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Intern Spotlight: Brit Austin

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Give a warm welcome to our newest intern Brit! They’ll be working with us through UNC to assess and improve existing trails in the Heritage Area. As for a little bit about them, Brit got their Associate’s as a Veterinary Technician and earned their certification in 2018. They recently decided to go back to school UNC to pursue a degree in Biology and later discovered a passion for, and decided to minor in, Geographic Information Science.

Brit has a passion of learning and sharing education related to Biology, GIS, animals, and the LGBTQA+ community. They live in Loveland with their husband, their dog, two cats, two snakes, and axolotl. In their spare time they enjoy archery, hiking, and rollerblading.

We’re so excited to have you Brit!

Intern Spotlight: Molly Wade

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We are excited to welcome Molly Wade as our new Communications and Graphic Design Intern! Molly comes to our organization through the Conservation Legacy Stewards Program and will be assisting with our social media and various communications outlets.

She graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas with a degree in Arts and Technology in 2018 and a minor in Art History. She has a long history of working with nonprofits, along with a deep love for good design and the outdoors. Outside of work, she’s usually baking gluten-free treats or dog-watching at her local dog park.  

Intern Spotlight: Bekah Schields

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We are excited to welcome Rebekah “Bekah” Schields to our staff as a Programs Intern! Bekah comes to us through the Stewards Program run by Conservation Legacy, which “provides individuals with service and career opportunities to strengthen communities and preserve our natural resources.”  Bekah will be working on several programs and projects with PHA, including the Heritage Culturalist Volunteers program, Water Legacy oral history project and the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area Strategic Interpretive Plan.

Bekah is passionate about bringing history to the public in a variety of ways. She has worked in heritage and archaeology education for the past five years. She recently graduated from Colorado State University with an M.A. in History and she also holds a B.S. in Anthropology from Montana State University. When she is not researching or reading, Bekah can be found enjoying a local beer, playing board games, or working on an embroidery project.

Guest Blog: Life is a journey that leads us to parts unknown

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by Vanessa Villegas Selwyn, PhD

I grew up in a southwest border town less than an hour drive from Juarez, Mexico.  Las Cruces, New Mexico, is an area is rich with Latinx (Mexican) and Native American history and culture. As a child, I was exposed to my mothers Mexican and Native American heritage alongside my father’s Jewish and German heritage.  Being multicultural with several intersecting identities has led me to champion diversity.  Recently, I have served as president to Todos Juntos (Latinx Graduate Group), a founding member of Graduate Students of Color, a Diversity Coordinator for the Colorado State University Graduate School, the advisor to QWEEN (Queer Women Engaged in an Encouraging Nexus) and taken part in a plethora of multicultural events. Throughout my journey, I have striven to promote and support diversity while initiating inclusive policies.

Fort Collins became my home in 2011. I came to Fort Collins to pursue a PhD at Colorado State University. My interest in science and learning lead me to gain a Bachelor of Science in Biology, a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, a Master in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Multicultural Education and Secondary Science Education. My drive to better understand our world lead me to successfully pursue a PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology with an emphasis in Molecular, Cellular, and Integrative Neurosciences. My love of science is not limited to the microscopic, it encompasses the full range of nature and humanity.

My time in the community has led me to appreciate the impact of the Cache la Poudre River on the culture of Fort Collins.  I’m eager to learn more about the Cache la Poudre River and surrounding areas in my position at the Poudre Heritage Alliance. Additionally, I’m excited to join the Poudre Heritage Alliance’s project to enriching our knowledge of the Cache la Poudre River with the histories of the diverse local community.  I am grateful to join the Poudre Heritage Alliance to have the opportunity to bring my passion for diversity, keen inquiring mind, and love of Fort Collins together.


We are really excited to welcome Vanessa to the Poudre Heritage Alliance (PHA) staff! She will be with us through 2019, helping PHA with administrative tasks, marketing and communications, as well as translations. You can reach Vanessa by email at