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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

3rd Annual NE CSC Fellows Retreat focuses on Tribal Climate Adaptation and Great Lakes Area Natural Resources

Friday, October 2, 2015
2015 NE CSC Fellows Retreat Participants on the bank of the Wold River, Wisconsin
This year's 2015 NE CSC Fellows Retreat, hosted by the the University of Wisconsin and the College of Menominee Nation through the Sustainable Development Institute, was held September 22-25 in Suring, Wisconsin.

 Twenty Graduate and Postdoctoral Fellows gathered to share their research, develop collaborations, and learn from stakeholders and scientists who have established strong working relationships.  Presenters included representatives from the Menominee Tribe, members of the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, Ducks Unlimited, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and researchers from University of Wisconsin.  Fellows acquired skills for engaging with tribal leaders and resource managers and learned about climate-related challenges and adaptation solutions in the Northern Wisconsin region.  
The Fellows stayed in the YMCA Camp U-Nah-Li-Ya, and around a campfire the first night shared with the group what research collaborators would make up their “Dream Team”.  On day one, the Fellows visited the Menominee Nation to learn about forest management techniques, the issues affecting tribal governance and environmental management, and how to better bridge the gap in cultural and natural resources management and climate science. Chris Caldwell, a NE CSC consortium PI and Marie Schaefer, NE CSC Fellow, were our tour guides. In addition to several scenic and informative stops throughout the Menominee Nation, Fellows participated in the processing of wild rice harvested from nearby sources while learning of the cultural and historic significance of hand-harvested wild rice. Not to be outdone, the second evening was hosted by Rebecca Edler of the College of Menominee Nation where Fellows sampled traditional fry bread tacos and a wild rice dessert made of fruit and locally harvested wild rice before gathering lakeside to practice giving speed talks (3 minute presentations) on their research.
Day two’s activities involved field trips and discussions illustrating how climate science can inform decisions made by stakeholders, including resources managers, and how the questions resource managers ask can drive the direction of actionable research. Fellows heard from Brian Glenzinski of Ducks Unlimited, Michael Notaro of UWI and the Wisconsin Initiative of Climate Change Impacts, and Lena Vanden Elsen of Western University, Canada while visiting sites of actively managed wetlands on the western shore of Green Bay, Lake Michigan. The Fellows then learned from Kim Stone, Hannah Panci and Esteban Chiriboga of the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission and Ken Potter of the Univsersity of Wisconsin (also a NE CSC Consortium PI) about direct application of climate science on policy, society, and resources management.  Interactions with these experts as well as the day’s activities has inspired Fellows to incorporate new and interesting directions in their own research. 
“Attending my first NE CSC Fellows retreat, in particular, the time spent on the Menominee reservation, I was continuously reminded of the importance of building and nurturing relationships. Strong stakeholder relationships are the foundation of sounder decision-making, information and data sharing, and the inclusion of science into management practices. I left the reservation and the retreat remembering that taking the time to foster relationships, cultivate trust, and facilitating- not dictating- science can go along way for both people and planet.”  Meghan GuckianNE CSC Graduate Fellow, University of Massachusetts
“This year's retreat was an awesome experience. I enjoyed meeting all of the fellows from the other consortium schools and learning in more detail their research projects and interests. The members of the College of the Menominee Nation were very welcoming and I'm grateful I had the opportunity to learn about their history and traditions.”  Katie Booras, NE CSC Graduate Fellow, Universitiy of Massachusetts
“Historically research collaboration between Indigenous peoples and scientists has been extractive instead of reciprocal.  It made me so happy to see the other NECSC fellows take to heart the lessons that that the human and non-human relatives had to teach them during their visit to the Menominee Nation. The fellows program at the NECSC has given this generation of climate scientists the tools able to work on the frontlines of climate change. One of the key tools is the ability to have not only stakeholders but team members such as Tribes that co-construct research projects.”  Marie Shaefer, NE CSC Graduate Fellow, College of Menominee Nation
“I really enjoyed the 2015 NECSC Fellows Retreat!  This year continued the tradition of promoting a sense of community among the fellows while providing a focus on stakeholder involvement in the Great Lakes region.  I was very pleased to gain a better awareness of the personal connection indigenous people have about their cultural resources and their concerns about how climate change might threaten them.  Through our visits with members of the Menominee Nation, I saw great examples of stewards that are deeply attached to their environment and desire to understand how they should best manage their forests under future changes.” Thomas Bonnot, NE CSC Graduate Fellow, University of Missouri Columbia
“(It was) nice to see some brilliant minds at work to help guide future conservation.”  Brian Glenzinski, Ducks Unlimited, Inc.