New Program Offers Higher Education for Warm Springs Reservation Employees


CORVALLIS, Ore. – Employees of Warm Springs Reservation are now taking college courses through a grant from the National Head Start American Indian/Alaska Native Research Center.

The two-year grant supports Warm Springs Reservation’s employees who work in the Early Childhood Center, the Culture and Heritage Department and the Human Services Department. The grant will fund the coordination of activities such as advisement, tutoring, local coursework, Web-based class offerings, child care for students, and ongoing support for employees new to higher education.

The classes resulted from a new higher education partnership among The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Oregon State University, Central Oregon Community College, and the Cascades Center for Community Governance.

Results will be shared with rural tribes across the nation, many of whom have had difficulty accessing higher education for their members on reservations.

Home of the Warm Springs, Wasco, and Paiute tribes, the 640,000-acre Warm Springs Reservation in rural central Oregon is inhabited by nearly 4,000 residents, mostly tribal members. To date, nearly 50 new students are enrolled in higher education as a result of the partnership.

“Many of these individuals are already caring for children or family members and working full-time, so this commitment to gaining higher education is very impressive,” said Sharon Rosenkoetter, associate professor in OSU’s Department of Human Development and Family Sciences and principal investigator for this program. Ramona Tanawasha of Warm Springs is co-principal investigator. