The Northwest Indian College (NWIC) institutional research plan is embedded in multiple documents, including the Native Environmental Science Program Handbook, the Native Environmental Science Internship Handbook, and the Northwest Indian College Strategic Plan 2010-2017. The last speaks directly to the college’s underlying vision for increasing research opportunities for its students. The plan has four core themes: 1) engage indigenous knowledge; 2) commitment to student success; 3) access to higher education opportunities at all levels for tribal communities; and 4) advance place-based community education and outreach.
Three of the plan’s ten goals are especially relevant to the research project proposed herein. The first is that “NWIC actively engages faculty and students in research and scholarship in support of the college’s mission and programs.” This goal has three objectives. They are to: 1) increase the indigenous body of knowledge through a supportive environment for scholarship and research; 2) increase capacity for research and scholarship, particularly among students and Native scholars; and 3) publish and disseminate research.
The second relevant objective is that “NWIC promotes healthy living and nutrition, leadership, and financial security.” One of the three objectives under this goal is to: “conduct research . . . associated with current and new curriculum and training projects.”
The third relevant goal is that NWIC “builds institutional and community capacity in the marine sciences, aquaculture, and natural resources.” One of the three objectives under this goal is to “provide education, training, and workforce development opportunities that support the stewardship and management of natural resources.”
The Bachelor of Science in Native Environmental Science (BSNES) is NWIC’s first four year degree program. Designed to meet the critical need for effective American Indian leaders and environmental scientists who are rooted in their culture, the program emphasizes the interrelatedness and integration of Native ways of knowing, traditional ecological knowledge, and “Western” science. Prominent program aspects include hands-on experiential learning and student involvement in research, internships, and community service.
All BSNES students are required to participate in an internship. The NWIC Native Environmental Science Internship Handbook states that internships must involve “investigative, research-based elements [that] prepare students for further academic and career work in science related disciplines of interest and value to tribes.” The handbook adds that internships must include “investigative research rather than simply involve work tasks for the intern.”
A culminating capstone project is also a BSNES requirement. As stated in the NWIC Native Environmental Science Program Handbook, the student, under supervision of a faculty advisor, must select an appropriate subject, perform the necessary research and/or fieldwork, and present the findings to a panel that could include tribal natural resource managers, tribal elders, other relevant community members, and NWIC faculty, staff, and students.
Research Environment: Northwest Indian College (NWIC) is the only accredited tribal college in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. Rather than serving one tribe or a closely related group of tribes, as do most tribal colleges, NWIC serves many tribes in a large geographic region. Most tribes served are in the broad and extended Coast Salish group. NWIC’s mission statement is: Through education, NWIC promotes indigenous self-determination and knowledge.
The Lummi Nation School of Aquaculture was founded in 1973. In 1983, Lummi Nation recognized the need for a more comprehensive college and chartered the school as Lummi Community College. In 1988, in recognition of a broader mandate to serve all Northwest tribes, the college was renamed Northwest Indian College. Accreditation as a two-year degree granting institution was awarded in 1993 and as a four-year degree granting institution in 2010.
The main NWIC campus is at Lummi Nation near Bellingham, Washington. Full-service extended campuses are located at five reservations in Washington and one in Idaho. Courses are offered through a variety of distance learning modalities nationwide.
In the 2011-12 academic year, academic courses were provided to 1,410 students from over 100 tribes. Over 87 percent of students were Native American, 68 percent were female, 53 percent were 30 years of age or older, and over 38 percent were single with dependent children (NWIC Registrar 2012). Median household income for first time entering students was $13,552 as opposed to $56,835 for all Washington households (NWIC AIMS AKIS 2012).
Research Statement of Inquiry
Research Goal: Revitalization of traditional plant knowledge and harvest practices related to lowland forest ecosystems with a focus on promoting sustainability.
