INTRODUCTION: SUZANNE EL-HAJ

Hello, my name is Suzanne. I am half Argentinian, half Palestinian, and I was born in the USA.

My name is Suzanne El-Haj. My parents are immigrants from diverse regions. My mother is a Latina from Argentina and my father is an Arab from Palestine. I am a first generation ethnically mixed Latina in this country, and I could not be more proud of my identity!

In May 2021, I received my bachelor of science degree in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems with a minor in Environmental Science. Throughout my time at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) I have developed, designed and executed environmental conservation projects on a local and university level. One of my most successful pursuits was the development of a sustainable urban farm. Our mission is to contribute to our local food system by growing produce sustainably and providing it to our community. At my university I also took part in my own undergraduate research project. I studied the scientific properties of how fungus in soil affects aloe vera plants. This project allowed me to present my work in conferences across the USA including at the USDA – National Institute of Food and Agriculture meeting in D.C. and the Soil Science Society of America conference in San Diego, CA.

Herbs and vegetables for sale at our farmers market. This produce was grown at the urban sustainable farm I helped develop and worked at for the last two years.

Because of my involvement in local environmental advocacy I have been recognized in my community. In early 2019, I was able to attend Sierra Club Annual Congressional Lobby Week in Washington D.C. I was a part of the Borderlands team since I live in a border region with Mexico. During this time I learned all about different environmental policies plaguing marginalized regions across the entire nation. Volunteering with the Sierra Club opened my eyes to what it means to advocate for what we believe is just. Being surrounded by like minded individuals who work towards their passions for a living inspire me to strive to do the same. I plan to continue working toward changing the narrative of politics and make it more inclusive and diverse to represent we, the people.

This summer going into fall I will be working as the Biological Science Technician at the Grand Canyon National Park. I will be doing research on monarch butterfly conservation in an effort to preserve the diminishing butterfly habitats. I will be housed at the Grand Canyon in Arizona for 3 months, working on advancing monarch butterfly conservation efforts through resource stewardship, citizen science, and education and outreach. I am excited to travel, see more of our country, and learn more about the importance of environmental stewardship and conservation all while working under the National Park Service and Environment for the Americas.

Myself hiking and exploring Big Bend National Park in the borderland region of Texas.

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