Aug 14

Summer Intern Presentations 2017

Summer 2017 SDI Interns, from left to right: Brandon Boyd, Ethan Fregien, Charlene Tourtillott, Adam Schulz, Joseph Waukechon, Dolly Potts, Allison Bailey, and Kathy Waukau.

Written by: Dolly Potts, Agricultural Research Intern

Adam Schulz and I were the first ones to present at our Summer Intern Community Report Out. Our project featured the Bear Island Flint Corn research plot.

Adam Schulz

Dolly Potts

Our project was to grow the Bear Island Flint corn using three soil amendments and leaving one plot as control, with nothing added. Adam presented first on the scientific portion of the research.

He spoke about the amendments and on the lay-out of the plot. He shared a video showing the growth stages of the corn. He did a great job and everyone enjoyed the video, myself included.


My presentation was on the Indigenous tradition that was infused into the project. I spoke about how we used a traditional feast and blessing for our initial crop. We invited elders and community members to participate in several aspects of our project. I believe by using our traditional practices our corn crop has grown to a healthy, tall and productive stand of corn. We used amendments that were found in the ancient garden beds of the Menominee people.

With our project we hope to revitalize growing corn on the Menominee Reservation. Most of the research corn will be left standing in the field to dry and some will be dried in a traditional manner. Adam and I will be harvesting the remaining corn in the next few weeks. The community is encourage to help in the harvest!

One of most recent challenges has been the bandits robbing our corn crop. The Menominee Environmental Services took away two raccoons we caught in the live traps. The raccoons were not harmed and will go live somewhere else in the forest.

The next presenter was Brandon Boyd. In his presentation, “Cultivating Culture of Ethical STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) in Collaborations Between Climate Change Decision-Support Organizations and Indigenous Peoples”. Brandon did a project to bring about awareness of climate change. He did a survey and reported on the results received from the participants. It was very interesting to find out the knowledge others hold about climate change.

Student Interns, Allison Bailey and Kathleen Waukau, collected data on plants to develop clear and efficient methods for gathering, recording and archiving observation data. Their presentation gave insight into how plants are reacting to climate change and the stages plants go through.
Ethan Fregien inventoried the plants along the Learning Path to develop a manual for the incoming SDI intern as well as the community to use. His presentation showed how the manual was developed.

Youth worker, Trinaty Caldwell, researched plants on along the phenology trail identifying the Menominee, Latin, and common name. This information will be used to make signs that will be placed on the path to help others identify plants on the Learning Path.

Student Intern, Charlene Tourtillott, created a digital media marketing tool for the Indigenous Planing Summer Institute (IPSI). This year’s institute took place in various locations; the Menominee Nation Reservation, Oneida Reservation, and Whispering Pines retreat at Shawano Lake. The three minute video captured this year’s 2017 retreat, in hopes of promoting next year’s retreat and for use on the Indigenous Planning Summer Institute website.

Learning from the Land: Educational Modules for the Science Classroom was presented by Laundi Keepseagle and Joseph Waukechon. They did an educational video, created in animation by Joseph and narrated by Laundi. The video demonstrated the philosophy and practice of sustainable forestry by the Menominee Nation. The animation, by Joseph video was great.

The final presentation was by the Sustainability Leadership Cohort (SLC) Students: Maria Moreno, Matthew Schwitzer, Miranda Washinawatok, and Trinaty Caldwell. The students did a video to bring awareness of the need to reclaim food sovereignty for the Menominee community. Foresters, community members and traditional knowledge holders and practitioners were featured in the film. The SLC students also presented the research paper they did with the agricultural research project, reporting the data they collected from the Bear Island Flint Corn plot. The students were great help with all our projects and nice to be around. We all enjoyed them being at SDI this summer.

Matthew Schwitzer

2017 SLC, from left to right: Trinaty Caldwell, Maria Moreno, and Miranda Washinawatok












Last but not least, I wanted to report on the SDI Summer Youth Workers Pasen Waupoose and Shaelyn Fish work this summer. They were very busy, harvesting the Farmers Market garden, taking data on the Research Corn Plot, completing tasks around the SDI office, and landscaping around the college. Shaelyn also painted a wonderful sign for the Ag Research plot. The youth workers were always willing to help and were very polite. They had a full summer and rewarding summer at SDI.

