SDI interns present at Washington conference

Interns from the Sustainable Development Institute of the College of Menominee Nation recently made presentations at the 2017 First American Land Grant Institution’s conference in Washington, D.C.

CMN students Georgie (Dolly) Potts, Adam Schulz and Allison Bailey delivered information about the research projects in which they participated throughout the last growing season.

Research by the students is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Potts and Schulz are conducting agricultural research to determine if different soil amendments impact the growth and yield of Bear Island Flint Corn, a traditional crop. The soil amendments chosen for the project were selected from archaeological work done by Dr. David Overstreet. Soil samples taken from the ancient Menominee garden beds show amendments of river muck, bio-char, pottery fragments, fish and other plant species.

The amendments chosen for this project included replication of the traditional amendments of bio-char and fish emulsion, and of a synthetic fertilizer determined by Jamie Patton, Shawano County’s agricultural agent. A control was also used in the study. In June, 16 randomized plots were planted at the institute’s facility on the CMN campus in Keshena, and the harvest took place in mid-October.

Student researchers found that the corn grew amazingly well, and the crop produced well-formed cobs of various colors and sizes. The biggest problem posed in the project was raccoons. Even with a six-foot-high fence, the critters managed to feast on the corn. With the help of Menominee Conservation personnel, nine raccoons, one skunk and a cat were caught in a live trap and released away from the research plot.

The project blended traditional and indigenous knowledge into the research. Potts, of the Prairie Band Potawatomi, is in the liberal studies/humanities program. Her presentation at conference described how traditional feasts, harvesting, gathering and stories play a role in agriculture.

Schulz, a first-line direct descendant of the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican Community, oversaw the garden research. He is enrolled in the bachelor’s degree program in business administration program at CMN and holds an associate degree from the college in natural resources. His presentation at the conference focused on the agricultural research conducted through scientific efforts such as plot design, soil testing, project protocol and projected results.

Bailey is an enrolled member of the Oneida Nation who presented on her phenology internship experience. Phenology is the study of cyclical and seasonal natural phenomena, especially relating to climate as well as plant and animal life. For this project, students follow the growth and life cycle of 12 plants that grow in three forest research plots. Bailey described what the pheno stages of the plants are and the importance of plant observation in a changing climate. She is enrolled in the Early Childhood Education program at CMN.

To find out more about the College of Menominee Nation, Sustainable Development Institute and intern opportunities, visit www.sustainabledevelopmentinstitute.org, or contact Rebecca Edler, sustainability coordinator, at 715-799-6226, ext 3043.