Building Collaboration Between State and Tribal Land-grant Institutions in the North Central Region

Tribal Summit Graphic

The North Central Extension Water Summit held in Keshena, Wisconsin in August 2018 built on past efforts to strengthen collaborations among state and tribal land-grant institutions throughout the region.

Results from the post event survey showed that 100% of respondents increased their understanding of future opportunities for collaboration a ‘large’ or ‘medium’ extent. Furthermore, 80% of respondents felt the group is now ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ well positioned to apply for additional funding for research and outreach around water issues.

Project Background

There are 20 Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) in the North Central Region. While there are great examples collaboration between state land-grants and TCUs on water-related issues, there is room for growth. Strengthening collaboration and learning from local successes can achieve greater benefits for land-grant faculty, staff, and students; communities and tribal nations in the North Central Region, and the water resources upon which we depend.

A recent First Americans Land-Grant Consortium (FALCON) member survey demonstrated there is a strong interest among TCUs nationwide to work on water quality-related projects. While there are examples of collaborative water quality programs supported by other agencies, this program aims to expand Extension collaborative programming and partnership among state land-grants and TCUs.

Addressing the Challenge

To fill the gap in collaborative programs between state land-grant universities and TCUs, the tribal collaboration team works to understand past collaboration successes and challenges, research ideas for collaboration, determine future funding opportunities, and build a stronger connection between these entities.  Building on prior efforts to enhance collaboration and connection, the team works to determine solutions benefiting all parties through ample communication and open conversations combining perspectives.

Progress Made

In May 2017 the project team convened a Tribal Water Summit at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas. The summit brought together seven TCUs, six state land-grants, and state and federal agency personnel to identify priority issues surrounding water, share past collaboration successes and challenges, and determine future funding and collaboration opportunities.

A post-event survey demonstrated that 91% of respondents felt ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ well positioned to apply for additional funding for research and outreach around water-related issues following the summit. Similarly, 78% of respondents increased their understanding of past successful collaboration between TCUs and state land-grants, and 92% developed connections with out of state experts who they could consult on water-related issues.

Additionally, a wrap up survey sent to project team members, and summit attendees demonstrated that a number of funding proposals were submitted as a result of the event.

Moving Forward

A follow-up meeting to the Tribal Water Summit was held in August 2018 at the College of Menominee Nation that furthered the conversations initiated at the 2017 Summit and continued to determine future funding and collaboration opportunities.

In addition, the team recently released a survey to better understand specific water-related interests among tribal and state land-grant audiences, garner interest for topic-specific work-groups, and examine the types of collaborations that have been successful in the past.


Charles Barden
Project Director, Kansas State University

Access the project factsheet here.