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Native Tech Camp returns to Flathead Reservation

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AmeriCorps service member Dayton Smith, left, helps Amber Redneck make a video at the 2018 Native Tech Summer Camp at Salish Kootenai College in Pablo. The camp aims to broaden opportunities and expose students to careers in science and technology.

Next month, the Summer 2019 Native Tech Camp will give Native teens the chance to build robots, use a “maker truck” and more.

The camp has been a part of Salish Kootenai College’s Tech4Good program since 2017, giving Flathead Reservation students the chance to explore careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

“I’ve actually heard from parents … who have thanked us because their children weren’t even aware” of careers in these fields, said community organizer Velda Shelby. “This opened up a whole new world to them.”

This year, campers will have the chance to build and program robots; visit the Flathead Lake Biological Station; use a "maker truck's" traditional and modern tools; and meet with scientists and engineers from Intel, Mission Valley Power, the Watershed Education Network, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes’ wildlife program and the Washington Corp.

Shelby is especially looking forward to the presentations by her nephew, Cory Cornelius, an Intel research scientist based in Portland. “He’ll bring them a lot of his projects to show them where we’re going with technologies …. The students glom onto that.”

Shelby and volunteer Mary Byron co-founded the camp in 2017. Both have since heard about former campers who settled on careers in STEM. “That’s really gratifying when I know that the students are deciding their future from just an intensive week,” Shelby said.

The Tech4Good Native Tech Camp will run from July 8-12, and will be held at the Boys and Girls Club in Ronan. Registration is open to Native high school students (rising freshmen through graduating seniors). Participation is free, and daily transportation is provided. For more information, visit, or contact Yolanda Matt at 406-275–4828 or 406-544–4854.

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