Native American students selected for USFS research program

The Native American Research Assistantship Program begins its fourth year, a program made possible by the Premier Partner relationship between the U.S. Forest Service and The Wildlife Society. The Research Assistantship program provides valuable knowledge to Native American students and recent graduates who are interested in becoming wildlife biologists. The program allows these individuals to learn and gain beneficial hands-on experience while working with a wildlife professional on the approved project.

The USFS has worked closely with TWS to develop mentoring opportunities for Native Americans to work as research assistants with USFS Research & Development scientists. R&D funding will be used to provide living stipends for upper-level undergraduates, graduate students, and recent graduates during their mentorship, while TWS will provide administrative support and coordination.

Six individuals have been selected for research assistantships, which will last for approximately 12 to 14 weeks, most beginning in spring of 2018 and running through summer of 2018.

Zintkala Eiring, a recent graduate of George Washington University, will be mentored by Brian Dickerson, a wildlife biologist at the Rocky Mountain Research Station. Their project topic will be woodpecker surveys in the Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming.

Xavier Lovato, a current student at New Mexico State University, will be mentored by Serra Hoagland, a liaison officer and biologist at the Rocky Mountain Research Station. Their project topic will be assessment of wildfire risk in treated and untreated Mexican spotted owl (Strix occidentalis lucida) territories on tribal lands.

Jamie McBryde, a recent graduate of Colorado State University, and Sattie Whitefoot, a current student at Salish Kootenai College, will be mentored by Deahn Donner, a project leader and research landscape ecologist at the Northern Research Station. Their project topic will be evaluating regional and landscape-scale movement patterns of wood turtles.

Jessica Rich, a current student at Michigan Tech University, will be mentored by Christel Kern, a Research Forester at the Northern Research Station. Their project topic will be integrating wildlife habitat into nonconventional forest management.

Thomas Thompson, a recent graduate of Humboldt State University, will be mentored by John Kilgo, a Research Wildlife Biologist at the Southern Research Station. Their project topic will be assessment of camera trap surveys to estimate wild pig and white-tailed deer density.

“Wildlife hold an important place in our world and we depend upon them, just as they depend upon us. These are critical linkages that Native peoples understand and hold dear. These connections make us stronger. Educational opportunities such as those offered by the Forest Service’s Native American Research Assistantship program provide opportunities to connect native knowledge with science to the benefit of all beings,” said Colleen Pelles Madrid, Deputy Director of the U.S. Forest Service WFW Washington D.C. office.

The Native People’s Wildlife Management Working Group of The Wildlife Society also provides educational and networking opportunities for Native Americans. They are very thankful for the support of Native American students interested in wildlife biology and management. For more information on the working group click here.

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 six Native Americans in this year’s program.

Header Image: @USFS