Mountain Sentinels Fellows2021-04-19T11:51:01-06:00

2020-2021 Fellows

Our 2020-2021 fellows are mountain stakeholders, scientists, activists, and educators. This cohort of 17 spans over 9 countries with diverse projects. However, they are all united with a passion for protecting their mountain communities.

Meet the Fellows

Siya Aggrey

Country: Uganda

 Vocation: Student, Researcher, Development Practitioner

 Group Affiliation: Stellenbosch University; Sebei Community, Kween District, Uganda, Mt. Elgon 

Area where the fellow’s project will be applied: Kween District, Uganda, (Mt. Elgon)

Project Title: “Enhancing Access to Healthcare Information through Radio Talk Shows and Enhanced Student Training”

Project Description: Facing economic downturn as a result of quarantine measures and an already limited access to healthcare information prior to the COVID-19 era, this project aims to establish a local radio talk show to cover important health-related topics. Additionally, electric power will be extended to a secondary school where health training will be given to local students. It is hoped that the extended electricity will complement the dissemination of health- related information through use of equipment like projectors and computers.

Personal Bio: Siya Aggrey is an ecohealth specialist. His interests fall at the interface of conservation biology, Eco/One Health, and human ecology. As a consequence, his work is highly inter-disciplinary and involves collaboration with a wide array of colleagues from pathologists, ecologists to economists. He is striving to gain additional skills (especially in quantitative data management) to enhance his career development. Siya has a strong commitment to using science for influencing both policy and conservation-action.


Shahina Aqdodova

Country: Tajikistan

Vocation: Undergraduate Student

Group Affiliation: University of Central Asia

Area where the fellow’s project will be applied: Bartang Valley, Tajikistan, (The Pamirs)

Project Title: “Revitalizing Traditional Ecological Knowledge of the Bartang Valley, Tajikistan”

Project Description: In the remote mountain communities of the Bartang Valley, a lack of access to modern healthcare and a rapidly disappearing knowledge of traditional healing practices is further highlighted in the context of COVID-19. This project aims to collaborate with several local communities in documenting knowledge of medicinal plants through interviews which will be used to create a plant guidebook and short documentary film for the preservation of traditional ecological knowledge.

Personal Bio: Shahina is a junior student of Earth and Environmental Studies at the University of Central Asia. She is living in the Pamir region, and from her childhood she learned different aspects of nature conservation. Shahina is committed to the sustainable development of mountain communities and the preservation of natural resources in Central Asia. Recently, together with her teammates, she was awarded the Conservation Leadership Program grant to work on the reduction of human-wildlife conflicts in GBAO, Tajikistan. She is also highly passionate about photography and videography. With the support of the Mountain Sentinels Fellowship Program, she wants to release a couple of short documentaries that will contribute to the preservation of the traditional ecological knowledge of medicinal plants in the Bartang Valley.

Rodrigue Mushagalusa Batumike

Country: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Vocation: Researcher

Group Affiliation: Forestry Network for Peace (RFP); Université du Cinquantenaire de Lwiro (UNI- Lwiro)

Area where the fellow’s project will be applied: Twa Indigenous Community, Kahuzi-Biega National Park, Democratic Republic of the Congo (Albertine Rift)

Project Title: “Improving Food Security among the Twa in the Context of COVID-19”

Project Description: Addressing economic downturn in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic among the Twa indigenous group, Rodrigue’s project aims to increase food security for 10 Twa communities through facilitating community workshops on vegetable gardening and rabbit breeding.

Personal Bio: Rodrigue holds a bachelor’s degree in Water and Forestry Management and is currently enrolled in the M.Sc. program in Forestry and Biodiversity Management at the University of Uganda. He is passionate about forest conservation and sustainable management of natural resources and advocating for sustainability while living in harmony with nature. Rodrigue is currently working as a junior lecturer at the Université du Cinquantenaire de Lwiro.

Phurwa Dhondup Gurung

Country: Nepal

Vocation: Student, Researcher

Group Affiliation: Department of Geography, University of Colorado Boulder

Area where the fellow’s project will be applied: Communities of the Dho Tarap & Bentsang Valleys, Dolpo, Nepal, (The Himalaya)

Project Title: “COVID-19 and Community Resilience in Dolpo, the Nepal Himalaya”

Project Description: As a Mountain Sentinels Fellow, Phurwa will work with community members to help their community develop a plan for coping with COVID-19 by conducting interviews with community members as a means of exploring past memories and lived experiences of, as well as community responses to, epidemics. Additional funding will be donated to a mobile healthcare program that serves remote communities in the Nepal Himalaya.

