Supporting Minority Students at CUAHSI
CUAHSI Water Data Center Outreach to Tribal Colleges CUAHSI
CUAHSI is a university consortium of over 100 public and private US universities, and over 20 international and affiliate members. CUAHSI provides research and education support services for the University Water Research community. As part of this, CUAHSI operates a Water Data Center facility, to enable and promote access, discovery and use of water data for research and education. The CUAHSI WDC has a new outreach program that is focusing on engaging tribal colleges.
We are specifically focusing on supporting tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) to use water data services as part of natural resources and hydrologic curricula offered by many of these colleges. Most, if not all, tribal governments have natural resource agencies for administering tribal lands, so such data skills can lead to careers with tribal governments as well as being highly marketable in the general economy. Place-based education has been shown to be of particularly efficacy with Native American students . Currently our nation awards an average of 30 degrees per year in the disciplines of geosciences to Native American students. Only a small fraction of these students are in the field of hydrology or water resources, despite the importance of water and water rights to many tribes. Historically, in the 1980's there were more settlements, court decisions, legislative actions, and budgetary appropriations related to tribal water issues than in the previous seven decades combined. By any standard, satisfying Indian water entitlements has become one of the major resource challenges facing the American West.
We are piloting this program by working with Salish Kootenai College (SKC), the only tribal college in the nation to offer 2- and 4-year degrees in hydrology, to implement training in use of water data as part of tribal college courses. SKC students are typically 80% Native American, and include students from more than 100 federally recognized tribes.
Keys to Success
- Our partner institutions each have their own recruitment strategies.
- CUAHSI WDC provides technical and mentoring support to undergraduate students in our partner programs.
- The information being developed focuses specifically on themes of significance to tribal nations, and include exercises focused on using HIS to explore relevant hydrologic issues.
Attracting New Students
In addition, CUAHSI works with organizations such as SACNAS and the Geoscience Alliance to support training and mentoring by our staff and university partners to make students aware of these opportunities.
Supporting Our Majors
Students are mentored by CUAHSI staff and partnering faculty. They received technical and research support.
Preparing Students for Careers
The CUAHSI Water Data Center also is in a unique position to support excellent undergraduate research projects. Through other partners such as REUs, the WDC will support undergradute students who are researching sustainable land and water resource management in projects that have great potential to be enhanced by use of water data.
The hydrology program at SKC is the first in the nation for hydrology. We anticipate graduates will be well-prepared for natural resource positions on the reservations, and they will have real world experience with real data and applications.