2017 Youth Workers, from left to right: Pasen Waupoose and Shaelyn Fish








It’s off to school for most of the interns. This was a very busy and fruitful summer. I would like to thank all the interns and staff at SDI for all the help with the Bear Island Flint Corn Research Plot. The corn grew fast and healthy, I believe it was because of the good intentions of all the staff and interns who had contact with the corn plot. Thank you to all the community members for the support and traditional knowledge you shared with all the interns. Thank you to Chris Caldwell and my mentor Rebecca Edler. Thank you to Cherie, Cynthia, and Greg for answering our questions and helping all of us.

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Aug 14

Menominee Language Summit

Written by: Dolly Potts, Agricultural Research Intern

The Language Summit was the one of the first efforts to bring the Menominee community together to discuss how to bring back the Menominee language as a primary means to communicate. The summit helped me to understand the history and the issues facing the Menominee community. The summit also discussed the sustainability and climate resiliency of the Menominee Nation. I gained a better understanding of how Native nations have built into their language and culture the keys to being resilient.

The two current administrators and teachers of the Menominee language told us about the history of and the efforts revitalizing the Menominee language. I enjoyed hearing the early efforts and how the elders used humor to cover the mistakes that were made. There were funny stories told of mispronunciations and communication today as well as the past. I learned about the “old Menominee” language and how efforts sometimes get confused as the “new Menominee”. I agree with the presenters that all efforts are good efforts. I left with a good feeling that the teachers of the Menominee language have the most sincere intentions to insure the Menominee language is preserved. I learned that the current language revitalization efforts include young teachers. The presenters gave us information on the “Language Nest”, babies in a Menominee language immersion program. What a wonderful thought, babies speaking their first words in their native language.

After lunch we had small group discussions of the language and how we could use the language to communicate issues like climate change. The group I participated in was very excited about using the language to teach kids. The group discussed how there would need to be parental involvement for the program’s success.  On the question of climate change, the group felt that the Menominee language provided the answers to resiliency.

There was a good turnout of both the community and administration at the Summit. Chris Caldwell, SDI Director, called the Summit the first annual. I enjoyed the opportunity to learn and discuss issues that are occurring in Tribal Nations across the country. Efforts to pass the language to young people was gallantly communicated in this conference by the Menominee Nation.

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Aug 01

Intern Community Report Out

Cultural Learning Center
Wednesday Aug. 9, 2017
4-6 pm

Each semester and summer the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) provides internship opportunities focusing on a wide range of sustainability topics to students from the College of Menominee Nation (CMN) and other academic institutions. This forum gives students the opportunity to share their experiences.

Join us to support the hard work of the 2017 summer interns as they present about their projects.

Lights refreshments will be provided at this event.

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Indigenous Planning Summer Institute

From June 5th-9th, 2017, the 3rd annual Indigenous Planning Summer Institute (IPSI) will host a group of Indigenous students to learn more about Indigenous principles and practices of planning and design. Tribal nations and Indigenous communities across North America are leading in the development of unique programs and policies, from environmental sustainability to holistic healthcare.

Yet Indigenous students in undergraduate and graduate programs often do not find opportunities to learn about how they can use their skills and visions to contribute to important Indigenous planning and design processes. ​

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May 25

Internship Deadline Extended!


Please note that the deadline for applications for two summer internship positions at SDI has been extended through Wednesday, May 31 at noon.  The candidate selected will be expected to attend an orientation on Friday, June 2 and also attend the Indigenous Planning Summer Institute scheduled for the full week of June 5-9.
The position description and application are below.

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May 17

Turtle Garden Plots Available

Gardening season is upon us and SDI with the help of Sam Knapp, AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer, will be preparing the Turtle Garden for planting on Wednesday, May 24. Feel free to stop on over and get your hands dirty at anytime during the day. Ten of the thirteen plots in this turtle-shaped garden are available to the CMN and Menominee communities.

Grow your own food and care for your plants throughout the growing and harvesting seasons. Guidance from SDI staff is available to those new to gardening.


If you are interested in a plot sign-up on this Google Sheet or email and SDI staff will contact you soon.

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May 09

Planet Forward Summit

Joseph Waukechon, CMN student, pictured above, and Rebecca Edler, Sustainability Education Coordinator attended the 2017 Planet Forward Summit on April 6-7, in Washington D.C. The summit brought together students, scientists, communicators, faculty members, policymakers and citizens of the earth to learn about environmental storytelling. The two day summit investigated effective storytelling through the categories of: character, creativity, science/data, innovation and big ideas. Story topics included: water, food, climate change, environment and biodiversity. Frank Sesno, founder of Plant Forward, led the summit activities.

