My name is Camille Alexander, and I am a first-year AmeriCorps VISTA member at STEM City. I am serving as their Evaluation Coordinator for this year, and my job is creating an inventory of STEM assets in Flagstaff and evaluating these programs for the purpose of bridging the gap between STEM leaders and institutions that traditionally serve students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. I am really excited for this year of service in a wonderful, tight-knit community.
I was born in Detroit, Michigan, but Phoenix has been home for most of my life. I graduated from Arizona State University with a B.S. in Biological Sciences, and served as an AmeriCorps member through the American Conservation Experience. My goal is to attend graduate school in the near future and have a career in environmental education. I am most interested in teaching young children the importance of environmental stewardship so they will have a greater appreciation of our natural world as an adult. Everything that I learn through my year of service will put me in the right direction.
I look forward to working with you all!
My name is Larrea Cottingham and I am the Climate and Energy VISTA at the City of Flagstaff through the Flagstaff STEM Education Project. In my role, I am working to expand the Sustainability Section’s outreach around climate and energy, both in schools and the community. I am currently working to develop a climate leadership academy for local high school students that will give students an opportunity to become more climate literate, and engage in place-based climate action and outreach at home, school and in their community. I am excited to work with community members and local organizations to create ambitious educational opportunities around climate and the environment for everyone in the Flagstaff community.
I moved to Flagstaff in 2014 to attend Northern Arizona University where I received a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Arts in Teaching Science. Throughout college I played violin and viola in the NAU Symphony and Chamber Orchestra, and I still often play for the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra. I am passionate about ecological conservation and outdoor education, and I am inspired to create a career that combines my love of exploring wild places and desire to protect them. I love to spend as much time outside as possible, so I have worked in wildlife biology and as an instructor at the Colorado Outward Bound School. I am always eager to plan the next big adventure, but in the meantime, I can be found exploring the mountains, rivers, and canyons.
My name is Nick Siskonen and I've lived in Flagstaff for over ten years. I originally moved to Sedona with my family in 1998, when I was seven years old. To people from Sedona, Flagstaff is the 'big city' you go to for weekend trips and exciting events. As a kid, Flagstaff meant adventure.
Then in 2007 my family moved to Flagstaff so I could attend Northland Preparatory Academy, sending me on a new academic adventure. After graduating high school, I attended our own Northern Arizona University and focused on psychology and criminal justice.
Since then, I have worked as an assistant in a real estate office for two years, but decided to follow in my older sister's footsteps of completing a year of service in the AmeriCorps VISTA program. The Coconino Association for Vocations, Industry and Technology (CAVIAT), is the Joint Technical Education District for Coconino County. I am now the Americorps VISTA at CAVIAT in charge of recruitment and marketing. Once again Flagstaff offers itself as a new adventure and I couldn't be more excited to see where it takes me!
I am a graduate of the University of California, Davis with degrees in Environmental Policy Analysis and Economics. I spent 10 years in environmental and educational consulting focusing on public outreach, resource conservation, data analysis and educational evaluation, particularly in STEM focused programming. I joined the Coconino County Education Services Agency (CCESA) as an AmeriCorps VISTA. I will focus my service on grant writing and STEM education in the Flagstaff community.
I have raised my family in Flagstaff for the past 7 years. We enjoy skiing, camping, hiking, exploring the flora and fauna of local forests and being together at home with our black lab and orange tabby cat. I have lived in several countries abroad but originally hail from Las Vegas, NV. I’m looking forward to what I can contribute to the Flagstaff STEM Education Project at the CCESA.
Guest Blog Post by Vicki Anderson, VISTA Member, STEM Educator and Curriculum Developer at Flagstaff Bordertown Dormitory
Kinlani Flagstaff Bordertown Dormitory has a Robotics/AISES (American Indian Science and Engineering Society)/STEM Club with 15 members so far! They are making robots with our Lego Robotics Coach-Mentor Larry Marek. They began using the NAU Cline Library MakerLab on September 14th with Bryan Johnson, the Tech Services Coordinator. Club members will learn TinkerCAD to use NAU’s 3D printer for their Engineering STEM Challenges prototypes.
