Newly Minted Agreement Leverages a Long-Standing Partnership

Course participants from various Tribes carry buckets and take turns wearing an electrofishing backpack as they learn the techniques offered in the Electrofishing Essentials Course. Photo by Alan Temple/USFWS

Our National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) is uniquely focused on providing continuing education that develops skills, knowledge, and expertise needed to conserve America’s natural resources for future generations. It is the only training center of its kind.

It is fitting, then, that a new agreement signed in January 2022 between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society (NAFWS), commits the training center to expand its experience working with Tribal partners by collaborating to develop cutting-edge training. With the agreement, the Service, and its training center, is working to resolve urgent conservation challenges facing our nation and increase the agency’s relevance to the American people by bringing together diverse partners.

NCTC Director Steve Chase said, “The National Conservation Training Center is eager to strengthen its partnership with Tribal wildlife agencies. This new memorandum will enable us to engage in a more robust, strategic way to leverage expertise across the conservation community.”

Tribal Youth from around the nation take a river excursion to explore the ecology of the Potomac River during their time at the Native Youth Climate Adaptation Leadership Congress in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Photo by Jenn Hill/USFWS

The new agreement also allows, for the first time, members of the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society to access the training center’s professional and scientific literature resources. NCTC’s library of 20,000 indexed and full text scientific journals and databases, along with its curated collection of 9,000 circulating books, became accessible to members of the society in calendar year 2022.

In alignment with the America the Beautiful initiative, this expanded partnership will be collaborative, driven by identified areas of need for Tribal capacity as determined by the NAFWS and its member Tribes. It will create opportunities for better coordination between our local offices and partner Tribal wildlife agencies in conserving wildlife and fish resources, including rare and endangered species and their habitats on Tribal lands.

While the memorandum is new, partnering with Tribes is something the training center has done since it first opened its doors in the late 1990s. NCTC has provided training to Tribal communities and individuals on topics such as fish culture, fish health, and fish passage.

Tribal Participants in the Fish Sampling Workshop, delivered by the National Conservation Training Center and hosted by the Southwest Tribal Fisheries Commission in San Carlos, California. Photo by Alan Temple/USFWS.

Some of the most beneficial NCTC Tribal training courses have been held on Tribal lands and fish hatcheries, including most recently in 2018 when the Southwest Tribal Fisheries Commission hosted a Fish Sampling Workshop for 11 Tribes.

Since 2015, the Native Youth Climate Adaptation Leadership Congress has been held at the center, bringing together high school and college youth from over 90 Tribes with high attendance by Tribes in the Southwest, Alaska, California and Pacific Northwest, Midwest, Rockies and Plains States, and from Maine.

In a separate agreement with the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society, the Service is providing approximately $465,000 to support the hiring of Tribal wildlife biologists. This award will help provide equity in funding between state and Tribal support from the Service.

A 25-foot-tall totem pole, hand carved by members of the Lummi Nation, journeyed to sacred lands across the United States before it arrived at its permanent home at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Photo by Ryan Hagerty/USFWS.

These new agreements align with the existing Native American Policy of the Service around capacity building for and collaborative natural resource management with Tribes. The focused expansion of the NAFWS partnership will bring an increased exchange of knowledge and expertise — including cultural and ecological — with benefits for people, fish, wildlife and habitats.

Learn about our National Native American Programs.

Check out classes at the National Conservation Training Center.

Written collaboratively by Jim Siegel and Alan Temple, Curriculum Managers, in coordination with Sherry White, Division Manager, Division of Training National Conservation Training Center, and Vanessa Kauffman, Public Affairs Specialist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service headquarters.

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

We’re dedicated to the conservation, protection and enhancement of fish, wildlife and plants, and their habitats.

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