Dr. Katie L. Kamelamela

Country: The United States of America

Vocation: Early-Career Researcher, Community Advocate

Group Affiliation: Akaka Foundation for Tropical Forests and Kānaenae Together

Area where the fellow’s project will be applied: Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI)

Project Title: “Slow and Stop the Spread: A Children’s Art Contest for Raising Awareness on COVID-19 among
NHPI Communities”

Project Description: NHPI populations are experiencing a disproportionate amount of COVID-positive cases than
other ethnic groups. This project seeks to coordinate a COVID-19 Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander children’s art
competition, providing relevant COVID-19 support materials to families within the art contest call and encouraging
NHPI children to submit imagery of their experience to the competition related to how they are helping to “Slow and
Stop the Spread” in our communities. A final product of the art competition will be a calendar with (12) images of

Personal Bio: Dr. Kamelamela is passionate about her island home of Hawai‘i, the island and archipelago. Her
life’s research is dedicated to uplifting the relationships people in Hawai‘i have with our forests and each other.
Her goals are to amplify solutions embedded within knowledge of Indigenous Peoples related to human and natural
resource management as well as advocate for these adaptations through public relation campaigns and informing policy
through research.

Tual Sawn Khai

Country: Myanmar

Vocation: PhD Student, Researcher

Group Affiliation: Lingnan University, Hong Kong

Area where the fellow’s project will be applied: Tuisau
Village, Tedim Township, Chin State, Myanmar

Project Title: “Addressing Community Primary Needs in the Tuisau Village, Myanmar”

Project Description: Reporting Myanmar’s first case of coronavirus in late-March, members of the Tuisau
Village are facing increasing discrimination as fear of COVID-19 spreads through the country. Khai seeks to
distribute basic food and hygiene necessities among his fellow community members who are facing job loss and are no
longer receiving remittances from family members working abroad due to quarantine measures. Additionally, he plans
to develop and distribute educational materials locally in order to raise awareness about COVID-19.

Personal Bio: Khia is originally from Chin State, Myanmar. He is currently a first year Ph.D. student in
Sociology and Social Policy at Lingnan University, Hong Kong. He graduated with a master’s in Social Services and
Development from the Asian Social Institute (ASI), writing on the experiences of Chin irregular migrant workers in
Malaysia for his master’s thesis. In addition, Khai is a former development coordinator at Equality Myanmar (a local
human rights organization), and also the deputy officer at the Department of Rural Development, Myanmar. His
research interests include migrant children education, climate change and migration, environmental management and
indigenous land rights, and internally displaced persons (IDPs) as a result of both natural disaster and violence.

Tah Kennette Konsum

Country: Cameroon

Vocation: Community Organizer, Activist

Group Affiliation: Society for the Promotion of Initiatives in Sustainable Development and Welfare (SOPISDEW)

Area where the fellow’s project will be applied: Oku
Community, Cameroon, (The Bamenda Highlands Region)

Project Title: “Establishing the Mount Oku Center for Gender and Socioeconomic Empowerment”

Project Description: In the Oku Community of the Bamenda Highlands, the COVID-19 pandemic is further
exacerbating issues with food security, education, and community health in the context of a region dealing with
ongoing civil conflicts. Ecotourism-dependent livelihoods and women, in particular, are facing increasing adversity
during this time. Tah aims to utilize the Mountain Sentinels Fellowship funding to establish the “Mount Oku Center
for Gender and Socioeconomic Empowerment”. Directed by a women’s committee, the center will serve as an important
community outlet for commerce of local products, basic household needs, and providing health information and
personal protective equipment to locals, with a specific focus on women.

Personal Bio: Tah is an indigene of the Mount Oku Community in the Bamenda Highlands of Cameroon. He is a
Young African Leaders’ Initiative-YALI Alumni and African Changemakers Fellow with a combined experience of over 15
years in Education, NGOs, and Civil Society Management and Leadership. He has a strong passion for education and
community development, with lots of interest in change and change management including developing theories of change
through grassroots, inclusive, and people-centered participative processes. He aspires to lead people and global
institutions to develop and implement sustainable approaches for self-empowerment and community development. He
believes harnessing and reinforcing strategic communities of practice in the field of grassroots community
development and education, especially in favor of the most vulnerable and marginalized people in Africa and the
developing world, will promote sustainable development.

