Kat Thompson

Teaching Assistant

Ya’at’eeh and greetings! Kat grew up at the base of the San Francisco Peaks in Flagstaff, Arizona. When she was growing up, she had minimal interest in nature except to swim in the creeks by Sedona and car camp with friends. Her friends would invite her to hike but she would decline, imagining strenuous efforts of exercise that she was incapable of handling.

Her perception changed drastically once she began to dive into the environmental adventures that her undergraduate career offered her. Her sense of place broadened and she found herself most comfortable in the outdoors. She spent weeks living out of a tent, witnessing the sun rise and set. She’s observed an eagle’s nest perched on top of a high cliff, hearing the eaglets cry for food and comfort. She had to carry food and water on her back, along with a chainsaw and fuel, in order to thin out an overcrowded Ponderosa Pine forest for wildfire prevention. She experienced monsoon season a little too closely, up on the San Francisco Peaks, being surround by lightning and thunder…terrified but fascinated by the powers of nature. She discovered many natural wonders as a WRFI student for the Colorado Plateau course; hiking in remote canyons in southern Utah, seeing landscapes that were surreal, similar to a backdrop in a Looney Tunes cartoon.

From these experiences, Kat has witnessed a resiliency in nature. Nature cannot be easily conquered and it has been able to overcome even the harshest human-caused negative influences over time. This resiliency in nature is similar to what she has seen in the resiliency of native peoples through the efforts of colonization.

With this in mind, she is currently attending Northern Arizona University pursuing a Master of Forestry and a Graduate Certificate in the Indigenous and Tribal Nation-Building, Leadership, Management and Administration. She is focusing on resource management for Indigenous Nations and methods in combining Traditional Ecological Knowledge with Western Science in order to promote effective restoration efforts and conservation of natural and cultural resources for future generations. Additionally, she is interested in the consultation process between tribes and governmental agencies, and advocating for the Indigenous voice in natural resource management strategies. Kat is excited to join the WRFI team and continues to call the Colorado Plateau her home.