Summertime Standouts: Diego Tovar

Ecosystem Science and Sustainability student working to create positive change

Diego Tovar
Diego Tovar spent summer 2019 as a legislative analysis intern for the Navajo Nation.

Warner College Council’s incoming president spent his summer in Washington, D.C. Diego Tovar has change to make.

“I always cared about animals, and ecosystems, and stuff of that nature. No pun intended,” said Tovar, from Austin, Texas, and going into his second year as a Warner College of Natural Resources Ecosystem Science and Sustainability student. “And the 2016 presidential election sparked in me a motivation to create positive change.”

So, Tovar spent his first college year taking on classes while pursuing leadership roles within student government. He was an Associated Students of Colorado State University senator representing Warner College and president of the CSU chapter of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences. He’ll keep those roles in the upcoming year as well.

“In the back of my head, I was still thinking, ‘Well, I want to be in D.C. because I want to help create change and policy,’” he said.

Environmental work for the Navajo Nation

Tovar is wrapping work as a legislative analysis intern for the Navajo Nation. He attended hearings and meetings to relay back findings about environmental and health issues. He has helped with the ongoing work around radiation-related cancers that resulted from uranium mining going back to World War II.

The effects of the uranium exposure have been intergenerational, he said, and include people having health issues related to living in homes built with tainted materials.

He said his experience this summer has helped him step out of his comfort zone in a new city and to better understand the political process of getting legislation passed by going to hearings on the Committee of Natural Resources, listening in on meetings with officials, and researching policy. His work at the nation’s capital also has taught him the importance of networking and making connections with people who might be collaborators or colleagues in the future.

“My summer work really showed me that Native communities are constantly underrepresented,” Tovar said. “No matter how little or how much funding they seek to gain prosperity on their tribal lands, the Federal Government still doesn’t show the same level of urgency toward their issues.”

Tovar is gearing up for a busy second year with an even greater desire to inspire and create change. He’ll use that motivation in his student leadership roles, and he invites the CSU community to get involved.

“MANRRS is a tight-knit group of students who focus on professional development, volunteering, and create a safe space for all backgrounds,” he said. “We can talk about the issues we may be facing and uplift each other.”

About Summertime Standouts

Summertime Standouts is an annual feature on SOURCE that highlights students who made an impact this summer around the globe, across the country, and even close to home.

Check out more Summertime Standouts at