Intern Spotlight: Jordan Engel

Photo by Lindsay Herrera

This month’s featured volunteer, Jordan Engel, is embracing a truly unique opportunity through Trees, Water & Peoples Internship Program.  Originally from upstate New York, Jordan moved to Kentucky in 2010 to attend Berea College.  With his studies focused on Sustainable Community Development, Jordan’s decision to pursue an internship with TWP for the summer was a no-brainer.   “I first heard about Trees, Water & People when I saw Henry Red Cloud’s profile in Yes Magazine,” Jordan explained.  A few months later Jordan finds himself (a self proclaimed “Yankee”) smack dab in the middle of Indian Country, working side by side and towards the same goals as our partner, Henry Red Cloud.

Jordan arrived in Pine Ridge South Dakota excited to learn about sustainable building techniques and solar energy.  After living on the Rez, Jordan has learned about a lot more than just that.  “The numbers only tell part of the story,” Jordan exclaimed when referring to the staggering poverty statistics that exist about life on Pine Ridge.  “I’m learning about happiness, and how to be happy…how to live my life and make the most of it.”  The Lakota culture is beautiful and can be quite invigorating; Jordan’s learning this firsthand.

The Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center (RCREC) campus on the Pine Ridge Reservation is the heart of TWP’s Tribal Renewable Energy and Food Security Programs, and the place that Jordan calls home at the moment.  As TWP’s on-site assistant, Jordan handles a myriad of tasks including maintaining and improving campus buildings, assisting Henry in accommodating trainees, and assisting Henry with sustainable living and renewable energy projects.  When asked what his favorite task is, he said it’s definitely taking care of the Solar Warrior Farm and foraging for traditional foods.  “I love working the earth!” Jordan exclaims,  “We’re growing food for the people and it’s making waves.  This is a little thing that’s making a big difference.”  In the end, this is what TWP is all about: Finding culturally appropriate ways to improve lives and help people manage their natural resources.

If you would like to hear more about Jordan’s experiences, check out his regular “Notes from the Field” posts right here on the TWP blog.

Featured Volunteer: Kari Lanphier

by Pete Iengo, Keeper of the Office and Volunteer Coordinator


Kari Lanphier_Featured Volunteer
Kari plugging away at her work, always with a smile!

A huge part of who we are at TWP is directly attributed to our wonderful volunteers and interns. This month’s featured volunteer, Kari Lanphier, exemplifies the commitment and caring spirit that every organization dreams of having in a regular volunteer!

In August 2010, Kari moved to Fort Collins to study geology at Colorado State University.  It was her first day in town when she stopped by our office: “I’ve heard of you guys, and I like what you’re doing.  How can I help?”  And so the Kari era begins…

Over a year later Kari is still volunteering, and she is more committed and skillful than ever.  Starting out as our Regular Office Volunteer, Kari quickly morphed into a more complex role as Development Intern, where she manages much of our media and data files.  Her work at TWP compliments her class work too.  Kari takes the hard skills she learns here and applies them directly to her course of studies.

When Kari takes a break from her studies and volunteer efforts, she likes to spend time exploring the outdoors, rock climbing, backpacking, and learning about new things.  It’s the hunger for knowledge that drives Kari, she exclaims, “I want to keep learning and finding things I am good at so I can teach others and pass that knowledge along.”

After school Kari wants to work in geology and spend some time in Pacific Northwest with her future Husky dogs, Nanook and Cookie.  Wherever Kari ends up one thing is for certain: she is an unstoppable bundle of knowledge and spirit who will be a true asset to whatever endeavor she takes on.

From all of us at Trees, Water & People, thank you Kari for being a strong member of the community, a friend, and an amazing human being!

Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center Gets a Loft Built!

Greetings from Richard Fox, TWP’s National Director.  I just got back from another trip to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. For the last five years I have worked with Henry Red Cloud who owns Lakota Solar Enterprises.  Henry is a direct descendant of Chief Red Cloud, the last war chief of the Lakota.

Slowly, we have been building the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center as a place where Native Americans can come and learn about renewable energy and get hands-on training in various family and facility sized renewable energy applications.

This last week, Henry and the LSE crew, working in conjunction with our friends and many voluneers from the Re-Member organization, built a loft in our quonset hut that will become two bedrooms, a kitchen and bathroom for members of other tribes who come to the Center for renewable energy training.  The main platform and walls are in but there is a lot to do. 

A lot has already been done there too to make this into a place for Native Americans to learn about sustainable living and renewable energy.  We have already installed more than 200 solar air heating systems at Pine Ridge and 9 other reservations.  The quonset hut acts as our solar manufacturing and development facility. 

We have several of our solar heaters there as well as a wind break and shade trees we planted.  There is also a small straw bale office there as well as a greenhouse, sweat lodge, a small camping area and some of the Red Cloud buffalo herd.  Come spring time we expect to install either a solar electric array or a wind turbine as we slowly develop this center as a major training facility.

Recently, Henry was awarded the maintenance contract for the wind turbine at the Kili Radio Station.  This turbine will supply about half of the radio stations electricity needs and is a big step forward for energy independence.

We are currently beginning to consider opening up a spot or two for interns who are willing to live and work at Pine Ridge.  There is currently no funding for salary, and living conditions would be primitive, but it would be an incredible opportunity to learn about renewable energy while making a major contribution to a people that have suffered much over the years.  If interested, email me at  If you are interested in learning more about what we are doing or want to contribute to the project, check us out at and look at out Tribal Land Program area.

Be well…