Rachel “Ray” Dunning

Taylors Checkerspot Butterfly Program Coordinator                                                        MES Program, The Evergreen State College

Descended from a family of cattle ranchers and horsewomen, Ray spent her early child in Sunnyside, Washington surrounded by various animals. After experiencing the health, social, and ecosystem effects of environmental pollution associated with the dairy industry, Ray’s mother relocated them to rural Ellensburg, Washington. Here Ray spent much of her teenage years interacting with the life within the shrub-steppe and ponderosa pine forests.

After earning a dual Bachelor of Arts & Bachelor of Science degree from The Evergreen State College, Ray began volunteering for the Department of Fish & Wildlife on Joint Base Lewis-McChord to help restore the JBLM prairie. In addition to SPP, she continues with this endeavor, working alongside other students and soldiers transitioning out of the military. She is also currently pursuing a higher degree through the Master of Environmental Studies program at The Evergreen State College, where she is advancing her knowledge in systems thinking and ecology. Ray greatly enjoys her work as the Butterfly Program Coordinator for the Mission Creek Corrections Center for Women, where she assists incarcerated individuals in raising the federally endangered Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly through its lifecycle. She believes the work that incarcerated women are doing within this program is invaluable to both science and the survivorship of this species.