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Recruiting Native Americans to the Environmental Sciences

Project PI: Ray Pierotti, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas

USGS hydrologists demonstrate water chemistry testing to EPSCoR student participants at Lone Star Lake in April 2008

Native Americans are underrepresented in the sciences, and this is particularly troublesome since Native Americans who live on reservations often struggle with environmental policy issues. With the help of a Kansas NSF EPSCoR Education and Diversity Grant, a group of Native American undergraduates in Kansas became immersed in learning about the technical and policy issues of wetlands and watershed management.

NSF UMEB and Kansas EPSCoR student Cecilia Flores on Lone Star Lake April 2008

The students, from Haskell Indian Nations University and the University of Kansas in Lawrence, KS, worked with Ray Pierotti, professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and three graduate students, who served as mentors. They studied water quality testing and then used their water sampling skills on a canoe trip on the Kansas River, where they also learned about river morphology, wildlife and conservation.

Friends of the Kaw volunteers help EPSCoR students with safety and paddling lessons

The students participated in a mini-course that included presentations by Native American environmentalists and scientists. They studied the issues from many perspectives to become better prepared for environmental policy work. Some students put their new knowledge of watersheds to work right away: several of the Haskell undergraduates helped plan a successful community cleanup of a nearby wetlands area.


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