ONDA’s tribal stewards program offers Native American young adults with deep ancestral ties to eastern Oregon’s public lands an introduction to conservation careers and provides hands‐on experience and opportunities for personal growth within a culturally relevant framework. This community‐designed project was created in partnership with Northwest Youth Corps, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Burns Paiute Tribe and federal agencies.
Through an immersive field‐based program, participants restore streams, uplands and trails on federal and tribal lands and conduct scientific research. In addition to gaining practical restoration and research experience, the tribal stewards receive mentorship from natural resources professionals and gain a deep connection to the tribal and federally‐managed lands that make up their ancestral homeland.
This program, which offers paid positions with education awards upon completion, serves to address a growing disconnect with wild places among tribal young adults, underrepresentation in conservation and land management careers, and a lack of opportunity to gain professional skills needed to enter the natural resources field. For decades, ONDA has worked to protect and restore culturally significant public lands, and ONDA recognizes that to improve the effectiveness of this work, we must deepen our relationships with tribes and embrace their priorities.