A Trip, Three Ecosystems, And Three Tribal Colleges

Aug 15th, 2006 | By | Category: 18-1: The Winding Road to Student Success, Tribal College News

Faculty and students from Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI, Albuquerque, NM), Haskell Indian Nations University (HINU, Lawrence, KS), and the College of Menominee Nation (CMN, Keshena,WI) traveled together on a 12-day field ecology trip last August.

Dr. Katherine Mitchell (SIPI), Dr. Doug Eifler (Haskell), and Dr. Bill Van Lopik (CMN) arranged the trip with funding from All Nations Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (ANLSAMP).

The trip was part of an ecology class, “Deserts, Prairies and Forests,” an inter-tribal college field ecology experience. The class objectives were to: introduce key ecological characteristics of ecosystems, illustrate and teach field techniques and data collection skills, and learn about tribal resource management practices.

Nine students participated, three per tribal college, representing programs in environmental science, sustainable development, and natural resource management.

The group traversed three ecosystems: the desert ecosystem of New Mexico, the prairie ecosystem of Kansas, and the deciduous forest system of the Menominee Reservation in Wisconsin.

The entire group met in New Mexico and traveled by van for 12 days to Wisconsin. They visited biological research stations and met with tribal natural resource managers along the way.

Lopik said, “It was a fantastic learning experience for the students who made new friends and explored regions of the country that they previously only talked about in class.” He noted all the students expressed a strong desire to do another trip but with one recommendation: that it be longer and farther.

“We anticipate another trip in summer 2007 with renewed National Science Foundation support of ANLSAMP,” said Mitchell. “The experiential learning brought oblique soil science textbook vocabulary to life for the students.”

For information, contact Dr. Katherine A. Mitchell at (505) 346-7732, or email her at kmitchell@sipi.bia.edu, or contact Dr. Bill Van Lopik at (715) 799-4921.

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