Research Project’s Relationship to USDA NIFA Goals: The proposed project directly relates to Goal 3 (sustainable use of natural resources) of USDA’s Research, Education and Economics (REE) Action Plan. Just two generations ago, tribal culture was still inextricably intertwined with the sustainable use of natural resources. Knowledge of plants and their cultural roles was widespread. Age-old traditional practices supporting sustainable interactions with the environment included the harvest of plants for use in the family, as trade items, and in other practices that helped enhance plant populations. Today, culturally significant plants are often scattered in patchwork mosaics next to roads or developments and are subjected to many threats, such as mowing, pollution, herbicide application, and other barriers to their safe and culturally appropriate use. Current management systems are in stark contrast to the sustainable indigenous activities that took place for thousands of years. The proposed project begins to reintroduce NWIC students and others to the basic concepts of indigenous forest knowledge. The project is intended to help revitalize traditional knowledge and practices and expand on those aspects by exploring the potential for innovative forest gardening practices that may enhance and expand human use of local forest resources.
REE Goal 6 (education and science literacy) is also addressed by the project. NWIC’s Bachelor of Science in Native Environmental Science (BSNES) in general and this project specifically introduce students to lowland woodland habitats through field and lab-based events involving aspects of botany, chemistry, ecology, and ethnobotany linked to broader concerns regarding water quality and salmon habitat in the region. Students and interns will share knowledge gained broadly. This, in turn, will ultimately help leaders from Lummi Nation and other nearby Coast Salish tribes make positive land use, resource, and development decisions.
Research Need: A radical change in the cultural knowledge base and the abandonment of many traditional practices of indigenous peoples has taken place as a result of migration, acculturation, and interruption of intergenerational knowledge transmission (Benz et al. 2000, Reyes-Garcia et al. 2005, Srithi et al. 2009). O’Brien (2010) suggests that the younger generations have experienced the highest degree of loss of cultural knowledge.
Fortunately, among American Indians in the Pacific Northwest, there is a rapidly growing interest in returning to the culture as a means of dealing with the challenges many tribes face, including those related to health and wellness. For example, the NWIC Cooperative Extension Office created a Traditional Plants and Foods Program in 2006. It annually serves thousands of people from many tribes. As a result of this program’s influence, many tribes have initiated their own plants and foods based wellness program. Demand for program services continues to grow.
NWIC’s educational philosophy recognizes that tribal values and beliefs are the foundation of education. This is important, because whenever Native students’ cultural affiliations are valued in the classroom, their motivation for learning increases (Kanu 2006). Also, incorporating local relevancy and Native history, language, and culture into curricula improves Native students’ educational outcomes (Lipka & Adams 2002; Strand & Peacock 2002; Research Agenda Working Group 2001). Tribal colleges improve participation and persistence rates of Native students by creating culturally-relevant learning environments (Capriccioso 2006).
The design of the NWIC’s BSNES program is based on solid evidence. Emphasizing research and internships increases and enhances science education by contextualizing it and making it relevant to regional issues (Berardi et al. 2002). Engaging students in activities relevant to their own community helps create deep connections between the concrete realities of local life and the abstract ideas posed by academic science (Weeks 2003). Addressing local concerns also earns family and community support for science education (Demmert 2001).
Research Site: The Lummi Nation is just northwest of Bellingham, Washington, and 25 miles south of the Canadian border. The reservation sits on a peninsula between the Salish Sea and Bellingham Bay. In 2002, NWIC acquired over 240 acres of land known as the Kwina Estate, which is in the heart of the reservation. Of the total acreage, 113 acres are directly across Kwina Road from the original NWIC campus. In 2004, plans were created to develop the easternmost 40 acres into a new college campus. To date, seven buildings have been constructed, another (the Salish Sea Research Center) will be completed in May 2013, and two others are scheduled for completion in 2014. The photo shows the location of the research site, the original campus (above the words “Northwest Indian College”) and the new campus (below the words “Northwest Indian College”).
Much of the remainder of the land is to be preserved as an ecological and cultural resource (Mithun 2004). The property has a rich ecological and cultural history. Many prominent Lummi grew up on or near the site and used it for resource gathering.
