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SW Region Native American Fish Wildlife Society 12th Annual Natural Resources Youth Practicum
Southwest Region, July 15, 2005
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Melissa Castiano, Navajo Tribe, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, USFWS Ecological Services Regional Office, Albuquerque, New Mexico During the week of July 11-15 of 2005, 13 Native American students from tribes such as the Navajo, White Mountain Apache, Zia Pueblo, Hopi, and Mono participated in the Southwest Native American Wildlife Society youth practicum. This event was held in Southern New Mexico on one of the many ranches that Ted Turner (Turner Enterprises) owns called Ladder Ranch. Here we were able to eat Bison meat from Mr. Turner's livestock, Camp in the Great Outdoors, and educate the Participants about Natural Resources. The goal of this practicum was to allow the young adults to learn about their natural surroundings, participate, ask questions, and be able to enhance their knowledge about one another and their culture. There was one group in particular that was made up of five girls who had come from a tribe I have never heard of before from California. They were from the Mono tribe. This group was interesting to me because almost none of the girls have been out of California. Whenever the other kids shared a part of their culture, they would not reveal anything about theirs. And to my amazement, they didn?t really even know their own culture at all. Hopefully the practicum gave them the exposure they needed to help motivate them to make an effort in finding out more about their tribe's history and traditions. Before the week was completely over, a talent show was held. This meant that whether you were staff, cook, or participant, everyone had to take part in this talent show. The whole reason for the show was to let everyone be able to display a talent in front of an audience and to have fun with it. A brief tidbit about Native Americans is that they tend to be quiet and shy, especially when it comes to having an audience. This was their chance to be up in front of a crowd that they?ve had a week to be comfortable around. It ended up being a great success! Everyone was able to enjoy themselves and laugh at the variety of talent that the students displayed. I ended up breaking the ice by starting off the show singing a song acapella. From there, everyone after me took it to a whole other level. On the last day of the practicum, the students had to take a test of what they?ve learned over the past week. After the test, it was my turn to have a chance to talk to the students about higher education. I was able to talk about my personal experience of being a Native American in a College environment and stress the importance of school and how it got me to where I am today. Not only do I have a Bachelors of Science Degree, but I am also going for my PH.D starting the fall of 2006 at University of California, San Diego (UCSD). I also reminded them that they can be successful in anything they put their mind to. They?d be surprised in what they can do when put in a difficult situation. I?d really like to thank John Antonio, Norman Jojola, Jeanne Lubbering, Lawrence Abeita, Steve Dobrott, Anna Gray, and Linda Moon-Stumpff who have been continuingly keeping this program alive for the past 12 years. I?d also like to extend appreciation to the participating organizations, groups, and sponsors. They are: Southwest Region Native American Fish and Wildlife Society U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Bureau or Indian Affairs (BIA) SIPI College, Albuquerque, NM NM Game and Fish Dept. (NMGFD) Evergreen University, Olympia, WA Sierra Youth and Education Council, Hillsboro, NM Turner Enterprises Of course, I have to mention the most expressed acronym that was emphasized throughout the week was T.E.A.M. (Together Everyone Achieves More). This definitely holds true for this program.

Contact Info: Martin Valdez, 505-248-6599, martin_valdez@fws.gov



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