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Sustainable Leadership Cohort

The Sustainability Leadership Cohort (SLC) promotes higher education and encourages development of the next generation of community leaders by helping Menominee Nation and other Native youth build leadership skills. The SLC’s goal is to ignite interest and broaden understanding of sustainability through place-based experiences.

The SLC is committed to incorporating cultural values and encouraging inter-generational learning and teaching. SLC is a hands-on internship that allows for critical and holistic thinking. The SLC provides students the tools and skills to be innovative leaders and positive role models for their community and the world. This year’s theme, Nepēw, water, will explore STEM subjects through indigenous knowledge of our environment. Students will develop the skills to become the next generation of indigenous leaders.

Program History

In 2012, as an important component of the POSOH Project, an after school sustainability club was created for students at the Menominee Indian High School by the College of Menominee Nation (CMN) Sustainable Development Institute (SDI). SDI eventually established the Sustainability Leadership Cohort, serving students within the Wolf River watershed area.

The POSOH Project was a five year United States Department of Agricultural National Institute for Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA) education grant which promoted the use of place-based science, sustainability, and bioenergy curriculum for the Menominee and Oneida reservations and surrounding areas. The project was a collaboration between University of Wisconsin-Madison and College of Menominee Nation Sustainable Development Institute.

This program is designed to promote career exploration in the areas of science, sustainability, and bioenergy and leadership. Our goal is to inspire excellent students who demonstrate or are passionate about developing community leadership skills and to be the director of one’s own learning. The place-based model encourages the students to learn about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math by applying the traditional knowledge carried from generation to generation to concepts they encounter in school and life. The SLC is engaged in many outdoor activities which allow them to have a hands-on experience. This in turn allows for more enhanced learning outcomes for the students and everyone involved.

These activities include ecology based training in early summer to familiarize the students with their place. Midsummer the students attend a film editing workshop to gain skills needed to develop their own community based action research film project. Culminating the cohort we host a film showcase, the youth speak event, to give the students the chance to display their work for the community and a larger audience.

Today's SLC

Now in year 7, the SLC is a highly dynamic program in which high school students continue to learn, grow and succeed. The two new programs are funded by the U.S.  Department of Education through the Native Youth Community Projects Grants Program.

Find more information about the funding agencies here.

The SLC Program serves as a stepping stone for students to discover STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math)-related careers and interact with people and professionals of all ages who walk this path. SLC participation will empower students so they may one day serve as leaders and positively influence their classmates, schools, and communities.