Throughout the summit, presenters explained the different approaches of telling a story. Dr. Robin Kimmerer, Professor at SUNY-ESF, described the rich tradition of storytelling in Native cultures. As a Tribal College, capturing and sharing stories through our lens is critical. Dr. Kimmerer shared that in a crowded digital world, the Native oral traditions of storytelling show how we can capture the heart and soul of story.

Panels discussed how to connect through various social media venues, while breakout sessions explored social change, fake news, and how to bridge political divides.  Participants were challenged to think globally and recognize how the stories of today will impact their future as well as the generations to come.

Summary written by: Joseph Waukechon

I was recently able to go on a trip to the sweeping, beautiful city of Washington D.C. to attend the annual Planet Forward film conference. The conference discusses ecological issues like deforestation, human rights violations and other planetary concerns. Many great speakers came and plugged charities, a great deal of which were from Africa. Atop their two biggest issues, deforestation and blackouts, they discussed a major issue in Africa: when pregnant women give birth, rather than being driven to the hospital they often physically walk. This causes fistulas, causing incontinence, making them social outcasts from their community. While here in America a fistula is an exceedingly simple procedure to fix, in Africa it is not so. A woman discussed the idea of a sort of Uber for pregnant women.

Another knockout charity is C.A.T. (Conserving Acres for Tigers). Every year The Discovery Channel gives select nonprofit charities creative control over their content for a short time, a promotion called “Createchange”. C.A.T. was one such charity. What they strive to do is double the wild Bengal tiger population by 2022 by purchasing many acres between India and Bhutan.  Another great one focused on young male Russian orphans. In the foster care system, people only want infants or little girls, leaving boys ages nine and up to grow up without foster figures. The movement, which translates as ‘Movies that Change Lives’, paired a select 7 orphan boys with famous Russian directors who made short documentary films about their assigned child. Since then all the selected boys were been adopted.

I learned volumes at the conference, most of it in miscellaneous information. Such as:

-We are going to have to double our food production in a few years when our population hits 10 billion.

-There are countless crooked charities in the system playing upon our naiveness and desire to help over our skepticism. The four most trustworthy nonprofits are SalvationArmy, Unicef, Red Cross, and Oxcam.

-A football field worth of trees disappears in the Rainforest every 78 seconds. Products that do not contribute to rainforest destruction are marked with a green emblem with a tree frog on it, reading Rainforest Alliance.

-1.4 billion people in the world do not have electricity.

A big problem, mostly in America, is a habit known as ‘Slacktivism’. This is mainly on Social Media, when you post something trying to help out a cause, and then feel accomplished from solely that alone.

The main talking point, my main takeaway from this trip is that while I was there I truly experienced Virtual Reality for the first time. I have seen virtual 360 videos on Facebook before, and done it before at an animal rights conference with no sound. But two students came with a full interactive program shedding light on ocean acidification. Their video came equipped with sound, audio and somewhat of a video game. They put you into a small undersea grove littered with sea snails. The object was to take small red flags from a blue laundry basket and place them by the crabs. Then you were shown the same grove years later, scorched of algae and life, due to the steadily rising acidification of the sea. The program allowed you to look in any direction, as well as physically feel bubbles rising up from the sea floor.

Virtual reality is a speedily increasing medium. A good example of where it is breaking out is roller coasters: At Six Flags New England, they have a virtual reality ride where you can experience what it is like to be saved by Superman as he flies through the air. You do not see the tracks and when the coaster dips down and then up, your senses are tricked into thinking you are falling and then being saved by The Man of Steel himself, being lifted sharply upward. Speaking not even of the flooring technological magic that VR incorporates, fascinating studies are being done about its effects on the human brain.

For example, children have been given a 360 virtual tour of a museum, and will show signs of false memories their brain planted, such as the smell of the food or the ride there. It also affects people in the short-term. There was a study done where two people were given two different simulations: one where they were a superhero, flying around a city and given the chance to save a girl from a burning building, the other in a helicopter, able to tour the city. When the simulation ended, a person thanked both for their time and tripped on purpose. The superhero was the first to run up and offer assistance.

This trip was an unbelievable godsend, and I learned more than words can describe. I met many interesting people from around the globe. I also sat in on many great seminars talking about a variety of ecological subjects and how we can make a difference in a world where two political parties’ bickering leads to nothing.

