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November 20, 2015

The South Central Climate Science Center is the recipient of the DOI 2015 Environmental Achievement Award for "Climate Science and Partnerships--Increasing Tribal Capacity for Climate Change Adaptation."

The South Central Climate Science Center, located on the University of Oklahoma's Research Campus, is the recipient of the Department of Interior 2015 Environmental Achievement Award, a prestigious award for "Climate Science and Partnerships--Increasing the Tribal Capacity for Climate Change Adaptation."

"We are particularly honored to receive this important award since it reflects well on our commitment to work closely with our Tribal colleagues on jointly enhancing our ability to adapt to climate change," said Berrien Moore, director of the National Weather Center and dean of the OU Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences.

The South Central Climate Science Center received the award as a result of its partnerships with other agencies to develop programs for building tribal capabilities and conducting climate science research. The Center is a consortium codirected by the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Oklahoma. Consortium members include OU, the Chickasaw Nation, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Lab, Louisiana State University, Oklahoma State University and Texas Tech University.

"Our team had a vision to bring the climate science capacity to our many tribal partners. The vision entails relationship building, educational experiences for youth, tribal environmental and cultural staff, and working on climate-related matters with tribes. It is such an honor to not only be able to bring this vision to fruition with our tribal partners, but to also be recognized by the Department of Interior," said Kim Winton, director of the South Central Climate Science Center.

Primary achievements of the South Central Climate Science Center are the tribal engagement strategy and capacity building. The vision was to develop climate science programs, vulnerability assessments and adaptation plans with tribes to ensure that the Department of Interior has the tools to meet their trust responsibilities to the Tribes. The five-stage process starts with relationship building and ultimately builds capacity in the Tribes to conduct their own climate science research.

"The Chickasaw Nation and Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, as our full partners in the South Central Climate Science Center, have been amazing to work with. This award only underscores the value of universities respectfully collaborating with these and other Nations to serve the public good," said Renee McPherson, co-director of the South Central Climate Science Center.

The overarching success of this program is evident by the development of five new Bureau of Indian Affairs Tribal Liaisons to be placed in other Department of Interior Climate Science Centers. These positions will enable the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Climate Science Centers to assist Tribes nationally with their climate responses. 

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