BLM Direct Hire Authority Intern Profiles

Below we feature the profiles of our EPIC BLM Direct Hire Authority Resource Assistant Interns

Akual Deng

Sarah Bush

Realty/Natural Resources Specialist – Northeastern States Field Office

Sarah is a recent graduate from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee with a B.S in Environmental Science. She is interested in Geopolitics, Environmental Law and policy, Water Resources policy and management, Land and Watershed management/planning, Food science, and Preventative medicine. Sarah is a native to the Chicagoland area. She previously interned for her local health department’s Lakes Management unit where she served her community by monitoring water quality. Sarah is currently working out of the Eastern States Regional Office headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin interning as a Realty/Natural Resources specialist.

Eduardo Cordova

Eduardo Cordova

GIS Specialist – Carlsbad Field Office

My name is Eduardo Cordova. I was born on September ninth 1991 in San Diego, CA. I am from Hispanic descent. I spent most of my life in San Diego, and the only vacationed outside the state a few times, three times to Mexico to visit family, and once again to Texas to visit family. I am currently writing about my life in New Mexico for this Internship, which marks the first time I have traveled outside my home state in over 15 years. I have had many experiences in my life that shaped me into the person I am today, some good, some bad, but mostly good. I lost my mother at the age of twelve; I never knew my father so in a way my mother was both. My older sister took care of me after she passed. I have 2 brothers and 2 sisters and this event brought us closer together.

I graduated from Serra High School with Honors in 2010. I went to community college for four years as I tried to figure out what I want to do with my life. It was getting down to the wire when a councilor told me about GIS. I started to peruse GIS upon his recommendation. My plan was to switch careers if I did not enjoy, well I graduated with a degree in Geographic Sciences with and emphasis in GIS. I transferred to San Diego State University and spent 2 and ½ years completing my degree.  I loved the campus and all the neat people there. I meet a councilor that was not mine, but she was so darn sweet and helpful I never visited my assigned councilor, and she never turned me away. Her name was Diana Richardson, and she is the best. She helped me navigate university life. She helped me get a research position for a professor that I am still involved with today, getting me my first world experience in GIS projects. I graduated in December 2016. That lead to here, I am now interning at one of the busiest BLM offices in the nation.

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Marlin Deras

Ecologist – Grand Junction, CO

Marlin was raised in Georgia and attained her B.S. of Biology at Dalton State College.  A conservation class grabbed her attention and from then on she decided to pursue a career in the subject matter. A Google search led her to Student Conservation Association and through them she was able to intern with the BLM in Grand Junction, Colorado working under the ecologist.  After a summer of interning, Marlin decided she needed more experience in the conservation field and continued doing different seasonal positions such as experiential educator to resource management and fire intern in Florida.  Marlin is excited to start this new journey with the BLM as an ecologist intern and continue this lifelong pursuit.

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Trista Dowdy

Park Ranger – Arcata Field Office

I am originally from Galt, CA which is about 30 minutes south of Sacramento.  I have lived in Eureka for the past five years. I graduated from Humboldt State University in December 2016, where I received a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Environmental Science with an emphasis in Ecological Restoration and a minor in Wildland Soil Science. I’ve been fortunate enough to work at the same BLM office for the past three summers. My first two summers, I worked as an interpretive ranger at the Headwaters Forest Reserve and this summer I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work for the American Conservation Experience (ACE). Throughout my internship I will be writing a new interpretive plan for the Headwaters Forest Reserve to replace existing signs and implement two new signs on the trail they will begin constructing in August. On my free time I enjoy hiking, camping, and traveling with my dog, as well as going to the beach and spending time with friends. I am a certified interpretive guide through the National Association of Interpretation and enjoy leading interpretive hikes and summer school programs. After this internship I hope to begin a master’s program that focuses on rangeland conservation, so I can work with ranchers to help make their ranching operations more sustainable.

Michael Dunn

Natural Resource Specialist – Northeastern States Field Office

I was born in Greenville, South Carolina. I moved to Wisconsin when I was two years old and eventually graduated from Homestead High School in Mequon, Wisconsin. After graduation, I moved to Stevens Point to pursue a degree in Forest Management and German Language and Literature at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point. I studied in Stevens Point for five years, and graduated in 2017, before moving back in with my parents in Brown Deer. Since about half way through high school, I have managed to get summer jobs each year that pertain to natural resources in some way or another. Prior to working for the BLM, I worked on a tree farm, at a nature preserve, shadowing a city forester, and interning with the USFS. My hobbies are fishing, hiking, target shooting, bike riding and grilling. I look forward to the work ahead during my six month internship with the BLM, and hopefully landing a federal forestry position afterwards.

