College of Menominee Nation and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Indigenous Food Sovereignty Initiative partner with eXtension through USDA-NIFA Cooperative Agreement

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) 2018-2022 Strategic Plan recognizes its role in helping provide access to safe and nutritious food for limited income people, by supporting limited resource individuals and families in their efforts to escape food insecurity and hunger and improve their well-being. These objectives require partnerships between State, local agencies, Federal, and public and private entities to support best practices in implementing effective programs and ensuring eligible populations have access  to programs that support their local food needs. One of the USDA’s strategies is to provide indigenous peoples with traditional foods that are desired. 

As part of eXtension’s New Technologies for Agricultural Extension (NTAE) Cooperative Agreement with USDA-NIFA, the eXtension Foundation is partnering with four existing programs aligned with USDA strategic goals across Cooperative Extension in Year 1 to explore new methods and models for program scale and implementation. These initiatives are being documented in a series of eFieldbooks to inform the system of the models, learnings, and outcomes. Professional development opportunities will be created and delivered centered upon these learnings and offered to the entire system beginning in 2020.  

The Menominee Indigenous Food Sovereignty Initiative is a collaborative project between the 1994 College of Menominee and University of Wisconsin – Madison Extension programs. Meg Perry, College of Menominee Nation, is serving as the eXtension Fellow for this project. The initiative is built on existing work with sovereign food systems that connect indigenous cultural beliefs of spirit, body, mind and heart to the food system. The initiative will assess community needs through the Menominee Wellness Survey and integrate indigenous language and culture through Menominee stories about food and indigenous food programs and outreach strategies. The project will take a deep dive into sovereign food production, exploring the impact that workshops and seed and plant distributions has on the presence of indigenous food being sold at community Farmers Markets and Community Supported Agriculture. 

As one of four topics within the current NTAE Cooperative Agreement through eXtension Foundation, this project will develop an eFieldbook and professional development opportunities that will be shared with other 1994 Tribal institutions, FALCON, and tribal organizations. An eFieldbook is a digital, curated, peer-reviewed collection of program resources that provide multimedia communication and interaction between and among experts, individuals, teams, partners, and other content contributors. Professional development opportunities will be delivered to the entire system through eXtension’s new FlexLearn platform to provide information and support for replicating this model across the system. FlexLearn will be available for the entire system in Spring, 2020. 

Three other program initiatives have been selected for 2019-2020 aligned with USDA strategic goals including a mass media campaign supporting pollinator stewardship efforts in Texas in partnership with the National Pesticide Safety Education Center and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, and a program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln centered upon row crop producers taking risk-reducing strategies to build farm resilience against weather and climate incidents. 

Topic areas and programs for the NTAE Cooperative Agreement were identified by a three-member Catalyst team consisting of former  senior Extension leaders that address USDA strategic goals. The Catalyst Team includes:

  • Scott Reed, Former Vice Provost University Outreach & Engagement, and Director of Extension at Oregon State University
  • Fred Schlutt, Former Director of Cooperative Extension at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks
  • Jimmy Henning, Faculty, Plant & Soil Sciences Department, and Former Director, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Kentucky

About the eXtension Foundation

The eXtension Foundation is a membership-based non-profit designed to be the engine fueling U.S. Cooperative Extension’s advancement in making a more visible and measurable impact in support of education outreach from land-grant universities/colleges located in every state and territory. eXtension provides an array of opportunities for Extension professionals that foster innovation creation, the adoption of innovations at member institutions, and increased impact of Extension programs.


This work is supported by New Technologies for Agriculture Extension grant no. 2015-41595-24254 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.