On September 9th, nine high school students participated in an Indigenous Youth STEM Academy with the Flagstaff Open Space Program. This program aims to connect Indigenous youth with cultural and natural resources at Picture Canyon Natural and Cultural Preserve. The Preserve provides a unique opportunity for learning about the connection between culture, community, and stewardship as it is home to Northern Sinagua petroglyphs and habitation sites, and represents a place of cultural importance for many surrounding tribal communities. Each session encompasses a full day of activities, including an interpretive tour of the Preserve, a lunch panel discussion with local STEM professionals and students, and a hands-on service-learning project. This program is organized by STEM VISTA Member Erin O'Keefe.
STEM Engineering Challenges competitions are also open to all students biweekly. All STEM activities are coordinated by AmeriCorps VISTA educator Vicki Anderson, and our motivated FBD staff. As you can see, we are “steaming” ahead in our STEM Education projects!
The students attended the Flagstaff Festival of Science “Engineering Solutions” kick off with keynote speaker Kyle Maynard on September 22nd at NAU’s Ardrey Auditorium. He was born without a complete set of arms and legs. With engineering solutions from Kahtoola, a Flagstaff company, and serious determination, he has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa and Mt. Aconcagua in South America.
Get out for some of the 100 free events at the 28th Annual Flagstaff Festival of Science and you will see the Kinlani STEM students!
Dawn Pfeffer, Killip STEM Academy, STEM Curriculum
I graduated from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering. I fell in love with Flagstaff when my environmental engineering design teams traveled here in 2014 and 2015 and I knew then that I wanted to move here. When I graduated in May of 2015, I worked at an automation company called Rovisys in Ohio for two years. I was a Lead Systems Engineer for various customers and industries. In April of 2017 I was finally able to make my move to Flagstaff and I couldn’t be happier.
I spent my first four months in Flagstaff working on a trail maintenance crew with Arizona Conservation Corps, an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world. I got to know the people and places that surround Flagstaff and it deepened my love for this amazing city. At the end of those four months I wanted to use my skills as an engineer to help this community grow, so I applied to the AmeriCorps VISTA position at Killip Elementary. I work with Ted Komada to build and modify the STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) curriculum to better prepare students for the years to come. This is yet another experience that I will cherish forever. I am dedicated to the Flagstaff community and I consider this place my home, so please say hello to me; I would love to meet you!
The first cohort of 15 Volunteers in Service to America (VISTAs) are ending their year of service to the Flagstaff STEM Education Project, a collaboration with NAU's Civic Service Institute and STEM City. We are beyond thrilled and proud of all they have given to our community. The following infographic shares a little bit of the successes these VISTAs have contributed to the agencies they worked with and to all of Flagstaff in pursuing the overall goal of the project: The Flagstaff STEM Education VISTA Project seeks to increase the academic performance of low-income youth in STEM fields and their interest in pursuing STEM careers.
You can read more about the first cohort of VISTAs here. Please congratulate them all on their service. Thank you, thank you, thank you from Flagstaff STEM City!
Front Row: Maria Archibald, Mira Peterson, Kate Stanley, Megan Carmel, Meg Adakai Kabotie, STEM Coordinator Mindy Bell; Back Row: Dylan Lenzen, Lisa Winters, Chelsea Silva, Geoffrey Kie, Vicki Anderson, Robert McCann, VISTA Leader Kathy Farretta. Not pictured: Jake Burwell, Holly Havlicek, and Erin O'Keefe.
E(ek!) Coli Sampling for the Safety of Humans and the Environment
Guest blog post by Chelsea Silva, VISTA Member for the City Sustainability Department and the Friends of the Rio de Flag
Escherichia coli, more commonly known as E. coli, is a type of fecal coliform bacteria. Bacteria are single celled microorganisms that can either exist as independent organisms or depend on another organism to live. E. coli bacteria are found in the environment (soil and vegetation) and in the intestines and feces of all warm-blooded animals and humans. That’s right, fecal = relating to feces = poop!
