Virgil Masayesva Memorial:

PO Box 15004, Flagstaff, AZ 86011-5004
Phone: (928) 523-9555
Fax: (928) 523-1266

Virgil Masayesva Memorial

The Virgil Masayesva Native American Environmental Education Scholarship Fund

Scholarship Recipients

2016 – Josephine Louise Kamkoff
Josephine Louise Kamkoff Josie is of Lummi and Yupik descent. Born in Anchorage, Alaska, she spent her school years in Alaska, and her summers in Lummi, Washington. She graduated for the Northwest Indian College with a Bachelor’s of Science-Native Environmental Science in June, 2016. From there, she began as a Master’s of Professional Science-Climate Science and Solutions major at Northern Arizona University. She will graduate spring semester, 2018.

Josie has broad experience in environmental science and education. She has monitored watershed restoration tree growth rate, assisted in planning wetlands restoration structure, assisted in soil survey mapping, performed marine biotoxin research, calculated CO2 uptake in restored wetlands, performed administrative work for a Tribal AmeriCorp program, done science educational outreach in science fields for primary education, and tutored college students in mathematics and sciences. Her experience as a volunteer, federal or tribal employee, and work in schools give her a foundation that allows for communicating science to tribal people, and tradition and culture to the scientific community.

Josie’s heritage of Lummi and Yupik descent have given her understanding of the need for multi-culture and diversity. Many solutions to life problems have been presented from traditional values instilled by her grandmothers and families from her tribal communities. She recognized similar values in the schools environmental and climate science and pursued those studies. She plans to use her Climate Science and Solutions degree to further improve people’s ability to protect and preserve the natural world by reducing the rate of climate change.

2016 – Chad Brown
Chad Brown Chad Brown hails from the proud tribes of Santo Domingo Pueblo, Santa Clara Pueblo, and the Navajo Nation in New Mexico. He graduated high school from Santa Fe Indian School in Santa Fe, NM. He is currently attending Northern Arizona University and entered in their distinguished Bachelor of Science program in Forestry. In the bachelors forestry program he is focused on obtaining a Fire Ecology and Management certificate. Chad is a non-traditional student and had worked full time for the Santa Clara Pueblo Forestry Department. Working for the tribe has fueled his decision to return to education after realizing his passion for environmental and forest stewardship. He is also a student trainee (forestry) for the BIA TREES Pathways program, which provides him a means to work for Indian country after graduation.

Organizations and clubs Chad is associated with at NAU are the Student Association for Fire Ecology (SAFE), Forestry Club, and the Logging Sports team. Participation on his logging sports team has earned him 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place awards in several events at two competitions he has attended. At these competitions he has helped earn both 3rd at the University of Montana and recently a 1st place overall team award at Cal Poly State University.

His overall goal is to continue his career in Forestry that involves: teaching the importance of maintaining the health and vigor of the forest to my community, developing cultural appreciation and identity to our forests, writing grants and securing funding for environmental stewardship, writing silviculture prescriptions, and participating in professional restoration efforts. All these skills he wishes to bring back to his tribe. He strives to one day become a silviculturist for his tribe to fulfill the many responsibilities as a steward of the forest.

2016 – Riley Smith
Riley Smith Riley Smith is a graduate student in the biology program at Northern Arizona University. She is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area in California and is Shoshone from the Shoshone-Bannock Nation at Fort Hall. Riley graduated from San Francisco State University with a double major in ecology (B.S.) and Native American Studies (B.A.). In 2014, Riley became a student at NAU to pursue a degree in environmental health.

Currently, Riley’s studies focus on water quality, ecotoxicology, and environmental endocrinology. In the graduate program, she focuses on how local water contaminants, like waste water effluents, pesticides, and heavy metals, may act as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that affect health outcomes. Her interests lie in learning about how natural or synthetic chemicals impact wildlife and community health; she is also really interested in learning about Indigenous solutions to health issues from toxins. To work toward solutions, it is important to support the restoration of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) and incorporate the healthy practices of TEK from local Indigenous peoples.

To learn more about the possible threats and solutions for chemical exposures in Tribal communities, Riley has worked with ITEP’s Tribal Waste and Response Assistance Program (TWRAP). Through this experience, she has participated in community outreach, professional development trainings, and conferences that center on hazardous waste education, assessments, and solutions for Tribes. She assisted in editing the National Tribal Toxics Council’s report, “Understanding Tribal Exposures to Toxics,” which assessed chemical exposure risks that exist through Tribal life-ways. She has learned a lot from her experiences at ITEP and NAU and strives to continue to support community health and cultural preservation in Native communities.

2016 – Darrien Benally
Darrien Benally My name is Darrien Benally, I am a member of the Navajo tribe. I was born and raised in Flagstaff, Arizona. I transferred to NAU from Coconino Community College to peruse a bachelor’s of science degree in Applied Indigenous Studies with a minor in Environmental Sustainability.

Currently I am a sophomore, I hope to become an Environmental Educator when I am graduated. It is important to educate Native Americans tribes’ people on the effects of climate change as well as how to best adapt for their environment. The protection of natural resources for Native American tribes is imperative to educate on because there is a need to protect water rights, and the rights to gather as well as where to gather herbal medicines.

Currently I do a lot of work involving mental health with a group called Native Americans for Community Action (NACA) located in Flagstaff, AZ. I believe it is important to understand the dynamic issues Native American tribes face today. Mental health, spiritual health, physical health, and social wellness are all interconnected. To preserve our overall health, we need to take care of our environment which sustains various forms of life, from the water we drink to the food we consume. As indigenous peoples, it is important that we are educated using our own traditional ecological knowledge to understand climate change and work towards building more sustainable communities by combining western knowledge with traditional knowledge.

2015 – Mariah Tanay Ashley

2015 – Dawnylle Smith

2015 – Deon Ben

2015 – Chad Brown

2013 – Erin O’Keefe

2012 - Alyandra Aday

2012 - John Begay

2011 - Jamie Goudreau

2010 - Beverly Maxwell

2009 - Julaire Scott

2008 - Christopher Thompson

2007 - Lydia Edgewater

2006 - Ulaleya L. Stanley

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ITEP General Information