Meet Wisdom’s Native Peer Mentors
Wisdom Project Peer Mentors

Peer mentors examining oysters and ocean invertebrates.
(L to R) Ideara Sasao, Jacquelyn Nielsen, Carmen Fernandez,
Joe Colina, and Wisdom Coordinator Amanda Kelley-Lopez

In April, Wisdom of the Elders recruited four Native American youth to serve as peer mentors for Discovering Yidong Xinag (The Old Wisdom in the Athabascan language), formerly known as The Wisdom Project.

This Native American youth leadership initiative is designed to engage Native youth in environmental and climate studies through service learning so they can learn about their local ecosystem, consider higher education and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields, and serve as peer mentors to middle school youth.  Each peer mentor will assist a small team of Native youth during our 2014 Summer Field Science Camps being held at Beaverton High School in June and NAYA Family Center in Portland in July.


Ideara SasaoIdeara Sasao was born and raised on the Pacific island of Belau (Palau).  She is graduating this month from Portland State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Science.  She has worked at Teresa Ruuemau Adult Foster Care as a caregiver, at ASPSU daycare as a student teacher for toddlers, and currently works full time as a dietary aide at Prestige Care / Menlo Park.  Ideara loves music, singing, and art, and is now pursuing a career in an environmental conservation field.


Carmen FernandezCarmen Fernandez is Mexican-American, Assiniboine and Dakota from Beaverton, Oregon and currently attends 11th grade at Westview High School. She plans to continue her education at either University of Washington or Northwest Indian College.  After graduation, Carmen hopes to empower Latino or Native youth by helping them go to college.


Jacquelyn NielsenJacquelyn Nicole Nielsen is a member of the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation. She lives in Vancouver, Washington and currently attends Union High School as a sophomore.  She is involved with Title VII Native American Education Program and Project WIT (Whatever It Takes).  Jacquelyn currently works for Bad Boyz Bicycles (a family business).  She expects to pursue a psychology degree and provide guidance counseling for youth.



Joseph ColinaJoseph (Joe) Colina is Cherokee and Venezuelan, a high school freshman from Milwaukie, Oregon and is motivated to graduate early. Joe wants to pursue a career that will allow him to help protect our watersheds for future generations because he loves the outdoors and fishing. Joe likes being creative and strives to be respectful, positive, and help others believe in themselves. He gets some of these qualities from his mother, Janessa Colina, Discovering Our Story Advisory Council member for Wisdom of the Elders.