Learning from indigenous populations common thread in new grants

Three new grants with funding from Washington State University’s College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS) will help promote education and partnerships in communities, with a common focus of working with, and learning from, native populations.Graphic logo with words CAHNRS For ALL: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion. The word ALL is centered and dominant, in block letters with over 20 mini logos inside. The logos represent aspects of college, including paws, fruits, trees, bees, microscopes, and much more.

“All of these projects are geared toward building relationships,” said Luz Maria Gordillo, CAHNRS assistant dean for diversity, equity, and inclusive excellence. “We come from different places and different backgrounds. This round of DEI grant funding focuses on how we can come together and learn from each other.”

One grant will provide a WSU student with a study abroad experience in Uruguay. Another will help WSU Clark County Extension Master Gardeners learn from the Good Rain Farm, an indigenous women-led farm. The third will support a salmon cook-off in Pullman with nearby First Nations peoples.

Each project will receive $2,500 from the CAHNRS DEI office.

Formal portrait of Luz Maria Gordillo
Luz Maria Gordillo

“These DEI mini-grants are encouraging collaborations among units and departments within and outside of CAHNRS,” Gordillo said. “This is our second round of funding. We now have six projects impacting our learning communities, some with innovative approaches to research, others celebrating cultural differences, and these last three focusing on sharing knowledge.”

The first cohort of DEI projects were very successful, she said.

“We’ve impacted a lot of people in many different ways, from undergraduate students to graduate students to staff and faculty in CAHNRS,” Gordillo said. “We’re excited to see how these projects develop and progress in the next year.”

The study abroad project is funded by the CAHNRS Office of Student Success and Academic Programs.

The following are abstracts for each of the three new endeavors:

Improving Access to a Transformative Intercultural Experience via Student Scholarships for Inaugural Faculty-Led Study Abroad Trip to Uruguay

Study abroad programs contribute to personal growth, improve problem-solving and teamwork skills, build confidence and cultural sensitivity, and expand career opportunities. One recognized pathway of enhancing access is through student scholarships, which can help mitigate the high cost of study abroad programs. This mini-grant will fund five scholarships for CAHNRS students from underrepresented groups to participate in the inaugural study abroad trip titled “Exploring Agriculture, Community, and Sustainable Livelihoods in Uruguay,” led by Ms. Holly Henning and Dr. Jessica Goldberger. Students will expand their knowledge of agriculture, food systems, community development, and sustainable livelihoods through hands-on projects with small-scale farmers. The study abroad trip and associated course (AFS 483: Special Topics in Study Abroad) will emphasize critical thinking, community building, intercultural connections, and international careers.

WSU Extension Clark County Master Gardener Program

The Clark County Master Gardener Program will be partnering with Good Rain Farm, an indigenous women-led farm that provides instruction on processing and saving seeds from plants traditionally prized by Indigenous Peoples. Participants in this program will learn hands-on skills and historical and cultural information while practicing the reverence and reciprocity of seed saving from an Indigenous lens. The Clark County Master Gardeners’ role in this partnership will include recruiting participants, providing physical space and coordination for two workshops, and providing a portion of their farm property where their office is located to grow seed material for use in the workshops. The Master Gardeners will help with formalizing the educational curriculum to streamline/support future delivery and increase capacity of this organization to offer the course.

Salmon Cook-Off at Reaney Park, Pullman, Wash.

Furthering collaborative relationships with Indigenous First Nations peoples through increased inclusion in research and educational opportunity will boost the impact of CAHNRS research efforts. In line with this, and Theme 4 of the CAHNRS DEI strategic plan, Dr. Michael Phelps and Dr. Contessa Ricci will host a Salmon Cook-Off at Reaney Park in Pullman, Wash. This event will celebrate the rich cultural heritage of local Indigenous peoples (centering on Pacific salmon), and educate CAHNRS students, faculty, staff, and the public on the importance of restoring and protecting Pacific salmon for future generations. Wild-caught salmon sourced from local indigenous peoples and Nations will be prepared for attendees, while educational talks are held by individuals of Indigenous First Nations descent and WSU researchers working in salmon conservation. The event will support CAHNRS’ commitment to serve Indigenous communities and highlight the unique nexus between Western Science and Indigenous Ways of Knowing that Pacific Salmon occupy.