NDSU Extension Service


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Reaching Native American Audiences

The NDSU Extension Service mission is “to create learning partnerships that help adults and youth enhance their lives and communities.” To create learning partnerships, we develop educational environments by collaborating with others. Research-based and local knowledge provides the basis for learning. We help people explore solutions and discover new opportunities. Identifying needs and potential answers is key! Our work benefits both youth and adults. We strive to positively enhance what already exists. We provide opportunities that promote positive change for people in their lives and communities, recognizing that communities can be a group with a common interest or a place.

We also are committed to the creation of an inclusive and multicultural organization that appropriately serves all the people of North Dakota. We want the NDSU Extension Service to reach beyond legal requirements to incorporate a recognition and appreciation of the values and benefits that diversity contributes to our organization’s life and mission.

Who We Are - an overview of the NDSU Extension Service (PDF)

History of North Dakota’s land-grant university

Map of land-grant colleges and universities (PDF)

Examples of program efforts

In addition to the examples below, please visit the NDSU Tribal College Partnership Program.

Fargo, North Dakota

Served by the staff of the Cass County office of the NDSU Extension Service

Grandmother Earth's Gift of Life GardenThe Cass County Extension horticulturist, along with other entities, planned and implemented an educational Native American garden site on the NDSU campus in 2010-2011 called "Grandmother Earth's Gift of Life Garden." Plants utilized by Native Americans and native to North Dakota are found there. The teaching garden creates awareness of the beauty and functional uses of native plants, and provides the plants’ common and scientific names.Upkeep and renovation is ongoing.The horticulturist also works with school leaders on the maintenance and care of school gardens.


Fort Berthold Reservation

Served by the staff of the Fort Berthold office of the NDSU Extension Service


The staff of the NDSU Extension office in New Town works to improve the lives of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara people at Fort Berthold.

Fort Berthold family in corn patch 2014Under the Federally-Recognized Tribes Extension Program (FRTEP), the Fort Berthold Extension office focuses on promoting agricultural literacy and environmental education among tribal youth. Kids at Twin Buttes Elementary School grew traditional Hidatsa beans and other plants in the classroom, and also learned about growing fruits and vegetables, and wildlife gardening. Environmental science enrichment programming has also been offered in elementary schools at White Shield, Fort Berthold child planting corn seedling 2014Mandaree and Twin Buttes. In addition, youth in Twin Buttes and White Shield have worked on projects involving traditional arts/crafts, including beadwork, leathercraft, and the creation of Native American regalia and jewelry. Finished projects were exhibited at the North Dakota State Fair.

Fort Berthold Head Start corn planting 2014Other Extension youth activities have included teaching archery at the summer Culture Camp in collaboration with the Three Affiliated Tribes (TAT) Boys and Girls Club, and establishing a youth garden at the TAT Head Start in New Town. Children learned about plant growth and nutrition, and planted a pizza garden, butterfly garden and Native American garden in raised beds. Mandan Bride Corn seedlings were planted in an on-site corn plot by children and their families on the last day of school.Fort Berthold planting raised beds 2014

Raised beds were also established for elders and community members at the White Shield Senior Center and Arikara Cultural Center, and high tunnels are in the process of being constructed at White Shield and Twin Buttes.

Nutrition programming has been another major focus of the Fort Berthold Extension office. They are the first reservation in North Dakota to offer the Dining with Diabetes program in our communities in partnership with the Fort Berthold Diabetes Program. The Extension Nutrition Education Fort Berthold Dining with Diabetes 2014Assistant has also offered the Being Smart, Eating Healthy curriculum at the Parshall Resource Center and the Fort Berthold Community College summer science camp. Youth at Mandaree Elementary and White Shield School participated in the Banking on Strong Bones program, and the Color Me Healthy curriculum was taught to students at White Shield School and the Head Start centers at New Town, White Shield, Parshall and Mandaree.


Spirit Lake Reservation

Served by the staffs of the Benson County and Ramsey County offices of the NDSU Extension Service


Benson County Braulick 2014The staff of the Benson County Extension office works directly with the Spirit Lake community to provide nutrition education to the students and adults there.  Nutrition education is offered to Spirit Lake students in kindergarten through sixth grade attending the Warwick, Minnewaukan, Four Winds and Oberon public school.  The adults of the community are served through a variety of nutrition-related classes including hands-on food preservation classes, cooking classes and classes related to food budgeting. 

In 2014, 93 Benson County third grade students participated in Go Wild with Fruits and Veggies where they learned about a different color of fruits and vegetables each week, and what makes them important parts of our diet.Benson County youth garden 2014

In November, 2014 a Stretching Your Food Dollar class provided participants with the tools they needed to save money, especially around the holiday season. They learned how to make white bean lasagna and baked apples, and cooking skills.

