Ella Jaz Kirk, 14, had just completed her sophomore year at Aldo Leopold Charter School. She was the aquatics expert on the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) Ecological Monitoring Crew which won 1st Place at the New Mexico EnviroThon Competition this year. As part of her YCC duties, Ella taught elementary school kids about ecology, conservation, watershed health, presented at the Children's Gila River Festival, and instructed ALCS staff and students on orienteering prior to the all school backpacking trips.
This year, Ella wrote for the ALCS Newsletter; she was in line to be next year's Editor-in-Chief. She was an honor roll student each semester she attended ALCS and was a 6th Grade teacher's aide. Ella played fiddle with a local group called Fiddle Club and composed many songs- some which were entered into competitions. When Ella was in 7th grade, she went on the first Tropical Ecology trip to Costa Rica that was hosted by the school, and this year she was saving up to return with her fellow classmates. Ella's main passion was saving the Gila River; she delivered a petition with 6,400 signatures from around the world, to Gov. Susana Martinez to stop the diversion.