UW and CWC obtain grant for over half a million to recruit and retain more Native American students to campuses

Published: Oct. 7, 2020 at 11:22 PM CDT
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CASPER, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) -

UW and CWC have been awarded a grant for nearly $578,000. The joint venture between the University of Wyoming and Central Wyoming College is titled ‘Growing Season: Native student pathways to food system and sovereignty studies.’

Dr. Spoonhunter is the project director for the grant at CWC, and she has been teaching there seven years. She and her colleagues have been collaborating on this grant for at least four years.

Dr. Spoonhunter noted, “The heart behind this program is to recruit tribal students into CWC and UW into food security, agriculture, environmental science, and natural resources.”

Former grants that she worked on were a health grant with UW, obtaining health mentorships on the Wind River Reservation, some of which worked with a diabetes program, and encouraging high school students to be more active.

She’s also worked with the growing resilience project, reaching out to the community through gardening. They’ve been working on resources that can bring more sovereignty and food security to the Wind River Indian Reservation, and this grant pairs perfectly with those goals. She said the trouble with some grants are that when they run out, the goals die out with them. The benefit of this grant are the partnerships to be created.

“The thing with creating partnership is to make sure that it’s sustainable even after the grant is done, bringing in resources to help students so they will be able to work on their interests. This grant will allow students to really create a pathway for themselves,” added Spoonhunter.

According to Jill Keith, the program director at UW, the grant will be used to increase recruitment, retention, and graduation of Native American students, specifically from the Wind River Indian reservation. It will highlight the inclusion of an Indigenous worldview in regard to food and agriculture systems.

“Our numbers are kind of low in those areas. Bringing those opportunities to our tribal students is really important. Due to budget cuts, a lot of the environmental science program has kind of declined here at CWC. Due to budget cuts, some faculty were let go. But yet there’s still a big need for that area,” emphasized Spoonhunter.

The four year program will be funded by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant from the United States Department of Agriculture, along with matching funds from UW and CWC.

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