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USDA - United States Department of Agriculture

11/30/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/30/2021 08:50

A Tribal College Student’s Path to Leadership

Posted by Sally Gifford, USDA Office of Communications in Initiatives

Nov 30, 2021

Little Priest was the last war chief of the Winnebago Tribe, and the namesake of Little Priest College, one of 35 tribal colleges and universities with land-grant status. Freshman Trey Blackhawk, an enrolled member of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, is pursuing a degree there in Environmental Science. He balances his studies with raising a family, managing the Winnebago Tribal Farm, and now serving as a 1994 Tribal Scholar at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

"I want to be a leader in agriculture. My goal is to help people, I have always been taught to help in any way I can," said Blackhawk.

As part of his career journey, Blackhawk applied for, and received an internship through the 1994 Tribal Scholars Program, which seeks to increase the number of American Indian and Alaska Native students studying agriculture-related disciplines. Participating students receive full tuition, workforce training, and a potential fast-track to a full-time job at USDA. The USDA 1994 Tribal Scholars Program seeks to develop the next generation of food and agriculture leaders and build a more equitable and inclusive federal workforce.

Blackhawk currently interns at USDA's Office of Tribal Relations. He spoke about the importance of learning from colleagues. "Mentors have the experience to help you get to where you want to go," he noted.

Back at the Winnebago Tribal Farm, Blackhawk is working on a localized food system for the Winnebago Tribe, including creating a seed bank for the tribe. "We want to build up our seed bank of squash, corn, and more, so we can hand them down from generation to generation," he added. USDA is supporting Indigenous seed saving through its new Indigenous Food Sovereignty Initiative, which supports projects to reimagine federal food and agriculture programs from an Indigenous perspective and inform future USDA programs and policies.

Blackhawk encouraged his fellow tribal college students. "If you want to major in agriculture studies, consider applying for the USDA 1994 Tribal Scholars Program."

The application deadline for the 2022 USDA Tribal Scholars Program is January 31, 2022. See the 2022 Application (PDF, 452 KB) and email [email protected] for further information.

Category/Topic:Initiatives