Tribal Liaison in Focus: Sara Smith

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Learn more about Sara Smith, tribal liaison for the Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center, in this short interview conducted by the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP).

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Sara Smith, NE CASC Tribal Liaison

Every month, the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP) is publishing a short interview with a tribal climate/resilience liaison to help tribes and tribal organizations learn how the liaisons can assist with adaptation and resilience planning. In April 2019, ITEP featured Sara Smith, the Midwest Tribal Climate Science Liaison hired by the the Northeast CASC and the College of Menominee Nation as part of the Sustainable Development Institute. Learn more about Althea's work in the short interview below.

ITEPWhat motivated you to apply for & accept the position of tribal resilience/climate liaison?

Sara: Throughout my college career I did work on a number of environmental projects with Tribes including my Master’s thesis and I knew that I wanted to work in this type of capacity in the future. While I was finishing my thesis and shortly after, I worked for a Tribal Environmental department which my role include topics like climate change. When the job description and announcement went out for this liaison position, my partner encouraged my to apply since it included working with multiple Tribes within the Midwest region and on issues/topics that I am passionate about.  

ITEPHow can tribes use the services & knowledge of the liaisons?

Sara: As the liaison for the Midwest region, I help build and grow relationships amongst Tribes, Tribal organizations, TCUs (Tribal colleges and universities), and climate science researchers with the Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center (NE CASC) by identifying and addressing research gaps in climate, natural, and cultural resources as well as providing outreach and technical assistance to guide adaptive planning and implementation of tribal resilience projects. The NE CASC includes the USGS as well as a consortium of academic partners including a Tribal college in the region in which I am employed through (College of Menominee Nation). A complete list of partners can be found here. There is also an Indigenous Peoples and Tribal Partners page on the NE CASC website for more information. Lastly, I would like to mention the Northeast Indigenous Climate Resilience Network (NICRN) website that I help maintain which is meant to provide the latest tools and resources for Indigenous peoples and scientists to work together towards meeting the current challenges of climate change.

ITEPWhat is the most interesting/memorable place you have visited?

Sara: During my time as the Midwest Tribal Resilience Liaison, the most interesting and memorable place I have visited so far would be my trip to the 2017 Tribal Climate Camp at the Pack Forest in Eatonville, Washington. This camp brought together Tribal folks from all over the United States as well as internationally to address climate change impacts happening within Tribal communities and provides a space to develop actions plans, partnerships, and skills needed for implementation. During my time at the camp I was able to build relationships with many Tribal folks as other CASC liaisons since this was right after I was hired on. It was such a great experience that I am planning on attending their camp again this year in Polson, Montana.

Contact: ssmith@menominee.edu

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