Native American Researcher Native American Researcher

Tribal Agriculture Fellowship

Program Contact

Dr. LaKisha Odom

Development Contact

Catherine Maxwell

Applications Due August 2, 2024. Click here to submit an application.

About the Tribal Agriculture Fellowship

In recognition of the need for more agriculture education opportunities specifically geared toward Native students, the Native American Agriculture Fund (NAAF) and the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) established the Tribal Agriculture Fellowship (TAF) with additional support provided by John DeereFarmer Mac and the Farm Credit. TAF supports Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian students pursuing technical, undergraduate and graduate degrees in agriculture.

The mission of TAF is to create opportunities for students to advance their education in agriculture, increase specialized knowledge and preserve and promote the legacy of agriculture in tribal communities. The program is designed to close the financial gap to allow Fellows to place their primary focus on their academic pursuits, while allowing Fellows to have the time and resources needed to participate in educational enrichment activities.

The program provides a generous benefits package that can include up to four years of fellowship status, with funding to earn agricultural degrees or technical certifications. TAF resources can be utilized for:

  • Tuition & fees,
  • Housing,
  • Meal plans,
  • Equipment fees and testing costs,
  • Professional development

TAF is managed by the nonprofit organization, Native Agriculture Education Fellowship Program (NAEFP).

For more information visit the TAF website or watch this webinar recorded June 18, 2024, featuring FFAR Scientific Program Director Dr. LaKisha Odom and TAF Executive Director Nicole DeVon, along with select TAF student fellows, in which they discuss the importance of scientific workforce development in the food and agriculture industry.

Tribal Agriculture Fellows

2023 Year
Kirsten Begay- (Dine [Navajo])

Kirsten Begay- (Diné [Navajo])

Kirsten Begay is a Diné citizen and a Junior transferring from Diné College to the University of Arizona, majoring in veterinary sciences. Kirsten is a hardworking, animal-loving student who hopes to return the knowledge I gain to her community and reservation. She wants to make veterinary medicine more accessible to her community and to educate the next generation of agriculture in the Navajo Nation.

Greta Gustafson- (Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara)

Greta Gustafson – (Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara)

Greta Gustafson is a proud member of the Three Affiliated Tribes: Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara. She grew up in the heart of the Amskapipikuni lands on the Two Medicine River (Naa-to-ko-ka-tsi). She has her bachelor’s degree in microbiology from Montana State University and is currently a fourth-year student at Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Keona Mason- (Kickapoo)

Keona Mason – (Kickapoo)

Keona Mason, from Tishomingo, Oklahoma, is a member of the Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma. Keona is an Oklahoma State University (OSU) agricultural communication major and active in OSU Collegiate 4-H, Swine Club and Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow. She is passionate about the pork industry and still raise pigs with her swine operation, 2S show pigs, for members to start their agricultural projects and donate pork to local food pantries.. In October 2021, she received her American Farmer Degree. Keona hopes to serve in a career where she can advocate for Oklahoma youth agriculture programs and Native American agriculturalists.

Jonathan Romero- (Pueblo of Jemez)

Jonathan Romero – (Pueblo of Jemez)

Jonathan Romero is a Range Program Manager for the Pueblo of Jemez- Natural Resources Department. In addition, he serves as a County Committee member for USDA- Farm Service Agency. Jonathan works to enhance tribal rangelands, provides leadership and assists in extension-like services to tribal producers in Agriculture. Other interests include beef cattle management and wildlife management. He earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of New Mexico and is currently enrolled at West Texas A&M University for a master's program in Agriculture. Upon a tribal appointment, he served as a Lt. Governor for his community in 2017. He is a member of the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association, the Intertribal Ag Council and Society for Range Management.

Peter Thais - (Saint Regis Mohawk)

Peter Thais – (Saint Regis Mohawk)

Peter Thais is a member of the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe on the Akwesasne Indian Reservation and is pursuing a biological engineering degree in the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) at Cornell University. Peter is an active member of the Indigenous community at Cornell, where he is on the executive board of the Native American and Indigenous Student organization, works as an ambassador for the Indigenous Studies Program, is President of the Cornell Chapter of AISES and is on Hall Council at the Akwe:kon Native American Program House. Peter was recently elected as a National Representative to the Board of Directors of the American Indian Sciences and Engineering Society (AISES).

Bailey Tom - (Dine [Navajo])

Bailey Tom – (Diné [Navajo])

Bailey Lasalle Tom’s tribal affiliation is Diné (Navajo). Bailey has a bachelor’s degree in agriculture business and agriculture economics form graduated from New Mexico State University. She is currently interning at Timmerman Feedyard Management. After completing the internship, Bailey plans to continue her education at Texas A&M University, pursuing a master’s in agriculture business.

