Haskell natural resources students were honored for their efforts to protect the nation's precious natural resources.
Haskell Indian Nations University student Justin Hunter spent his summer fly fishing and watching eagles in remote parts of Alaska.
But he wasn't on vacation. He was working with a team of biologists, botanists and fishery experts as part of a U.S. Forestry Service internship. He got the internship through the natural resources department at Haskell.
"I was awestruck by the eagles flying around and the mountains, every time I got off the plane," Hunter said. His job took him to parts of Alaska that were only accessible by plane, and oftentimes the only inhabitants were wildlife.
Hunter and other natural resource students who completed internships with government agencies were honored with an awards banquet Wednesday at Haskell.
The interns received high ratings from their supervisors and most have chosen to return to natural resource fields, either as summer interns or as majors in the field with the possibility of full-time employment once they graduate.
"Native American students in these positions are very, very few" said guest speaker Jack Blackwell, a regional forester in Ogden, Utah.
"We need more Indian people working for us so we have the right perspective," he said. "The students who have come to work for us have been wonderful. It's a win-win situation."
Supervisors with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Geological Survey and other land management agencies were on hand to present students with their awards.
Haskell Natural Resource Liaison Gail Sloan said the internships are important for American Indian students.
"This is the 10th anniversary for the program in natural resources," she said. "Before that, when students came to Haskell they either wanted to be a school teacher or a social worker because that's all they saw on their reservations. Our (natural resources) students are nontraditional. A lot of them are married and have families. It's a huge incentive because other students see them and know if they can be successful, so can I."
-- JL Watson's phone message number is 832-7145. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.