"What I loved best was the amazing individuals I got to work with daily. It was so easy to show up, be a part of a group who loved to work outside, and turn all the problems we were requested to fix into solved ones. It was such an amazing experience to have learned through my own working hands as well as actually being in the field and being able to problem-solve/implement changes that benefit the environment based on the situation at hand."
- Mariah McGhee, YCI Participant
Mariah McGhee was one of GEM Environmental’s first youth conservation interns. She worked as a maintenance intern in cooperation with The Bureau of Land Management at the Phoenix District Office for 16 weeks. Mariah is from Kansas City, Missouri and recently graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a BS in Natural Resource Management with an emphasis on Forestry and a minor in Soils. Mariah discovered GEM after searching for Arizona environmental opportunities. Upon finding an opening with GEM, she was excited by the mission and vision of the organization and applied for the position immediately.
Throughout college, Mariah was exposed to various ecosystems and environments which further propelled her academic and professional interests. Her work consists of tree identification, invasive species identification/removal, soil testing, stand area data, forest management plans, and tons of Excel data sheets! Moving to Arizona and completing this internship provided an exciting opportunity to learn and implement different environmental methods. Repairing and restoring parts of the desert was a new and exciting experience for her.
Throughout this term, Mariah was able to apply her knowledge and work ethic into her field experience. This encouraged her to explore her creativity, problem-solving skills, working with available materials and resources, and so much more. It allowed her to appreciate being a part of STEM education and helped secure her passion for her field. This experience instilled confidence in Mariah while developing her skills, work ethic, and knowledge. In the future, this will allow her to be an even better advocate, employee, and receptive learner in this line of work, which in turn, will allow her to be a better advocate for the environment.
Mariah shared, “Being an African American female scientist and a first-generation student, my goal is to help diversify environmental studies and advocate for this topic to be systematically taught.” She hopes to implement the topic of Environmental Sciences in school education curriculums so that future students not only know the importance of our environment, and what has been done for many years to allow us to have these beautiful pristine lands, but also to educate future students on the fact that working in an environmental field is an attainable option that has more employment opportunities than one might think.
Mariah cited this internship as, “one of the best experiences ever,” and mentioned that one of the most valuable aspects of this experience was meeting some extremely knowledgeable individuals who have worked many years in the field and wanted to spread the knowledge they have acquired throughout their time as her mentors. She wanted to make sure to express her gratitude and thanks to both GEM and the Force Accounts crew for their hard work and welcoming her into this unique learning environment.
We wish Mariah the best as she continues along this exciting path, with her drive and work ethic, we expect she will make a great contribution to the scientific community.
Thank you Mariah for choosing GEM Environmental as your means to serve our community.