North Dakota 4-H expanding to Spirit Lake, Standing Rock

NDSU Extension
Farm Forum

North Dakota State University Extension and Cankdeska Cikana Community College (CCCC) in Fort Totten, N.D., have been awarded a federal grant for a science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) youth development program for school-age youth (grades three to five).

The funding is from a U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture Children, Youth and Families at Risk (CYFAR) grant. The program will take place at three sites in Spirit Lake Nation and two sites on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.

“We’re all very excited to be launching 4-H out of Cankdeska Cikana Community College at Spirit Lake Nation,” says Dr. Cynthia Lindquist, President at CCCC. “This is the first year that the college has been eligible to apply for the CYFAR grant, so receiving it in partnership with NDSU is incredible. After-school programs are sorely needed on the reservation and the college, with its Land Grant Extension office, is well-poised to support this STEAM-based programming.”

Diane Hahn, Lindsey Leker and Sue Quamme, NDSU Extension Center for 4-H Youth Development specialists, worked with Heidi Ziegenmeyer, CCCC Land Grant Director, and Kim Fox and Sue Isbell, Extension agents in Benson and Sioux counties, to develop this project. A number of community partners also are involved in both areas.

“I am very excited about the opportunities this grant will provide for expanding 4-H youth development on the Spirit Lake Nation and in Benson County,” Fox says.

The project primarily will serve youth of the Standing Rock and Spirit Lake Nations and their families. It is a five-year project, and the total award will be for $1,280,000.

“The tribal programs and communities on Standing Rock continue to work on building positive partnerships through programs like Sioux County Extension,” Mike Faith, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, noted in his letter of support for the grant. “The partnership has provided opportunities to leverage resources for the betterment of the entire community.”

The program model is 4-H STEAM enrichment programming.

“I am excited to work with the Sew Electric curriculum that has youth learning to sew as they create fabric monsters and then program computer boards to make them move,” Leker says. “Youth who may have been nervous about their abilities with STEAM become proficient without even realizing it.”

The Standing Rock and Spirit Lake Nations have had persistent poverty, resulting in their youth facing multiple challenges. According to the 2016 North Dakota Kids Count Fact Book, 82.8% of the 1,830 children living in the Spirit Lake Nation and 72.4% of the 1,662 youth in the Standing Rock Nation are living in poverty.

Youth in the Spirit Lake and Sioux Tribal Nations have average ACT college readiness scores in science and math that are consistently lower than in other parts of the state.

“It is our hope that by incorporating fun and exciting ways to engage with STEAM curriculum, interest in these areas and eventual college readiness scores will increase,” Quamme says.

“For the past eight years, rich 4-H programing has been provided on Standing Rock through the National 4-H Mentoring Program Grant,” Hahn says. “Funding in 2019 was greatly reduced, putting this population at higher risk with little programing available. The bonds and working relationship between NDSU Extension, 4-H and the Standing Rock Nation has been one that has been cultivated and nurtured over these past years, and this grant will ensure continued programing and greatly benefit the youth in this region.”

Isbell adds, “Sioux County Extension is excited to have the opportunity to continue and expand our programs for the youth of Solen and Cannon Ball.”

Sue Isbell, NDSU Extension — Sioux County agent, visits with youth during a science day camp.