GradImpact: Helping Indigenous Tribes Relearn Ethnobotany & Traditional Ecological Knowledge

    Rick Flores, a doctoral student in environmental studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, is helping indigenous tribes recuperate and relearn traditional ecological knowledge and resource management after a period of colonial dispossession.


    After receiving his undergraduate degree, Flores became interested in the ethnobotany of the California Indians while working at the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum. The Arboretum started the Amah Mutsun Relearning Program in 2009 with Flores leading the efforts. Through the program, Flores developed a cultural understanding and respect for the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band (AMTB). The longer Flores learned about and worked with the AMTB, the more he realized an advanced degree would enable him to have a greater impact on the tribe; pursuing his degree at UC Santa Cruz seemed an obvious choice.


    Once Flores finishes his doctoral study, he plans to continue working with indigenous peoples. “I want to continue to help the AMTB in their efforts to relearn traditional knowledge and become active land stewards within their traditional territories again,” he said. “I would also like to work with public and private land managers to incorporate traditional knowledge into contemporary land management practices." To learn more about Rick and his research, visit the UC Santa Cruz website.

    The CGS GRADIMPACT project draws from member examples to tell the larger story of graduate education. Our goal is to demonstrate the importance of graduate education not only to degree holders, but also to the communities where we live and work. Do you have a great story to share about the impact of master’s or doctoral education? Visit our WEBSITE for more information.


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