Horse Culture is Focus Of UTTC Science Camp

Nov 15th, 2008 | By | Category: 20-2: Native Green, Tribal College News
By Jen Janecek-Hartman

United Tribes Technical College (UTTC, Bismarck, ND) hosted the seventh annual Nokotas on the Prairie: Math, Science, Technology, and American Indian Culture Camp in June.

The campers, third through sixth graders, participated in math, science, technology, culture, wellness, and equine-care activities. Studying horse culture and working with horses were the camp’s main focus. During the 12 lessons, the students progressed from leading and walking the horses to riding.

According to the camp’s horsemanship instructor, Virginia Eck, United Tribes is the only organization in the area with a program like it. “These lessons bring out the best in everyone,” says Eck. “There certainly is a disconnect nowadays with rural life and horses in particular. This is a great way to learn and bring out leadership skills. Along with learning respect for horses, it brings out something in a kid’s personality. It’s a great thing.”

In addition to the hands-on horsemanship training, instruction was provided in ecology, water quality, equine health, horse care, and genetics. Other study subjects were botany, wellness, and gardening. Campers picked a topic to research and presented their findings at a community sharing event held the last week of camp.

The students also participated in overnight outings to the home of the Nokota Horse Conservancy and a trip to the North Dakota Badlands where a herd of wild Nokota horses roam in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Camp facilitators were: Butch Thunderhawk, American Indian culture facilitator; Derek Schulte, math facilitator; Virginia Eck, equine care and horsemanship facilitator; Dr. Margi Coyle, science facilitator; and Denise Folston, co-director. The camp was also assisted by Rebekah Olson, graduate teaching intern; Frank Bosch, Center for Educational Outreach technician; Barb Schmitt, Leadership Solutions director, and Jim Schmitt, parent volunteer/master griller.

The Nokotas on the Prairie Camp originated in 2003 as a two-week camp and has grown into a month-long, science-oriented program. Over 175 youngsters from the Bismarck-Mandan area have attended. The camp has been featured at the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame. It is made possible with support from the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, NASA, the National Science Foundation, and United Tribes Technical College.

For more information, contact the camp founder and director, Dr. Jen Janecek-Hartman, (701) 255-3285 x 1396 or by email,

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