Anthropology Department

Rhonda Sparks - Class of 2010

Rhonda SparksI graduated from Fort Lewis College in December 2010 with a BA in Anthropology and a Minor in Native American Studies. Nome Eskimo Community is my tribal affiliation but I am half Siberian Yupik. I was born and raised in Nome, Alaska, where I currently reside. Right after graduation I got a job with the Alaska Nanuuq Commission (ANC) as the primary investigator of a project focused on traditional/local ecological knowledge. I had to quickly use my skills in cultural and environmental anthropology to understand the changing nature of human-polar bear interactions as a result of global warming factors. I accepted the position of Regional Coordinator for the ANC, which is a full co-management partner to the US Fish and Wildlife Service regarding Polar Bear in Alaska. The ANC also collaborates with Russian partners to better understand Polar Bear in the Chukchi and Bering Seas. In 2011-2012 my team and I produced a study of Local and Traditional Ecological Knowledge about Polar Bears in the Bering and Chukchi Seas based on extensive interviewing and collaboration with eight Native Alaskan community members in Northwest Alaska. One of the FLC anthropology faculty members served as an external reviewer of our final report.

I feel my FLC BA in Anthropology and minor in Native American Studies helped me understand and incorporate different methods used in gathering different types of data, particularly those involving interviewing. Working together on a common topic and ensuring the input from local people is a part of the foundation for managing the Chukchi and Bering Sea Polar Bear population. My time at FLC helped me develop time management skills as well as my public speaking skills. All the classroom presentations we had to do have paid off, and all the group projects are tools have helped me in the “real world” to work as a team to reach a common goal. The relationships I have formed with classmates and professors are cherished. I am forever grateful the time and dedication I have received from professors and I look forward to the next steps of higher education. Thank you Fort Lewis College Anthropology Department!