Youth Projects

karuk students at UCB

Students from the Karuk Tribe visit UC Berkeley

The Agriculture and Food Research Initiative project led by principal investigator Jennifer Sowerwine includes a number of goals to support Karuk Tribal youth. We highlight a few examples:

Native Food Security: Youth are our Future

The Klamath Basin is a ‘food desert’. Tribal communities and especially youth within the region are suffering from obesity and food insecurity, among other health and social problems, for many reasons including limited access to and affordability of culturally appropriate healthy foods and limited economic opportunities. Through collaborative and participatory assessments, educational initiatives, farm to school, and other community-led initiatives, this project will support tribal communities in their efforts to increase access to and consumption of health, culturally appropriate foods, regain control of their health and agricultural economies to eliminate hunger and food insecurity, empower their youth, build thriving local economies, develop environmentally sustainable and just food production and distribution systems, and celebrate cultural food traditions.

Central to these efforts for positive transformation is the active engagement of tribal youth. Local schools do not have programs directly tied to the cultural food and health needs of the tribal communities they serve. Creating a culturally appropriate K-12 curricula related to Native American Food Systems, along with a series of seasonal youth camps focusing on eco-cultural revitalization, after school programs and school gardens focusing on nutrition education and cultivation of cultural foods, and supporting the integration of Native foods into the school lunch program, will help address this gap.

Youth-led Community Food and Health Assessment

The goals of this project are to engage Karuk youth to assess the barriers to and facilitators of healthful living, as well as the values, needs and priorities expressed by their peers and other community members. In year 1 of the project, San Francisco-based Youth Leadership Institute (YLI) worked with SFSU and the staff of the Karuk Youth Leadership Council (YLC) and others to create and implement leadership curriculum that provides YLC with skills, approaches and tools to conduct assessment.

With the use of iPods, the YLC conducted  a community health assessment (involving a total of 16 YLC members) in which they surveyed their peers and community members about when/where they access fresh fruits and vegetables, views about their health, challenges to being healthy and other topics of interest.  YLC then analyzed the data collected and develop potential solutions for implementation in future years of the grant.  The youth created a multi-media assessment report that was shared with the Tribal Council, at UC Davis, and with other community stakeholders.

Supporting Youth to Achieve Higher Education

The goal of this initiative is to support youth to achieve higher education by introducing them to the UC Berkeley campus and hosting them at Cal Day and Come to College Day.

For more information about youth opportunities to visit Cal, visit Please also visit the American Indian Graduate Association page, which hosts Native youth on Cal Day: