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Summer Tech Camp Offers Kids On Flathead Reservation Opportunities

Nicky Ouellet
Native high school students attend Tech4Good at the Salish Kootenai College in Pablo, June, 2017.

A summer camp on the Flathead Reservation is aiming to grow career opportunities for young people in the tech fields.

Velda Shelby wants young adults on the Flathead Reservation to think big when it comes to finding a career.

"We have the highest unemployment rate where we have all of these statistics that they have to endure," Shelby says.  "At least if they can learn technology, coding, any aspect of it, there are more opportunities. We'll broaden their horizon so that they're able to be employed."

Shelby is a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. Last year, she put together the first Native Tech Camp for high school students on the reservation. It’s a week-long program, taught by professors at Salish Kootenai College and experts in coding, game design, cyber security and data analytics, that aims to expose young tribal members to fields of work they might not otherwise see on the reservation.

This year’s camp theme is "Water Is Life." Students will spend time in the field collecting water quality samples and bring them back to the computer lab at the college for analysis.

Shelby says in the wake of the Standing Rock protests and ongoing controversies over water rights, Native Tech Camp will give students the skills they need to make something useful for their tribe.

"We know that's an opportunity for students to hold onto something real, where they want to make a difference and they want to maintain environmental standards, but it can be done through technology." 

Native Tech Camp kicks off Monday, June 11. Native American high school students from any tribe are invited to apply for the free, week-long program at the Salish Kootenai College campus in Pablo. Breakfast and lunch are provided daily, and transportation is available for Flathead Reservation communities.

More information can be found here.

Nicky is MTPR's Flathead-area reporter.
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