Kerry Kary Mendoza Loayza

Country: Peru

Vocation: M.Sc. Animal Science, Researcher, English Teacher

Group Affiliation: Mountain Community Member – Ipas Community

Area where the fellow’s project will be applied: Ipas
Community, Jauja Province, Junín Region, Peru, (Andes – Nor Yauyos Cochas National Reserve)

Project Title: “Virtual Alternatives for Farming Resilience in Ipas, Jauja, Junín – Perú”

Project Description: Hailing from a remote Andean pastoral community where livelihoods are directly connected
to animal husbandry, many community members are facing restricted market access for selling milk, cheese, and beef
due to Peru’s strict quarantine measures. Kerry is working to provide her home community of Ipas with access to
solar energy and internet in order to gain access to the emerging rural online market, establishing a virtual
alternative for rural livelihoods in the context of COVID-19.

Personal Bio: Kerry was born in the Andean community of Ipas, in the Jauja Province of Junín and grew up on
her family’s highland farm. She attended elementary and high school at “Nuestra Señora del Carmen,” before
initiating her university studies at “Universidad Nacional del Centro del Perú”. While an undergrad, Kerry
participated in an internship program in which she spent time in the United States living with a family that runs a
dairy farm. In 2016, she began a master’s program in Animal Science at Peru’s national agrarian university,
“Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina”. Kerry is currently helping her family manage their farm while offering
English classes at her community’s local high school.

Holly Moulton

The United States of America

Vocation: PhD Candidate, Researcher

Group Affiliation: University of Oregon

Area where the fellow’s project will be applied: Unchus Community, Huaraz Province, Ancash Region,
Peru, (Andes – Cordillera Blanca)

Project Title: “Gender, Resilience and Climate Change Adaptation in the Peruvian Cordillera Blanca”

Project Description: COVID-19 presents a barrier for many researchers conducting international fieldwork in the mountains. Holly will use funding from the Mountain Sentinels Fellowship to continue ethnographic research exploring indigenous women’s perspectives of climate change and ice loss in the Andes by hiring two local women as research assistants to help carry out interviews remotely in the Unchus Community. The funding invested in the research assistants will ultimately enhance the economic resilience for local women aspiring to run their own businesses in a struggling tourism-dependent economy in the context of COVID-19.

Personal Bio: Holly is a PhD candidate in Environmental Sciences, Studies and Policy, advised by Dr. Mark Carey. Holly focuses on the social and material effects of climate change induced glacier melt on indigenous women in the Peruvian Cordillera Blanca. She is also interested in broader issues of environmental and climate justice in the cryosphere.

O.H. Jackson Napier

Country: The United States of America

Organization / Group Affiliation: Appalachia – Science in the Public Interest (A-SPI), East Tennessee State

Area where the fellow’s project will be applied: Mount Vernon, Kentucky, United States, (Appalachia)

Project Title: “Improving Social Well-Being through Community Gardening in Mount Vernon, Kentucky”

Project Description: Recently appointed as caretaker of the Appalachia Science in the Public Interest (ASPI)
offices, Jackson plans to use the Mountain Sentinels Fellowship funding to renovate the property, utilizing the
space to create community gardens. This initiative seeks to promote healthy, active lifestyles while strengthening
the sense of community in an Appalachian town.

Personal Bio: O.H. Jackson Napier, of Breathitt County, Kentucky, is an Appalachian Quaker activist who serves homeless and food-insecure individuals in the greater Berea area of Kentucky. He is currently a caretaker for the Mt Vernon campus of Appalachia Science in the Public Interest and is also working towards a certificate of graduate studies in Appalachian Studies at East Tennessee State University. A 2017 graduate of Berea College, Napier has had the privilege to travel abroad to Italy, South Korea, Haiti, Ireland, Northern Ireland, France, and Denmark. In August, Napier will enroll at Earlham School of Religion, the oldest Quaker seminary in the nation, where he will pursue a Masters of Arts in Peace and Social Transformation. Napier serves as a board member of Berea Faith Community Outreach, the Peace and Social Concerns and Finance Committees for the Southern Appalachian Yearly (Quaker) Meeting and Association, and is a student fellow with the Poor People’s Campaign. After his time in seminary, Napier plans to establish a Quaker ministry in eastern Kentucky.

Prinsha Niraula

Country: Nepal

Vocation: Student

Group Affiliation: Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organization, Nepal

Area where the fellow’s project will be applied: Salyan
Village, Solukhumbhu District, Nepal (The Himalaya)

Project Title: “Strengthening Mountain Sustainability Education in the Everest Region of Nepal”

Project Description: In order to enhance mountain sustainability education in a rural school of the Solukhumbu District, Prinsha plans to support her community through (i) providing value-based education on mountain sustainability, hygiene, and COVID-19; (ii) purchasing technological infrastructure for the school; (iii) providing technical support and training for virtual learning; and (iv) strengthening the school’s library system.

