Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College created the Environmental Institute concept on campus to actively promote the educational and cultural growth of the community in studies covering natural resources and the environment. Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College uses the Environmental Institute in environmental resource areas to follow all points of the College’s mission and coordinate ongoing education, research, outreach, and other activities. This emphasis allows Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College to fulfill its status as a United States Land Grant Institution by “being a people’s college and solving problems which benefit people.”
A variety of related land grant science projects have been successfully completed or are ongoing through Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College’s Environmental Institute. Our research projects have provided hands-on experience for students and graduates in resource-oriented fields.
Food Sovereignty Initiative
The initiative aims to balance social and ecological needs and desires of the band while providing food in a sustainable manner as well as strengthening community resilience to natural resource vulnerabilities and risks.
Bimaaji’idiwin Ojibwe Garden Program
Translated it means “saving each other lives.” This name is a big responsibility to live up to and our Ojibwe Garden Program attempts to do so through education outreach and preservation. An important objective for the garden is to expand and maintain a collection of Anishinaabe and Native American heirloom crop seeds through a seed library. The garden also provides over 300 pounds of produce to the community Elderly Nutrition Program, Ojibwe School Lunch Program, Fond du Lac Summer Lunch Program, Age-to-Age Camp, and the Gitigaan Feast. The project also includes a demonstration garden, hands-on gardening lessons and workshops, seasonal outlooks, and garden interns.
In order to be a model living in a good way, our campus sustainability work strives to teach green living. Some of our programs are gardening (using innovative methods such as Hügelkultur), beekeeping, composting, green energy (like our solar power greenhouse on campus), pollinator habitat, wildlife ecology, and forestry.
Sustainable Food System Certificate
The college offers an academic certificate program in sustainable food systems that complements the college’s current Environmental Science degree. This helps regional community members in their pursuit to become sustainable agricultural producers.
Annual Bee Symposium
The Beekeeping & More Symposium is a one-day event with presentations around everything from beginning beekeeping to bee pheromones. Over 190 participants attend each year and it continues to expand each year. A bee yard on campus was installed to support the conservation of honeybees as a significant ecological resource. The bees hives are cared for in partnership with Northeastern Minnesota Beekeepers Association.
Sustainability Awareness Week
Each October, the Environmental Institute hosts Sustainability Awareness Week on campus. The week provides campus-wide activities to grow the understanding of sustainability among students, staff and community members. Events often include speakers, documentary screenings, prize drawings and hands-on learning activities.
Every April, the Environmental Institute celebrates the Earth with a chance to Educate, Advance, Renew, Thrive, and Heal. Events are offered on campus surrounding environmental topics such as water, food systems and energy while encouraging students to recognize themselves as future leaders and problem solvers.
Youth Outreach: Gidakiimanaaniwigamig
Our youth outreach includes camps such as NOAA Climate Strong, NASA Gidakiimanaaniwigamig, and USDA APHIS Miinigoowiziwinan. All of our camps have a focus on teaching STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) learning. Our camps have also provided college internships to NASA centers.
Thirteen Moons: Ashiniswi giizisoog
Thirteen moons is a tribal college extension program with a mission and goal to increase awareness of natural resources, provide new opportunities for social interaction, and increase knowledge of the Ojibwe culture. Thirteen Moons supports outreach to increase food and agricultural literacy of youth and adults. This outreach enhances food supply, agricultural productivity, quality of the environmental, community vitality, public health and well-being. Visit the Thirteen Moons Website or view current events at the Thirteen Moons Facebook page.
St. Louis River River Watch
The St. Louis River River Watch program is a youth-based water quality monitoring program that focuses on the St. Louis River watershed and the Lake Superior Basin. This project, aimed at secondary school students, promotes and inspires stewardship of the largest U.S. tributary to Lake Superior and other nearby waterways. Currently, an estimated 500 students and teachers in 25 public, private, tribal, home, and alternative schools enthusiastically gather chemical, physical, and biological data twice per year at river sites located throughout northeastern Minnesota. Since 1997, Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College has coordinated this monitoring effort with the support of the USDA. Check us out on our Facebook page!
Our research projects have provided hands-on experience for students and graduates in resource-oriented fields. Our partnerships with the Fond du Lac Band Resource Management, University of Minnesota-Duluth Civil Engineering Department, and other agencies have created project that have focused on issues such as mercury in the St. Louis River watershed, wild rice productivity, climate impact on forestry and wildlife ecology.
Environmental Institute Report Card
The Environmental Institute Report Card newsletter is available for reading and as a printable pdf, please click on the issues below.
- Wild Rice Lake Restoration Research: Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College students worked with Fond du Lac Resource Management and University of Minnesota Natural Resources Research Institute scientists to collect field data to help determine best management practices to restore wild rice on regional lakes.
- Woodlands Wisdom Project: A multi-year effort focused on increasing American Indian involvement and education in human nutrition, specifically as it relates to alleviating the issues related to Type II diabetes.
- Great Lakes Northern Forest Cooperative Ecosystems Studies Unit: A collaboration designed to provide research, technical assistance, and education to federal land management, environmental and research agencies and their potential partners.
- Mercury-Dragonfly Project: This research project utilized dragonfly larvae as a sentinel species for measuring total mercury through field and lab research to correlate dry atmospheric deposition of mercury in leaf litter with bio-accumulated mercury in dragonfly larvae.
- Beaked Hazelnut Project: The bagaaniminzh (beaked hazelnut) research project utilized geographic information systems (GIS) mapping to study the ecological characteristics of healthy beaked hazelnut forests in the hopes of conserving the culturally significant resource.
For more information, contact:
Courtney Kowalczak, Director, Environmental Institute
Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College
2101 14th Street
Cloquet, MN 55720