Natural Resources Education Project Launched

Aug 15th, 2002 | By | Category: 14-1: Honoring Our Students, Tribal College News

Four tribal colleges and four state universities are teaming up in a four-year U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to strengthen natural resources education in communities served by the tribal colleges in the middle Missouri River area. Iowa State University is the lead institution in partnership with four tribal colleges: Fort Berthold Community College (New Town, ND), Sitting Bull College (Fort Yates, ND), Sinte Gleska University (Mission, SD), and Nebraska Indian Community College (Macy, NE); as well as three universities, North Dakota State University, South Dakota State University, and the University of Nebraska.

Activities in the Natural Resources Education (NRE) project will link tribal colleges and state universities, according to Harold Crawford of Iowa State University, co-director of the project.  “Natural resource education projects will integrate teaching, research, and extension in a culturally sensitive manner,” says Crawford. There are two main thrusts of this grant:  to improve natural resources that affect farmers, ranchers, and tribal college communities and to build the capacity of the tribal college natural resources programs.

During the first months of the project, each tribal college identified needs and determined priorities for the next three years. The needs assessment was conducted in Talking Circles with groups of farmers and ranchers, faculty and students, professionals working in natural resources, and tribal leaders and elders.  Participants in the Talking Circles shared their interest and concerns in the areas of fish and wildlife, forest and woodlands, crop and rangelands, and soil and water.

Each tribal college is formulating community natural resources education projects based on needs identified in the Talking Circles.  Tribal colleges will partner with one or more of the state universities to extend the knowledge base and resources. Through the grant, each tribal college has the opportunity to hire an additional natural resources educator to help carry out the integrated projects and extend their natural resources programs.

During this first year of the project, tribal colleges are also identifying means of enhancing their natural resources education programs of study.  Among likely possibilities are faculty development activities, student internships at the 1862 land grant institutions, strengthening the natural resources curricula, increasing distance education, developing recruitment materials and programs, and service learning. Instructors of the eight institutions and community participants will increase their cultural understanding and ability to work together in reaching the goals of the Natural Resources Project.

For more information email Harold Crawford <hrc@iastate.edu> or Mary M. de Baca <mmdb@iastate.edu>.

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