Welcome our 2023 Climate Change Intern

Photo of Araon next to PSU-LSAMP logo

West Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District is incredibly fortunate to be hosting Araon Sierras as our second Portland State University (PSU) Institute for Sustainable Solutions (ISS) Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Climate Change Intern.

During this internship, Araon will be building off the “climate lens” work completed by last year’s intern, in addition to working on other projects related to climate change. He will be helping us deepen our understanding of urban heat islands and develop new partnerships with groups working on this issue. Our goal is to learn how we can best support communities impacted by heat island effect in the Portland Harbor and Central Downtown areas. Araon will also be working with our technical staff to learn and test tools that will help with our conservation planning efforts. Araon will also support our Forest and Urban Conservationists in their work with Oregon State University Extension, Oregon Department of Forestry, Forest Park Conservancy, and Portland Fire & Rescue to deliver education and outreach about wildfire risk reduction to neighborhoods that are at high risk of catastrophic fire near large natural areas.

“Leaving things better than how you found them” is Araon’s motto and reflects the work he plans to pursue with us. Araon is a mechanical engineering student at Portland State University. Through his coursework, he’s picked up on many concepts that help explain the nature of the world. Mathematics helps him understand trends over time, ways to model the natural world, and how people can think exponentially. Engineering has given him the tools needed to take a complicated problem and break it down into smaller solvable pieces. His studies have also helped shed light on new questions to research and have helped provide the methods to test those questions. Araon looks forward to applying his curiosity and problem solving skills to help create a healthier environment. Araon’s studies, and his previous experience leading and working alongside others as a chef, provide him with valuable lessons about teamwork that he brings to our organization, such as how a how a group can solve a problem with speed. In addition, Araon’s four years serving with the U.S. Army as a network administrator showcased his ability to skillfully communicate across diverse communities and manage projects that met deadlines under ever-changing conditions.

About the LSAMP internship program

The ISS is partnering with the LSAMP program to provide funding for climate change and climate/disaster resilience related internships for the 2022-2023 academic year for historically excluded students underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. The LSAMP Program, a program of the National Science Foundation, has worked since 2009 to increase retention, graduation, and post-graduation success among historically excluded students majoring in STEM.