Three reservations scattered in the northern rural areas of Nevada are participating in the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) Indian Reservation Program. However, the geographic location of these tribes offers their governments limited opportunities for economic development. Excluding tribal government, agriculture is the primary income for people living within these reservations. The remaining area for economic development is to explore optimum uses of natural resources.
The 2005 Nevada Indian Agriculture and Environmental Summit was held in Reno and provided a venue for Native American Indian agriculture producers to gather at one location for advanced learning and collaborative opportunities. The Summit was a collaborative project with UNCE, Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe.
How to maximize net profit while sustaining natural resources and agriculture was the theme of the 2005 summit hosted by the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe. Speakers discussed niche and value-added marketing, range and livestock management, income tax structures on reservations, the Farm Bill and invasive plants. About 33 presentations covered 17 subjects that had been identified as relevant to Nevada’s tribes. Attending the conference were 115 people; 34 participated in a field day where producers learned how to freeze brand and pregnancy check cattle.
In 2007, a t-test was used to statistically measure knowledge gain of attendees who participated in the curriculum piloted in the FRTEP. Statistical analysis measured knowledge before the 30-minute curriculum pilot session and after the session, reflecting a significant increase in knowledge in seven of the 16 topic areas.
A paper presented at an international audience was evaluated at the 2007 International Agricultural and Extension Education (AIAEE) conference in Polson, Mont. The presentations were evaluated on usefulness, quality and knowledge gained. UNCE presented a paper on strengthening sustainable agricultural practices on Native American lands in the western United States.
The 2005 Nevada Indian Agriculture and Environmental Summit was rated a success by all attending. Knowledge gained is the primary indicator of impact on attendees. With 34 people participating in the cow pregnancy testing workshop, nine experienced an actual "in cow" pregnancy evaluation technique. Five reported this was their first attempt at pregnancy testing, and two said they planned to participate in advanced workshops in the future.
A Memorandum of Agreement with the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe and the satellite Cooperative Extension office at Pyramid Lake were established. The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe’s MOA was extremely successful, as it creates a partnership of county, tribal and FRTEP funds to create a full-time position and a functional office. This template expanded as UNCE worked with Tribal governments and counties, providing additional opportunities with Nevada tribes.
In 2005, a formal MOA was signed with the Walker River Paiute Tribe. This partnership included Mineral County Cooperative Extension and the UNCE Federally Recognized Tribal Extension Program. Through the collaboration, a part-time FRTEP position was created on the reservation to work in youth development and adult agriculture. The first comprehensive needs assessment for the Walker River Reservation was implemented in 2005.
Measuring knowledge before the curriculum pilot session and after the two-hour pilot session during the Intertribal Agricultural Council/Indian Nations Conservation Alliance in 2007 reflected, “Very good session with a balance of historical perspectives of Native American ongoing land tenure and changing dynamics of federal and tribal government politics.”
Further expansion of the program will create professional development training on how to work effectively with Native American Indian Tribes in Nevada, Oregon and Washington for USDA and other agriculture professionals.