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Rurik Fencl

Outdoor Recreation Planner – California Desert District

Rurik has dedicated his professional career towards stewardship of public lands.  He started as summer backcountry guide promoting Leave No Trace practices on all of his trips, and knew he wanted to help protect these lands so future generations could enjoy them too.  He got his Bachelor’s in Environmental Science with a focus in Environmental Information and Mapping, and a minor in Recreation Resource and Protected Area Management at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY.

His first internship was as a naturalist and outdoor educator in Wyoming for elementary and middle school age youth, and promoting an understanding of the impact that the health of the region’s environmental health has on the students.   His introduction to federal land stewardship was when he joined the Student Conservation Association’s Desert Restoration Corps (DRC) and worked to restore desert tortoise habitat and Off-Highway vehicle incursions in and around BLM Wilderness areas in the Mojave Desert.  His interest was peaked by the complex resource management issues with desert ecosystems, and was able to stay in as a Wilderness Intern for the following season.

With Wilderness Specialist Marty Dickes’ mentorship, Rurik was able to develop comprehensive restoration plans for a wilderness study area and a large, complex wilderness area.  Rurik was able to stay on and see the first restoration crews begin work on projects that he had planned.  Rurik’s priorities were reassigned and he conducted Lands with Wilderness Characteristics inventories for use in the West Mojave (WEMO) and Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) planning areas, working primarily to inventory some of the further and more remote units in the office.  Rurik helped train new DRC crews to help set them up for success in restoration and data collection.

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Hunter Flaco

Natural Resource Management – Las Cruces Field Office

Hunter Falco is a native New Mexican from Rio Rancho. From a young age, her passion was in fisheries work and decided to attend New Mexico State University. At New Mexico State University she studied Fish and Wildlife and recently graduated with her bachelor’s degree. Hunter’s hard work and dedication lead to undergrad position in Dr. Colleen   Caldwell’s lab at NMSU. During her time in Dr. Caldwell’s lab, she conducted a project to measure the fecundity and fish quality of endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow. In addition, to working with Dr. Caldwell she held three summer internships. Hunter contributed to the conservation efforts for Arizona native Apache trout working for both U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Arizona Game and Fish Department. Hunter served as president of the student subunit of American Fisheries Society for two terms. Working with many local and government groups to promote fisheries conservation. Through these efforts, her passion was fueled towards native fish conservation.

All of these accomplishments lead to Hunter to be given an opportunity with the Bureau of Land Management Las Cruces Field Office working in the wildlife department. Working with BLM has given Hunter the opportunity to work in a variety of different aquatic and fisheries environments. She gained firsthand experience with management of different rivers, streams and their inhabitants. Working to protect and/or conserve native fish species is something Hunter is very passionate about, and working with the BLM has given her that opportunity and realize her dream. Working with BLM is something that he hopes to do in the future and further her experience by obtaining a Master degree.

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Roderick Flannery

GIS Specialist – Northern States Field Office

From Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Roderick attended university at UNC Chapel Hill where he earned a B.A. in Geography, with a focus in GIS. Immediately following his graduation, he began an eight month GIS internship with the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Chapel Hill office. During the internship, Roderick assembled the first iteration of a georeferenced database of all public surface drinking water intakes in six Southeastern states.

In May of 2016, Roderick joined ACE’s Utah AmeriCorps program as a sawyer. He then went on to serve as an assistant crew leader, and then as a crew leader, before ultimately returning to North Carolina in December. During his time with ACE, Roderick served in 5 different states and finished with 1,027 volunteer hours, prior to being signed on as staff.

In the Spring of 2017  secured a DHA internship with the BLM’s Milwaukee Field Office as a GIS tech.

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Fernando Gonzalez

Archaeologist – Las Cruces Field Office

 Fernando Gonzalez grew up the son of two immigrant parents in Spring Valley, California. As a result of poorly managed freshman and sophomore years, Fernando left high school a year early in order to get a head start on his post-secondary education at Modesto Junior College. After an unfortunate turn in circumstances, he decided to enlist in the California Army National Guard at the age of 19. After returning home from Basic Training and moving to Santa Cruz, CA, Fernando would obtain his AA at Cabrillo College. After 6 years of service and a voluntary deployment Fernando returned to the Central Valley to finish his BA in Anthropology at UC Merced. During his time at MJC he found he had a passion for Anthropology, and continued to pursue it at Cabrillo and UC Merced, which led to his involvement with archaeology.

