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Results and Impacts for the Alaska-Native and Native-Hawaiian Grants Program

The following represents results and impacts for the Alaska-Native and Native-Hawaiian Grants Program from activities that occurred between 2004-2006.


Hawaii Community College

Hawaii Community College used NIFA funds to help build workforce development programs in agriculture, agroforestry, forest ecosystem management, and Hawaiian taro and fish pond culture. The grant allowed the college to purchase two four-wheel drive vans and a truck, allowing students and teachers to conduct field laboratories where students learn through hands-on exercises, giving them a better understanding of the diversity of agriculture in Hawaii. These include taro field preparation and planting, native forest regeneration, and planting and care of agroforestry plantations. The grant has provided funds to renovate the orchid and tropical floriculture greenhouse and convert it into a certified greenhouse. This allows all students to obtain training in cultivating ornamental plants for the export industry. Additionally, the purchase of the label printer gave the students training in use of computer-created specific labels for their enterprises. Finally, the grant has supported student internships, giving them experience working with future employers. Several students have received job offers as a result of their internships.

Ilisagvik College

Ilisagvik College successfully developed and implemented a USDA-funded project titled “Arctic Subsistence Education and Experience: Joining Traditional Knowledge and Modern Education.” The project introduced students to the scientific and traditional Inupiat methods and ways of observing and learning about the environment. Students attended experiential training in traditional hunting, fishing, and gathering and bridged that knowledge with Western scientific methods of observing and learning about the environment. Initial instruction was delivered in a classroom setting at the campus in Barrow. Students were taken for field experience to a remote location in the arctic tundra, where they learned the local geography and traditional knowledge of traveling in the ocean and up rivers, weather attributes, and the nature and use of local land-, sea-, and air-animals. Twenty-five students benefited from the courses; all were encouraged to pursue future training and employment in wildlife, land management, and other related fields. All students will give presentations on their personal experiences in this program, and will share with other students their perspectives on the similarities and differences between Western science and traditional knowledge, and how both can be used to build life skills. The Inupiaq Land Use Values and Resources course was so successful that the North Slope Borough School District has requested a special offering for teacher development later this semester.

Kauai Community College

The objectives and goals of the current NIFA/USDA-funded project are based on the outcomes of a feasibility study conducted to determine the need for future training and agricultural development programs on Kauai. This program places a strong emphasis on the involvement of key players from the state and local levels of the agricultural and food industry sectors. Their involvement was not only sought in the planning but also in the execution of the program. Training focuses on the business skills required for success in the food industry and also on the academic and practical knowledge required in food production, processing, packaging, and marketing. As a means of stimulating creative developments, the training deals with the preparation of value-added products produced with locally grown produce. The underlying objective is to increase production and sales in ways that will simultaneously expand the island's work force and enrich the local economy. This pilot program involves both college and community leaders in classroom training and field experiences. The approach will provide both the human resources and academic findings for planning next steps in achieving the College's goal of providing high quality training and development programs to support the revitalization and growth of agriculture and the food industry on Kauai.

Kapiolani Community College

The NIFA award allowed Kapiolani Community College to strengthen its educational capacity and infrastructure by funding the purchase of new technology equipment such as computers, printers, LCD projectors, elmo, and screens to fully update the non-compliant food science and nutrition classroom. Professional development opportunities in the area of food chemistry and food science applications, along with newly available resource materials, allowed faculty to incorporate new teaching applications into their classrooms. Purchase of a computerized inventory system will lead to accessing agricultural and other food products through Web sites and the Internet. Another goal of the project is to develop Web sites for farm products to promote Hawaii's agricultural industry. The purchase of vans has allowed regularly scheduled farm visits to be incorporated into the curriculum as part of KCC's “Farm to Table” project. This project will be expanded to an agri-tourism project, promoting farm/culinary tours. Production of marketing materials, such as brochures, calendars, posters, and mouse pads, has allowed KCC to enhance their recruitment program; financial assistance and tutoring support their retention efforts.

Maui Community College

Maui Community College (MCC), through its USDA funding, will strengthen its ability to provide higher education and workforce training programs in biotechnology, natural sciences, and culinary research and development. MCC will increase the instructional capabilities in basic sciences in the areas of biology, food sciences, natural resources, and culinary arts to provide students access to the knowledge and tools required for diverse career opportunities and business entrepreneurship. MCC's goal is to increase the number of Hawaiians and underrepresented minority students in biotechnology, food, and agricultural sciences. Each initiative is aligned with MCC's establishment of a Maui County Agribusiness Incubator in partnership with the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources's statewide agribusiness incubator.

Prince William Sound Community College

“Welcome to Alaska's Copper River Valley!” That's the headline of a newly published map for visitors to rural Alaska. The informative, colorful map is among the products of regional economic development efforts that began with “Development of Local Tourism” workshops sponsored by Prince William Sound Community College. The series of ecotourism workshops involved seven native villages and six communities. Several classes were offered in hospitality services including safe food handling, culinary arts, developing small businesses, marketing and Web design. A publication, “Tourism in Rural Alaska: A Community Education Curriculum, 2nd Edition”, was completely revised, expanded, and reprinted for use throughout Alaska in regions where ingenious people are interested in starting or expanding tourism-based programs. This publication has gained wide recognition and was presented at an international hospitality and tourism conference in 2003 in Costa Rica. The curriculum is used by universities, businesses, and agencies around the world.

