Teaching Seasonally-Based and Culturally-Centered Sustainable Agriculture Curriculum to Tribal Educators

Progress report for ENC20-187

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2020: $90,000.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2024
Grant Recipient: University of Wisconsin
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:
Richard Monette
University of Wisconsin-Madison
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Project Information


The project is targeted toward Tribal agricultural, food, and cultural educators in the Great Lakes and Upper Midwest Regions.  These educators include Tribal program and non-profit staff, state extension staff, and other professionals providing education and support to Tribal communities, including community-based educators.

The outcomes of this project include:

  • Development and implementation of culturally-based education curriculum that will be available online but also hosted in-person when feasible
  • Building increased capacity for existing educators to effectively teach essential skills within community settings
  • Incorporation of appropriate cultural perspectives in educational curriculum.  Most standard curriculum is not structured from Tribal perspectives and therefore is not engaging to most Tribal members.
  • Creation of on online learning and networking platform allowing content creation from users.  This platform will continue beyond the grant period

The first year will focus on planning and curriculum development with monthly online trainings for Tribal educators beginning in fall 2020.  Given current challenges of in-person meetings, mosts work activity will be conducted remotely in the first year.  Years two and three will feature in-person seasonally-focused workshops with hands-on education that will be recorded and compiled into virtual content.

Project Objectives:

This project will create a virtual library of educational curriculum available to Tribal educators in the Great Lakes and Upper Midwest Region.  Much of that content will be new material developed through the hands-on workshops and other content-generation activities with partners, and some of the content will be compilations of existing resources developed for Tribal communities and the general public.  Development of this information clearinghouse will be an enormous asset to Tribal agricultural educators and their communities who often struggle to find culturally-relevant material.

Wisconsin is the designated host state, but this project is really a regional effort stretching across the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes Region that stretches from the Dakotas to New York.  Conservatively, this project aims to engage Tribal educators from 30 Tribes with an average of 2 educators from each Tribe.  Those 60 educators will in turn impact an average of 10 community members for a total reach of 600 directly impacted participants.  While these estimated numbers are high, the actual impact will likely be much larger because there is a huge demand for these type of resources, as illustrated by the 700 participants at last year's Great Lakes Intertribal Food Summit.

Existing partnerships will be strengthened through this project and new partnerships will be created as connections are expanded and the online learning and networking platform facilitates improved ability connect with one another.


Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Erin Silva
  • Jerry Jondreau
  • Gary Besaw


Educational approach:

This project has begun by expanding connections and hosting small workshops to help lay the foundation for expanding workshops as pandemic conditions now appear to allow.  While the number of participants has been limited for the initial workshops, content has been recorded and compiled to allow for more expansive on-demand content creation.


Education & Outreach Initiatives

In-Person Workshops

Host 3-4 in-person workshops per year


In-person workshops are particularly important in Tribal communities where interpersonal relationships carry added importance.  These workshops are designed to focus on seasonal activities throughout the region

Outcomes and impacts:

Participants have been able to experience hands-on learning with processing a deer hide, cooking traditional foods, touring diversified farming operations employing a variety of organic methods at various scales of production, learning about making corn mortars from logs, tapping trees and learning about making maple syrup.  

2021 Workshop Summary 

  • Traditional Tool Workshop.
  • Virtual Food Sovereignty Symposium.
  • Harvest Celebration and Field Day
  • Fall Harvest - Keweenaw Bay Indian Community

2022 Workshop Summary 

  • Traditional Tool Workshop.  Similar to the workshop in February 2021, in partnership with College of Menominee Nation, Nueta Hidatsa Tribal College, Ukwekwka, and others, a traditional tool workshop focusing on making corn mortars where participants were able to make their own tools.
  • Maple Workshop.  Nearly a dozen Tribal, along with a few non-Tribal, agricultural educators came together for a workshop at Dynamite Hill Farms in the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community where they learned about unique approaches to tapping trees on Tribal trust land where restrictions against permanent installation pose challenges.
  • Food Sovereignty Symposium & Festival. This three-day event drew over 300 participants in a broad partnership with many organizations.  Dozens of speakers and instructors presented in both formal settings and during hands-on workshops.
  • Regenerative Agriculture - Southern Wisconsin.  This two-day workshop visited research farms and the Meat Sciences Facility at UW-Madison, a non-profit commercial incubator kitchen, and private Indigenous farms.  Over 40 participants, predominantly agricultural educators, attended the event that included catering from Indigenous chefs.
  • Regenerative Agriculture Workshop - Northeast Wisconsin.  Visiting four Tribes over three days, this significant series of field day sessions covered a huge array of Tribal operations from both Tribal enterprises and individual producers.  Over 60 attendees participated and all food was prepared by Indigenous chefs.
  • Harvest Celebration.

2023 Workshop Summary

  • Maple Learning Exchanges.  Two workshops were held on maple syrup production at Tribal sites at Red Cliff and Fond du Lac.  Each location operated at different scales and approaches, with Red Cliff being a more community-oriented operation with shared equipment, harvest sites for individuals, and community education.  Fond du Lac was at Spirit Lake Native Farms, an independently-owned Tribal operation with a modern tubing collection system and high efficiency sap evaporator along with a bottling facility.
  • Seeding the Future.  Held in conjunction with numerous partners, this three-day event included an assortment of hands-on learning and teaching opportunities with a major focus on traditional tools and growing strategies.
  • Harvest Celebration.  Planned for late September, this event is centered on harvesting, processing, and soils eduction.
Create Online Curriculum

Develop a virtual, on-demand learning platform


Use the MightyNetworks e-learning platform to create a library of educational sessions on a range of topics

Outcomes and impacts:

Participants have been able to learn through presenters and hands-on opportunities, which often facilitates the highest impact learning outcomes, but making select content available through the online learning platform allows expanded reach throughout the year and for those unable to attend in-person trainings.

Progress continues on developing content to launch this platform, balancing some appropriate traditional foods content with more general agricultural education materials.  Determining appropriate traditional content is complex because some knowledge needs to be kept within communities with protocols for sharing.  However, basic information on many foods may be shared.  Content has been recorded from each of the in-person workshops, with additional material developed during standalone sessions.

Educational & Outreach Activities

4 Consultations
3 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
4 On-farm demonstrations
2 Online trainings
3 Tours
2 Webinars / talks / presentations
4 Workshop field days

Participation Summary:

25 Extension
10 Researchers
10 Nonprofit
10 Agency
10 Ag service providers (other or unspecified)
15 Farmers/ranchers
25 Others

Learning Outcomes

75 Participants gained or increased knowledge, skills and/or attitudes about sustainable agriculture topics, practices, strategies, approaches
15 Ag professionals intend to use knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness learned

Project Outcomes

1 Grant received that built upon this project
5 New working collaborations
15 Agricultural service provider participants who used knowledge and skills learned through this project (or incorporated project materials) in their educational activities, services, information products and/or tools for farmers
20 Farmers reached through participant's programs
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.