From June first through the eighth, USDA will host faculty and staff from the 32 land-grant tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) that work in the areas of agriculture, conservation, science, or community development to participate in the USDA Land-Grant Development/Tribal Fellowship Program, a key component of the Terra Preta do Indio Tribal Fellowship Suite. The USDA 1994 Tribal Land-Grant Colleges and Universities Program office works with land-grant TCUs to develop their land-grant capacities and rural tribal economies to ensure the US’ food security. In order to achieve this mission, the Department offers accepted applicants a Tribal Fellowship, a one-week intensive workshop which includes the cost of travel, lodging, and per diem.
Over the course of the workshop, Fellows learn about programs and resources available throughout USDA and where and how to access them. They have an opportunity to exchange ideas with their colleagues, ask questions of specialists, and to consider which of the resources discussed might benefit their institutions. Fellows apply their knowledge by developing or revisiting their strategic plan to address the needs of their 1994 tribal land-grant college in the areas of agriculture, conservation, and the development of their rural communities – in collaboration with their institutions tribal community and with support from our staff and USDA service centers.
A local USDA service center can really make the difference in the success of these land-grants to optimize their plan. While the Tribal Fellows Program offers participants an overview of the USDA landscape and opportunities to share ideas and develop potential partnerships and relationships, the support of the local service centers is crucial to develop these collaborations. USDA service center employees’ expertise and regional knowledge will help schools to implement a well thought out plan and to realize its goals.
In 2013 USDA graduated its first group of Terra Preta do Indio Tribal Fellows. While participants left a bit overwhelmed they also left with a better understanding of USDA and the programs available to them. For example:
“There are actually quite a few programs that are not just for me and my program at the farm but for the college overall. The idea was for me to come here and learn as much as I can and help the college to be able to access a lot of these programs…”
Sustainable Agriculture Research Manager
Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Community College, WI
“There are opportunities for us to expand some of our programs so that we can build our capacity in communities with youth… [USDA] resources available to tribal colleges are wonderful.”
Coordinator, Center for Lifelong Education
Institute of American Indian Arts, NM
To apply or recommend an applicant to the 2013 Land-Grant Development/Tribal Fellows Program OR to recommend a USDA program that should be highlighed contact: Lavinia (Vinnie) Panizo, USDA Terra Preta do Indio Fellows Program, firstname.lastname@example.org.