USDA Announces $2 Million in Agriculture, Food Research Grants for Tribal Land-Grant Colleges

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced nearly $2 million in grants to support research projects in American Indian communities through the Tribal College Research Grants Program (TCRGP), made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill.  The announcement comes as communities across the nation celebrate and honor Native American Heritage Month.

“The Tribal College Research Grants are a way for higher education institutions to develop programs and help advance skills in students that can provide immediate and long-term benefits for the tribal community,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, NIFA director.

Grants newly awarded in fiscal year 2015 include:

  • Tohono O’odham Community College, Sells, Ariz., $200,000
  • Diné College, Tsaile, Ariz., $220,000
  • Haskell Indian Nations University, Lawrence, Kan., $85,000
  • White Earth Tribal and Community College, Mahnomen, Minn. $220,000
  • Salish Kootenai College, Pablo, Mont., $220,000
  • Navajo Technical University, Crownpoint, N.M., $85,000
  • Navajo Technical University, Crownpoint, N.M., $85,000
  • United Tribes Technical College, Bismark, N.D., $65,000
  • Fort Bethold Community College, New Town, N.D., $220,000
  • College of the Muscogee Nation, Okmulgee, Okla., $65,000
  • Northwest Indian College, Bellingham, Wash., $85,000
  • Northwest Indian College, Bellingham, Wash., $220,000
  • Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College, Hayward, Wisc., $220,000

Projects from this year include research from Tohono O’odham Community College into new practices for food-seed storage and hospitable living in areas of extreme heat and drought through modernizing and increasing the energy efficiency of ancient architectural practices. Another project from Diné College will work on the most efficient way to propagate seeds of yucca species and identifying plants from five yucca species that exhibit superior qualities as food and fiber crops. Information on more projects can be found on the NIFA website.

The TCRGP builds scientific capacity at tribal land-grant colleges, also known as the 1994 land-grant institutions, by facilitating collaborations with other land-grant institutions. Tribal colleges may use funding to conduct scientific inquiry that addresses health, environmental or agricultural concerns of their reservations. They may also conduct applied research for publication or scientific investigations and seek funding to conduct investigations on the optimal ways to teach and mentor American Indian students as they pursue their goals of research excellence in the sciences.

TCRPG offers three types of funding options: New Discovery Research for projects involving peer reviewed scientific inquiry and student research internships; Capacity Building Research to address a specific research concern of the reservation community; and Student Research Experience which allows tribal college students to learn scientific techniques while conducting research projects.

The 1994 land-grant institutions have been required in past years to partner with other land-grant university. The 2014 Farm Bill gives applicants greater flexibility in forming partnerships. In addition to working with land-grant universities, 1994 institutions may also partner with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, universities funded under NIFA’s McIntire-Stennis Cooperative Forestry program or colleges and universities certified by NIFA as Non-Land-Grant Colleges of Agriculture. The Non-Land Grant Colleges of Agriculture must be public institutions providing four-year degrees or higher in food and agriculture.

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