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Flathead Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Program

Knight, James
Montana State University Extension Service
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The Flathead Reservation Extension office goals and objectives provide continued research and education to the Flathead Indian Reservation as follows:

GOAL 1: Protect and enhance the Flathead Indian Reservation\'s natural resources, cultural resources, and ecosystems through sound environmental stewardship (USDA CSREES Strategic Goals 4 & 6). Objectives are to assist CSKT agency personnel and livestock producers through Extension education in reducing native rangeland and wildlife habitat pests to ultimately improve production and efficiency of natural ecosystems; increase knowledge of livestock producers in production techniques that enhance wildlife habitat and protect water resources on grazing permits; and provide opportunities for youth to learn and experience environmental stewardship through school immersion and 4-H activities.

GOAL 2: Enhance sustainability of Flathead Indian Reservation\'s farm, ranch, and small food growers (USDA CSREES Strategic Goals 2, 3 & 4) Objectives are to provide Extension education and resources that increase knowledge of farm and ranch operators in domestic economic diversification opportunities to promote sustainability in farm operations; increase knowledge of farm and ranch operators through education in current research-based livestock production techniques; provide farm and ranch operators with Extension education and resources necessary to protect their operations from risks associated with animal diseases and biosecurity threats; increase knowledge and opportunities for small food growers in gardening, food production, food processing and food preservation; and provide opportunities for youth to engage in hands-on activities that help them connect agriculture food and fiber crops to products used in their daily lives.

GOAL 3: Enhance food security and protection of local food systems (USDA CSREES Strategic Goals 3, 4, & 6) Objectives are to increase knowledge of adults and youth in food security by improving their access year around to safe and nutritious foods and increase food safety knowledge of food handlers, produce growers, small food processors, youth and families to prevent food-borne illnesses and contaminants in foods consumed.

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NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: The Flathead Indian Reservation is home to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) and covers 1.3 million acres in western Montana. The Reservation includes a portion of the Rocky Mountains, the southern half of Flathead Lake, an extensive river corridor, forests, and a variety of fish and wildlife species. There are 155 farms operated by American Indians with 489,867 acres in Indian operated farmland. The average size of these farms is 3,160 acres. Primary production includes cattle and calves, followed by horses, sheep, bison, swine, and chickens. Primary crops are feed crops in hay, haylage, and grass silage, followed by barley, wheat, and oats for grain. The goals of the Federally Recognized Tribal Extension Program (FRTEP) include: protect and enhance the Flathead Indian Reservation\'s natural resources, cultural resources, and ecosystems through sound environmental stewardship; enhance sustainability of Flathead Indian Reservation\'s farm, ranch, and small food growers; and enhance food security and protection of local food systems. To meet these goals, FRTEP works with adults and youth to further a sense of pride and stewardship for wise and sustainable agriculture by educating producers and families about the connection between agriculture crops, economics, and the healthy family. FRTEP further works with families in food security to help increase accessibility year around to nutritious and safe foods from the garden to the table. FRTEP works with youth in 4-H Afterschool Agriculture programs to build the connection between agriculture crops and products youth use in their day-to-day lives.

APPROACH: The Flathead Reservation Extension office goals and objectives provide continued research and education to the Flathead Indian Reservation. When planning and coordinating specific noxious weed control projects on tribally managed lands, Extension works closely with the CSKT Tribal personnel. We have ongoing projects targeting new invaders and managing noxious weeds that have become well established. FRTEP will continue to provide annual pesticide applicator trainings for new and licensed applicators and one-on-one instruction to farm and ranch operators and CSKT agency personnel. Special subject oriented trainings are held as needed in high grasshopper and rodent population years where we have the potential to locally encounter an economic damage threshold to crop or wildland habitat. Under an APHIS grant, FRTEP agreed to help provide education, outreach, evaluation, disseminate APHIS outreach materials, and hold five regional educational trainings for livestock and poultry operators on the Reservation between October 2008 and October 2009. In our monthly Extension newsletter we are currently providing a series of NAIS articles. During the coming year we will hold a series of gardening classes in the spring in two locations on the Reservation and additional classes at our four remote community garden locations. As a licensed ServSafe instructor/proctor, those classes will be a component of our future summer and fall Extension program in the coming years. During hunting season, we received requests for canning classes to pressure can elk, deer, and bison. We are planning canning classes with four groups, past participants, their friends, and other community members. Having made a Gardening and Food Security presentation at the national Intertribal Agriculture Conference during the general session, I will be making this presentation in Washington D.C. by request from Janie Hipp, National Program Leader for CSREES to come to Washington D.C. in 2009 and talk to program leaders about what we are doing with FRTEP Extension on the Flathead Indian Reservation. 4H Afterschool programs are expanding to four schools from last year\'s success in two schools described as a combination of fun and learning that helps youth participants develop lifelong skills. Youth are learning to connect the food and fiber used in their daily lives to agriculture crops. We offer agriculture days at Binger ranch to approximately 400 youth about weed education and prevention; agriculture days at Schrock dairy about land use planning and making cheese; and the annual River Honoring with approximately 300 youth over two days to teach riparian education and management. In the future, FRTEP will continue with each of these annual programs, collaborating with Lake County, and provide additional school immersion activities. One of our future activities includes developing a 4-H club through Salish Kootenai College student housing youth.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
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Chemical Contaminants
Food Defense and Integrity
Meat, Poultry, Game