About

Wabanaki Youth in Science (WaYS) is a grass roots, community-based educational model that started in 2013 with initial financial support from the National Science Foundation’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (NSF EPSCoR). The last eight years have seen consistent growth in the involvement of Maine Native youth to persist in science through collaborations with Cultural Knowledge Sharer (CKS) and western science professionals at camps, after-school programs and internships.  Over that time, with the dedicated support from the Wabanaki communities and multiple grants to support WaYS, the program has seen a dramatic increase in the number of students working on long-term natural resource programs within their individual communities. The program has not only opened doors to potential careers in the natural resources but taught the value that cultural science brings to western science perspective.

The hands-on learning is accomplished through a multi-prong approach with one week-long earth camp during the summer, three weekend mini camps spring, fall, winter: after school programs, and internships. All of these programs incorporate our preferred means of learning by being hands-on, place based that integrates CKS and western resource professionals in an outdoor learning environment. 

 “This program combines two worlds in a way that, we hope, helps students understand that a science degree doesn’t mean giving up on their cherished culture and traditions.” He notes that reverence for the land — and minimal intervention — are key to many Native American attitudes, which may conflict with scientific notions.
– John Banks, director of the Department of Natural Resources for the Penobscot Nation