Out West student blog

More Taste, Less Waste

Naomi Ray and her puppy enjoy the summer. Image credit: Naomi Ray

Naomi Ray ‘22
Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
Major: Chemical Engineering
Water Innovation Intern, Washington Water Trust

Why did you want to do this internship?

I wanted to do this internship to learn what it is like to work at a non-profit. This unique opportunity offered me a chance to explore environmental literacy and policy work in a community-based organization. I've enjoyed seeing how the Washington Water Trust (WWT) works with different stakeholders and how they are constantly re-evaluating how they can better involve important stakeholders, such as tribal leaders, in the decision-making process. 

How does your role support the host organization’s mission?

The Washington Water Trust's mission is “to protect and restore healthy rivers and streams across Washington so that fish, farms and communities can thrive for generations." My role is to support projects that are creating evidence-backed cases to convince farmers to use more sustainable practices--like using recycled water for irrigation, or even not irrigating certain crops at all. 

Describe one project you will be working on this summer. 

One of the projects I've been working on this summer has been dry farming outreach. Our goal is to promote dry farming (irrigating once or not at all) at different farmers’ markets and offer taste-testing between crops that have been irrigated and crops that have been dry farmed. I have been calling and emailing farmers in Washington to create a directory of who practices dry farming, so we can connect and build consumer demand. Dry farming is an important issue because it is a more sustainable method of crop production, but it's less economically viable due to lower crop yield. It is more common with newer farmers who haven't acquired water rights yet. We hope to ultimately build greater demand among consumers so dry farmers can have more support. Currently, I am creating social media outreach templates for Instagram, Facebook, and blog sites.

How does this project relate to your studies and/or career goals?

This project is related to my career goals because I'm interested in water resources and sustainability. This project also ties into a class I'm taking this summer, an environmental history course focused on water justice. I am excited to learn more about how water issues have affected different groups and how I can apply lessons from the past to present-day problems. 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

In my spare time, I like to watch movies/TV shows with my sisters. I've also made an effort to go outside, even if it's just for 30 minutes. The weather's been really nice and hot lately, which has been a great excuse to get ice cream.

 

Read more at the Out West Student Blog

Recent Center News

Wenxi Zhao, MS '21, water resources engineer at the California Department of Water Resources

“Three Sisters” plantings at the Washoe community garden. Photo by Herman Fillmore.

Despite persistent efforts by the U.S. government to eradicate Indigenous farming and ranching practices, they are regaining currency in an American West stressed by drought, diminishing resources and climate change.