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.
Melvin Arthur (Northern Arapaho) – Advisory Group Member
Melvin “Mel” Arthur is a research scientist at the University of Wyoming with an extensive background in food way reparations for the Northern Arapaho people. Recently certified as a facilitator for digital storytelling workshops he has committed his life and academic career to integrating the specific form of storytelling with digital formats for the betterment of the tribal members of the Wind River Indian Reservation, and to other Indigenous communities. He has based his research on a Food Sovereignty and Traditional Story advocacy for the Northern Arapaho people. This work is guided by a reparatory justice for Indigenous people and all oppressed populations.
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 in New Mexico 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 in the Western Navajo Agency, and works in Tuba City, Arizona. Their program oversees the care of the rangeland, farmlands, noxious weed control, range and weed inventory, range improvements, conservation planning including NEPA documentations, and the administration of grazing and agricultural land use permits. Renee assists other employees and local communities in rangeland conservation planning and implementation, and conducts educational outreach programs for the community. Renee is also a past student of the Native American Rangeland Training Program and provides us with input on course material.
Arthur “Butch” Blazer (Mescalero Apache) – 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.
Annette Bravo – Administrative Assistant
Annette is of Indonesian descent, and currently ranches full time with her husband and son who are Members of the Hualapai Tribe. Annette earned her BS in Environmental Biology from Grand Canyon University and MS in Fisheries Biology from Tennessee Technological University. Prior to full-time ranching, Annette worked for the Hualapai Tribe’s Natural Resources Department for 22 years, where she gained skills in administration, communication, grant writing, NEPA compliance, wildlife monitoring, wildlife habitat improvement, feral livestock removal, riparian restoration, preservation of endangered species, and aquaculture. Annette recently joined the NARTI team as an Administrative Assistant. She is also a past student of the Native American Rangeland Training Program and helps us improve course material.
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.
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) – 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.
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 (Tepehuán) – 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 strengthens place and culture-based educational programs and environmental justice efforts for underrepresented agro-ecological communities. Diana is a wildlife, range, and landscape ecologist, and applies her research toward developing tools that help people maintain healthy relationships with the land in the midst of a rapidly changing environment. Most of her research has been conducted in her family’s homeland of Mexico. She inherited her passion for teaching and environmental justice from her mother and grandfather, both who were Tepehuán natives from Durango, Mexico. Diana lives in Texas with her husband, Cody.
Kelsey Ducheneaux (Cheyenne River Sioux) – 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.
Kelly Fogarty – SRM Deputy Director of Operations
Kelly’s love for the land began at a young age as she was born and raised in the small town of Oakdale, California, in the heart of the Central Valley. Kelly grew up working on her family’s 5th generation beef cattle ranch and reveled in the time she was able to work alongside her parents and learn, first-hand the intricacies of managing rangelands. Kelly graduated from UCLA in 2009 with a degree in Environmental Studies and a minor in Political Science. Kelly is the SRM Deputy Director of Operations, and helps us manage the agency agreements and trainings between our funding agencies and the SRM.
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.
Ashly Hall (Hunkpati Dakota) – Advisory Group Member
Ashly is a descendant of Oceti Sakowin and was raised on Fort Berthold Indian Reservation where she currently lives because of her connection to the area. She has a BS in Environmental Science and works as a GIS Specialist for the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation. Her passion for the grasslands has been leading her to push for community led research and development. Two years ago she initiated the non-profit Descendants’ Alliance with the mission to cultivate community discussions around Tribal respective ecological settings and resource development to influence culturally relevant and environmentally sound socio-economics.
Dr. Ruth Hall (Mandan, Hidatsa, & Arikara) – 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) – 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.
Michael Margo – Advisory Group Member
Michael Margo is currently the National Grazing Lands Coordinator for USDA NRCS in Ft. Worth, Texas. He is responsible for leading national partnerships with groups such as the National Grazing Lands Coalition, Society for Range Management, and the National Cattleman’s Beef Association. Michael earned a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Rangeland Ecology and Management from Texas A&M University. In his most recent positions, Michael has served as an ecological site specialist in Tolland, Connecticut and a rangeland management specialist in Marfa, Texas. Michael is originally from Rio Grande City, TX.
Don Motanic (Umatilla) – 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
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.
Aimee Roberson (Choctaw and Chickasaw) – American Bird Conservancy
Aimee works for American Bird Conservancy, and holds degrees in geology and conservation biology. Aimee is committed to reciprocity, community, and environmental stewardship, and partners with nature and people to insure that native grasses grow and rivers continue to flow. She provides leadership to conservation partnerships in the Southwestern United States and Northern Mexico — co-creating a vision, integrating cultural values and ecological knowledge with science for meaningful decision making, and implementing shared strategies for conserving wildlife, water, and ecosystems. Aimee and her husband, Rawles, live in Texas and enjoy growing Indigenous foods, such as Chikashsha tanchi homma (Chickasaw red corn) and isito (Choctaw sweet potato squash).
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.
Lawrence Shorty (Diné and Choctaw) – Advisory Group Member
Lawrence is descended from the first farmers in the Southwest and the Southeast, and is a 1990s seed bank and seed sharing advocate. He co-established the Traditional Native American Tobacco Seed Bank and Education Program at the University of New Mexico and advocated for Native people’s return to using their original botanicals for ceremony. Lawrence has been a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Fellow, a W.K. Kellogg Foundation-funded University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Fellow, and a University of New Mexico and United States Department of Agriculture-funded University of New Mexico Fellow. He serves as the United States Department of Agriculture 1994 Program Lead, which advocates for the Nation’s 1994 land-grant institutions.
Dr. Julie Thorstenson (Lakota) – 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.