We recently came to the end of term for our AmeriCorps VISTA and Program Coordinator, Kassie Henrikson. Kassie spent the past year working with GEM through Arizona Serve. She was a vital part in the growth and development of GEM Corps in 2021 and 2022. We were honored to have Kassie work in many of our programs and to represent GEM as we worked throughout our community. Kassie is a very passionate person, who strives to work hard and accomplish anything she sets out to do.
“What I loved most about working with GEM was the freedom and support I had to pursue whatever interested me. Whenever I came to Eric or Ashley with an idea of something I wanted to pursue, they only asked what they could do to help. I was able to participate in a large variety of programs including community science, geology lectures, and directly teaching people of all ages and developmental levels about natural history, which is what I am most passionate about.
My next position is as a Park Guide at Indiana Dunes National Park in Northwest Indiana. I will be assisting park guests with planning their visits and sharing the unique qualities of this park with others. My experience at GEM helped me to gain more confidence when speaking to others about science and natural history, which is going to be a large part of my new job, so this experience was invaluable for me. My new position is temporary, so I'm not sure what I will be doing after that, but I know that the wide variety of skills I was able to gain through this experience will help me no matter what direction my career takes me moving forward.”
Thank you, Kassie, for all your hard work and dedication. We wish you the best of luck in all your future endeavors. You have left a lasting impression with GEM Environmental and have set goals for all our future team members. The world is a better place because you are in it.
GEM Environmental is proud to introduce our 1st time recipient of the Robert Graves Memorial Scholarship for Veterans in STEM. Andrina Shields, the mother of Robert Graves, has partnered with GEM to award a $1,500 scholarship to Veterans in STEM fields and to share Robbie’s story to help spread Veteran Suicide Awareness throughout our community. The 2022 scholarship was awarded to Shea Prescott. Congratulations Shea!
Shea is from Jacksonville, FL. He was honorably discharged from active duty in the United States Navy in 2020. He is currently serving as a SEL Reservist at 4th Navy Expeditionary Logistics Regiment at Blount Island, FL as an Electronic Technician 2nd Class. His interests include computer science, engineering, electronics, and the great outdoors. Shea values STEM education because humanity and the world itself is entering a technological age, and he feels that to expand and progress as a society, we need to understand and be at the forefront of these fields.
How did you hear about G.E.M. Environmental and this scholarship opportunity?
STEM SCHOLARSHIP INTERNET RESEARCH
Please provide a brief description highlighting your work/area of focus.
I am a service member in the United States Navy and I recently concluded a deployment in the Gulf of Oman on a destroyer and transitioned from active duty to reserves to pursue a degree at Jacksonville University's Electrical Engineering program. As an Aegis Fire Controlman 2nd class deployed in 2020, I was the work center supervisor for CF03 where I was responsible for the Fire Control aegis suite for anti-air and ballistic missile defense warfare areas for my ship. The technical training I received while serving in the United States Navy gave me the electrical background and theory to repair and conduct maintenance on sophisticated AEGIS BMD radars and illuminators. These skills provided me the foundation to pursue my electrical engineering degree at Jacksonville University. The primary mission of my ship was Ballistic Missile Defense and as a Missile System Supervisor. I operated the console in charge of final release of ordnance for air and BMD tracks that were threats to our nation and allies.
If your scholarship funds HAVE NOT BEEN USED yet, how do you anticipate you will achieve success?
The United States Navy has instilled in me the drive to succeed in my mission and the fortitude to finish the task at hand. My dream and aspiration is to achieve this degree in order to be employed by the Missile Defense Agency so that I may continue protecting our nation from ballistic missile threats on the homeland as a civilian. I've seen firsthand how sophisticated and advanced the potential destructive capabilities of inter-ballistic missiles can be. The importance of STEM related fields such as Electrical Engineering would give me the skills required to be on the forefront of our nation's defense and Patriot program.
Tell us what this scholarship means to you.
The military benefits for being a service member does not pay for all of my expenses, especially for books, labs, and other school supplies. This scholarship will provide me with the financial security in order to prioritize my education regardless of cost of living, transportation, and living accommodations. I am incredibly grateful and honored to be a recipient for the Robert Graves Memorial Scholarship. I am a first-generation STEM field major in my family. I hope to keep this trend and instill in my future family the importance of STEM related fields.
To learn more about Shea Prescott, click here.
GEM Environmental would like to welcome aboard our newest team member, Wayman Trujillo! Wayman is our new Member at Large.
Wayman was born and raised in the outdoors of Prescott Az. He went to Prescott High School and after graduation, attended Oklahoma Panhandle State University. As a rodeo scholarship recipient, Wayman was part of the OPSU Rodeo Team. He graduated in 2015 with a BA in social studies/ political science. Wayman’s goal was to attend law school and pursue a joint law degree and masters in land conservation, however, his love for being outside lead him to work as a wild land firefighter, cowboy, hunting guide and river guide. In these pursuits, he has witnessed firsthand the importance of STEM education, from fire ecologists to hydrology engineers
“The public lands depend on educated STEM students.” -Wayman Trujillo
Wayman enjoys spending time with his family and passing on his love of nature to his young son. He is still involved in rodeo, and is an active team roper. He currently works as a Title Examiner for Empire West Title Agency, working throughout Yavapai County. His passion and skills, also keep him busy with his side business and hobby, Wayman Trujillo Photography. Between family, work, photography, and team roping, Wayman also loves to mountain bike. Last month, he completed The Whiskey Off-road, a 30-mile extreme mountain bike event!
