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i-NATURE Indigenous Ecological Education at Heritage University Home Page


i-NATURE: Indigenous iNtegration of Aquatic sciences and Traditional-Ecological-Knowledge for Undergraduate culturally Responsive Education


Students are motivated and empowered by contributing to the solution of problems faced by their community. They can see how their science degrees can transform not only their lives, but also have a great impact in the economy of the region and the protection of the environment where they live. In this regard, the i-NATURE project-, place-based curriculum that includes extensive applied research experience on local problems will be definitively transformative and have lasting influence on both student and community. i-NATURE seeks to create a new model for STEM curriculum that can provide a seamless transition from high school through graduate school to the STEM workforce. i-NATURE is an innovative and novel approach to STEM curriculum building for four reasons:


(i) the uniqueness of the tribal influence of the program through partnerships with the Yakama Nation and Salish Kootenai College, which could serve as a model for recruitment and retention of Native American students in STEM for other institutions,

(ii) the development of a regional partnership with graduate institutions Oregon State University (OSU) and University of Idaho (UI), the Columbia River Inter-tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC), and the Spokane Tribe of Indians,

(iii) the hands-on, data driven, project-based curriculum, which will better prepare students for success in the STEM workforce and graduate career paths, and

(iv) the place-based educational immersion of students in the local heritage, culture, and landscapes as a foundation for the study of science and math.

The primary objective of i-NATURE is to create a culturally relevant, learner centered, project based curriculum that will better attract and retain students, and particularly AI/AN students. The components of this model include: (i) an Experiential, Place-Based Learning Model with an emphasis on understanding, analysis, and communication of local environmental issues, (ii) Intergenerational Mentoring, and (iii) Indigenous Research Internships. The second objective of i-NATURE is to develop a Regional Partnership to create a program uniquely tailored for underrepresented minority success in STEM.



The primary sponsor for i-NATURE is the National Science Foundation (NSF). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.