Nurturing American Tribal Undergraduate Research and Education (NATURE)

The Nurturing American Tribal Undergraduate Research and Education (NATURE) program is an education outreach project. NATURE aims to improve science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education among middle school, high school, and tribal college students, and to build a pathway for American Indians living in North Dakota who are interested in pursuing careers in STEM disciplines. NATURE builds on activities of a long-term collaboration between tribal colleges in North Dakota, North Dakota State University, and the University of North Dakota. NATURE programs are currently funded by the State of North Dakota and the National Science Foundation EPSCoR Track-1 Cooperative Agreement OIA #1946202.

If you are a student, teacher, or college/university faculty and want to participate in a NATURE activity, please contact ND EPSCoR at

NATURE programming includes the Tribal College Summer Camps, Sunday Academy, Bridge Camp, and University Summer Camps. The ND EPSCoR State Office funds STEM workforce development programs across the educational continuum from elementary through graduate school. Since 2014, 2,762 students (of whom 2,723 were American Indian) have participated in our NATURE programs.

History of NATURE

The origin of the program Nurturing American Tribal Undergraduate Research and Education (NATURE) can be traced to an informal collaboration between the North Dakota State University Colleges of Engineering and Architecture and Turtle Mountain Community College, Belcourt, North Dakota in 1998. A team of North Dakota State University (NDSU) science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) faculty worked with the five ND tribal colleges to develop a proposal to increase STEM educational opportunities for American Indian students. The effort paid off when Turtle Mountain Community College (TMCC), in partnership with NDSU, was awarded a five year grant from the Office of Naval Research (An Adaptive Systemic Initiative of Tribal Collaboration for Increasing Native American Participation in Mathematics, Science and Engineering, 1999-2004), to support activities designed to stimulate the interest of Indian youth from North Dakota reservations in careers such as engineering and those involving higher level mathematics, science and technology skills. This project allowed the team to develop and implement activities such as summer camps, Sunday Academy, workshop for tribal college faculty, and a scholarship program to create new, and strengthen existing, pathways for American Indian students to pursue STEM education successfully and to seek careers in those fields. After the Office of Naval Reserach grant ended in 2004, the activities were funded piecemeal by NSF TCUP (Tribal Colleges and Universities Program) grants written by TCUs as well as Dr. G. Padmanabhan (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at NDSU) and individual NDSU faculty. This project also received support from NASA PACE program (TMCC), 2002-2005, ND EPSCoR FLITE equipment funding, 2001-2004, and NSF BRIDGES program planning grant, 2004. Though it had provided partial support initially, ND EPSCoR took the program completely under its wing in 2006 after the funding from ONR had ended. At that time, the program assumed the new title NATURE. Since then,

  • ND EPSCoR has a Tribal Partnerships Manager who works to improve the effectiveness of the university-tribal college communication and collaboration,
  • the University of North Dakota joined the collaboration, and
  • the quality of activities previously developed has improved and participants numbers have increased.




Cankdeska Cikana
Community College
    Nueta Hidatsa
    Sahnish College
  Sitting Bull
Turtle Mountain
Community College
United Tribes
Technical College
    North Dakota State
 University of
 North Dakota


NATURE University/College Contacts

Coordinator of NATURE Sunday Academy
Britt Heidinger, Ph.D.
North Dakota State University
Department of Biological Sciences
Stevens 225
Fargo, ND 58105
(701) 231-5377

Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College (NHSC) Site Coordinator - NATURE
Kerry Hartman, Ph.D., Academic Dean, Chair Sciences
220 8th Ave. N.
New Town, ND 58763
(701) 627-4738, Ext. 8053
Geographic area: Fort Berthhold Reservation

Associate Coordinator of NATURE University Summer Camp at UND
Hallie Chelmo, Assistant Professor
Department of Mechanical Engineering
University of North Dakota
Upson Hall II Room 266
Grand Forks, ND 58202 (701) 777-6515

Sitting Bull College (SBC) Site Coordinator - NATURE
Mafany Ndiva Mongoh, Ph.D., Ag & Science
9299 Hwy 24
Fort Yates, ND 58538 
(701) 854-8051
Geographic area: Standing Rock Reservation

Associate Coordinator of NATURE University Summer Camp at NDSU
Uwe Burghaus, Associate Professor
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
North Dakota State University
Ladd 202
Fargo, ND 58105
(701) 231-9742

Turtle Mountain Community College (TMCC) Site Coordinator - NATURE
Austin Allard, Ph.D., Pre-Engineering Instructor
10145 BIA Road 7
Belcourt, ND 58316(701) 477-7815
Geographic area: Turtle Mountain Reservation

Cankdeska Cikana Community College (CCCC)Site Coordinator - NATURE
Brent Voels, Ph.D., Instructor - Science
214 1st Avenue
PO Box 269
Fort Totten, ND 58335
(701) 766-1358
Geographic area: Spirit Lake Reservation


NATURE K-12 Contacts

Fort Berthold Area

Mandaree High School

Francine White, Site Mentor
Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College
1 Warrior Circle
Mandaree, ND 58757
(701) 759-3545

New Town High School

James Helphrey, Science Instructor
New Town High School
300 Eagle Drive
New Town, ND 58763
(701) 627-3658


Susie Simpson, Site Mentor
Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College
501 N Main St
Parshall, ND 58770
(701) 627-4738, Ext. 8081

White Shield

Raymond Grady, Site Mentor
Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College
2 2nd Ave W
Roseglen, ND 58775
(701) 743-4552

Standing Rock Area

Wakpala High School

Rebecca LeFebre, Aimsweb Coordinator
12250 SD Hwy 1806
Wakpala, SD  57658

McLaughlin High School

Mafany Ndiva Mongoh
McLaughlin High School701 Main St
McLaughlin, SD 57642
(605) 823-4886


Standing Rock Middle School

Mafany Ndiva Mongoh
9189 Highway 24
Fort Yates, ND 58538
(701) 854-3819, Ext. 2125

Solen High School

Corey Morin, Science Teacher
Solen High School
902 East Broadway
Solen, ND 58570
(701) 445-3331

Selfridge High School

Juanita Hintz, secretary
210 2nd Ave. South
Selfridge, ND  58568

Spirit Lake Area

Four Winds High School

John Lohnes, Science Teacher
Four Winds High School
7268 Hwy 57
Fort Totten, ND 58335
(701) 766-1400

Minnewaukan Public School

Brent Voels, Ph.D.
Minnewaukan Public School
4675 N Hwy. 281
Minnewaukan, ND 58351

Warwick High School

Brent Voels, Ph.D.
Warwick High School
210 4th Avenue
Warwick, ND 58381

Turtle Mountain Area

Dunseith High School

Austin Allard, Ph.D.
101 2nd Ave SW
Dunseith, ND  58329

Turtle Mountain Community High School

Jason Laducer
Gary Thomas
P.O. Box 440
Belcourt, ND 58316
(701) 477-6471


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