Four chosen for Native American Research Assistantship

By Jamila Blake

As part of the 2019 Native American Research Assistantship, students will have the opportunity to work at one of the USFS’ National Forests or National Grasslands across the country, including the Lake Tahoe Basin. ©jcookfisher

The Native American Research Assistantship (NARA) Program, made possible by the Premier Partner relationship between the U.S. Forest Service and The Wildlife Society, has selected four students to participate this year in research projects with USFS Research & Development scientists.

This professional development program facilitates opportunities for Native American students to be mentored by USFS R&D scientists and promotes student advancement and training for careers in natural resource and conservation-related fields. Program participants provide assistance to researchers and learn about the USFS’ ecological science-based approach to decision-making and balancing multiple-use management of national forests and grasslands.

Upper-level undergraduates, graduate students and recent graduates participating in the program will each receive a stipend to help cover travel, food and housing during the assistantship.

Four individuals have been selected for research assistantships, which will last for approximately 12 to 14 weeks, most beginning this spring and running through summer.

La’akea Low, a student at Oregon State University; and Helen Fillmore, a student at University of Nevada, Reno, will be mentored by Jonathan Long and Angela White, scientists at the Pacific Northwest and Pacific Southwest Research Stations. They will be working in the Lake Tahoe Basin on evaluating restoration treatment to promote flora and fauna important to the Washoe Tribe.

Karissa Gregurash, a current student at Bay De Noc Community College, and Lauren Polansky, a current student at the University of Oklahoma, will be mentored by Damon Lesmeister, a wildlife biologist at the Pacific Northwest Research Station. They will be conducting bioacoustic surveys for owls in the Oregon Coast Range.

“The NARA participants help contribute to the mission of the agency in many ways, but, most importantly, they come from communities where wildlife are identified as an integral component of the landscape,” said Serra Hoagland, Pueblo of Laguna tribal member and USFS Liaison Officer (Biologist) for the Rocky Mountain Research Station to Salish Kootenai College in Montana.

“The program allows for meaningful engagement across cultures and advances our goal of conserving wildlife for current and future generations,” said Hoagland, who serves as USFS Point of Contact for NARA program.

The Native People’s Wildlife Management Working Group of The Wildlife Society also provides educational and networking opportunities for Native Americans. They are thankful for the support of Native American students interested in wildlife biology and management.

As a Premier Partner of TWS, the USFS also provides funding for travel grants to Native American students to attend the TWS Annual Conference. The USFS and TWS would like to extend thanks to the scientists who submitted project proposals and to the individuals who will be mentoring the four Native American students in this year’s program.

Learn more about the Native Peoples’ Wildlife Management Working Group of The Wildlife Society.

The U.S. Forest Service is a Premier Partner of The Wildlife Society.

Jamila Blake is The Wildlife Society's Professional Development Coordinator.
Read more of Jamila's articles here.

Share your thoughts on this article, and others, on our Facebook and Twitter pages.