Indigenous Forestry Mentorship Program

Matching Yakama Nation Tribal School and Heritage University students throughout an Indigenous Forestry online course

Project partners:

   April 2020 – present

Elk captured on a trail cam on Yakama Nation and seen by students at Yakama Nation Tribal School. 

The Indigenous Forestry Mentorship Program began in April 2020 as a response to an emergent need identified by Tribal Forestry Workforce Development project partner Heritage University (HU) and Yakama Nation Tribal School to support the adaptation of planned in-person programming to virtual platforms. Ecotrust and HU developed a series of virtual Indigenous science and forestry-related lesson plans to support mentors and mentees along their research journey. All topics were related to Indigenous science and forests and utilized existing wildlife cams and other technology to engage with Yakama Nation forests virtually. This program is now in its third iteration with a cohort of matched mentor and mentee students. 

During the process of developing lesson plans, Ecotrust and HU convened a network of Indigenous science and forest educators also seeking support in adapting in-person activities for social distanced or virtual engagement. Participants met for two virtual workshops for a total of six hours to share with each other curriculum materials and activities they use and adapt for forestry related lesson plans. Participants also discussed specific successes, challenges, and resources needed for distance learning. Future Indigenous science and forest educator convenings are being planned.

We are excited to continue our support and growth of the program and network to include Indigenous agroforestry practices as topics for the students and educators to explore together. HU staff and mentors continue to lead the Indigenous Forestry Mentorship Program. 

A student research poster

A research poster by a student from Yakama Nation Tribal School. 


Project Partners

ITC is a nonprofit dedicated to improving the management of natural resources important to Indigenous communities. 

HU is a nonprofit, independent, non-denominational, accredited institution of higher education offering undergraduate and graduate education within Yakama Nation homelands.

ATNI-EDC is a separately-financed subsidiary from Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians and provides financial and technical assistance in areas of community and economic development.

USET is dedicated to enhancing the development of federally recognized tribes, improving the capabilities of tribal governments, and assisting USET members and their governments.

Ecotrust Project Team & Services

Want to learn more? Check out the full Ecotrust Staff & Board and all of our Tools for Building Collective Change.

Ecotrust project team
Photo of Stephanie Gutierrez
Images of Teresa Gaddy

We build and deliver mission-aligned projects in partnership.

I would also like to thank the mentors for sticking with me and helping me throughout this poster… they wouldn’t give up and [would] keep me on track.

—yakama nation tribal school student


A photo of a person felling a large tree

Project page

Bringing together partners with similar goals in economic, natural resource management, research, and education to address urban and community tribal forestry workforce needs

A grainy digital photo of a male elk walking across a grassland, with burned trees and female elk in the background

Blog post

As part of the Tribal Workforce Development Project, this culturally relevant online class connects Native students to urban forests.

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