Archery has become increasingly popular with the Spirit Lake Nation youth.  Archery instructors have been certified, and several youth practiced daily this past fall. A NRCS/Spirit Lake Conservation Camp was held where archery was taught to 28 youth who attended the camp. This led to interest in the 4-H archery program. 

Ramsey County coats youth 2014Second through sixth grade Minnewaukan students have had the opportunity to participate in the Junior Master Gardener program (JMG) the past two summers.  Students learn about nutrition and various gardening techniques at the school’s garden. 

The Lake Country Leaders 4-H club in Ramsey County was successful in getting a Thrivent Community Action Grant to purchase winter clothing for children in need. The club matched the grant with dollars from their treasury and were able to purchase a 21 coats and snow pants for children in the Spirit Lake Head Start program.


Standing Rock Reservation

Served by the staff of the Sioux County office of the NDSU Extension Service


Sioux County Tech 2014The Sioux County Extension staff provides educational opportunities that are research-based, relevant and sensitive to the culture. Tribal programs, Bureau of Indian Affairs schools, public schools, Elders, and youth and adult community members provide the direction for their programming.

Sioux County Science 2014The residents of Sioux County have a strong desire to create a sustainable community. The community is in an extreme food desert and is seeking methods to become self-sufficient.  Historically, residents had small family gardens along the river, but those areas with rich, productive soil are now flooded. The soil on the “flat top land” was poor quality, making gardening no longer productive.  Over the years the knowledge and skills about gardening have been lost.  The Sioux County Extension staff has been working with the community to re-establish a strong gardening program including a community garden consisting of four, high tunnels – three measuring 16’ x  24’ each and 1 measuring 30’ x  40’.  An additional community garden will be constructed in the community of Cannon Ball in spring 2015. The Cannon Ball location will focus on in-ground greenhouses and use of root cellars to preserve produce further in to the winter months.  Food dehydration will also be used to preserve food for the community.  Farmers Markets are held weekly at three different sites on Standing Rock.  With the lack of dependable transportation, the Farmers Market provides fresh produce to the families of the communities. Extension provides educational support and other skills needed to make the garden and markets successful.

The Sioux County Extension staff partners with many agencies to create successful programs such as the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe,  Sioux County Commission, Standing Rock Community Schools, Solen/Cannon Ball schools, Sitting Bull College, local businesses, the faith-based community and many more.

Sioux County Tribal Nation 2014The National 4-H Mentoring program is a funded by a National 4-H Council and Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention grant. Sioux County is currently finishing the fourth round and was awarded funding for the fifth round that will begin in February 2015.

Youth were linked to the present by discovering how acquiring life-skills applies to their present day work in school and extra-curricular activities and how these skills will assist them in charting a successful future.  Progress toward these goals has been measured by the retention of youth, mentors and family members, and by the number of youth displaying these goals. The mentoring program has been completed by 164 youth and 43 mentors at the completion of round four. School attendance has Sioux County Sioux Image 2014increased by 5 percent compared to this time one year ago, and the grade point average of the students enrolled has increased by a measureable amount. The local school has embraced the philosophy of the mentoring program.  Each student is part of in-school mentoring four days a week.  Youth select Sioux County 4-H Congress 2014their mentor from the adults available in the school system. The students and mentor will remain a team the entire school year.

When the school moved from a semester to a trimester format it allow for “cluster classes” where 4-H programs are offered within the school day four days a week. The 4-H focus areas are: health and fitness, mass media (journaling, photography, etc.), commercial and graphic art, science technology engineering mathematics (STEM), and tribal culture.

Sioux Image, a 4-H youth-directed business housed at Solen High School has been in operation for two years. The business operates two 16 needle commercial embroidery machines, a screen printer, vinyl cutter plotter, wood lathe, heat sublimation press, 3-D printer and scanner, two ceramic kilns, and a plasma cutter.  The business is providing the youth with life skills that will open doors to employment opportunities following graduation.

Sioux County Heitkamp 20144-H youth have been in the forefront of many events over the last year.  President Obama and the First Lady visited the Cannon Ball community and six youth that have been in our programs visited with them for over an hour about life on the reservation for the youth. Many other 4-H youth were also honored to meet both the President and the First Lady.  Youth have been part of the Native American Summit, Citizenship Washington Focus, and National 4-H Council Youth at Heart Day.

4-H and other Extension programming is having a positive effect on the youth, families, and communities on Standing Rock Indian Reservation.


Turtle Mountain Reservation

Served by the staff of the Rolette County office of the NDSU Extension Service

The Rolette County Extension staff has had the great opportunity to provide educational lessons to many audiences that are largely Native American.