Sheldon Jackson College

Sheldon Jackson College (SJC) is a private, four-year liberal arts college with Minority Serving Institution (MSI) status located on the seaward side of Baranof Island in Sitka, Alaska. The college is operated by an independent board of trustees and remains in historical covenant to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Sheldon Jackson College is committed to serving the needs of the Alaska Native community. The campus community serves approximately 250 full and part time students. The 8:1 student-faculty ratio enables the students and distinguished faculty to meet in a small, personal, interactive learning environment.

Sheldon Jackson College (SJC) is also home to one of the few college-owned and managed salmon hatcheries in the United States, and the only one in Alaska. With the help of NIFA, SJC has developed a highly successful salmon ranching program with the end result of students (under the direction of our NIFA supported hatchery manager) raising upwards of 2 million salmon annually. This hands-on approach makes the hatchery program one of the most popular and successful programs on campus. With a flourishing hatchery program in place, it follows that there are numerous salmon adults returning to their natal waters of the SJC Hatchery. Evidenced by an excess of over 25,000 adult returning salmon, this underutilized natural resource is the template for expanding the hatchery program into other seafood-related training opportunities. Plans include but are not limited to: programs for seafood, seafood safety, and seafood marketing; increasing the involvement of coastal community residents in fishing and fisheries management; and incorporating local and traditional knowledge into fisheries science and seafood training. Cooperative initiatives have also been formed between SJC and the Culinary Arts Department of Kapi`olani Community College, Hawaii. In this cooperative initiative, the Kapi'olani Community College will supply expertise in seafood processing and training while SJC supplies the salmon.

The large amount of roe and salmon filets available at SJC should not only be processed to provide a sustainable development market but also be used to train and educate people, thereby enabling them to return to their villages, communities, and towns with the knowledge, experience, and training to convert a natural sustainable resource into marketable products. Without the help of NIFA, it would not be possible for Sheldon Jackson College to be able to consider expanding their food and agriculture programs.

University of Alaska - Fairbanks: College of Rural Alaska

At the University of Alaska - Fairbanks (UAF): College of Rural Alaska, NIFA funds improvements in student and community education; the goal is for students to apply their education to improve their communities and qualtiy of life. The continuing impact of the project is manifest in 1) increased numbers of community leaders and stakeholder groups that are becoming involved in the collaborative efforts of their respective regional consortium/alliance in identifying and resolving critical issues (i.e., education, economic development, etc.) that are affecting the quality of life of the people in their region, 2) the increased number of educators in rural secondary schools that are developing and implementing creative projects (mini-grants) designed to facilitate secondary education students' mastery of mathematics and science concepts through the use of natural resources education (subsistence agriculture), 3) the development and validation of eight curriculum units that integrate mathematics and science concepts through natural resources education and are adapted to regional and cultural usage, and, 4) the establishment and active functionality of a UAF Clearinghouse dedicated to promoting mathematics, science, and natural resources education at the middle and secondary school levels. Significantly, the Higher Education Project is becoming the catalyst and nexus for facilitating UAF's and the University of Alaska's systems' understanding of, commitment to, and involvement in engagement.

University of Alaska Southeast Sitka

  • Community Wellness Advocate (CWA) program

The University of Alaska Southeast Sitka (UAS-Sitka) has used NIFA funding to expand an existing 12-credit Community Wellness Advocate (CWA) program. Offered in partnership with the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) and targeted at rural Alaska natives in underserved areas, the program has added training that is heavily focused on nutrition and healthy life style choices as the basis for health promotion and disease prevention for women, infants, and children as well as other rural community residents. The program is distance delivered throughout the state. Specific goals met include: creating a 30-credit CWA certificate program that increases educational opportunities and provides career advancement for practicing CWAs; expanding the program statewide to increase the number of professionals trained to serve in rural, underserved areas of Alaska; involving other Native health corporations, and helping them to better serve needs of people living in their regions of the state. Efforts are under way to institutionalize the program throughout the University of Alaska system.

  • Humpback whale project

UAS-Sitka also used NIFA funding to create a teaching and experiential learning program for under-represented, advanced high school and undergraduate students interested in pursuing a scientific career. This program allowed four Alaska Native high school and two undergraduate students to experience scientific research focusing on humpback whales. Humpback whales migrate seasonally, feeding in summer in Alaska and migrating to Hawai'i in winter for mating and calving. The Alaska Native students learned field data collection methods, database management, and analysis and report writing. Additionally, they were mentored and assisted by two upper division science students from Sheldon Jackson College, research faculty from University of Alaska Southeast, and researchers from the Hawai'i Marine Mammal Research Consortium (HMMC). All students were women. This exchange allowed the younger and more inexperienced students to learn from college students further along in their education and from scientists conducting research on humpback whale in Alaska and Hawai'i. Also, all students attended Sitka's annual WhaleFest symposium where students learned about current marine issues and research in the North Pacific. Presentations and round table discussions were given by leading marine scientists, which gave students a broader understanding of the marine environment in Alaska . The interaction and exchange between young aspiring marine scientists and established scientists is seldom achieved at regular scientific conferences. Directly linking with scientists actively engaged in marine research gave students the confidence and ability to see that becoming a scientist could be a reality.

