Inaugural Climate Fellows Share Traditional Ecological Knowledge

Ashley Gebb july 13, 2021 – Posted on Chico State Today

When He-Lo Ramirez was a young boy, he spent summers with his father living off the land in the Feather River Canyon and surrounding mountains. They would catch rainbow trout from icy streams, pick plump wild grapes from the vines, and dig in soft soils to uncover wild onions—subsisting as their ancestors had since the start of time.

As he remembers the thrill of it all, he hopes to share that joy with a new generation of children—and in doing so, inspire in them a passion for eating wild plants and conserving the natural world.

“The land itself just needs to be taken care of, and it will take care of you in return,” said He-Lo, who is Mechoopda.

This summer, he is promoting conservation concepts as one of nine Chico State fellows in the California Climate Action Corps, a new pilot AmeriCorps program supported locally by campus and community partners and University Advancement. With a bold mission and a service-minded corps of about 230 fellows, it strives to empower Californians to safeguard the climate, reduce impacts to the environment, and protect community health.

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Students strolling along the banks of Big Chico Creek

Elementary school students spent an hour strolling along the banks of Big Chico Creek, listening to TEK fellows talk about the traditional uses of plants. (Jason Halley / University Photographer)