SKC now offers accredited Hydrology 4-year degree

May 13th, 2011 | By | Category: 22-4: Honoring Student Success, Science & Technology, Tribal College News

FISHING FOR KNOWLEDGE. SKC environmental science/hydrology students (from left) Matthew Weingart, Matthew Nicolai, and Charlene Charlo conduct research on the Jocko River. Photo by SKC Hydrology Program

Bearing in mind that water is a key natural resource in today’s world, Salish Kootenai College (SKC, Pablo, MT) has received accreditation by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities to offer both an associate’s and Bachelor of Science in Hydrology—the first such degree among the tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) in North America.

The addition of this degree program is aligned with the SKC Strategic Plan 2010-2015, which calls for the college to become a center of science education with an emphasis on Native American worldview and application of science to Indigenous issues.

In keeping with this plan, SKC’s addition of a hydrology degree complements the new Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education degree, and the existing bachelor’s degree programs in Forestry, Environmental Science, Information Technology, and Computer Engineering. In addition, a bachelor’s degree program in Life Science is nearly complete and will hopefully be accredited soon.

The new hydrology program will give students the opportunity for interdisciplinary study of physical, chemical, and biological water resources and their management.

This opportunity will address the need to expand geosciences education for Native students and their communities. Currently our nation awards only 20-30 degrees per year in the disciplines of geosciences to Native American students. Of these, less than three percent are undergraduate degrees. Only a fraction of these students are in the field of hydrology or water resources, which makes it one of the least diverse fields. “This is surprising given that American Indian tribes exert sovereignty over approximately 20% of our nation’s fresh water resources,” says SKC hydrology instructor Shandin Pete.

Historically there has always been a shortage of Native American geoscientists in the United States. The SKC hydrology program will help address this shortage as the only TCU degree offering that falls directly under the National Science Foundation’s Geoscience Directorate.

SKC is currently accepting applications for enrollment in the hydrology degree program. Interested students should contact Antony Berthelote, Shandin Pete, or Bill Swaney at the SKC Natural Resources Department, (406) 275-4205, or

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