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  • Writer's pictureRose High Bear

Native American Habitat Restoration Internship January 2023

Updated: Aug 11, 2022

We will begin accepting applications in January, 2023.

Elderberry Wisdom Farm has recruited four Native American interns for the upcoming training in Habitat Restoration. This expands the Traditional Ecological Knowledge training we provide each fall in partnership with Chemeketa Community College Agriculture Sciences Program. The cohort was selected because they are especially interested in conservation careers, including forming microenterprises in habitat restoration, native plant nursery development, and/or organic farming. There are few Native Americans working in horticulture and agriculture, but there is strong motivation among our cohort to pursue these careers.

The team will learn to restore ecosystems in the mid-Willamette Valley this spring during trainings being held two days a week plus an additional virtual session will help them plan the individual research projects they will each accomplish during their internship. Habitat Restoration Educator Trish Haugen (Blackfeet, Seneca, Sami) and Crew Leader Autumn HighDesertWolf (Blackfeet, Seneca, Shawnee, and Sami) will work with Rose High Bear (Deg Hit’an Dine, Inupiaq) to lead the classes. Academic classroom education will be held in the mornings, followed by experiential service learning activities in the afternoons. Sites in Marion County include our 11-acre organic farm near Aurora-Donald where we are preparing the land and the soil for incoming Native American farmers over the next few years. The interns will also complete activities at Elderberry Wisdom Farm’s site including restoring the 17.6 acre property adjacent to the farm that was purchased in 2021. They will also help to design and open the new greenhouse being constructed on our two-acre property this month. It will be used to germinate 1,000 seeds and cuttings for a contract with a local agency. We will grow four different Native plant species for a natural area that will feature all Native plants and serve as an educational space for the indigenous and greater community. There is a clear need for our habitat restoration project and we are grateful to Meyer Memorial Trust and The Collins Foundation who believed in our vision and funded us for two years to conduct this work. They are aware of lack of racial diversity in habitat restoration, horticulture and agriculture and that it has been a barrier for Native Americans for generations. The need to strengthen our community’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in our area is strong since the highest poverty rates are among Native Americans (32.53%) and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (39.49%). Reference: Community Needs Assessment: Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency, Inc., pp. 14-15 Several partners have agreed to support our new initiative, including Marion Soil and Water Conservation District, Institute for Applied Ecology and Friends of Trees so we can more successfully integrate Western science practices with indigenous principles. The microenterprise business opportunities we are also offering to the interns will be supported by MercyCorps NW. Collaborative partnerships continue to grow and were reflected clearly in eleven letters of support we received this winter for an upcoming project. If funded, it will help us to continue to expand our work so we can serve our community in more meaningful and sustainable ways. We look forward to sharing more as funding is received later this year.

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