Increasing Community Research and Building Pathways for FDLTCC Students

The USDA NIFA Area of Expertise Grant of $500,000 was awarded to FDLTCC Environmental Institute in 2021. This funding supports the expansion of research partnerships that give our students unique research experiences that create pathways into careers and higher educational opportunities. Through the Environmental Institute work study program, students are engaged in multiple evolving research projects that provide the skills, knowledge, and leadership to pursue higher educational degrees. In its 7th year the Tracking Mercury in the St. Louis River Watershed is supported by a USDA NIFA Tribal Research grant. This project is measuring the amount of mercury in water, dragonfly nymph tissue, and other stream macroinvertebrates to determine how the neurotoxin moves within our watershed and ultimately ends up in our food.

eDNA funding used to track aquatic invasive species on Tribal Lands

Fond du Lac students, in partnership with Fond du Lac Resource Management, have been utilizing environmental DNA (eDNA) to detect the potential presence of rusty crayfish in the watersheds and lakes of wild rice (manoomin). These aquatic invasive species are problematic because they effect the health of ecosystems by mowing down manoomin in rice lakes. Invasive species are most crucial to detect early when populations are low and resource managers can control and eradicate.

B4 Warmed Climate Change Research

Scientists at the B4 Warmed project are working with FDLTCC students by providing hands-on training in field and lab settings. Our students are working at the Cloquet Forestry Center location where they take various tree species measurements to understand how predicted higher temperatures will impact our forests. This partnership allows our students to be a part of long-term experiments that measures important data that will help foresters make mitigation plans that anticipate future forest changes.

SnowEx: Bringing NASA to Our Region

NASA and 1854 Treaty Authority has partnered with FDLTCC to give students the opportunity to establish a project that addresses gaps in snow remote sensing knowledge. NASA is working specifically with tribal colleges and agencies across their targeted climate categories to work with students by giving them experience in earth systems and mapping. The work that is being done at FDLTCC will directly help NASA with their future snow satellite missions as well as 1854 Treaty Authority management decisions.

FDLTCC Research Objectives
  • Give students a hands-on opportunity to increase their skills, knowledge, and confidence in environmental science by conducting, analyzing, and reporting back on research that is critically important to Tribes and local agencies.
  • Provide networking opportunities where students strengthen their connections with current research partners in the region to create opportunities beyond the scope of academia
  • Create sustainable student research pathways by increasing recruitment efforts and encourage a model of student-to-student mentoring and support
  • Superior National Forest (SNF)
  • 1854 Treaty Authority
  • Fond du Lac Resource Management (FDL RM)
  • University of Minnesota Twin Cities (U of MN)
  • University of Illinois Urbana -Champaign (UIUC)
  • NASA
  • Cloquet Forestry Center (CFC)
  • University of Minnesota -Duluth (UMD)
Collaborative Research Projects
  • Tracking Mercury in the St. Louis River Watershed (UMD & FDL RM)
  • Environmental DNA monitoring for Invasive Aquatic Species (FDL RM & UIUC)
  • Oak Blueberry Monitoring for traditional burning initiatives (SNF)
  • Lynx Tracking (SNF)
  • B4Warmed climate change research (U of MN, CFC)


I chose FDLTCC because of its size and the curriculum. When I first came here in 2019, I was just looking for what I needed to volunteer, perhaps in a crisis shelter. I met with Don Jarvinen, and the rest is history.

It is awesome here at the FDLTCC Education Program because it is like a family here, if you need help or are struggling with anything, you have quite a few people who will help you out.

My favorite thing about FDLTCC is the people. I’ve met fantastic students, faculty and staff who go above and beyond what I expected.