People of Reclamation: Meet Toyya Mahoney
Written by: Emily Quinn
Toyya talks with a child participant during an outreach event.The Bureau of Reclamation’s mission is to manage, develop and protect water and related resources in an environmentally and economically sound manner in the interest of the American public. The people of Reclamation who make this mission a reality are some of the best and brightest in the world.
Toyya Mahoney, an environmental protection specialist from Reclamation’s Lower Colorado Region, is one of those people. Before joining the Reclamation team, Toyya worked at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area as a park ranger. She later transferred to Reclamation and became an Environmental Protection Specialist upon completion of her Pathways Program internship; a program for students and recent graduates.
It wasn’t until Toyya reached the age of 19 that she experienced the joys of public lands and developed an appreciation for natural resources. She says, “It was the most influential opportunity ever for myself, my family and for my community, and it helped me realize the factors that influence visitation demographics -- something I hope to change and improve to make public lands more accessible for all people.”
Each day provides something new. One day may include conducting historical research while others may involve researching public laws, or visiting Reclamation’s lands. She enjoys being able to create a balance between office and field work.
In her current role, Toyya manages and coordinates outreach projects out of the LCR’s Resource Management Office. She is the coordinator of the LCR’s Catch A Special Thrill program which provides an opportunity for children with disabilities and disadvantages to learn how to fish. In addition, Toyya serves as the lead for Youth Conservation Corps projects consisting of land and river restoration initiatives in the LCR.
To date, being the coordinator for the C.A.S.T. for Kids program has been Toyya’s most exciting and fulfilling project. “It provides me with the an opportunity to engage my passion of working with people who are disabled and/or disadvantaged, and to provide diverse, inclusive and accessible recreation opportunities to my community,” she says.
Toyya believes that equality and equity are critical components to consider when working with the public. She says, “Modifying experiences and accommodating the needs of people fosters a deeper connection to our mission and public lands while creating an inclusive learning environment.”
“The purpose of our outreach initiatives is to coordinate, develop and teach information about environmental stewardship while providing public information about the value and importance of our natural resources,” says Toyya. “My projects mean a lot to me because they give me an opportunity to inspire my community and the next generation to become environmental stewards.”
The work Toyya does is important because it paves the way for future generations to learn about and take care of the environment. She finds much of her inspiration from her mother, who passed away while Toyya was serving her first season as a student park ranger. Toyya found solace in the nature that surrounded her, and in the people who depended on her to learn about the importance of environmental stewardship.
When Toyya isn’t working, she’s often volunteering to teach the local community how to ethically and safely engage in outdoor recreation. She leads monthly outings that include hiking, biking, camping, backpacking, and swimming trips in different public lands surrounding southern Nevada. She says, “It is my passion to professionally and personally provide the public with opportunities to visit, learn from and explore our public lands.”
Something many people may not know about Toyya is that in 2016, she became the first leader in Las Vegas of a nonprofit that celebrates and inspires Black people to embrace nature. Toyya says, “I found people of color in my community who love their public lands and who want to learn more about them.”
She added, “Some of the people I’ve met have never experienced nature outside of the city, and it has been so fulfilling to bring diversity into our public lands and to share our stories of diversity and public lands exploration with others throughout the southern Nevada community.”
Reclamation is proud to employ a diverse and highly qualified team of subject matter experts. If you are interested in pursuing a career with us, visit: https://go.usa.gov/xnPQ9 to learn more.
Published on January 08, 2018