Personal Bio: As a young and enthusiastic girl, Prinsha loves being close to nature, listening to music, and learning from people’s life experiences. Her father, who is a lawyer by profession, raised her under the idea of “Education for Character-Building,” which she always aims to reflect in her life. Prinsha has been teaching human values for groups of children between the ages of six and sixteen for the last five years and is highly experienced in organizing events – particularly for children and the elderly. She is known for her singing talents and a mellifluous tone of speech, which allows her to grasp public attention easily

Tiffany Pyette

Country: The United States of America

Vocation: Poet, Artist, Activist, Mountain Community Member

Group Affiliation: Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KFTC); The STAYProject; Appalachian Affinity Group; East
Kentucky Water Network; Appalachian Land Study

Area where the fellow’s project will be applied: Letcher County, Pike County, and Floyd County, Kentucky,
United States (Appalachia)

Project Title: “Safety in the Mountains – Voices from Appalachia”

Project Description: As an artist and activist living in Appalachia, Tiffany plans to use Mountain Sentinels
Fellowship funding to develop a community poetry project entitled, “Safety in the Mountains”. The project will draw
on aspects of health, survival, and protection in Appalachia and the poetry will be shared in a public forum.

Vidal Rondán Ramírez

Country: Peru

Vocation: Researcher, Educator

Group Affiliation: Mountain Community Member

Area where the fellow’s project will be applied: Patapata Community, Yungay Province, Ancash
Region, Peru (Andes – Cordillera Blanca)

Project Title: “Enhancing Access to Remote Education in the Peruvian Andes”

Project Description: In the rural community of Patapata, Yungay, remote education has become increasingly
difficult for primary and secondary students who do not have access to the necessary technology for continuing their
studies through Peru’s new virtual curriculum. As the disparities between rural and urban education are further
highlighted in the context of COVID-19, this project seeks to use artistic expressions to draw attention to the
challenges that face public education in the Peruvian Andes. Additionally, one-hundred portable radios and solar
chargers will be provided to local students to enhance access to remote learning programs.

Personal Bio: Vidal began his career as a park ranger before becoming a specialist in environmental education
at Peru’s Huascarán National Park. He further solidified his commitment to the mountains working for Instituto de
Montaña (The Mountain Institute), facilitating participatory processes among stakeholder groups, helping their
vision of wellbeing in the mountains become a reality. He continued working with the NGO generating knowledge
related to participatory methodologies in research, development, and innovation among rural Andean farmers and
consolidating networks of highland communities. He has also conducted socioecological research on glacial-fed
watersheds for projects focused on natural infrastructure in the context of climate change. He is currently working
to promote local education initiatives for ecosystem conservation in collaboration with the Huascarán National Park
Steering Committee.

Bidhya Sharma

Country: Nepal

Vocation: Student

Group Affiliation: Department of Geography, McGill University, Canada

Area where the fellow’s project will be applied: Shey Phoksundo National Park, Dolpo, Nepal, (The Himalaya)

Project Title: “The Impact of COVID-19 on the Livelihood of Caterpillar Fungus Harvesters of Dolpa, Nepal”

Project Description: As the Nepali government bans the traditional annual harvest of a gold-valued
caterpillar fungus within the Shey Phoksundo National Park in response to COVID-19, several mountain communities are
left without an important source of seasonal income. Through documenting alternative economic strategies for
harvesting-dependent families and collecting news related to illegal activities in the Shey Phoksundo National Park
during the quarantine period, Bidhya will facilitate a meeting between the national park leadership and key
stakeholders in order to find a way to reach a compromise for both parties.

Personal Bio: Bidhya is currently a PhD student at the Department of Geography, McGill University, Canada.
Coming from Nepal, mountains, their ecosystems, and the culture that runs in them are the absolute love of her life!
She loves art, history, and science and enjoys travel, fiction, and the outdoors.

