Camp aims to build skills, self-worth and enrich learning to cultivate community solutions through technology training. 

By Velda Shelby

Native Youth Tech Camp Coordinator

Ronan — The new Boys and Girls Club of the Flathead Reservation will host the third annual Native Youth Tech Camp in Ronan.  The venue houses a computer center and serves as a central facility for Native students. A natural partnership has formed with Club staff and the Flathead Tech4Good team.  TheNative Tech Camp will be held July 8 – 12, 2019 at the new B&GCFR facility in Ronan. The Native Youth Tech  Camp aims to build technology skills, inspire students and explore future opportunities. Organizers hope to empower area youth and introduce students to experts in the technology industry while exploring real-life solutions to community social and environmental health.   

Native professionals and IT experts from Intel, the Washington Companies, Watershed Education Network and Tribal entities will lead the camp’s sessions that cover nearly every facet of technology, from gaming design to environmental data analysis. The free camp is open to Native high school students (entering freshmen through graduating seniors) and does not require previous technology training. 

“We continue to experience high rates of unemployment on the Reservation and this camp prepares our kids to explore opportunities in cutting edge technologies,”  said Native Tech Camp founder Velda Shelby, a member of the ConfederatedSalish Kootenai Tribes and also a founder of the Boys & Girls Club of the Flathead Reservation. “Native students are pretty keen to Reservation issues and the instructors hone into their creativity to identify solutions and enrich their skills.” 

Shelby partnered with Flathead Tech4Good founder Jonathon Richter in 2017 and this is the third year they will host the camp.  She enlisted her nephew Cory Cornelius, a research scientist with Intel Labs in Portland, Ore. to lead the camp and introduce students to new and developing technologies.  And she has brought on sponsors including Mary Byron, a retired partner in the Technology Division at Goldman Sachs and an advocate for diversity in the industry, Salish and Kootenai Technologies and Missoula-based Washington Companies. 

In July, the Native Tech campers will fill the Boys & Girls Club’s computer center in Ronan to learn about game design, design thinking, media design and editing, data analytics, coding, cyber security, AI and other new technologies. Camp facilitators will also lead a discussion about community challenges, and Tribal tech experts will talk with campers about educational and career opportunities in the industry. The campers will also get outside for field trips with the Watershed Education Network and Whisper Means, lead biologist of the CSKT Wildlife program. 

Registration is currently open at tech4good.skc.edu. For registration assistance please contact Yolanda Mattat SKC at (406) 275–4828 or (406) 544–4854.    

About Flathead Tech4Good

Flathead Tech4Good is a community outreach and professional development initiative at Salish Kootenai College in Pablo, Montana. Its vision is to build a community where each student is empowered to pursue his or her educational and professional goals. tech4good.skc.edu

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