August marked the road trip of a lifetime for seven students (ages 13 to 18) from regional tribes. They traveled 3,500 miles through five Western states within one week to learn from state-of-the art organizations about energy, technology and partnerships.
The Inter-Tribal Energy and Tech Tour is an annual summer camp, in its third year, coordinated by Redbridge, a Native American-owned company located in Portland, Oregon, that markets energy and tourism to tribes and tribally owned businesses.
As the tribal leaders of the future, the student participants, representing tribes in Oregon, California, Nevada and Arizona were given the opportunity to learn about innovations in science and energy on a national level.
This year, the group visited six organizations including a daylong visit to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), co-sponsored by the Laboratory’s American Indian Activity Group (AIAG) and the University Relations and Science Education Program.
The group received facility tours of the National Ignition Facility, Additive Manufacturing and the Center for Micro and Nano Technology, and participated in the builidng of wind turbines, an activity led by LLNL's Sonia Wharton and Matthew Simpson. During lunch, students were treated to a panel discussion with researchers Kimberly Danny, Monica Moya, Darlene Yazzie and Suzanne Singer.
Shannon Hulbert, president and CEO of Redbridge and founder of the Energy and Tech Tour, grew up in Northern California on the Yurok reservation. She is a member of the Yurok tribe, San Carlos Apache and Salt River Pima tribe. “Redbridge is all about forming partnerships and being transparent,” said Hulbert. “I have a deep passion for helping tribes and tribal youth navigate energy and tech opportunities,” she said.
“The students came away with a new understanding of the advancement of technology and how that might lead to future opportunities for tribes,” said Hulbert. During the tour at LLNL, the students had the opportunity to meet with American Indian employees at LLNL and learn about their own personal journeys from tribes to educational pursuits to careers at a national laboratory. “The openness and willingness of the Lab hosts to share their personal experiences was impactful and appreciated,” said Hulbert. “The students also were able to learn first-hand how energy and technology can open doors in their communities and lives.”
The Laboratory’s AIAG conducts local Bay Area outreach to the American Indian community in coordination with the Director's Office to promote the Laboratory’s science and engineering efforts.