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May 09

Nelson Institute 11th Annual Earth Day Conference

Written by: Dolly Potts, Agricultural Research Assistant

I attended the 11th Annual Nelson Institute Earth Day Conference in Madison, Wisconsin. The conference was held April 18, 2017 in the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center. A beautiful building designed by famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright sits on the shores of Lake Monona. The building’s design is spectacular and I was happy to have spent the day there.

The first session that I attended was The Future of Food. The presenters talked about how we will feed a growing world.  Some of the technology and social issues these choices will affect are health and culture. Irwin Goldman, Professor and Chair, Horticulture, UW Madison presented about an issue surrounding the ownership of seeds. The Open Seed Source Initiative is an organization working towards freeing the seeds. The other presenters spoke of adapting to the social issues and population of the earth today.

The second session I attended after lunch was Who Owns the Future? This session was about how today’s environmental decisions affect future generations. The moderator was Patty Lowe, Professor of Life Sciences Communication at UW-Madison. I liked Patty; she led a very interesting session.

What made this session so interesting was 18 year old high school student, Victoria Barrett, activist with Earth Guardians. She is part of the 21 plaintiff suit, Our Children Trust. It is a suit involving the rights of children to have a say in environmental quality and natural resource availability. The suit was declared to have merit and is in federal court. Victoria is from New York and spoke of how she became involved with the suit.

I enjoyed the conference immensely. There was a hall full of exhibits where I did some networking and met some very interesting individuals. Everyone was involved with the environment and ecology. The presenters, whether they were students or professors, led the sessions were very well and were knowledgeable and committed to the subject.

“The two most significant responsibilities we have as a society are the education of our youth and the preservation of our Resources”, Gaylord Nelson, founder of Earth Day.

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May 09

Michigan State University Visit

Written by: Brandon Boyd, Agricultural Research Assistant

My visit to Michigan State University was very educational and over all just a fantastic experience! For the first day there Rebecca Edler, CMN project team member, and I met the M.S.U. project members who include Julie Labarkin, Scott Kalafatis, and Caitlin Kirby. Everyone was very welcoming and helpful with our questions about the project and even for rides around the huge campus. Scott, the post-Doc student working on the project, got stuck being our chauffeur of sorts; he was extremely helpful with making sure we got a rides to and from the different seminars we attended and giving us a tour of the campus with a little historical context.

I attended the Fate of the Earth conference which featured presentations on many different aspects of sustainability with the focus on water conservation and usage. Some of the presentations I attended were titled “The Water Crisis: Are We Risking Our Health?”, “What Water Needs Now: Smarts-Water in the Era of Climate Change & Donald Trump”, which I thought was particularly interesting, but my favorite presentation was “The Flint Water Crisis: What Have We Learned”. Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve heard about the Flint water crisis, but what amazed me was how long ago the series of bad choices started to cause the crisis the people of Flint now face. The Flint water crisis is the product of over a half century of bad decisions.

While at MSU I also attended a presentation for the “Be Spartan Green Project”, which promotes recycling, conservation and having a more natural life style. The title of the presentation was “Climate Change Knowledge and Empowerment” by Caitlin Kirby. Caitlin has been working on the project for which I’m interning since the start so I found her input and suggestions invaluable. The garden, farm and forested areas of the campus are a big source of pride and educational opportunity for the “Be Spartan Green Project” and the students of Lansing, Michigan, take full advantage of them.

Our last night was spent at a dinner party hosted by Julie, one of the leaders of the project and many other project members. The dinner party was a great opportunity to get to know everyone on a more personal basis and share ideas about the direction we were going to head in. Although he didn’t attend the dinner we got to meet and coordinate with Kyle Whyte, the leader of our project, the following morning. Our trip ended with a tour of the campus and a little ride around the state capitol before being dropped off at the airport by Scott. Beside Rebecca wondering out loud how it would be to experience a plane crash, our flight was typical and we successfully landed. This whole trip I believe was a success. I’ve learned so much through this trip and made many new friends and acquaintances I hope to work closer with in the upcoming months. Thank you for this experience and opportunity.

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Earth Day Highway Clean Up

Saturday April 22, 2017 is the day of highway clean-up on Hwy 47/55 heading north pass the Fredenberg Bridge (Bridge over Wolf River in Keshena).

We will be meeting here at the college at 9 AM that morning and cleaning the stretch of highway that is designated to the college. There will be lunch served at Pizza Hut for those who participate.

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