This summer, Native American youth stretched their skills and fostered a future as the next generation of farmers, ranchers and professionals in the agricultural sciences.
New Mexico State University programs Camp Innoventure, American Indian Business Enterprise and Indian Resources Development partnered with Navajo Technical University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital and Land Grant Program to deliver Native American youth virtual workshops on ranch management and entrepreneurial thinking.
Generously supported by the Native American Agriculture Fund, the Innoventure Native Youth Ag Camp consisted of three one-week camps, with two focused on cattle and one on sheep management specific to the southwest.
“We are so fortunate to have received this grant. The exposure to academic opportunities like this is important, especially to Native American youth. Our long-term vision is to assist in the upbringing of the next generation of native ranchers, farmers and community producers,” said AIBE Program Coordinator Rachel Livingston, who is Diné. “The importance of promoting self-sufficiency, while also preserving cultural identity will be beneficial in improving the quality of life amongst our Native American communities.”
During the camp, various agriculture professionals throughout the state joined virtually to present cattle and sheep management to students. Cattle camp objectives included nutrition, cattle breeds, fencing and husbandry, cattle reproduction, cattle herd health, and junior beef quality assurance. Sheep camp objectives included nutrition, fencing and husbandry, sheep reproduction, and sheep herd health and processing.
Both cattle and sheep camps shared an emphasis on Native American agricultural teachings, and business objectives included fundamentals like understanding business values and marketing, and various ways to access resources for funding such as grants and from Native American Community Development Financial Institutions.
Throughout the week, Camp Innoventure helped students build business, including their customer discovery information and a logo, which they presented at the end of the week.
“I was extremely proud of my son when he told me his presentation won. It was a great learning experience for him. It was especially exceptional that my son was able to join from another state,” said Vanessa Eve, whose son, Dauvon, gave a presentation at the sheep camp and won a new computer.
Hendricks and Mason DeJolie, two brothers from Farmington, New Mexico, took part in the camp to focus their already growing business ideas.
The brothers said they spend most of their time doing outdoor activities like biking, fishing, hiking and swimming, but are also interested in raising their own livestock, and want to work for themselves as small business owners. They came up with two business ideas: a hay and feed transport company and a sheep shearing company.
“My boys really enjoyed the whole experience, and we look forward to it next year,” said their father, Lenford DeJolie. “They are sharing what they learned with others.”
Livingston said the camps will return next year in person.
For more information about AIBE, visit https://arrowheadcenter.nmsu.edu/program/aibe/. For more information about Innoventure, visit https://arrowheadcenter.nmsu.edu/program/innoventure/.