Thaddée Uwimana

Country: Rwanda

Vocation: MPH Student, Activist, Registered Nurse, Pediatric Development Clinic Quality Improvement
Coordinator, Youth Ambassador of Umbrella for Nutrition Project, Adviser and Mentor for EASY HEALTH Students
Project, Global Health Corps Fellow 2020-2021, UMUBYEYI Initiative Consultant

Group Affiliation: Partners in Health, GLOBAL HEALTH CORPS, and Mountain Community Member, University of
Mount Kenya

Area where the fellow’s project will be applied: Banda Community, Nyungwe National Park, Rwanda

Project Title: “Improving Food Security among Teenage Single-Mothers of the Banda Community, Rwanda”

Project Description: In the Banda Community of Nyungwe National Park, previously scarce work opportunities
have become virtually non-existent following border shutdowns and quarantine measures in response to COVID-19.
Single mothers are especially impacted by the economic downturn, often lacking basic food items. Thaddée’s project
aims to improve food security and enhance economic opportunity among a teenage single mothers’ group through
supporting and collaborating with an ongoing initiative in the community, FOOD CONNECT.

Personal Bio: Thaddée is a Global Community Health Activist and committed to leading the voice of social
justice and ensuring that health equity reaches all. His interest in public health was sparked during his
undergraduate studies in Nursing at The University of Rwanda before he began the Master of Public Health Program at
Mount Kenya University. Thaddée was instrumental in establishing various national and international health
organizations and movements striving towards equity and social change. He has also served government hospitals and
many international organizations committed to social justice, research, and quality healthcare such as Kageno
Worldwide and Partners in Health (PIH). Thaddée was awarded (2) professional national awards and (3) international
awards which include grants for biodiversity conservation and fellowships devoted to the recognition of exceptional
youth efforts towards health equity and social justice in the world.

Yufna Soldier Wolf

Country: The United States of America

Group Affiliation: Wind River Reservation; University of Wyoming, Laramie

Area where the fellow’s project will be applied: Wind
River Indian Reservation, Wyoming, United States

Project Title: “Steps toward Sustainability for the Wind River Reservation”

Project Description: COVID-19 serves to highlight pre-existing vulnerabilities of the Wind River Reservation,
specifically access to water and electricity. Yufna will develop a renewable energy strategy for her community by
consulting with experts at the Wyoming Outdoor Council and the Powder River Basin Resource Council, initiating a
preliminary plan for transitioning to sustainable energy.

Personal Bio: My name is Yufna Soldier Wolf Gonzalez. I am enrolled with the first indigenous peoples of the
Northern Arapaho of Wyoming and I live on the Wind River Reservation. My project focuses on renewable energy models
for tribes that suffer from high rates of unemployment and mortality and are currently seeking some type of energy
sustainability through solar panels or water storage models. I hold various degrees and have experience in Public
Relations, Anthropology, Archaeology, Environmental and Natural Resources, and recently earned a degree in
Indigenous Studies. I am currently applying for graduate school under an Indigenous Studies Program focusing on
Federal Policy and Tribal Sovereignty. My past experiences include tribal preservation, repatriation, rematriation,
and sovereignty along with Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK). My tribe, being an oil gas tribe, needs to
initiate those basic conversations about tribal energy sovereignty along with many other sustainability issues. I
plan to research models that tribes may use for sustainable energy and clean water. These aspects are vital to the
importance of our tribal future.

Rick Stevens

Country: The United States of America

Group Affiliation: Confluence Coalition, Basalt Area Gives

Area where the fellow’s project will be applied: The Elk Mountain Range of the Central Colorado Rockies,
United States

Project Title: Confluence Coalition/Basalt Area Gives: A partnership between youth-serving non-profits, local
government, business, and community.

Project Description: As a Mountain Sentinels Fellow, Rick is utilizing funding to create a partnership
between three non-profits (Collegiate Program, Mountain Youth, and Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers) in order to
enhance and strengthen their individual efforts to serve the youth population of the Roaring Fork School District in
the Central Colorado Rockies. The project aims to explore the relationship between mountain environments, tourism,
and the complex diversity in the area’s core resort region. Rick’s initiative also seeks to address the
COVID-related impacts on the area’s underserved labor force, which is the backbone of the local economy.

Personal Bio: Originally from Syracuse, New York, and a graduate of Clarkson University, Rick Stevens and his
wife, Diane, have lived in Colorado for the last 45 years where they have raised two sons together. As a resident of
the town of Basalt, Colorado in the Roaring Fork Valley, Rick’s varied interests all center on community engagement
and service. Located west of Denver at an elevation of 6,600 fasl, Rick needs only to go to his backdoor to enjoy
splendid mountain views, like that of the Basalt Mountain draped in snow which is showcased in his profile picture.

In the News


Fellowship applications for 2021-22 will be available in the fall of 2021.

2020-2021 Call for applications below:

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