At First Nations Development Institute, we believe that reclaiming control over local food systems is an important step toward ensuring the long-lasting health and economic well-being of Native people and communities. Native food-system control has the potential to increase food production, improve health and nutrition, and eliminate food insecurity in rural and reservation-based communities, while also promoting entrepreneurship and economic development.
Many farmers, ranchers, herders and others are retiring without qualified replacements trained to take their place. According to the USDA, the number of farmers and ranchers nearing retirement age has grown by 22 percent in the past five years, while the number of young farmers and ranchers adequately trained to replace them has decreased by 14 percent. The lack of qualified replacements in these industries could have potentially dangerous effects on efforts to reclaim control of local Native food systems.
The purpose of the Native Agriculture and Food Systems Scholarship Program is to encourage more Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian college students to enter agriculture and agriculture-related fields so they can better assist their communities with efforts to reclaim local food systems control. To apply for the scholarship program, applicants must:
- Be full-time undergraduate or graduate students majoring in an agricultural-related field, or be able to demonstrate how their degree program relates to Native food systems
- Be tribally-affiliated and able to provide documentation
- Have at least a 2.75 GPA
- Demonstrate a commitment to helping his/her community reclaim local food-system control
The scholarship application is typically released in August for that academic school year and closes in late September or early October. Awards are then made in October of that academic year. First Nations began the scholarship program in 2014 with five scholarships of $1,000 each. Since then First Nations has grown the program to provide over 20 scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $1,500 for the 2019-2020 academic year.