Most coliform bacteria are not harmful, but their presence in drinking water indicates that disease-causing organisms (e.g. pathogens) could be in the water system. Only particular strains of E. coli cause serious illness, and people usually contact these strains (especially strain 0157:H7) through consuming undercooked meats such as hamburger. Disease symptoms include diarrhea, cramps, nausea, and sometimes jaundice, plus headache and fatigue.
Safeguarding against E. coli is part of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality’s (ADEQ) mission to protect and enhance public health and the environment. The ADEQ conducts routine E. coli sampling throughout the state in order to reduce the risk of illness from disease causing organisms associated with sewage or animal wastes.
On June 28th, ADEQ staff trained staff and volunteers with Natural Channel Designs, Inc. and the Friends of the Rio de Flag on E. coli sampling. Trainees learned how to properly collect a water sample, how to process the sample using a handy “Processing Guide”, and how to record the data once processing is complete. Sampling in Flagstaff and the surrounding areas will provide the ADEQ with the data needed to protect our drinking water supplies.
Below show the initial and the final stage of processing the E. coli. After the sample incubates for 12 hours, you look at the large and small squares on the sample and count the ones that fluoresce under a black light.You then use a Most Probable Number (MPN) table to calculate the MPN of E. coli in the sample (you count the # large squares fluorescing in you sample and find this number on the X axis and do the same with the number of small squares fluorescing and find it on the Y axis to calculate the MPN of bacteria in the sample). The picture here shows that the sample contains bacteria, but not at a concerning level.
The Friends of the Rio de Flag is excited to partner with ADEQ and Natural Channel Designs, Inc. to engage citizen scientists in E. coli sampling. In the coming months, the Friends of the Rio will create a sampling plan with ADEQ to best fit the needs of our watershed. Afterwards, the Friends of the Rio will recruit volunteers to collect water samples throughout town. This will give us a better idea of water quality in our community.
Thank you to Meghan and Jake with the ADEQ for training us on E. coli sampling, and another thank you to Natural Channel Designs, Inc. for hosting the E. coli sample training day.
From L to R: Chris Tressler, Civil Engineer and Geomorphologist, Natural Channel Designs, Inc.; Mark Wirtanen, Biologist and Engineering Technician, Natural Channel Designs, Inc.; Oren Thomas, Conservation Projects Manager, Prescott Creeks; Jake Fleishman, Civil Engineering In-Training, Natural Channel Designs, Inc.; Chelsea Silva, STEM VISTA Member for Friends of the Rio de Flag and the City of Flagstaff Sustainability Division; Meghan Smart, Hydrologist, ADEQ; and Jake Breedlove, Grant & Watershed Coordinator, ADEQ
Maria grew up in central North Carolina on the banks of the Eno River, where she developed a passion for being outside and protecting the environment. In 2015, she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Asheville with a degree in Environmental Anthropology, and has since traveled around the country working in environmental education. She worked as a Naturalist for the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, where she taught ecology and led interpretive hiking tours in Aspen, Colorado, as an Environmental Educator for The Ecology School, where she taught science to groups of students in the outdoor classrooms of southern Maine, and as a Naturalist for Point Reyes Summer Camp, where she led outdoor activities and backpacking trips in the Point Reyes National Seashore. She is excited to move to Flagstaff, where she will be working as the Youth Engagement Coordinator for the Grand Canyon Trust.
The Flagstaff STEM Education VISTA project seeks to increase the academic performance of low-income youth in STEM fields and their interest in pursuing STEM careers.
We are recruiting for new STEM VISTAs for 2017-2018! Click here for more information!
Mira is a Flagstaff native who has recently moved back after being away for 14 years. She says she is happy to be back and to live and work in the community that she grew up in. Through her life experiences she has become passionate about living a zero waste lifestyle, playing in rivers, exploring canyons, dancing, practicing permaculture, getting her hands into soil, traveling anywhere often, reading anything and enjoying sunshine.
She is currently serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer with the Flagstaff STEM Education VISTA project by working with NAU's First Year Seminar Action Learning Teams. She works alongside NAU freshmen, professors, and community organizations to foster connections between NAU and the community through social justice oriented projects. She is excited to be a part of building these community connections and projects this year.
Flagstaff STEM Coordinator