E4 STEM - Environmental Tribal Youth Camps
The E4 STEM-Environmental Tribal Youth Camps provide Native American youth in New Mexico the opportunity to engage in various environmental projects designed to increase their knowledge of both traditional knowledge and scientific knowledge. The camps provide a space for cultural leaders to share traditional environmental knowledge with youth participants while also providing training on scientific methods. The camps cover environmental issues, including climate change, and how these issues impact tribal communities in particular. By making western science relevant to Native American youth and by emphasizing existing traditional knowledge, youth are more engaged in learning E-STEM subjects in order to be better stewards of their ancestral lands.
We are excited to award The Environmental Tribal Youth Camps our second tier prize. Their efforts to bring together Indigenous knowledge and western science come at a time when there seems to be a growing need to understand different ways of knowing through a variety of lenses. By using the language of western science to examine origin stories, The Environmental Tribal Youth Camps uniquely bring to life and give meaning to diverse sources of knowledge. With a holistic view of natural resources’ roles in everyday life, the program engages students in thinking about traditional approaches to resource management, and solutions to critical issues facing these communities – especially climate change and pollution. Judges agreed this approach is a special opportunity for Indigenous youth to develop a nuanced understanding of the environmental issues facing their communities. Judges also commended the program’s use of place-based engagement to incorporate E-STEM concepts, engineering activities, and long-term perspectives on ecosystems. Ultimately, judges felt that The Environmental Tribal Youth Camps program is a model for integrating different ways of knowing that amplifies E-STEM learning for young people.