Steve Harvey: Ancestral knowledge with a STEM education
Youth Submission by Steve Harvey, San Carlos Apache: I want to empower all Native youth to join me as an Earth Ambassador. Together we can bring lessons from nature and culture, using them to explore alternatives for a sustainable future, and empower participants to live more gently on our planet as Ambassadors of our environment. Applying sustainable living principles that could be used anywhere in the world and adding topics specific to each location.
To me, a UNITY Earth Ambassador should teach others about the basic principles such as: ecology, biodiversity, renewable energy, bio-friendly waste management, the role of key species in an ecosystem, sustainability in both natural and human communities, environmental conservation, and the interconnectedness of people, creatures, land, sea, present, and future. While at the same time aiming to forge a connection with nature and a desire to protect it.
To perform my duties to my fullest potential, attending Eastern Arizona as a geology major is a step in the right direction to addressing environmental concerns within my tribe. To get a college education first, to expand my knowledge and experience. STEM education focused on the perspectives and needs of Native American students is a missing element in the current U.S. educational system. Consequently, very few Native American students pursue careers in the STEM disciplines, especially earth science.
Many Native American students learn that earth science is a tool their ancestors used for thousands of years and that a general mastery of science and engineering skills can benefit and help maintain their communities. Most Native American students, however, see no connection between Western science and the goal of preserving their cultural identities. If STEM faculty, teachers, and other scientists can better explain the links between traditional indigenous knowledge, Western science, and community needs, I contend that this approach would attract more Native American and other underrepresented students to earth science.
This is a call to action! The preservation of Mother Earth has been identified by Native youth as a top priority. Earth day is April 22nd, but you have all May to make a difference! How will you help preserve our environment and precious resources? All it takes is a little planning for your Earth Service project and you’re on your way to earning some spending money and cool UNITY swag!