The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and Family Nutrition Program (FNP) staff members serve limited resource audiences, offering lessons on nutrition, food preparation and food dollar budgeting. “Eating Smart, Being Active,” “Cooking for One or Two,” “Pinching Pennies” and “Stretching Your Food Dollar” lessons have been shared with adult audiences through partnerships with the Turtle Mountain Community College, GED program, Turtle Mountain housing authorities, Tribal Resource Center, the Tribal Diabetes Program, Tribal Food Pantry, Turtle Mountain Head Start Program, United Nutrition Inc. and senior citizen locations across the county, Turtle Mountain Retirement Home, and Turtle Mountain child care providers.

Youth programming has occurred with nutrition lessons from “Go Wild with Fruits and Vegetables,” “Banking On Strong Bones” and “On the Move To Better Health” curriculums presented to Grades 3, 4 and 5, respectively, at Turtle Mountain Community Elementary School, St. John Public School, St. Ann’s School, Ojibwa Indian School, Dunseith Indian Day School, Dunseith Public School, Rolette School, and Mount Pleasant School. Health lessons were shared with 944 K-12 youth of which 83% were of Native American ancestry.

All 12 Head Start classrooms (240 children and 36 staff) at Belcourt, St. John, Dunseith and Shell Valley received lessons on eating fruits and veggies. The lessons helped children be more adventurous in their food habits as they learned about fruits and veggies and tried fun snack creations they prepared themselves.

The EFNEP Nutrition Education Assistant had a leadership role in planning the Turtle Mountain Community Wellness Conference held in August 2014. The conference was very successful and drew in a large number of people from the community.

Students in 4th grade learned about agriculture in North Dakota and the nutritious foods produced by North Dakota farmers while attending “Special Assignment Pizza Day.”

Benson County 2015 1Benson County 2015 4The importance of staying hydrated and grain bin safety were topics covered by staff members during Safety Day Camp held in June 2014 at the St. John School. The Rolette Public Health Department sponsored the event.

Shooting sport sessions were offered at the St. Ann’s Gymnasium in Belcourt in February and March, 2014. Weekly sessions allowed youth to shoot archery indoors and participate in outdoor skill lessons including wild game identification and tying fishing knots.  History of the bow and arrow, and types of archery equipment was taught by a tribal elder. Community interest in 4-H has expanded with families with no prior 4-H experience joining the county 4-H program. Some participants are exploring participation in area archery shoots.

In partnership with Turtle Mountain High School, Barry Striegel, North Dakota Youth Entrepreneurship Education Program director, and local civic groups and businesses, a Youth Entrepreneurship Camp was held at Belcourt High School. During the five day day-camp the youth experienced being a member of a community in which they voted on group decisions through town council meetings. Each participant developed and operated a business and/or became a civil servant earning currency to spend within the community. Youth experienced the joys and challenges of being their own boss and business person. This camp has been offered in the Belcourt community for the past eight years. Time has shown past participants using the skills they learned as they take on leadership roles in their schools and business ventures beyond camp.

Benson County 2015 2Benson County 2015 5After-school 4-H activities have occurred at the Dunseith Public School. This has led to the forming of the Brite Sprights 4-H club at Dunseith. Club members planned and hosted a 4-H open house and garden tour in August. The Dunseith Nursing Home has welcomed the club’s visits and assistance with growing a garden. The club participated in the Junior Master Gardener program and received funding to build raised beds for the nursing home. Pumpkins grown in the garden were used for an October 4-H/resident pumpkin decorating party.

Benson County 2015 6A garden was started at the Ojibwa School in 2014. In September kindergarten through fifth-grade students toured the garden and learned about vegetables that can be grown in our region. They have expressed interest in growing an expanded garden to produce food for the school’s hot lunch and back pack programs.

Summer school students received gardening lessons and planted the raised beds at Mount Pleasant School. Produce from the gardens was incorporated into the hot lunch program and used for classroom instruction by the FCS instructor.

A problem-solving work group meets quarterly to address the agriculture and natural resources needs of the Native American population. Members include Benson County 2015 3Extension, FSA, USDA Rural Development, BIA, Tribe members including the Tribal Chairman.

Conservation tours are held with Eco Ed Days and day camps.  Topics covered are water quality, soil health, range land, noxious weeds and wildlife.  These topics give youth a better understanding of how to manage natural resources on the reservation.

United Tribes Technical College

Served by the staff of the Burleigh County office of the NDSU Extension Service

In collaboration with the Land-Grant Extension staff at United Tribes Technical College (UTTC), the Extension Agent, Family Nutrition Program, received a grant in Oct. 2014 for a farmers market promotion program that will focus on the UTTC campus and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients in the community. Planning is in the very early stages for expanding the Winter Market and BisMarket.

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