On the evening of Friday, December 5th, POSOH and SDI held the Youth Speak Event to honor the student members of the Sustainability Leadership Cohort (SLC) and other tribal youth groups. The Menominee high school theater was used for the event to create more of a movie premiere feeling. To start the evening off right, Andrew Warrington gave thanks for the meal with a prayer. Afterwards, everyone enjoyed food provided by Tsyunhehkwa of Oneida and Babcock Dairy Store at UW-Madison.
Then it was on to the theater for the night’s presentations. Sustainability Education Coordinator, Cherie Thunder, welcomed the audience and gave a short introduction to the SLC. Fawn Youngbear-Tibbetts, Indigenous Arts and Sciences Coordinator of Northern Wisconsin, spoke briefly on the Bad River Tribal Youth Media Project and The Chi Nations Youth Council, American Indian Center of Chicago. Reynaldo Morales communicated the importance of the use of media and technology in community-based action research projects. Justin Gauthier, UW-Madison student, spoke about how working with the students over the summer impacted him. There were a few technical difficulties early in the night, but once the problem was resolved, the show continued. Unfortunately we were unable to show the video Ms. Youngbear-Tibbetts introduced.
The SLC’s baby, “Food for Thought”, was a wonderful collaboration between students, CMN staff, and community members. The video focused on healthy eating and food preparation and was both educational and fun. Community members and CMN staff were took part, also, by sharing their knowledge and insight on traditional food and harvesting of the Menominee. Afterwards, Cherie handed certificates out to the students for completion of the program and the students spoke about what they liked and what they learned from their time as SLC members.
Audience members were able to ask questions of the participants in a brief Q & A session before the night ended. When asked if they have maintained the choices they made in the film as far as eating healthy, for example, Mylia Olson said she has tried to eat healthier, drinks water, and has discussed eating healthy and what she learned with family and friends. Another question was about dissemination of what was learned through POSOH and the video. Lorenzo Warrington replied, “I think we should present in front of the Menominee Tribal Legislature, it seems once they know about it so will everyone else. We should present at events during school hours.” After watching the film, one student’s mom went out and bought a juicer. A clear indication of the positive impact the SLC and “Food for Thought” has made on people’s lives.
All in all, it was a successful presentation with rave reviews from the audience commenting just how much they enjoyed the show and thanking the students for their hard work and dedication. Dave Grignon, Director of Menominee Historic Preservation, said, “I hope this work continues and that students continue traditions mentioned in the show.” Chris Caldwell, Director of SDI, mentioned, “The last year of the POSOH grant is approaching, but SDI and UW-Madison Partners are making efforts to keep it going.” After witnessing the impact POSOH has on students, staff, and community, I think the outlook is promising.
The application for the SLC will be available online soon!