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M. Ester Ceja

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Background: Ceja grew up in the small town of Rupert. Now 28, she spent four summers working with the Forest Service near the banks of the Lochsa River in the Clearwater National Forest. She had planned to pursue law enforcement, but spending time in the dense forests and lush river canyons gave her a deep sense of the connectivity of the ecosystem. Taking particular interest in the influence human behavior has on the environment, Ceja became an activist, adding a graduate degree in Public Administration with an emphasis in natural resources and environmental policy to her B.S. in Political Science.

Claim to Fame: After an internship with the Snake River Alliance (known as "Idaho's Nuclear Watchdog") in 2001, Ceja became campaign director of the now 26-year-old grassroots organization. She will soon celebrate two years in the position, and public outreach remains her primary focus.

"I go out into the community, talk to people and provide them with information," Ceja said. "My goal is to get people involved, but it's not just going and asking for help, it's going into communities and seeing what their concerns are. Ultimately, it's up to them to decide [where they stand]."

Current Campaigns: Ceja is involved in a handful of progressive endeavors with the Alliance, including the first annual "Conservation Month," modeled after Sun Valley's "Grassroots Month." where local businesses team up with local nonprofits to spread the word and promote membership. Anyone who signs up or renews a pledge is eligible to enter a drawing for donated Pearl Izumi and Patagonia Gear. This year's sponsor is Idaho River Sports, and Ceja commends their enthusiasm and willingness to support such organizations as Idaho Conservation League, Idaho Rivers United, Winter Wildlands Alliance, the Nature Conservancy, the Wilderness Society and the Snake River Alliance. "It's a win-win situation. It promotes local business and local nonprofits, and it's a great way to share information," Ceja said. She hopes the April 30 drawing will be a success (taking place during the infamous Boat Swap at IRS' new location at 3100 Pleasanton), but it all depends on community turnout.

Industry Heroes: When asked to name an inspiring peer, Ceja was caught off guard and joked, "There are so many people who do incredible work, and I'm sure four hours from now I'll remember." She did mention Boise State Professor John Freemuth, a man Ceja admires for his passion and critical thinking.

Hobbies: Running, reading and school-"I love learning," Ceja said, "so if I could get paid to go back to school, that would be ideal."

Favorite Color: Red

Favorite Food: Her mother's Mexican cooking

Fun Fact: Ceja translates directly to "eyebrow" in Spanish, which Ester speaks fluently

Future Plans: International Environmental Law-maybe

Parting Shot: "If there's anything people should take away from the work we do, it's that your voice is so important to the process. If you don't stand up and question things, who will? There is so much work to be done, and we can't do it alone."