As a new board member, Wayman plans to use his community connections to help spread the mission of GEM. The satisfaction of helping GEM, in our conservation pursuits and getting people involved in our STEM programs, is what he looks forward to the most. Thank you for joining our team, Wayman!
Hi Folks! Welcome to a long-overdue episode of Annette's Adventures! I've been working in the Cookes Peak Mining District, located northeast of Deming, NM. The mining district encompasses three historic mining camps, Hadley Town, Cookes Town, and Jose Town. It is situated in Cookes Range, a rugged and remote mountain range centered around Cookes peak, which towers above the surrounding desert at 8,408 feet. My introduction to Cookes was one that I am not likely to forget but will reserve for another day. The results of such an introduction allowed me to meet the locals and learn the local lore and the routes they use to get around the region
One of such opportunities was a trip to Fort Cummings to show me the eastern entrance to Cookes Canyon, at which time I was told the canyon was the "Original 'Masacare Canyon'" and that this was the route that I should take to get to my field area. I would need to find the western entrance to the canyon. Following my guided tour of the region, I found out that the west entrance to the canyon was the first left after the second cattle guard. I immediately set out to find the west side of the canyon and travel through the canyon to the old spring house.
The first day after my introduction to the area, I took an off-road trail from the RV through a dry wash to a dirt road. I follow the dirt road to a secondary road that leads me to the canyon pass. On my first trip along this route, I noticed a small sign designating a parking spot in a seemingly odd location. I drove past the parking spot a small distance and saw large panels of petroglyphs on the hillside. I quickly realized that the parking spot was for the petroglyphs, so I backed down the road, parked LadyBug, and scampered up the hill to the petroglyphs. Standing on the hillside next to the petroglyphs put me in a state of awe. I looked around the surrounding area and thought about those there first and the type of life they might have lived.
After my awe-inspiring moments taking in the petroglyphs, I scrambled back down to LadyBug and continued my journey along the route. The road skirts around the valley floor from the petroglyphs. It climbs above the valley, passes through a saddle, and follows a gorge out the other side through a narrow valley to Fort Cumings. Once at the fort, I went to the spring house and read the plaque designating the spring as a part of the original Mormon battalion route and later the Butterfield stage route.
I explored the few remaining buildings near the spring before returning through Cookes Canyon back to camp. As I drove back through the pass, I felt the eyes of hundreds of Indians staring at me from the surrounding ridges. I kept a watchful eye on the hills, but the only silhouettes I saw were rocks and bushes.
That first trip through Cookes Canyon ignited my curiosity about the area's history, and I started listening to the stories of longtime residents. One person told me that naturally occurring lead contaminated the Cookes town spring and that if you visited the cemetery, you would notice a substantial amount of children. The storyteller continued to tell me that occasionally one of the miners would succumb to the lead poisoning and go on a rampage through town.
Cookes Spring was named for Captain Phillip St George Cooke 2nd U.S. Dragoons, former commander of the Mormon Battalion whose forward scouts discovered the spring in 1846. The spring was the only freshwater supply between Mesilla and the Mimbres River, and the nearby pass became a popular overland route. By 1858 the spring and nearby pass became part of the Butterfield Overland Route and an established mail station. The mail station became Fort Cumings in 1863 and closed in 1873. The fort was again used from 1880 to 1886 as a camp during operations against the Apache. At the height of operations, Fort Cumings included a parade ground, corral, and several adobe buildings that were all encompassed in a 10-foot tall adobe wall. At the time, this was the only walled fort in New Mexico. Amazingly the spring house stands intact after all these years, but all that remains of the fort is some walls melting back into the desert and a graveyard.
One book I found recounting stories from Fort Cumings described Cookes Canyon as a"'journey of death'" six miles or more in length and a gloomy gorge of four miles to add to its terrors." The author continues, "The tales of this gorge in the sixties where so many massacres were perpetrated by the Indians were gruesome enough." One such incident is the 'Battle of Cookes Canyon,' which tells of the Acke Party, a large group of refugees from Arizona heading east to Mesilla. As the last wagon entered the canyon, approximately 100 Apaches ambushed the group. The last wagon in the group was able to flee and returned to Mimbres, where they sent a plea for help from the Arizona Guards stationed at Pinos Altos. The ambush took the lives of 4 individuals and wounded many more. This incident sparked a series of skirmishes between the settlers and the Apache. One account says that the Arizona Gaurd recovered some cattle, and the sheep were later found in a side canyon not too far from the fighting.
I've safely passed through Cookes Canyon many times to Cookes Peak. Each time I pass through, I am struck by the beauty and the ruggedness of the terrain. I imagine life in the west during the pioneer days, and the thought of traveling this route with a wagon instills me with great respect for the pioneers of the old southwest and the Apache that came before. Until next time readers, thank you for joining another one of my adventures!
***Annette is a trained and experienced Field Geologist. Please be cautious and always keep out of any abandoned mining area. Safety First!***