Most of the undeveloped property is an established native forest with cedar, alder, and Douglas fir trees and smaller native species such as licorice and sword fern, nettles, snowberry, and salmonberry. Generally the area has resisted the infiltration of invasive species, though an intermediate area on the eastern edge of the forest is a mixture of native and invasive plants. The forest landforms include a mix of striking topography and rolling hills. The forested area provides an expanded environmental education opportunity as well as being an asset to cultural learning programs specific to the traditional plants in the area.
Anticipated Gains: The project begins a long-term commitment on the part of NWIC faculty, staff, and students to thoroughly research questions related to indigenous forest gardening practices. Indigenous forest gardening is a low-maintenance sustainable plant-based production and agroforestry system based on woodland ecosystems, incorporating fruit and nut trees, shrubs, herbs, vines and perennial vegetables which have been useful to American Indians. Project outcomes will be an increased understanding of the requirements for maintenance, cultivation, and harvest of traditional edible, material, and medicinal plants in woodland ecosystems of the Lummi Nation and other nearby Coast Salish tribes. Questions answered through the research include the following. What was the pre-contact function of these ecosystems? How can current vegetation be used to determine the footprint of colonization? What is the feasibility of restoring the ecosystem to its pre-contact function? Which plant species have the greatest potential for reintroduction success? What is the potential for restoring cultural interaction within these habitats? Are small-scale pilot-level restoration efforts feasible and desirable?
Since the BSNES program was founded in 2007, most research at NWIC has had a marine focus. With the proposed project, students interested in terrestrial plant and related topics will be better served. Finally, by creating a space for tribal elders and other cultural leaders to interact with native plants and the land, the project will generate stronger and deeper relationships between the college and the tribal communities it serves.
Advancing NWIC’s Research Capacity:The project builds on existing efforts of NWIC faculty who use this and similar ecosystems for field trips and laboratory sessions. While NWIC faculty and staff have an interest in building the capacity for terrestrial and botany research, staff and resource limitations have prevented a systematic monitoring and data program directed at traditional plants. This project addresses that challenge.
Washington State University (WSU) is NWIC’s 1862 project partner. While he serves on the NWIC Cooperative Extension advisory board and helps guide that office’s Traditional Plants and Foods Program, this research project offers the first opportunity for NWIC terrestrial science faculty, staff, and students to work with WSU’s James Freed on a classroom education project. Mr. Freed has worked extensively with indigenous peoples internationally. Expanding NWIC’s relationship with him will have positive long-term benefits on terrestrial research at NWIC.
Research Project Design
Project Activities and Timeline: The project title is Telling the Story of the Land: Revitalizing Traditional Plant Knowledge and Harvest with a View toward Sustainability. While most project activities will occur during summer quarter, others will occur throughout the year.
Fall Quarter 2013: NWIC’s Environmental Technician I will work with Environmental Science 201 (ENVS 201) students to use GPS points to define the boundary of the project site. ENVS 201, which is taught throughout the year by the Project Director, is a field-based course that acquaints students with the flora of the Northwest within the geographic and cultural contexts of the Coast Salish homelands. It covers ecology, identification, and traditional uses of regional flora. James Freed from NWIC’s 1862 partner will visit the NWIC campus at least once to work with project staff and students to identify research methods to be used during the project.
Winter Quarter 2014: Project staff will work with ENVS 201 students to identify plants in the project plot. This will help develop student interest in the project. Project staff assume that some ENVS 201 students will be applicants for the two internship positions. Students will also engage in archival research by taking a field trip to both the local Whatcom Museum as well as Western Washington University’s Center for Pacific Northwest Studies, where extensive photo collections and other records will be useful in identifying historical uses of the research site.
Spring Quarter 2014: Biology 310 (BIOL 310: Ecology and the Web of Interrelatedness), which examines the relationships between organisms and their environments, will be taught. BIOL 310 students will do transects of the project site. At least once, Mr. Freed will visit NWIC to work with students and to assist the Project Director and the Environmental Technician I in the selection of the two student interns. He will then meet with the interns and their faculty advisors to help identify specific research questions within the broader context of the research title.
