O’NEALS — Through a competitive application process which required involvement with Native American cultural activities and an interest in natural resources, three Minarets students were accepted and able to attend the Native Youth Community Adaptation and Leadership Congress (NYCALC) at the US Fish and Wildlife National Training Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.
Darrin Coleman, Ashley Davis, and Felicity Johnson received an all expense paid trip to attend this week-long conference just an hour and a half’s drive from our nation’s capital.
Ashley Davis applied for the agricultural side while Felicity Johnson says, “I applied because I wanted to venture out and learn more about Native cultures.”
Darrin Coleman applied so that he could create new contacts with government agencies and apply knowledge to this area. As he explains, “I thought it would be an opportunity to learn new skills to help me in FFA Forestry and Natural Resources.”
The takeaway was enormous for Coleman as he learned about different government agencies such as NASA, NOAA, and NSFS. Through the NSFS session, he learned how to help the pollinator population by using milkweed which he now plans on planting in this area to further study the effects.
Besides the science portion of this conference, Felicity Johnson learned that people need to know that they can “be more than they can be” if they apply themselves and have the right kind of encouragement.
Some of the favorite activities for the three students included doing community service for the conference. Ashley Davis says that they “moved some trees, rocks, sticks, and logs to make a little river,” as a local community service project.
Coleman liked the recreational activities that NYCALC offered such as kayaking and canoeing on the Potomac River. Johnson’s favorite activity, which lasted throughout the week, was participating in the OST (Open-Source Technology) groups.
The Minarets students’ advisor Eric Fraley explains that the NYCALC organizers described OST as a “term to define an open community of students who were free to contribute to numerous approaches to answering an overarching question posed by the organizers.”
This year’s question was, “How can we support all generations to engage in the land while honoring and respecting Indigenous / Traditional Ecological Knowledge and the environment?”
Students were then tasked with answering the question and forming groups to create a presentation. Coleman and Davis were in the same group and created a video in which they had access to a real newsroom. Johnson and her OST group created an art piece.
Darrin Coleman, Ashley Davis, and Felicity Johnson had a very fulfilling overall experience at NYCALC this past summer. When reflecting upon her experience, Johnson states she “took a lot out of this, [and] got to meet a lot of new people” and that she had “fun getting [her] hands dirty while doing something for someone else.”
In addition to having a positive experience, the students also received a $2,500 mini-grant for their proposal to replant dying/dead ponderosa trees and do improvement work on local trails as a joint service project with the USFS Bass Lake Ranger District and North Fork Rancheria.