After attending a field school with Cabrillo over the summer of 2014, Fernando was soon working in the cultural resource management field over the summer and participating in field research. Over the last three years he has seen his experience in the field grow exponentially from a young man with no idea what archaeology was all about to being able to put together, implement, and carry out a resource management plan. Fernando feels incredibly fortunate to have been mentored by some of the finest archaeologists he has met and feels he owes any success he may have to their patience and enthusiasm, and hopes to make an impact on the discipline in his own right.

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Jonathan Jew

Outdoor Recreation Planner – Monticello Field Office

After working as a recreational guide for years, largely on public lands, Jonny shifted focus to work more directly with natural resources and land management agencies in 2015. That experience began with performing plant inventories for the Nevada Department of Fish and Wildlife at the foot of the Sierras. After that season, he moved across the Great Basin to Salt Lake City to do GIS at the Utah State Office. While there, Jonny created georeferenced recreation and travel maps of high use areas across the state. His map for Indian Creek climbing areas won the award for “best professional map” at the 2016 Utah Geographic Information Council, so it is little surprise that he is now thrilled to be working at the Field Office responsible for Indian Creek. Every day looking across breathtaking canyons and ancient ruins is a healthy reminder why working for the BLM is so rewarding and important. Jonny is looking forward to applying his background in GIS and data management to the Monticello Field Office.

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Krystal Kissinger

Archaeologist – Bishop Field Office

Krystal is an American Conservation Experience (ACE) Archaeology Intern at the BLM Field Office in Bishop, California. Like many others, her interest in archaeology was sparked at a young age while watching the Indiana Jones films. Krystal decided to pursue a career in archaeology while participating in an archaeological field class in the Western Mojave Desert, where she learned how to conduct survey, excavation, and site documentation. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Anthropology with an emphasis in Cultural Resource Management from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona in 2010. The following year, Krystal attended the California State University, San Bernardino and San Bernardino National Forest Applied Archaeology Field School in the San Jacinto Mountains. She recently completed graduate school at California State University, Northridge, where she earned a Master of Arts degree in Public Archaeology. Her thesis research focused on the historical archaeology of construction camps along the First Los Angeles Aqueduct in Santa Clarita, California. Krystal lives in Bishop, California and has worked as an archaeological technician for the Inyo National Forest since May of 2016. She considers herself extremely fortunate to be living and working in such a beautiful area and enjoys hiking, rock climbing, and skiing.

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Laurel Lueders

Archaeologist – Bishop Field Office

Growing up in Northern California, Laurel was raised with an appreciation for the land and its historical ties. For the past eleven years, she has volunteered at Girl Scout camps and found a passion for working with girls of all ages while encouraging them to enjoy and respect the outdoors. Laurel is currently pursuing her Master’s in Cultural Resource Management (CRM) at Sonoma State University and is interested in cultural landscape studies. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Humboldt State University in Anthropology with an emphasis in archaeology and biological anthropology. Previously, she has worked with the Eastern California Museum located in Independence California and their collections of prehistoric artifacts. She also completed an internship with the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park in their collections facility. As an avid hiker and outdoor enthusiast, Laurel is excited to call Bishop her home for the summer.

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Kate Magargal

Archaeologist – Moab Field Office

Kate’s love of the American deserts began as a pursuit of wilderness, but has transformed into a passion for working at the interface of science and land management. She believes that scientific inquiry is an important venue for incorporating diverse voices and experiences into the management of our public lands. Kate is currently working on a PhD in Anthropology at the University of Utah, with research focused on the ecological relationships of human communities with their local environments, both past and present. She is interested in the applied aspects of this topic, especially where it may articulate how human-ecosystem relationships can inform good management practices. Kate is excited to work with the diverse groups that form our robust discourse over public lands as a BLM DHA intern.

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Terra Meares

Natural Resources Specialist – Arctic Field Office

Terra Meares has spent the last five years switching careers towards her dream of becoming an environmental steward to help preserve the Earth for future generations. She is currently working on her Master’s in Environmental Assessment through North Carolina State University (NCSU) in addition to volunteering her time with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Previously, Terra received Summa Cum Laude honors from NCSU with a Bachelor’s degree in Plant and Soil Science, a concentration in Crop Biotechnology and a minor in Environmental Toxicology. Furthermore, she was a George and Gladys Spain Scholarship recipient, President of the Honors Society, and Student Ambassador for her college.

While earning her Bachelor’s degree, Terra interned at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences Prairie Ridge Ecostation, where she assisted in Citizen Science research and developed her own program to educate the public on the importance of pollinators and designing pollinator gardens using native species. She then had the exciting opportunity working in the Small Grains Laboratory through NCSU as a Research Assistant where she performed the unique double haploid wheat breeding method, as well as assisted in identifying disease and pest resistance in different wheat varieties through DNA analysis.