Summer Quarter 2014: At the beginning for the quarter, two student interns will visit sites where relevant archival information is stored, including the NWIC Coast Salish Institute (the college’s cultural arm), Whatcom Museum, Center for Pacific NW Studies, and Lummi Nation Archives. For the remainder of the quarter, the interns will work 35 hours per week in the field and laboratory. Mr. Freed will make two site visits. At mid-quarter he will work directly with students. At the quarter’s end, he will participate in a symposium at which interns make oral and poster presentations to NWIC faculty and staff, Lummi and other tribal natural resource managers, and Lummi community members. Poster presentations follow the guidelines of the All Nations Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation. This ensures their appropriateness for conferences organized by regional and national science organizations.
The year two process will essentially mirror that of year one. Additional elements added in year two will be to possibly begin manipulation of the forest ecosystem, pursue funding for further research, and preparation of both year one and full project reports for NIFA.
Techniques Employed, Their Feasibility, and Project Rationale:Students, interns, and staff will consult with the Lummi Natural Resources Department and the NWIC Office of Campus Development to identify a specific study site that will both serve the purposes of the research and that will be highly unlikely to be developed or otherwise altered in the future. This will help ensure that the site will be appropriate for long-term research activities. Due to long-term relationships with entity, the feasibility of success is assured.
Students and interns will undertake an archival and literature review to identify to the greatest extent possible the pre-contact uses of lowland forest habitats by Lummi people specifically and other Coast Salish peoples generally. This will provide important baseline information. While there are many potential sources of information, finding reports specific to the Lummi people could prove problematic due to the relatively small size of their territory. Finding reports on the Coast Salish peoples is much more likely.
Students and interns will conduct field surveys and analysis, including setting up plots, specimen collection and identification, development of a data-gathering protocol, and more. Due to the extensive experience of project staff, the feasibility of success is high.
Experimental Design, Protocols for Collecting / Analyzing Data, Instrumentation and their Protocols, and Type of Training Employed to Ensure Accuracy:Project interns will establish an historical baseline of native plant occurrence in the study area. Then they will establish current conditions of the study area, including an assessment of the presence of invasive species. Within the larger context of the general research question, interns will work with project staff to identify specific research questions. Examples include the following: 1) assessment of the feasibility of restoring native plants at the natural community level versus the pilot (small-scale) level and identify candidate sites where small-scale protection and restoration measures could be implemented; 2) identify species for which protection and restoration would have the greatest potential for success; 3) identify potential means of obtaining plants for restoration efforts, including an assessment of possible establishment of a nursery specific to restoration of lowland forest habitats; and 4) define potential best management practices for restoration efforts, including examination of management methods as a means of restoring native plant communities and assessment of the use of biological methods for controlling invasive species.
Expected outcomes include: 1) historical baseline of existing plant life to assist in establishing possible restoration goals; 2) identification of the long-term experimental capacity for the chosen site; 3) identification of invasive and other non-native species; 4) current conditions as compared to pre-contact conditions; 5) identification of the feasibility of plant/habitat restoration; 6) identification of best management practices; 7) initiation of a stewardship plan for lowland forest habitats (including both scientific and cultural aspects) on the Lummi reservation; 8) identification of potential barriers to implementation of the stewardship plan and potential activities to overcome those barriers; and 9) public awareness education.
Communication / Dissemination Plan:NWIC has healthy working relationships with many regional and national organizations, including the following.
• American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) – an association of tribal colleges and universities in the U. S. and Canada.
• First Americans Land-grant Consortium (FALCON) – an association of the 1994 land grant institutions’ administrators, directors, and faculty.
• American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES)– an organization that works to substantially increase American Indian and Alaska Native representation in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.
• Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) – a society dedicated to supporting Chicanos and Native American in pursing advanced degrees, careers, and positions of leadership in science.
Each organization hosts annual regional and/or national conferences. Project staff and interns will pursue opportunities to make presentations on the project at a minimum of one regional or national conference each year.
A final project report will be posted on the NWIC website. All tribes in NWIC’s tri-state service area and each of the 36 colleges and universities in the tribal college network will be notified of the report’s availability.
Articles authored or co-authored by the project’s student interns will be submitted to relevant publications, including those of each of the above-named organizations as well as the Journal of American Indian Education, Native American Times, and Indian Country Today.
