Maraya Neff

Hand Finisher

Osceola, IN

As a senior at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, Maraya, who goes by her high school nickname, Ray, is looking forward to graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife at the end of 2021. Ray enjoys spending time outdoors and learning about nature, especially bird watching and herping, which is the act of searching for amphibians or reptiles. She is active in the Purdue Student Society of Arboriculture which is the cultivation of trees and shrubs. Along with playing the cello at some Purdue sporting events, Ray is the Section Leader of the Purdue Golden Silks Color Guard where she enjoys the creative and physical challenges of developing and perfecting spinning routines and the comradery of working as a team to strive to be the best! Spending a couple summers as a camp activities team staff member at Epworth Forest Conference Center in North Webster, Indiana, Ray helped to maintain the camp to keep it safe for youth and special needs campers by learning the skills to operate different equipment to manage downed trees, fix cabin concerns and facilitate a fun, safe environment.

With her appreciation of nature, experience of fieldwork for her major and her previous summer camp employment, Ray wanted to put her outdoor skills and physical strength into trail building. Ray joined Dirt Artisans as a Hand Finisher where she spends the work day behind the trail building machines to shape and smooth out the trail tread for proper drainage, sustainability and a fun trail user experience. She accomplishes this by using a rake or hoe along with using loppers, a handsaw or an axe to clip roots, branches and foliage. She also finalizes the trail using a backpack leaf blower and operates equipment to haul supplies into the forest. Ray enjoys traveling and has visited destinations all over the country on family trips, for Color Guard/Winter Guard competitions and fieldwork. Her favorite state is California with its amazing old trees and one of her favorite memories is visiting the John Muir National Historic Site in northern California. Ray anticipates combining her outdoor skills, enjoyment of nature, creativity and physical fitness into a career as a Wildlife Biologist or Park Ranger.