Everything Andrea Carrillo does encompasses her passion for natural resources.

For the past two years, Andrea Carrillo added “student” to the many other daily titles she holds which include: natural resources manager, rancher, and mother. She now joins thousands of other graduates in relinquishing their student titles for that of “Colorado State University Alumni.” She traveled up to CSU from New Mexico last week to receive her new Masters of Natural Resources Stewardship (MNRS) degree.

Natural resources manager

It’s readily apparent that Carrillo and the MNRS program were a perfect fit from the beginning. She currently works full-time as a natural resources manager for the federal government. Her primarily responsibilities are for the Jicarilla Apache Nation.

Her work encompasses a wide variety of natural resource projects and responsibilities she oversees. Carrillo said this gave her the educational itch to further expand her expertise.

“Through a Google search I found CSU and the MNRS program and decided to go for it,” she said. “Everything I learned has enhanced my work, which has helped me be more informed to make better management decisions.”

Her team is currently completing an environmental plan for noxious weed control and helping their forestry program understand how to retain soil moisture for tree seedling survival amidst drought in the Southwest. She also provides local ranchers with information to improve their rangelands and serves as the public information officer for wildland fire in her area.

“We’re trying to improve our natural resources as a whole,” said Carrillo, who is also an enrolled member of the Jicarilla Apache Nation. “In the past, our projects have been more separated, but now we’re working together across disciplines more often and taking on joint ventures.”

Woman shakes hands with the dean


Student, mother, rancher

Carrillo’s educational experience also became a joint venture. A whole team of people, both near and far, helped her complete her degree in just two years. As a full-time online student, she took three courses a semester (while still working full-time) and appreciated FRS faculty and staff who worked with her one-on-one when she needed it.

“All the faculty and staff really showed that they care about student success and they really made the extra effort to help us understand each concept,” she said.

Help from the local community also contributed to Carrillo’s success. Her tuition was funded through the Jicarilla Apache Nation Scholarship Program and she received her supervisor’s support to work on course work as time allowed on the job. Her husband and extended family also helped juggle their children’s schedules when she needed to complete assignments, reports and exams.

If work and school weren’t enough, Carrillo also continued fulfilling daily ranching responsibilities and chores at home. This spring she spent every morning bottle feeding a newborn calf before heading off to work. She helps care for 29 head of cattle on land she and her family manage, and helps her mother and siblings with 67 head of cattle on their 20,000-acre ranch. Carrillo and her family were even busy branding, tagging and vaccinating calves, and moving their herds to pasture right up until graduation.

Carrillo is looking forward to recreating again during some of her free time. You’ll find her camping, fishing, mountain biking and hunting with her family. This is quite fitting for someone who spends much of her professional time helping to protect and conserve the settings and resources these activities take place in.