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Northwest Indian College To Offer First Bachelor’s Degree; Thanks To New Laboratory

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A new laboratory space at Northwest Indian College (NWIC) will allow students to obtain four-year degrees without leaving their communities.

The laboratory classroom, which was funded by a $353,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Defense, is in the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe’s House of Knowledge and Education Center, in Kingston, Washington.

“The new lab will be great for me because I will not have to leave my community to continue on to achieve my Bachelor of Science degree in Native Environmental Science,” said Shyia Fulton, a first-year student and NWIC employee. “I have three young children and it would be difficult for me to take classes out of town.”

Gina Corpuz, instructional manager at the Port Gamble S’Klallam site, said in a release that the Native Environmental Science major is important at NWIC because the tribe members were the original stewards of Gamble Bay, which is at the north end of the Kitsap Peninsula.

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“Everything that impacts their water, forests and land, changes the quality of life for their tribal community and all forms of life dependent on clean air and water,” she said. “NWIC students who choose Native Environmental Science as their program of study are also choosing to be part of the solution to the global environmental crisis.”

And according to Joel Green, NWIC’s science director, there’s a reason that Native Environmental Science is the first bachelor’s degree offered at the college.

“It is a high priority for the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe and other Pacific Northwest tribes to have tribal members with both traditional cultural knowledge and values and also the scientific knowledge and skills to be able to serve their tribes as fisheries biologists, water quality specialists, and other environmental scientists,” Green said in a release.

But students won’t be the only beneficiaries of the new lab, Corpuz said tribal Natural Resources and Fisheries employees and fisherman looking to expand their skill sets will also be able to use the space.