Today, the Mescalero Tribal Fish Hatchery, had to say goodbye to a faithful AmeriCorps volunteer, Whitney Fenton.  It was necessary for Whitney to return home to Massachusetts.  During the three months Whitney worked with the Hatchery, she was a motivated, cheerful and compassionate volunteer.  She accepted any and all tasks she was asked to do.  In addition to her regular Fish Hatchery duties, she also provided volunteer  services to the Mescalero Tribal Elderly Program as a kitchen helper during times when they urgently need help for special occasions.  Whitney also worked with the Mescalero School program promoting 5210 Challenge which encourages healthy eating habits for children.  She was an avid runner and could be seen running the local highway and roads in the evenings (she became good friends with many of the “rez” dogs!).  She became active in the Mescalero Reformed Church, again, working in the kitchen during special occasions when the folks had to be fed.  Whitney takes all our good wishes and love with her – she’ll be missed.

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Finding Nemo at the Mescalero Christmas Parade

What would you do with twenty pounds of papier mache, a dozen yards of cotton snow, ten cans of spray glue, two rolls of duct tape, seventeen pieces of poster board, five permanent markers, 50 ft of cardboard, a set of watercolors, 20 feed bags, a can of spray paint, and thousands of Christmas lights? The possibilities are certainly endless, but these supplies and more are what we used to construct our float for last Saturday’s Mescalero Christmas Parade !

One year ago, the Mescalero Tribal Fish Hatchery earned first place for our float in the Christmas Parade. Thus, our efforts on this year’s float were carried out with the hopes of maintaining our blue ribbon. We spent much time painting, sculpting, wiring, and gluing, and in the end we were more than happy with our final product, decorated to merge our mission of raising fish with the parade’s Disney theme. Nemo, Dory, Squirt, Sebastian, and Flounder all made appearances on our parade float while Olaf, a character in the newest Disney Blockbuster film, rode above in Micky’s Steamboat Willie. Additional clownfish could be seen, illuminated by Christmas lights as they swam through the darkness on the hats of the AmeriCorps members who handed out candy (and oranges to be true to Healthy Kids Mescalero!).

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AmeriCorps Members wait, in front of their float, for the Christmas Parade to begin.

Santa Claus drives the truck that pulls the Christmas float accompanied by Nemo!

Santa Claus drives the truck that pulls our Christmas float… accompanied by Nemo!

Overall, creating the float was a fun, collaborative process.  While we didn’t place this year, the final product was worth the effort, and the joy of participating in an event that was so well attended and enjoyed by our community has us looking forward to the parade that will take place on the fourth of July next year!

The 2014 Mescalero Tribal Fish Hatchery Christmas Float!

The 2014 Mescalero Tribal Fish Hatchery Christmas Float!

Head Start Students Celebrate Their 5210 Graduation!

Congratulations to the Head Start Students in Mescalero and Carrizo who completed the 5210 Healthy Kids program today! In celebration of their achievements, we treated all the students to fruit smoothies. It was so much fun to work with the Head Start Students these last months! We hope they will remember what they learned through 5210 and make healthy choices as they grow.

Our next Healthy Kids Mescalero Program will bring us to the Mescalero Elementary School in the spring. In the mean time, the Community Transformation Grant coordinators will continue to plan and prepare for the installation of a walking trail along Apache Blvd. It is a busy time for the CTG coordinators but also an exciting one.  Overall, the completion of another 5210 program is an encouraging milestone on our journey toward fulfilling our goals for a healthy Mescalero.

The Sustainable Community Garden

Hello, My name is Skyler Marsh and I was hired by the Mescalero Tribal Fish Hatchery to repair, manage, and promote a sustainable community garden.  My goals are to expand the garden to a larger size, build and establish hoop houses, build a greenhouse, and to plant a mixture of native and traditional crops that we can sell to the community.  As of right now, we have planted several winter greens that will be grown in our hoophouse.  The hoop house utilizes two black plastic drums that are filled with water inside the house.  At night, when the temperatures drop, the barrels release the heat stored throughout the day and keeps the temperature from getting too low.  For example, the temperatures in the hoop house today were 60 degrees, 30 degrees higher than the outside ambient temperature! Other projects that we hope to complete is the construction of a passive-solar greenhouse, so we can grow produce year around.  Since we work on a hatchery and have two covered raceways[1], we would also like to implement aquaponics which would allow us to grow plants and fish at the same time.

