BOZEMAN – Patrick Lawrence, a graduate student in Land Resources and Environmental Sciences at Montana State University, has earned a six-month fellowship to conduct ecosystem-oriented teaching and research at Chief Dull Knife College on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation.
Lawrence's research focuses on the resilience of large-scale dry-land ecosystems to economic and climatic change. On the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, Lawrence hopes to work with CDKC students and local community members on agricultural and ecosystem-related mapping activities that help community members make decisions about land use and agricultural production. Lawrence will also help to facilitate outreach projects in which CDKC students present research results to junior and high school students in Lame Deer.
“The food system (on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation) is highly vulnerable in terms of individual food insecurity and reliance on food products whose prices fluctuate wildly,” said Lawrence, who is from Bellingham, Wash.
Lawrence plans to work with students and community members to study areas on the reservation where crops and vegetables could be grown, thus increasing local food production and providing better access to nutritious and affordable products. Using GIS software, the team will make recommendations based on access to productive soils, irrigation and other factors. The project will involve water quality sampling, vegetation health assessments, inventorying local plants and teaching laboratory skills.
Lawrence said participating CDKC students may also choose to interview tribal elders and find historical references and stories that indicate which crops the Northern Cheyenne grew in the past.
The fellowship is jointly sponsored by Chief Dull Knife College and the Montana Institute on Ecosystems, a multi-institutional community dedicated to understanding complex ecosystems and the interconnectedness of people and nature.
Montana Institute on Ecosystems is the flagship research program of Montana's National Science Foundation EPSCoR grant. For more information, visit http://www.montanaioe.org/ or follow IoE on Twitter at @MTIoE.
Contact: Sandra Cavalieri, Montana Institute on Ecosystems, Sandra.firstname.lastname@example.org, (406) 994-2374.