||July 24, 2014
||David Mance, Media Relations Coordinator, 509-969-6084 or email@example.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Valley high school and college students will take a two-week trip for
unique environmental science course
Toppenish, WA — Nineteen college and high school students are embarking on a 1,500 mile journey through tribal lands in Washington and Oregon this summer. The ten White Swan High School and nine Heritage University students will leave July 28 for a course entitled “People of the Big River.” It’s an intense, two week hands-on class which combines Western science with Native American Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and intergenerational cultural sharing.
During the trip, students will visit tribal lands of people that once lived on the Columbia River or one of its tributaries. They’ll meet with elders from the Umatilla, Warm Springs and Spokane tribes who will share their traditional lands, ecosystems and cultures to bridge the gap between Western science and TEK.
The class is part of Heritage University’s Environmental Sciences/Studies program’s community service and outreach. The college students mentor and learn alongside high school kids as they explore the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields and the culture of the indigenous people along the Columbia River Basin. Professors from Heritage University as well as scientists from the Yakama Nation and the U.S. Forest Service will help the students apply their new perspective to understand common goals surrounding natural resource management and sustainability.
This is the second year for the “People of the Big River” class. Teachers are adding fire and range management to this year’s curriculum. Jessica Black, Ph.D., assistant professor of Environmental Science at Heritage, says technology will allow the students to share what they’ve learned with you in real-time. “They will keep notebooks and post to blogs daily so parents and the community can follow them at every step of this real world application and integration of STEM and TEK related course work."
The daily blogs and pictures of the students’ work in the field will be posted online at heritage.edu.
Dr. Black says the class not only provides students the chance to learn from tribal elders, but it also exposes them to the vast career opportunities in the field of environmental sciences. “The high school students also get to learn from Heritage students just a few years older than they are who are majoring in environmental science. This opens them up to pursuing educational opportunities available to them right here in the Valley.”
Providing this great learning opportunity is no easy task. Kazuhiro Sonoda, Ph.D. and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Heritage, says this educational endeavor is the result of cooperation between the Yakama Nation Department of Natural Resources, and natural resource managers from the Yakama, Nez Perce, Colville, Umatilla and Spokane tribes. “We are proud to work with these entities to develop a unique course which uses scientific field experience and cultural exchange to teach students about environmental science, which may open the doors to career opportunities,” said Dr. Sonoda.
The class will depart from Heritage University on Monday, July 28 around 10:00 a.m., and return on Sunday, August 10. Members of the media are invited to interview students and teachers before they leave on their trip, and will be able to track their progress for updates by following the students’ blogs which will be posted on Heritage.edu.
For more information, contact Jessica Black at (509) 840-3847 or firstname.lastname@example.org.