the NARTI team to teach the Introduction to Rangeland Ecology course that was developed by our program. Janene worked for 12 years as a Wildlife Biologist for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, 2 years as an Ecologist for the U. S. Geological Survey – National Wetlands Research Center, and several other wildlife-related jobs. She resides with her family in Pablo, Montana.

Lisa Lone Fight (Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation) – Advisory Group Member

Lisa Lone Fight, M.S. (born to Dripping Dirt Clan, child of Waterbuster), is the Founding Director of the MHA Nation (Fort Berthold Reservation) Science Department.  Her work has run the gamut from direct response to environmental incidents and fieldwork to theoretical and applied work in remote sensing and Indigenous Science, a topic for which she has been strongly influential. Her work on Indigenous women’s intellectual property led her to be an invited speaker at the United Nations. Her current position as Director of Science includes land cover analyses, developing a tribal science and research plan, and ecosystem response to climate change. Lisa is also a Doctoral Student in Earth Sciences at Montana State University where she addresses Indigenous environmental response to large scale extractive energy development. 

Don Motanic (Umatilla Nation) – Advisory Group Member

Don has been a Technical Specialist with the Intertribal Timber Council since 1995. He’s spent most of his 42 year career as a forest engineer and forest manager with the Bureau of Indian Affairs that included living and working with the Yakama Nation, Umatilla and Spokane Tribes.  He has been involved with Native youth through the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, Wisdom of the Elders, Inc., Washington Ag Forestry Leadership Foundation, Washington State University-Vancouver Native Advisory Council, Society of American Foresters, Big Brothers and Big Sisters. At home in Brush Prairie, WA, the family’s horse boarding business has evolved with Don and his wife Mary Beth, helping their daughter Jayme move into breeding and training reigning horses.

Nick Padilla (Pueblo of Isleta) – Advisory Group Member

Nick serves as the Chair for the Society of Range Management’s Native American Rangeland Advisory Committee (NARAC), and is from Isleta Pueblo, New Mexico. He is currently the Range, Restoration, and Wildhorse Program Manager for the Carson National Forest, based out of Taos, New Mexico. He has worked as a Rangeland Management Specialist in the states of Nevada, Wyoming, Colorado, where he honed his knowledge of rangeland management, and skills in permit administration, communication, monitoring, grazing ecology, wildfire, estate planning, and multiple use. Along with his involvement with his own Tribal community, these positions have enabled him to serve a variety of stakeholders, including diverse types of ranching operations, the public, and Tribal producers.

Dannele Peck – Advisory Group Member

Dr. Dannele Peck is Director of the USDA Northern Plains Climate Hub, which connects working-land managers (farmers, ranchers, foresters) with science-based resources and partners to empower weather-ready and climate-smart decision-making. Since joining the USDA Agricultural Research Service in 2016, Dr. Peck has led the public rollout of Grass-Cast, a grassland forecast for ranchers in the Great Plains and Southwest, which can help strengthen drought preparedness. Prior to joining ARS, she conducted research, outreach, and teaching for 10 years at the University of Wyoming as an Associate Professor of Agricultural Economics. She holds a B.S. in Wildlife Biology and an M.S. in Agricultural Economics, both from the University of Wyoming, and a Ph.D. in Agricultural & Resource Economics from Oregon State University.

Jess Peterson – Society for Range Management EVP and Liaison

Jess serves as the Society for Range Management Executive Vice President.  Jess is proud to have assisted in the initial stages of the Native American Rangelands Partnership to utilize SRM as a key scientific society partner.  Growing up near Indian Country in southern Montana sparked a deep rooted respect and admiration for Native American history, customs and resource management.  Working the project during his tenure of being based in Washington, DC and then moving back to Montana and continuing the work on the project remains a highlight of his EVP role at SRM.  Jess and his family are based in Billings and manage a family cattle and haying operation.

Mark Sando (Pueblo of Jemez) – Advisory Group Member

Mark has worked in the Government sector for 26 plus years, and served in the United States Air Force for 5 years. Having worked as a technician for the US Forest Service, he decided to pursue his bachelor’s degree in Range Science from New Mexico State University (Go Aggies!), and rejoined the Forest Service in 2008 as a Range Specialist. He worked his way up to District Ranger, first starting on the Globe Ranger District, Tonto National Forest. He recently started as District Ranger on the Coyote Ranger District on the Santa Fe National Forest. Mark still farms traditionally on his homeland in Jemez Pueblo where he plants the corn of his ancestors. He is happy to be closer to home where he enjoys time with his family and Tribal community.

Dr. Julie Thorstenson (Lakota Nation) – Advisory Group Member

Julie is the Executive Director for the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society.  She grew up on a cattle ranch on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in Northcentral SD, where a love for the land and the environment was instilled in her.  Julie earned a B.S., M.S. and PhD in biological sciences from South Dakota State University.  Her research focused on cottonwood site selection using GIS for riparian restoration and incorporating culture into ethics education for scientists and engineers.  Julie has worked in Indian Country her entire career in various positions, including Wildlife Habitat Biologist and Health Department CEO for her tribe. Julie lives on her home Reservation in South Dakota with her husband and three children.

Ashly Hall (Mandan Hidatsa Arikara Nation) – Advisory Group Member