Native Students Get Look at Science at UNCP-USDA Camp

Local veterinarian and UNCP graduate Dr. David Brooks gave a motivational talk over dinner and hosted the camper at his clinic.

Local veterinarian and UNCP graduate Dr. David Brooks gave a motivational talk over dinner and hosted the camper at his clinic.

PEMBROKE, NORTH CAROLINA – It was an extraordinarily busy and productive two weeks for the 20 campers at UNC Pembroke’s American Indian youth camp in July.

The camp, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and UNCP’s Southeast American Indian Studies (SAIS) program, exposed the Native high school students to a range of sciences – from wildlife biology, to veterinary medicine and nanotechnology. Titled Safeguarding Our Natural and Tribal Heritage Youth Program (SONTH), the camp seeks to connect American Indian students to the science around them and to opportunities in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.

The SONTH program also exposed the students to a university environment by living, eating and socializing at UNCP, said Lawrence Locklear, camp coordinator. “With visits to N.C. State, Duke and N.C. A&T, it was a good exploration of colleges and careers,” Locklear said. “We did many hands-on activities in science and cultural arts, and the students really bonded. That aspect was remarkable.”

The group poses at one of the UNCP’s iconic images, Tommy Hawk.

The group poses at one of the UNCP’s iconic images, Tommy Hawk.

The camp drew American Indian students from as far away as Asheville, North Caorlina, as well as from Pembroke. Donovan Branch is a rising junior at Purnell Swett High School, just a few miles from the university. His mother, Andrea, said the camp was a positive experience.

“I am so grateful that Donovan was awarded the opportunity to attend the camp. It has left such a positive impact on his life. He came home ready to go right back and spend more time with his new found family,” Branch said. “It was very reassuring to know that while Donovan was away he was surrounded by people that were there to help him realize that determination and hard work pays off.”

Corban Haire came down from the mountains of North Carolina to attend. His mother, Lisa, said, “he did great, fantastic. Corban is interested in science and medicine, and he loved the lab at (North Carolina) A&T,” she said referring to the joint nanotechnology lab with UNC Greensboro. “He also liked the canoeing.” Lisa said.

The campers canoed the Lumber River with Dr. Ryan Emanuel, a professor with NC State’s Ecohydrology and Watershed Science program. They also got hands-on experience with Native dance, drumming, beadwork, art and the traditional game of stickball.

Corban Haire is Haliwa-Saponi but lives far from his mother’s Native home.

 

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