Ancestral Lands Staff
Ryan (he/him/his) comes from Zuni and Santo Domingo Pueblos of New Mexico. In 2016, he was hired as the Ancestral Lands (AL) Field Coordinator for Zuni Pueblo. Ryan started out with Southwest Conservation Corps (SCC) in May 2015 as a summer intern based out of El Morro National Monument, NM. This was his first ever corps experience of any kind and quickly realized the magnitude of positive impact that SCC gives to the communities they serve. With the direct mentorship of SCC and El Morro’s Heritage Preservation Division, Ryan was able to convince Zuni’s Tribal Administration to start an AL program for its people. As an active member of the Zuni traditional lifestyle, he feels that it is personal responsibility to learn in every way, in order to pass that knowledge down.
Prior to joining SCC, he worked as an archeology laborer. He was raised into a traditional home, and gives credit to all his grandparents for teaching him his cultural identity. An outdoorsman by heart, in his spare time he loves hunting, fishing, hiking, bird watching, or just being outside. Truly believes he found his calling in Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps!
Michellsey (she/her/hers) grew up in the small town of Shonto on the Navajo Nation. After receiving her degree in Parks and Recreation from Northern Arizona University, she made her love of the outdoors a lifestyle. She spent some years instructing both mountaineering and rock climbing courses in the mountains of Southeast Alaska. She paddle captained the mighty Tatshenshini River, and racked several days instructing in the Yukon Territory. She took on the slot canyons of Southern Utah, as well as the open waters of the Prince William Sound. In 2014 her adventures took her down a river that forged a passion in both hydrology and river restoration. Combining both led to running raft trips down the Middle Fork of the Salmon, and to co-leading restoration efforts on the Chehalis River. Returning to the southwest in 2017, Michellsey continued her river pursuits with the Escalante River Watershed Partnership, supporting the Russian Olive Project. Recently relocating to New Mexico, Michellsey continues to make her relationship with the natural environment the forefront of life. She is thrilled to be supporting the Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps.
Aaron Lowden (he/him/his), Ancestral Lands Acoma Program Manager, is from the Pueblo of Acoma and has been leading the program in his Pueblo since 2011. Prior to working with Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps he was a National Park Service Rivers and Trails Conservation Assistance Program Fellow leading work on trail feasibility studies with the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail and the Zuni Mountain Trails Partnership.
Aaron first came on board Ancestral Lands developing and initiating programs such as the Acoma Hiking Club where he led excursion with local youth to reconnect them to ancestral homelands through recreation and teaching Acoma stories and land-based knowledge.
He is also a traditional farmer, land-based skills instructor, seed caretaker, and has been leading efforts in Acoma Pueblo to restore the traditional food systems of the community. In other program models such as the Acoma Farm Corps, Aaron teaches local youth preparation and design; dryland, irrigated, and drip irrigation techniques; seed selection, saving, and banking; and traditional food preparation.
Robert (Rob, he/him/his) is the Program Manager for the Ancestral Lands Albuquerque office. He is a member of the Isleta Pueblo Tribe. He graduated from New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, NM in 2016 with his B.S in Forestry with a concentration in Wildland Fire. This will be his fourth season with Ancestral Lands.
Rob enjoys working with Indigenous youth to complete meaningful conservation projects throughout the Southwest and strive to ensure this program will be around for generations to come. “ma’m wahwea e beh kum” Life and the spirits within are precious. - Isleta Tewa language
Marshall (he/him/his) is Paaqapwungwu (Reed) Clan from the village of Bacavi on the Hopi Reservation. Marshall started conservation work in 2007 with the Coconino Rural Environment Corps, moved to Southwest Conservation Corps, spent a season with Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, then settled with Ancestral Lands for the long haul.
He enjoys serving his community by providing opportunities through recreation and service. He enjoys long cold walks in canyons wearing a wetsuit and being bogged down with wet ropes.
Shandiin (she/her/hers) originally joined Southwest Conservation Corps (SCC) in 2013 out of the Durango office, followed by two more seasons, ending in 2015 leading a trail crew. She moved to Washington to work with Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, leading a professional trail crew in the Cascade Mountains. While working for SCC (by way of CFI collaborations) and Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, she gained valuable skills in stonework that translated into her next endeavor. Shandiin began working for a local landscaping company, in Durango, CO, that specialized in dry stone masonry. While working in the private sector she felt a lack of indigenous community and involvement. So, she became a work skills instructor for the Student Conservation Association and plotted her next move.
Time and time again, the sacred geography of Dinetah called her back to the stronghold, ultimately leading her to the Program Coordinator, then Program Manager position in Ancestral Lands Navajo office. She can be found looking for stones to chisel and place, propagating plants or hiking around McGaffey.
Chas (he/him/his) began with Southwest Conservation Corps (SCC) in April 2012. He began as a Field Supervisor, then co-led a Disaster Relief Crew in New York in November 2012 after Hurricane Sandy. In January 2013, he began as Ancestral Lands Program Coordinator, working with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Acoma Pueblo to support existing programs and bring new conservation opportunities to Tribal Lands in the Southwest. Chas became the SCC Four Corners Program Director in January 2014 and the Ancestral Lands Program Director in 2015.
Before joining SCC, Chas spent 3 ½ years with the Student Conservation Association’s (SCA) Desert Restoration Corps, working to restore and protect desert ecosystems in the Mojave Desert. He worked in Mount Rainier National Park with the SCA and led high school crews throughout Colorado with the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps. When not working, Chas can be found climbing in the mountains or desert, canyoneering in Red Rock country, or falling off his bike on beginner mountain bike trails.
Kyle (he/him/his) began working with Conservation Legacy as a crew member with Arizona Conservation Corps (AZCC) in the summer of 2014. Since then, he's worked in various capacities within the organization as Crew Supervisor, Program Coordinator, and Program Manager of AZCC’s White Mountains office. In the fall of 2019, Kyle moved to Albuquerque to assume the role of Program Director with Ancestral Lands, then Associate Director in 2021.
In his spare time, he enjoys writing, playing guitar, and internally debating on whether the overwhelming emphasis of sabermetrics is healthy for the game of baseball.