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Working hard on the raised beds.

The goal of the community garden is to educate and inspire the community about sustainable living and eating healthy.  So far I have had the privilege to work with our Community Transformation Grant coordinator.  Some of the things that I have done in the community are to establish raised bed gardens in both the local Elder Center and the children’s Head Start pre-k facilities.  I am grateful to have been hired on for this position because this is something that I am truly passionate about.

I am pursuing a degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Management.  This is definitely something that I have always had a keen interest in, even as a child in Alabama, where I was born and raised.  As a kid, I was always fascinated with the local ecology and the complex relationships that existed there.  Coming to the Southwest was a great change to what I was used to, but I quickly fell in love with the area and gained a great respect for the fragile and intricate ecology of high desert and sky island ecosystems.  I feel fortunate and blessed to be a part of the hatchery team.  We try our hardest to grow quality rainbow trout to stock aquatic systems located in Native American Reservations all across New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and some parts of Nevada.  I have worked in aquaculture before but this job is unique in several ways.  I have never worked with or known a Native American before and to be a part of the Mescalero Apache community has given me rich perspective on their culture and ways of life.  It is truly a remarkable and rare experience and I know I will carry the knowledge and memory of this place with me wherever I go, forever.


[1] A raceway is a concrete trough that water, diverted from a natural water source, flows through.  This is a primary aquaculture method for growing salmonid species (trout and salmon) because it replicates fresh, flowing water, which is more natural to these fish than traditional pond aquaculture.

5210 Week III: One hour of Exercise!

This week, the MTFH staff visited the Mescalero and Carrizo Head Start centers for a third installment of the 5210 program!  During previous visits, our staff promoted 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day & 2 less hours spent watching a screen.  This week, however, we focused on the important number 1: one hour of physical exercise every single day!  Nearly one third of the youth of the United States are overweight or obese, thus the importance of teaching kids to set aside one hour to move each day cannot be discounted.

To show the Head Start kids just how fun it can be to get fit we brought in a professional!  Natalia Torres, a certified Zumba kids instructor from the Mescalero Fitness Center joined our staff to give everyone a quick exercise class.  Kids, MTFH staff, and even Head Start instructors had fun following Natalia’s Zumba routines.  Exercise looks different person to person and day to day.  However, one thing that isn’t variable is the importance of physical activity to a healthy lifestyle.  Here’s to staying fit Mescalero!

A Beautiful Perspective of the Mescalero Fish Hatchery!

My name is Jeanne Dennis.  Since late March 2013 I’ve been working as the Administrative Assistant for the Mescalero Tribal Fish Hatchery.  I have the ideal workplace – I look out the window and see all the beautiful scenery, the imposing Catholic Church on the hill, the sparkling trout stream-fed raceways, and the busyness of hatchery work.

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A vista near the MTFH administration building, featuring St. Joseph’s Apache Mission.

Before coming here, all I knew about the Hatchery was that they raised beautiful Rainbow trout.  Since I’ve been here, I have come to realize that there is so much more involved in growing these fish.  Continue reading

5210 Part II: Two hours less Screen Time!

Nil’daagu’te , how’s everybody doing in Native America and other areas!  Today I want to discuss what we did with our youth for the second part of 5210. What we did at the Carrizo Head Start is talk with the kids about the benefits of 2 hours of less “screen time,” or time spent watching television, computer, or screens of other electronics. As an alternative activity to screen time, the kids made puppets with our assistance of helping them cut, and glue. Overall, we did an awesome job helping the kids and the puppets were so cute.

ImageAmeriCorps member Merle Scott and kids from the Carrizo Head Start spend time away from technology!

By: Jarrett “Jay” Kazhe