About Us



WaYS’ mission is to inspire and support persistence in the sciences for Native youth by providing long-term educational opportunities that integrate Indigenous ecological knowledge with western science.




Wabanaki Youth in Science (WaYS) envisions a paradigm shift toward a societal and environmental recognition of the value of Indigenous knowledge in our educational system and lives. We see Wabanaki youth learning and thriving on their homelands, using and sharing Indigenous knowledge and western science to address the environmental and social challenges of our times.



Wabanaki Youth in Science (WaYS) is a grass roots, community-based education program started in 2013. With initial support from the National Science Foundation’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (NSF EPSCoR) Program, WaYS’ programs are consistently providing increasing numbers of in-depth opportunities to Maine Native youth. Our varied educational programs encourage persistence in science through collaborations with Cultural Knowledge Sharers and western science professionals at camps, after school programs, and mentor-led internships. WaYS research indicates that the inclusion of Cultural Knowledge within western science as an equal and integral part in post-secondary academia enhanced learning for Native and non-native college science students.


With dedicated support from the Wabanaki communities and multiple grantors, WaYS continues to experience persistent and substantial increases in student participation and opportunities to work on long-term natural resource programs within local Wabanaki communities–our priority–as well as outside environmental organizations. These opportunities include meaningful internships which partner students with Cultural Knowledge Sharers and western science professionals, opening doors to  potential careers in the STEAM fields – Science Technology Engineering Art Math – while instilling the value that cultural science adds to a western science perspective.

 “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