Specifically, the students learned about the migration patterns and biology of humpback whales by assisting with updating a catalog and computerized database of Alaskan humpback whale identification photographs and by traveling to Hawai'i to observe the same whales on their breeding grounds. While working with researchers from HMMC, students learned how to track whales from an established shore station using a theodolite, computer, and range finding binoculars. This enabled the students to understand the value of this method of describing how whale distribution patterns change over time. To understand how researchers learn about migration patterns and demographics, the students matched photographs of the flukes of whales taken in Alaska with the same whales they saw in Hawai'i and queried the database to find when and where these whales had been seen previously. Finally, the students recorded humpback whale vocalizations in Hawai'i and compared these recordings (using computer software programs) to vocalizations recorded in Alaska the previous summer. This demonstrated to the students how whales can behave vocally very differently at each end of their migration. The outcome of this experience was a paper written by the students describing the three different methods they used to study humpback whales in Alaska and Hawai'i. Additionally, w hile in Hawai'i, the students also experienced a cultural exchange by participating in field trips with students and faculty from the University of Hawai'i at Hilo (UHH). This exchange connected our Alaskan students with Hawai'ian students (both graduate and undergraduate), Native Hawai'ian interns and UHH faculty. Both groups of students gained an understanding of each other's culture, language. and political issues.

Overall, this funding has helped Native Alaskan students increase their scientific competency to further their educational goals. They gained by participating in all aspects of on-going research projects and all have intentions to pursue a scientific career.

University of Hawaii at Hilo

The Agriculture Development Program (ADP) has increased recruitment and retention of students from state high schools in rural communities. Funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to Alaskan Native and Native Hawaiian Educating Institutions, the ADP seeks to increase the role of under-represented minorities in agriculture by increasing access to a college education. Informational visits to more than 17 high schools has increased enrollment by more than 10% in the College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resource Management. Because many of these students are the first in their families to attend college, the ADP helps them with admissions and housing applications and helps to smooth the transition into college life. Some seniors in high school agriculture programs who do not meet all requirements are granted special admission into the College. By tracking and keeping high school freshmen, sophomores, and juniors informed of College admissions standards, the ADP seeks to assure all future seniors will be granted regular admissions. Focusing retention efforts on this small group of six special admission college freshmen along with six regularly admitted students, resulted in 75% retention from freshman to sophomore year, an increase of 15% over regularly admitted students. These retention efforts are being expanded to all freshmen and include cohort registration to increase group study, tutoring by fellow agriculture students, and a special agriculture section of University 101, with emphasis on self assessment /career planning and Hawaiian cultural values, with development of a Hawaiian Eco-Cultural Garden, and special sessions taught by community teachers of celestial navigation, sailing, use of throw and surround nets, and culture and use of plants brought by the first Hawaiians. More than 20% of College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resource Management students are native Hawaiian.

University of Hawaii: Leeward Community College

The goal for this project is to share expertise and plant material with the larger community and within the school. New resources include a completed shade house propagation center with more than 30,000 square feet of Hawaiian native plant gardens, containing 80 taxa, 20 or so endangered. The college also has a micro-propagation lab used for training and eventually rare plant preservation. The college has held classes for high school teachers and individuals interested in native plants, as well as offering three non-credit workshops in native plant propagation and maintenance. Some of the impacts have been to help two high schools start their native plant gardens, to link growing plants to healthy eating for culinary students, and to start a project with at-risk high school students to help them grow plants to promote active learning in science. The college has received rare endangered Hawaiian plants from federal and state agencies and by individuals because of their facilities and proven commitment to the successful care of rare plants.

Windward Community College

The Academic Subject Certificate (ASC) in Bio-Resources and Technology (BRT) and its two programs, Plant Biotechnology (PB) and Bio-Resources Development and Management (BRDM), are well developed and offered at Windward Community College through a grant from USDA-NIFA FY 2001, 2002, 2003. A Tissue Culture and Plant Biotechnology Laboratory was dedicated in February 2003. Three students have received their ASC in BRT (PB) in spring 2003. They have found jobs at the Hawaii Agriculture Research Center and are pursuing baccalaureate degrees in Plant and Environmental Biotechnology at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. One student became an entrepreneur, establishing a tissue culture business. Four more students received their ASC in BRT (PB) in spring 2004. One will enter the school of medicine. Two will enroll at the school of pharmacy, and the fourth will become an entrepreneur in plant biotechnology.


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