Elvia Rodriguez-Ochoa

Roles at NAAEE:

CCC Fellow

Elvia Rodriguez Ochoa is a multi-disciplinary artist, educator, and administrator with over 20 years of experience working in nonprofit community settings. As a lifelong city resident, Elvia enjoys visiting the diverse neighborhoods that make up Chicago and learning about the impact each ethnic group has in shaping this dynamic region. She also believes the happiest communities are the ones where residents train and engage in local politics with the same fervor they have for city sports teams. Elvia is a proud graduate of Whitney M. Young Magnet, and holds a B.A. from Trinity Christian in Palos Heights, and an M.A. from the Interdisciplinary Program at Columbia College Chicago.

Fellowship Project

In many ways Midwesterners—and especially Chicagoans—take water for granted. Chicago sits at the edge of the largest group of freshwater lakes on earth.  Yet, to meet the needs for the future it is essential to be wise in current use and to promote a culture of conservation around water. As Neighborhood Program Director, Elvia is responsible for the GardenKeepers Program where residents are taught how to create and maintain a community garden in an eco-friendly manner. She also manages the Neighborhood Open Space Planning (NOSP) program, where residents are assisted with creating a plan for their community to increase green spaces including gardens, trails, and parks. Elvia's project proposes to update the GardenKeepers Manual and the NOSP Workbook to more explicitly make the case for conservation without using jargon, heavy explanations, or scolding doom-and-gloom language; all of which turn people off from wanting to participate in environmental stewardship. In addition, the materials will be translated into Spanish so the organization can engage community residents to help spread the message of wise water use to protect one of earth's greatest assets.