Just over a year ago, Terra and her husband (Matt) moved back to Alaska where he grew up. Along with their two boys (Emerson – 3.5 years, Briar – 9 months), the family enjoys immersing themselves in the outdoors, hanging out in their garden with their chickens, cooking, crafts, and the beauty of Alaskan summers. Terra is elated with her Legacy Wells project through BLM and the American Conservation Experience (ACE) and is eager to see where the journey takes her.

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Martina Middione

Rangeland Management – Bishop Field Office

Martina Middione discovered the field of Rangeland Ecology after becoming the ranch manager of a small horse and cattle operation in the foothills of Central California. This position introduced her to many aspects of land management and inspired her to want to learn more. Spending time as a backcountry guide and mule packer in the Sierra Nevada’s gave her additional appreciation for public lands and their uses. These experiences brought her to attend the University of Nevada, Reno to pursue a BS degree in Rangeland Ecology and Management. This program allows Martina to build upon her past experiences, while advancing scientific knowledge of range ecology. Through this program she developed a balanced background in plant and soil science, livestock management, and GIS, discovering an affinity for plant identification in the process. While at school, she has had the opportunity to work for a range ecology professor at UNR where she spent time doing vegetation monitoring using the Assessment, Inventory, and Monitoring protocols. This position allowed her to study the application of state-and-transition models and develop her ability to identify the ecological processes that shape wildland sites. Martina’s favorite thing about range ecology is figuring out the story that the land has to tell.

Martina is currently a Rangeland Management Intern in the ACE program with the BLM in Bishop CA, and is enjoying learning how the BLM manages for multiple uses while maintaining or improving the health of the land. She has also learned the importance of collaborating with partner agencies and permitee’s to make the best decisions. In her spare time, she enjoys adventuring in the Sierra Nevada’s (and occasionally the Swiss Alps) on four legs or two, or a snowboard in the winter. Martina will soon be starting her senior year at UNR and is excited to apply her education, in and out of the classroom, to bettering western rangelands.

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Rachel Miller

Natural Resource Specialist – San Luis Valley Field Office

Rachel received a Bachelor of Science in Environmental and Political Science from the University of Michigan in 2016. In her first two years of undergraduate studies, Rachel focused on environmental policy and after spending a semester in New Zealand, transitioned to a focus in ecology. Since graduating, she has been working as an intern with the Bureau of Land Management San Luis Valley Field Office. During her first field season she monitored vegetation and soils as an Assessment, Inventory, and Monitoring (AIM) Technician. In the winter she interned as a wildlife biology technician, managing and analyzing data for the Blanca Wetlands wildlife program. Rachel currently works as an AIM Crew Lead in the San Luis Valley Field Office where she continues to develop skills in leadership, vegetation surveys, and soil classification. Rachel grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico and spent multiple summers backpacking in southern Colorado where she developed a love for the outdoors.

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Anju Mitchell

Archivist – Casper Field Office

My name is Anju Mitchell and I am a recent graduate from UCLA. I enjoy geography and traveling. In my spare time I like to read, craft, and cook.

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Ashley Phillips

GIS Specialist – Eastern States Office

My name is Ashley Phillips, and I was born in Des Moines, Iowa. Whether participating in outdoor sports, horseback riding, volunteer work with animals, or hiking and fishing, I have always enjoyed spending time in nature. I attended the College of Saint Benedict | Saint John’s University, a liberal arts school in Minnesota, where I majored in Environmental Studies and also studied abroad for a semester in South Africa. My education fostered my interest in environmental policy at a local, state, federal, and even international level. I was Sustainability Representative for my school, participated in state conferences as part of a civic and public engagement program with my school, and attended the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP22) in Morocco. Perhaps most impactful, my junior year I interned on a natural resource management team for the Department of the Interior’s Office of Environmental Policy & Compliance in Washington, D.C working mostly with Environmental Justice and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Following that experience, I wrote my senior capstone thesis on NEPA. Thus it is fitting I am back in Washington, D.C. working with a NEPA planning team this summer as an Environmental Protection Specialist with the Bureau of Land Management, Eastern States Office. My internship this summer has tied many of my passions together from learning about the Wild Horse and Burro Program to advancing my knowledge of environmental policy, NEPA, and BLM’s multiple-use mission.

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Stephanie Prevost

Natural Resource Specialist – Safford Field Office

Stephanie has been passionate about natural resources since her introduction to them in a high school environmental science course. Her passion led to a Bachelor of Science in Conservation Biology (2009) from Arizona State University. Upon graduation, Stephanie became a member of the Student Conservation Association where she worked alongside various federal land management agencies, gaining extensive field research experience in botany, wildlife science, and ecology. Her experience working with federal agencies, and their professionals, led her to pursue a federal career in wildlife biology and natural resources.