Anticipated Issues: One potential issue is the departure of project faculty / staff midway through the project period. Even though NWIC personnel work on year-to-year contracts, this is not expected to be a problem. Both the Project Director (supported with grant funds) and the Environmental Technician I (not supported with grant funds, but a key project player) have long histories at NWIC. It is highly unlikely that either will leave the college during the grant period. However, should this occur, other NWIC faculty and staff are capable of successfully fulfilling the grant requirements. Likewise, James Freed, NWIC’s Washington State University (WSU) partner, has a long history with WSU and is fully committed to and excited about the project.
Student intern engagement is an important element of project success. To help ensure that selected interns are thoroughly committed to the project, the project design includes a thorough student screening and selection process. Interested students must complete an application which will be due no later than the end of the fourth week of NWIC’s spring quarter each year. The application materials include: a résumé, educational background, and work, volunteer and / or other related experiences; an essay addressing career and educational goals and their commitment to the project; and two letters of reference. A selection committee that includes the Project Director, the Environmental Technician I, and Mr. Freed will review applications and rate the students. The level of demonstrated interest in the project will be the primary criterion, with additional consideration given to overall academic performance (especially in science courses) and strength of recommendations. The selection of the interns will be made by the end of the sixth week of spring quarter. This will give project staff at least the final five weeks of spring quarter to work with the interns and explore potential project activities. If, during this period, red flags are raised about the selected intern(s), project staff will revisit the selection process.
Finally, to maintain student progress, the Project Director will meet weekly with both interns. To maintain data quality and preservation the Project Director will collect and catalog all data gathered by the interns. He will create and control a central data repository to securely maintain data in a consistent way. And he will work with the NWIC Office of Information Services to ensure that project data is securely backed up.
Project Personnel and Management and Adequacy of Facilities
Roles of Key Personnel: Dr. Brian Compton, Science Faculty, at Northwest Indian College, will be the Project Director and will work nine weeks a year supported by grant funds. With a PhD in botany, significant experience as a Project Director of multiple grants, and a background of research involving traditional plants in American Indian and Canadian First Nations settings, he is an ideal project leader. He will coordinate research efforts, identify and train NWIC students, work with James Freed to achieve the best possible outcome, and share the results of this project with NWIC and the broader community.
James Freed, Washington State University (WSU) Extension Educator, has a master’s degree in Vocational Agriculture Education, with a focus in Extension Education and Marketing. He has over 30 years experience working with American Indians in the management, harvesting, processing, and marketing of culturally-based products from Pacific Northwest forest ecosystems. He also has considerable experience working with American Indians in the production of native plants to be used in forest restoration efforts. He will work an average of nine hours per month serving as the WSU technical and education / outreach contact for the project. Mr. Freed will provide: 1) technical support on the growing and establishment of native plants for restoration efforts; 2) training for students and faculty on woodlands plant inventories; 3) leadership on the development of a native plant stewardship plan; 4) liaison with other agencies and organizations (e.g., Washington Department of Natural Resources, Washington Farm Forestry Association, Intertribal Timber Council, and Intertribal Nursery Council) to update them on project outcomes and solicit project evaluations and support; 5) training for students, faculty and staff on the long term care of established native plant areas; 6) leadership on the development of a native plant forest restoration handbook and power point; 7) lectures in relevant NWIC courses; 8) service on relevant NWIC student capstone project committees; 9) students with information about potential employment opportunities; and 10) input on new curriculum development.
Sufficiency of Support Staff, Facilities, Equipment, and Instrumentation:Charlotte Clausing, NWIC Environmental Technician I, is a White Earth tribal member with a bachelor’s degree in botany. She has been involved in science research for either the Lummi Nation, the nearby Nooksack tribe, or NWIC since 1996. Ms. Clausing is an active volunteer with the NWIC Cooperative Extension’s Traditional Plants and Foods Program and serves on its advisory board. She will assist in field operations, student mentoring, and outreach for this project. While devoting 0.10 FTE to this project, she will not be supported by grant funds.
