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Native American  student perspectives of challenges in natural resource higher education


Breanna Gervais
Chase R. Voirin
Chris Beatty
Grace Bulltail
Stephanie Cowherd
Shawn Defrance
Breana Dorame
Raymond Gutteriez
Jessica Lackey
Candy Lupe
April B. Negrette
Natalya C. Robbins Sherman
Ruth Swaney
Kevin Tso
Marvin Victor
Royale Wilson
Kimberly Yazzie



Publication type:

Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Primary Station(s):

Southern Research Station


Journal of Forestry. 115(5): 491-497.


Native Americans have vital interests in promoting forest management decisions based on sound science and consistent with cultural values to sustain and conserve tribal natural resources. Advancing the next generation of natural resource professionals into key positions is essential to advance the self-determination of tribes; yet, there are unique challenges Native American students encounter when pursuing an advanced degree in natural resources. We formed an informal group of Native Americans who have been undergraduate and/or graduate students in natural resource fields to discuss their experiences in higher education. The group discussed their personal paths to and experiences in undergraduate and graduate programs, including academics and campus culture. Students collectively identified several significant deterrents, including insufficient access to mentors with experience working with tribal communities at nontribal universities, as well as a lack of interdisciplinary courses that integrate tribal land management practices and traditional ecological knowledge with nontribal and western ecological science. Based on our findings, we suggest practices and programs that academic institutions can emphasize to address the challenges in recruiting and retaining Native Americans in natural resource-related programs.


Gervais, Breanna K.; Voirin, Chase R.; Beatty, Chris; Bulltail, Grace; Cowherd, Stephanie; Defrance, Shawn; Dorame, Breana; Gutteriez, Raymond; Lackey, Jessica; Lupe, Candy; Negrette, April B.; Robbins Sherman, Natalya C.; Swaney, Ruth; Tso, Kevin; Victor, Marvin; Wilson, Royale; Yazzie, Kimberly; Long, Jonathan W.; Hoagland, Serra J. 2017. Native American student perspectives of challenges in natural resource higher education. Journal of Forestry. 115(5): 491-497.


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