CENTRAL ROCKIES SFI COMMITTEE
Supports At-Risk Youth with Valuable Environmental Education Opportunity
The Next Seven Generations: Supporting Indigenous Values and Improving Well-Being Through Forest Education
Why this project matters
This program promotes environmental literacy, well-being and traditional Lakota values to engage underserved youth from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. It is based on an Indigenous approach to land management that says decisions we make today should result in a sustainable world seven generations into the future.
This program will foster a love of learning, leadership and coping skills, provide a place to grow, and support Lakota heritage, to inspire the future stewards of their lands. This part of Southwest Dakota includes counties with some of the lowest median household incomes in the U.S. This program adds to the quality of life in underserved communities because it gives youth a voice, fosters leadership skills, self-confidence, and self-actualization — inspiring them to know that they can make a difference in their lives, and their communities.
Led by South Dakota Project Learning Tree, and supported by the Central Rockies SFI Implementation Committee, the program will give over 150 children and youth, aged five to 17, a chance to attend seasonal camps, with learning activities correlating to that specific season. Activities include hands-on environmental science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, and outdoor recreation activities based on Traditional Lakota Values. Environmental science activities from Project Learning Tree are used to facilitate hands-on learning about our natural world. Tribal elders and Indigenous resource professionals volunteer their time to assist in these programs to give youth a solid background in their traditional Lakota values and way of life — an area under threat of being lost because of economic disadvantages.
Why is SFI involved?
The SFI Community Engagement Grant Program is supporting this project. Educating youth is a key priority at SFI. SFI offers teacher training and engages students in environmental education through Project Learning Tree (PLT) activities. PLT is an initiative of SFI that uses trees and forests as windows on the world to increase youth understanding of the environment and actions they can take to conserve it. PLT activities will be incorporated into the program by South Dakota Project Learning Tree.
SFI actively outreaches and builds partnerships with Indigenous communities. SFI also promotes Indigenous rights, respect and engagement through its standards and partnerships with Indigenous communities. The SFI Forest Management Standard is aligned with Indigenous values, including rights, knowledge, and environmental considerations. Indigenous communities began certifying to SFI in 2010. Today, 39 Indigenous groups across the U.S. and Canada work on over 10-million acres/4-million hectares of land certified to SFI.
How the project builds SFI community engagement
This program is supported by nine partners, including Tribal leaders, educators, conservationists, and an SFI Program Participant. Together, they will engage Tribal elders and resource professionals and expose youth to the Lakota way of life. Tribal elders will volunteer their time to lead and support camp activities. They will also attend community gatherings, set up throughout the year, to get youth interested in signing up for the camps.
This partnership includes Tribal leaders, educators, conservationists, and SFI Program Participants.
- Project lead: South Dakota Project Learning Tree
- Sustainable Forestry Initiative
- Central Rockies SFI Implementation Committee
- Tatanka Mani Camp
- Hochoka Healing Center
- Journey On!
- Oglala Sioux Tribe
- South Dakota Family Forests Association
- Canyon Calm Cultural Learning and Event Center
- Neiman Enterprises (SFI Program Participant)