The College has built an impressive infrastructure to support science research. In 2010, a new science classroom and laboratory building was completed on the Lummi campus. Also on the Lummi campus, a second research lab is under construction, with a projected completion date of May 2013. Equipment needs for the project are minimal and are on hand. Forestry field instruments owned by the college will allow project participants to undertake activities related to boundary identification using GPS or GIS equipment, plant surveys, storing samples in an herbarium, doing transects, measuring canopy cover using densitometers, and soil analysis.
1862 Facilities and/or Equipment Contribution:Not applicable.
Timeline Documenting Planning: Overall planning to increase NWIC’s emphasis on science research goes back to January 2003, when administrators initiated an extensive region wide strategic planning process that was overseen by a committee representing the college’s constituencies. The college’s mission, vision, and purposes were re-examined. Community needs assessments, student and staff surveys, and a review of prior planning activities provided guidance on academic and program priorities. A new college strategic plan was developed.
Initiative one, goal one of the NWIC Strategic Plan: 2004-2009 (NWIC Strategic Planning Committee 2004) was to “develop baccalaureate degree programs in areas of high priority to tribal communities in the NWIC service area.” The college trustees voted unanimously to make the Bachelor of Science in Native Environmental Science (BSNES) the first such degree program. Former NWIC President Cheryl Crazy Bull (Sicangu Lakota) stressed the college’s commitment to the program when she wrote (Williams 2008):
Native people have incredible scientific and environmental knowledge to share as we explore how to live on the earth in a good way. This degree honors that knowledge while exposing our students to the tools and resources of Western science. With the advent of this degree program, we are moving into a new arena of professional opportunity for our students and their tribes. We are bringing together the worlds that our students live in, our traditional indigenous world, and our contemporary world of resource management and preservation. During the 2007-08 academic year, the first junior level students began taking courses in the BSNES program and the first student graduated at the end of the 2008-09 academic year.
NWIC’s Strategic Plan 2010-2017 (NWIC Strategic Planning Committee 2010) paves the way for further growth and improvement of the BSNES program. Core theme one of the plan is to “engage Indigenous knowledge.” Within this goal, relevant objectives are “support four-year degree programs with culturally competent faculty,” “increase the indigenous body of knowledge through a supportive environment for scholarships and research,” and “increase capacity for research and scholarships, particularly among students and Native scholars.”
Planning for this specific project began with informal conversations in fall 2012 between BSNES faculty and staff from NWIC’s Cooperative Extension Office. Mr. Freed, from NWIC’s 1862 partner, sits on Extension’s advisory board. Through Extension, the Project Director was introduced to and had conversations with Mr. Freed about developing a research project related to indigenous forest gardening. Other science faculty and staff joined in the planning, as did tribal members and students.
Collaboration / Communication / Data Sharing Throughout Project Period:Within NWIC, the interns will have many opportunities to make oral and written presentations to students, faculty, staff, and community members. For example, as noted above, interns from this and other college projects are required to make oral and poster presentations at an annual summer internship symposium, with many people from both the NWIC and Lummi communities present.
Regular updates about the project will be prepared by the interns and submitted to tribal newspapers and blogs, including the Lummi Squol Quol and the newspapers and/or blogs of two other nearby tribes. The Project Director and interns will also seek opportunities to disseminate project information through three web-based Lummi Nation news outlets (a webpage, Facebook page, and podcast page) and through Northwest Indian News, a regional television news show that is broadcast into more than 50 million households in the U.S. and Canada.
Mr. Freed will disseminate project findings to appropriate outlets at NWIC’s 1862 partner, Washington State University, and the many other organizations with which he works.
The NWIC Director for Institutional Research will lead an internal evaluation of the project and its effectiveness in achieving the project goal and objectives. The position is currently vacant. A national search to fill the position is in process. The position is responsible for maintaining current data about the college and its constituents, preparation of institutional reports to document achievements of the college’s mission and goals as stated in the NWIC strategic plan, and undertaking in-house evaluations of grant-funded and research projects.