In 2016, Stephanie graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, with a Master’s degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Science and a Minor in Statistics. As a graduate student, Stephanie worked collaboratively with university engineers and the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center on a solution to studying avian populations in inaccessible areas. Loving such interdisciplinary work, Stephanie was excited to accept a DHA Natural Resource Specialist internship, where she is currently working with Wildlife Biologist, Mark McCabe, and a team of interdisciplinary scientists, on a wide variety of projects and NEPA documents. In both office and field, she is absorbing all she can from the entire interdisciplinary team and she hopes her internship will be a valuable contribution to the field office.

Stephanie’s life and career goals are to serve the public and the environment. She is dedicated to having a service attitude and leaving things (and places) at least a little better than how she found them. Stephanie is prepared to make a strong contribution to the BLM by bringing a diverse specialized skillset and a strong aptitude for teamwork, leadership, planning, and project management, all of which she developed over the course of several challenging positions. As a certified Associate Wildlife Biologist, Stephanie is now looking forward to another challenging position that involves a variety of wildlife projects as well as other natural resource issues.

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Antonio Raya

Natural Resource Specialist – Casper Field Office

Antonio Raya is interning with the BLM as an Environmental Protection Specialist in the Casper, Wyoming Field Office. Antonio got his undergraduate degree in Exercise Science from St. Ambrose University, and is working on obtaining his Master’s degree in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Administration with a focus on Natural Resource Management from Western Illinois University.

As an EPS working in the oil and gas industry, Antonio’s focus is on inspecting the final abandonment notices to insure proper final reclamation of the land. Antonio gets the opportunity to serve alongside individuals who have been doing this for many years and have been told that they continue to learn something new every day. Antonio is currently applying for federal jobs, specifically with the BLM.  “Even though I’ve only been here for a couple of weeks, I know that this is an agency that I would love to work for.”

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Nathan Redecker

Natural Resource Specialist – Royal Gorge Field Office

Nathan Redecker received a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife and Conservation Biology in 2013 from Southeast Missouri State University where his passion for botany emerged. After graduation that passion grew as he worked with the BLM Colorado State Botanist for the next two years as an intern completing Seeds of Success collections and rare plant monitoring all across Colorado.  Afterwards, he continued his passion for botany and plant conservation by pursuing a Master’s of Science in Biology completing a thesis project entitled Genetic Investigation into the Diversity and Population Structure of Penstemon harringtonii (Harrington’s Beardtongue) in 2017.  After completing his Master’s, his passion for land management and plant conservation lead to this internship working in the BLM’s Assessment Inventory and Monitoring (AIM) program.  As the AIM crew lead at the BLM Royal Gorge Field Office, he leads a crew of two to randomly selected points all across the field office collecting data on soil characteristics, species composition, and vegetation structure.  In addition to the field component, Nathan educates his crew about the native flora and the overall joys of botanizing in the western states through the utilization of a dichotomous keys and his personal knowledge.

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Tylia Varilek

Archaeologist – Richfield

Tylia Varilek is an archaeologist, who received her BA in anthropology for the University of Arizona in 2005 and earned her MA in Managing Archaeological Sites from University College London (UCL) in 2016.  Her archaeological experience includes work in Arizona, Minnesota, Nevada, a Roman bath complex in Tuscany, Italy, a medieval charnel house in Spitalfields, London, and now central Utah.  Throughout her career, she has worked as an archaeological technician, laboratory manager, conducted preservation and conservation work on archaeological sites, assisted with collections management, and recently designed an exhibit for a local historical society.  Outside of the archaeological profession, she enjoys hanging spoons on her nose, post-its, and pandas.

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Roxanna Vaught-Mijares

Natural Resources Specialist – Nevada State Office

Roxanna loves going wherever the outdoors can take her and studying geology seemed to be the perfect fit. She spent part of her childhood living in Caracas, Venezuela before moving to South Florida where mountains, variable landscapes, or even whispers of the words “geology” were nowhere to be found. Despite this, she quickly fell in love with the subject at Florida State University where she completed her Bachelor’s degree. She is currently working on a Masters at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. At UL, she is researching the relationship between climate and human settlement in southern Peru through a geochemical analysis of sediments from different lakes.

Roxanna is incredibly excited to be interning at the BLM with the geothermal and oil and gas divisions. Getting the opportunity to live in and explore Reno is something she never expected and is enjoying every minute of it. On her spare time, Roxanna enjoys rowing, hiking, and spending time with other people’s dogs.

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