Rocky Mountain Youth Corps in New Mexico
Urban Conservation The Rocky Mountain Youth Corps work on restoration projects in Albuquerque, New Mexico ©: Sarah Hurteau/The Nature Conservancy

Stories in New Mexico

Urban Conservation

Sarah Hurteau
Sarah Hurteau Albuquerque Urban Conservation Director © Doug Gritzmacher

Sarah Hurteau, The Nature Conservancy’s Albuquerque urban conservation director, has a vision for redefining how natural systems and cities interact—while building a more diverse and inclusive conservation community. She works daily to help create an Albuquerque metro area that is prosperous and environmentally sound.

“With strong partnerships, we can have more resilient neighborhoods with happier and healthier people,” says Hurteau, “and we can nurture a new generation of conservation leaders.”

Two collaborative projects with the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps (RMYC) this year were important examples of how this vision can be realized. “I had restoration projects ready, but no people power, and here comes this amazing army searching for meaningful work,” explains Hurteau.

The RMYC engages young people in the outdoors, inspiring healthy, productive lives. Recruiting mainly from economically-challenged neighborhoods, they provide much-needed paid opportunities while teaching responsibility for self, community and the environment.

The first RYMC crew of eight spent two weeks with Hurteau and flood control authority staff, identifying native plants, and removing invasive trees from a five-acre, sandy-bottomed arroyo in northeast Albuquerque. Arroyos capture storm water and restoring the natural filtration they provide can vastly improve the quality of water available for other uses.

A second crew kept busy with the City of Albuquerque, surveying and pruning trees in parks. A healthy tree canopy helps reduce air pollution and heat on city streets, while connecting people with nature. The work also served as a successful training test for youth interested in tree stewardship careers. Funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, both crews had fun, too, enjoying interpretive bird walks and other activities. See the crew in action >>

“When I met Sarah, it felt like a strong partnership was pre-destined,” says Jordan Stone, RMYC program manager. “There's plenty of good work to be done."

Hurteau’s excited to expand the collaboration. “We will accomplish exponentially more with the crews we’ll have working through summer,” she says.

Saving Every Drop The Nature Conservancy installed 2500 gallons of water storage at an Albuquerque elementary school so that the school can irrigate their gardens and trees. They will be able to grow fruits and vegetables to send home to the students' families.