The Intertribal Agriculture Agriculture Council (IAC) Pacific Region – Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Summer Internship is helping to inspire the next generation of Native American land managers, conservationists, and agriculturists in a multitude of ways.
Crystal Singeltary, one of the participants in the 2020 program, said the internship highlights conventional ag experiences along with traditional/hands-on land management that, “Will connect your soul to your culture.”
One of Singletary’s favorite portions of the internship thus far is helping to develop a revegetation plan for a section of land along School Creek, a tributary of the Mad River. As an intern, she is also volunteering at the Community Farm at Blue Lake Rancheria, “I am such a plant nerd. I work with a fellow named Daniel at the Community Farm. Today we harvested some purple bush beans, some strawberries, summer squash and artichokes.”
Wiyaka Previte, also an IAC/NRCS 2020 Summer Intern, agreed the program offers a chance to develop skills that help, “bring back historical land management with Tribes, including fire regimes.”
As part of her internship experience, Previte is working on a long-standing project to bring fire back to the land on a total of around 7,000 acres, “I do that three days a week and also work with NRCS one day a week.”
Spending one day a week at a local food garden program is also part of Previte’s internship experiences. There, she says, “People get to touch the food they are eating. It (the internship) all really ties together on different scales.”
Keir Johnson-Reyes, the IAC Pacific Regional Technical Assistance Specialist and National TA Lead, explained the internship is designed to support Native communities in California by building internship experiences that expose California Native American college-aged students to natural resource conservation-oriented experiences and career pathways. It is also meant to stimulate mutually beneficial partnerships among local Tribal communities, departments, organizations, and/or Tribal Conservation Districts, NRCS, IAC, and local colleges and universities.
“With COVID-19 we must modify in-person activities, but are excited to partner with NRCS California to develop a hybrid program this year,” Johnson-Reyes explained, adding the two-to-three-month internships are designed to be as “robust as possible.”
Erin Taylor is an NRCS District Conservationist out of Weaverville, Calif. and a long-time NRCS internship collaborator and mentor. She and Johnson have worked with 10 Tribes along the North Coast of California on a variety of projects since 2014. She has also traveled to IAC Native Youth Summits around the country, providing conservation lectures to students.
Taylor’s advice for students that might be interested in pursuing a career with NRCS is to consider being a volunteer for the NRCS program – Earth Team, “There is about one NRCS office in every other county in the nation. Type in NRCS Earth Team (on an internet search) and that will hopefully prompt you to your local area. Reach out to local NRCS staff and get to know what their field office is, particularly since agriculture is very different across the nation. Look into different fields the NRCS offers for customers and see about job shadowing.”
Want to learn more? Listen to the entire conversation by clicking on the podcast link below as Matt Denetclaw – Technical Support Specialist for the Navajo Region and Electa Hare-Redcorn – Technical Assistance Specialist for the Eastern Oklahoma Region, facilitate the discussion.
Resiliency through Agriculture Podcast. Click here: https://bit.ly/3hb4RdC
To learn more about this internship program in California contact: Keir Johnson-Reyes, IAC Pacific Region TA Specialist 916-995-3209 | firstname.lastname@example.org To learn more about IAC and our professional development programming in general, go to: www.indianag.org