Matea Whittington - (Choctaw-Apache Tribe)

Matea Whittington (Choctaw-Apache Tribe)

Matea Whittington is a 2023 honor graduate of Zwolle High School, and a member of the Choctaw Apache Tribe of Ebarb, where she serve as the Sr. Tribal Princess & Chairman of the Rising Sun Youth Group. Matea has served as a Northwest Louisiana Agriculture Ambassador, ZHS 4-H Club President, Sabine Parish 4-H Jr. Leader President & 2022-2023 Miss Sabine Parish 4-H. She will attend Southern Arkansas University in the fall of 2023, to study agriculture education.

Cynthia Wilson - (Dine [Navajo])

Cynthia Wilson – (Diné [Navajo])

Cynthia Wilson is a tribal member of the Navajo Nation, born and raised in Monument Valley, Utah. She holds a master’s of science in nutrition from the University of Utah and is a first-year Ph.D. student at UC Berkeley in Environmental Science, Policy and Management. Her research interests include indigenous food, water, land, ontological environmentalism and indigenous political ecology in social science. Cynthia is also a Castanea Fellow among community food justice leaders and a Native and Indigenous Rights Fellow for the Harvard Divinity School.

Marquel Begay (Dine’ [Navajo])

University of Montana

Level: Graduate
Major: Ecology, Management and Restoration of Rangelands
Focus Area: Ecological restoration and community-based land management planning on the Navajo Nation.
Career Goal: To serve as a good relative, educator, researcher and liaison for Tribal communities interested in improving and sustaining their agricultural and natural resources that support and strengthen their local cultural knowledge and practices for future generations. I’d like to teach at Dine’ College, our reservation TCU."

Nicole Benally (Navajo)

University of Montana

Level: Graduate Student
Major: Forest & Conservation Sciences
Focus Area: Indigenous Food Sovereignty
Career Goal: To serve Indigenous people by connecting them to resources that integrate contemporary community lifestyles with the preservation of their culture, food, language, and ecological knowledge.

Maddylon Burris (Chickasaw)

Redlands Community College

Level: Career Technical Education
Major: Agriculture Education
Focus Area: Teaching Agriculture Education
Career Goal: To receive an Associate Degree in Agriculture Education from Redlands Community College; finish a Bachelor’s Degree at Oklahoma State University; begin teaching Agriculture Education in public schools, with the intent to focus on Native American students’ involvement in agriculture.

Carson Capps (Citizen Potawatomi Nation)

Oklahoma State University

Level: Undergrad
Major: Agribusiness
Focus Area: Pre-Law
Career Goal: After graduating from Oklahoma State University, I plan to attend law school, specializing in Indigenous Peoples law. My intent is to use my education and advocate for agriculture and Native American communities in my home state of Oklahoma.

Jaelyn Dove (Lumbee)

North Carolina State University

Level: Undergrad
Major: Animal Science
Focus Area: Veterinary Bio-Sciences
Career Goal: To finish my animal science degree and complete veterinary school. Then, I will return to rural North Carolina to practice veterinary medicine in the Robeson/Bladen counties area.

Henry Hainzinger (Osage)

Oklahoma State University-Institute of Technology

Level: Career Technical Education
Major: Truck Technician
Focus Area: Diesel Mechanic
Career Goal: My plan is to graduate, work for someone else for two-three years, and then build my own shop in Osage county. I would eventually like to run my own shop while still being able to help on the family ranch.

Gina McGuire (ʻŌiwi [Native Hawaiian])

University: University of Hawai’i

Level: Graduate Student
Major: Geography & Environment
Focus Area: Indigenous Geographies of Wellness
Career Goal: To start and operate a non-profit organization focused on restoring Hawaiʻi’s traditional foods and native forest systems. 

Santana Nez (Navajo)

University of Arizona

Level: Graduate
Major: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Focus Area: Mixed animal/food; animal medicine
Career Goal: To provide animal medicine services on rural Tribal and non-Tribal lands.

Justina Slim (Navajo)

Colorado State University

Level: Undergraduate
Major: Animal Science & Agriculture Business
Focus Area: Bovine Reproduction and Genetics
Career Goal: I would like to work for forward-thinking companies like Select Sires and ABS Global to aid producers so they can make genetically informed decisions that will improve the beef product within their herds.

Brendan Walker (Navajo)

University of Arizona College of Veterinary Medicine

Level: Graduate
Major: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Focus Area: Large Animal Medicine
Career Goal: To practice as a mixed animal veterinarian on Tribal lands. 

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