Research Goal:Revitalize traditional plant knowledge and harvest with a view toward sustainability. Objective 1: Develop a baseline for ongoing, long-term lowland forest research. Objective 2: Increase the scientific literacy of NWIC students and student interns and Lummi Nation and other Coast Salish tribal members specific to lowland forest ecosystems. Objective 3: Increase NWIC capacity to undertake culturally-based terrestrial research.
Evaluation Design: The Indigenous Evaluation Framework to be used was created by the American Indian Higher Education Consortium with National Science Foundation funding. The approach uses mixed methods to guide the methodology of data collection and analysis. The evaluation design is thorough, rigorous, systematic, culturally relevant, and directly related to the project goals, objectives, and outcomes. Quantitative and qualitative methods, including data analysis, interviews, observations, document analysis, and activity assessments, will be used.
Data Collection: Once hired, the in-house evaluator will work with project staff to create protocols and assessment tools that allow for relevant data collection. In addition to assessing the overall project, an assessment involving each intern will also occur. Internship supervisors will assess interns according to their employability skills and the degree to which they achieved both broad learning objectives and project-specific scientific, research, and academic objectives. Interns will assess their internships experience by answering 14 questions, ranging from the specific (Did the internship provide guidance and skills in written, oral and visual/graphic communication?) to the general (Would you like to work in this field in the future?). The evaluation plan establishes a process for data collection as follows.
Data Source & Instruments
What Data are Needed
1. How well did the project develop a baseline for a long-term lowland forest research project?
1) What baseline data was collected that will aid in the establishment of a long-term
2) What trends in community interest in the project were noted?
1) Range & type of project-related data (e.g., historic records, plant
census, invasive vs. native species, etc.)
2) # of community members attending & level of involvement in dissemination activities
2. How well did activities of the interns resonate with their expectations & the project’s key objectives?
1) What were the interns’ perceptions about the value of the internship in expanding their
knowledge & skills in science research?
2) How did the project impact interns’ interest in seeking employment in science fields?
3) What project-related products were created by interns?
4) How many non-internship students showed an interest in and/or participated in the
5) What student participation trends were noted in project reports?
Project Director & staff
1) Intern dialogues & self-assessments
in which they describe & address issues of confidence, science content needs, & interests in science research fields
2) Records of project-related community meetings
3) Conference presentation posters and/or papers
4) Presentations to NWIC & broader community
3. In what ways did the project increase NWIC’s capacity to undertake culturally-based faculty & student research related to terrestrial ecosystems?
1) How has the project contributed to creating & deepening partnerships with current & new research partners?
2) What knowledge has NWIC science faculty & staff gained that will help in the creation & implementation of future research?
Project Director & staff
Natural resource agency managers
1) Dialogues with NWIC science faculty/staff, WSU partner, &
tribal/mainstream natural resource managers about potential research identified as a result of this project
2) Dialogues with NWIC science faculty/staff about research skills, techniques, & perceptions gained
Two students will work 35 hours per week for eight weeks during each summer as interns. They will identify their own specific research questions within the broader context of the research title. In addition to limited archival and literature reviews, most of their work will take place in the field or laboratory. For each hour in the field, interns will invest two to three hours in the lab. Through their involvement, they will acquire appropriate research skills while gaining an awareness and cultural appreciation of the value of lowland forest ecosystems.
By the end of the project period, interns will have acquired increased skills and knowledge related to literature and archival reviews, terrestrial research activities, indigenous forest gardening practices, the biological requirements of lowland forest ecosystems, botanical identification techniques, plant collection methodology, plant survey techniques, research data management, working with a wide range of community members, the intersection of science and indigenous culture, and formal scientific research project presentation methods. Plus they will have an increased awareness of the richness of Lummi and Coast Salish traditional ecological knowledge and culture, especially as it relates to lowland forest plants and their environments.
Year one interns will be provided with opportunities to mentor year two interns and also work with students in ENVS 201, BIOL 310, and other relevant courses. One project intention is to have at least one intern prepare a publishable research report.
Through NWIC’s project partner, Washington State University (WSU), interns will be presented with other research opportunities both with WSU and through the many contacts of WSU’s James Freed. Because this is a long-term, locally-relevant research project, future NWIC students will have increased opportunities to undertake terrestrial research.