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!
Hello, my name is Kevin Ashley. I am the Ancestral Lands Program Coordinator out of the Navajo Office. I am originally from Cross Canyon, Arizona. I graduated high school in 2009 from Gallup High School. After high school I joined the military and served 4 years. I was honorably discharged in 2013.
Up until 2018 I started working for Southwest Conservation Corps-Ancestral Lands as a Navajo Crew member. I served a season on a back country chainsaw crew. There I learned how to formally operate a chainsaw and conduct invasive species removal and treatment. I did this up until completion of my term.
After the off season, I returned to SCC-AL for another season as Veterans Fire Corps crew leader. Here I sharpened my skills on chainsaw operations, herbicide application, GIS mapping and recording. I also developed my leadership skills on a managing conservation projects. I successfully lead a crew for an entire season. Upon completion and returning for another season, I applied for the Program Coordinator.
Present day, I am found developing my managing skill, broadening my knowledge on conservation type projects through my present role as program coordinator.
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.
Kevin Cooeyate (he/him/his) comes from the Pueblo of Zuni and represents the Sun and Child of Corn Clan. He first joined the AL movement back in 2016 as a crew member. Since the establishment of the AL Zuni office, he has dedicated his time and service towards the introduction and development of the Ancestral Lands operations in the Pueblo. With continued support, Kevin has worked his way up to fulfill the duties of a Crew Leader, Field Supervisor, Program Coordinator, and now humbly holds the position as a Program Manager.
Kevin is blessed to have the opportunity to welcome in hopeful participants to help better their path through the service work ALCC has to offer.
As a recovering alcoholic, he understands the many struggles community members may go through while trying to create a meaningful path to be proud of. All he would wish to ask for is a chance, a chance to create a positive impact for others.
On his spare time he enjoys Reading, Hunting/Hiking, Cooking, Music (you may catch him singing a sing or few on a good day), Photography, Farming, Learning to be a better Mentor, being the best relative as can be to Self and others.
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 Diné Program Coordinator, then Program Manager, and now Associate Director 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.
Rosie Thunderchief (she/her/they) originally Grayson/Shawnee, Patricia Chamisa Rose a.k.a. “Rosie” (and sometimes “P.rose”) is a five-fingered Earth-surface person, ceremonial practitioner, community educator, and mommy-Heart. Born Diné (Navajo); born for Pawnee, Cheyenne & Arapaho; adopted Ho-Chunk and raised Lakota strong. Rosie lives, works, plays, prays and learns between the Mountains, Rivers and wide-open Skies of Tiwa, Piru, Genizaro, Xicano, Diné, and Lakota territories. This multi-cultural upbringing cultivates a deep reverence for Mother Earth, Father Sky and the Circle Way of Life.
Before joining Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps Albuquerque office as Administrative Manager in March 2021, Rosie served as AmeriCorps VISTA at La Plazita Institute in March 2012-2013 and volunteered in Loving Service with Native Health Initiative 2014-2015. In December 2018, Rosie graduated from University of New Mexico with a B.A. in Native American Studies (concentration: Leadership and Building Native Nations) and Psychology. In 2019 Rosie joined Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge as AmeriCorps Tribal VISTA in partnership with Conservation Legacy through Stewards and Southwest Conservation Corps – Ancestral Lands program.
When not working, Rosie can be found with her daughter Emerson, singing, playing, painting, rock hunting, adventuring, and raising the next generation of Indigenous matriarchs. A’He/A’Ho!
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.