PABLO — The “Leadership Flathead Reservation” developmental program is ending its first nine-month series. A group of over 20 students attended nine courses on local leadership initiative topics including: history and government, health and human services, and public safety to name a few.
The program is organized under the Lake County Community Development Corporation. According to its description, “Leadership of the Flathead Reservation” aims to “facilitate development and growth of local leaders, provide opportunities to interact with other community members, and explore local relevant issues.”
Salish Kootenai College (SKC) president Sandra Boham led a discussion for a course focused on “Education and Workforce Training.” The tribal college serves over 800 students and offers certificate, associate, and bachelor level educational programs. “We need to develop the next generation of leaders,” Boham said. “Our goal at SKC is to provide the best opportunity for educational and workforce development.”
Enrolled tribal members representing over 60 tribal nations make up 53 percent of SKC’s student body. Boham said Federal funding for tribal students are split between 36 tribal colleges nationwide. “Tribal colleges were put in a position to compete for a piece of the federal funding but we got organized and said ‘no, we’re not going to do that.’ Now we work together to make sure the funding is split in the most effective way. If one of us goes skinny on funding we all do.”
Non-tribal persons make up 23 percent of SKC’s student body and the college only recently qualified for state funding limited to in-state non-tribal students. “We allowed non-tribal students to attend our college even though we didn’t receive funding for them,” Boham said. “I don’t know if people realize what SKC contributes to the community as a whole.”
Boham said funding has become a rising challenge for all higher education facilities. “Colleges almost need to be managed like a business to operate,” she said. “Aside from hiring tremendous grant writers, we’ve started partnering with employers to provide training in order to cover some of our costs. We started our first contract with the Air Force and S&K Electronics. We’re doing research and development training for the workforce in 3D printing. The interesting thing is advanced manufacturing technology is a diverse field. We both benefit from the partnership.”
SKC has been operating on the Flathead Reservation for 40 years and Boham said the college’s long-term goal is to no longer rely on outside funding. “We don’t want to be so dependant on grants in the future or function on who wants to give us money for what,” she said. “We would also like to expand what degrees we offer. Right now we are on the edge of developing a master’s program for education.”
The “Leadership Flathead Reservation” course is currently recruiting for its 2018-2019 session. The cost of the course is $1,200 per participant and applications are due by May 11, 2018. For more information, click here or call Lisa Bagaoisan at: (406) 676-5909.