BROOKINGS, S.D. — Crazy Horse Memorial and the Indian University of North America was the location for the first Linking Native American Youth to Ag Careers Conference. Organized by South Dakota 4-H Youth Development, the conference was designed to help connect Native American youth to their roots.
“Our nation’s first farmers, hunters and gatherers were Native Americans. Today, many Native American youth are no longer connected to the land through agriculture,” explained Ron Frederick, SDSU Extension 4-H Youth Program Advisor – Rosebud. “We hope that through this conference we can link Native American youth back to their roots in the land, the language and the culture.”
Seventeen youth from the Rosebud and Pine Ridge reservations attended the conference which was held in October.
Linking Native American Youth to Ag Careers Conference exposed youth to opportunities found within the diverse world of agricultural careers through on site group tours and a college classroom atmosphere. It provided youth with an opportunity to experience dorm life; taught them about what can be produced and provided from the land, and gave them an opportunity to learn more about their cultural heritage through a presentation by famed Lakota history professor, Duane Hollow Horn Bear.
Hollow Horn Bear told the Lakota Creation story and explained why the Black Hills remain sacred to the Lakota people.
Other speakers and chaperones included Brad Keizer, 4-H Youth Program Advisor for Custer and Fall River Counties; Aminah Hassoun, 4-H Youth Program Advisor, Pine Ridge Extension Office; Jason Schoch, and Rachel Lindvall, SDSU Extension field staff; Deanna Eagle Feather; Rosebud Extension Volunteer; Ann Wilson Frederick, Executive Director from the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Land Enterprises; Dr. Laurie Becvar, President & COO from Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation; and Dawnita Forell, Forell Bus Service.
In addition to classroom sessions the youth were given a rare opportunity to ride to the top of the mountain and experience the Crazy Horse Memorial carving up close and personal. This unique experience was led by Monique Ziolkowski, director of the Crazy Horse Memorial project, along with other Crazy Horse Memorial staff members.
The Linking Native American Youth to Ag Careers Conference was funded through a grant from the North Central Extension Risk Management Education program. This grant, submitted by Rachel Lindvall on behalf of SDSU Extension’s three Federally Recognized Tribal Extension Programs focused on Linking Native American youth to potential agricultural futures.
“We are so appreciative of the speakers, volunteers and the entire Ziolkowski family and Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation staff which included Dr. Laurie Becvar, President /COO and Amanda Allcock, Director of Sales & Catering; who helped make this conference such a success,” Frederick said.
To learn more about how you or someone you know can become involved in South Dakota 4-H as a member or volunteer, contact your local SDSU Extension office. A complete office and field staff listing can be found at iGrow.org.
— SDSU Extension
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