The University of Wisconsin–Madison has launched a series of projects aimed at supporting rural communities and Tribal nations in Wisconsin, funded through the Wisconsin Rural Partnership initiative. Announced in December 2022, this initiative, established with $9.3 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, seeks to advance the University’s land-grant mission, support community-based projects, and create partnerships to address the needs of rural communities.
This project focuses on the challenges faced by Tribal nations in Wisconsin concerning food systems and community resilience. It aims to engage Tribal nations and partners to develop research, education, and outreach projects that promote food sovereignty and address environmental challenges. This project is addressing critical issues related to food security, cultural preservation, and community resilience.
To accomplish these goals the Extension Community Food Systems Program is looking to hire an Indigenous Food Sovereignty Outreach Specialist.
The Indigenous Food Sovereignty Outreach Specialist will lead the strategic development of direct education and programming, foster and maintain key external partnerships, and work with Extension colleagues to identify and adapt existing agricultural and food systems development resources for Tribal audiences. With initial funding from the Wisconsin Rural Partnership Initiative and a USDA grant, this position will also involve project-specific coordination and outreach in support of two projects: Connecting Cultural Values and Indigenous Research Towards Food System Resilience Project and Wisconsin’s Tribal Sugaring Network (Maple Syrup Program).
There is an identified and growing need to support maple syrup producers, including Tribal producers, across Wisconsin that can promote and advance the cultural, community, and economic benefits related to maple sugaring. Dr. Jeremy Solin (prior Maple Program Manager, Extension), led the development and implementation of a pilot project “Supporting Tribal Maple Syrup/Sugar Producers to Grow Production”, as supported by an Extension Dean’s Innovation award, to address the need for inter-Tribal sharing of Indigenous-led knowledge of maple sugaring practices. This early work identified the need for continued support for network coordination and facilitation of learning events, with the additional opportunities identified for complementary communications and outreach activities, such as the development of a series of storytelling workshops, videos, webinars, etc. The partnership, framework for learning exchanges, and newly developed Tribal Maple Syruping Network also provide a ready model to advance identification of Indigenous research that can help advance the integration of IK and learning needs around climate change and adaptation, and the innovations and learning that can help advance production opportunities.
This project has the potential to contribute significantly to the preservation of Indigenous food systems, cultural heritage, and community resilience in the face of environmental challenges, addressing both immediate needs and long-term sustainability.
Project leaders: Tricia Gorby, Natural Resources Institute Director, Division of Extension; Dan Cornelius, Outreach Program Manager, UW Law School’s Great Lakes Indigenous Law Center and College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
For questions and more information, please contact Lindsey Farnsworth: