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ESIL gives an exciting new educational opportunity

Timberley Roane and David Mays stress communication within the ESIL program.
Photo: Kyleigh Beirne· The Sentry

Program mixes environmental protection with cultural diversity

CU Denver’s science department just announced a new certificate program called the Environmental Stewardship of Indigenous Lands (ESIL), the first of its kind. The certificate program offers training, internships, and job placement for students passionate about environmental protection for indigenous lands.   

The program, which received funding from the National Science Foundation, is motivated by the long history of environmental incidents and the degradation of indigenous lands across the United States. The program also believes that the protection and management of the environment will help students receive real-world, scientific training, while becoming culturally-sensitive individuals who can serve as environmental liaisons between both tribal and non-tribal organizations.    

“The goal of the ESIL program is to provide students an opportunity to receive the training needed so that they can gain employment as a liaison with tribal and non-tribal agencies who are working in the areas of land stewardship,” Timberley Roane, the director of the ESIL program, said. “One of the keys with the program is that we meet with students as early as we can and connect with students, so we can guide them through the certificate. If they are also here to complete a degree, we can help match up the certificate requirements with their degree requirements as much as we can. So that early [connection] with students is critical to the students and the certificate.” 

The ESIL certificate provides students with many training opportunities for students to combine their passions for protecting Earth’s natural resources, all while helping students communicate with diverse cultures. 

While the program is still in its early stages, it has a lot to offer. It not only focuses on giving students a chance to work with indigenous lands and communication between the two, but it offers a sense of community. “[ESIL] is community-based for me, and I feel that all of our advisors and professors that are a part of the program are awesome because they are always reaching out and always checking in,” Angelica Gallegos, a junior environmental science student in the ESIL program, said.  “They are always trying to maintain a community feel within the program.”

“I think as science majors we are taught to talk a lot of the key language,” Chelsea Charley-Suarez, a biology major in the program, said. “I think this program is a great idea because it will help break down that barrier because we are able to talk to anyone about what we are doing and be able to translate that back between multiple barriers. It’s like a membrane, and you can pass through all of these fluidly.” 

Interested students can contact any of the advisors involved in this program: Roane, associate professor of integrative biology; David Mays, associate professor of civil engineering; and Rafael Moreno, associate professor of geography and environmental sciences.

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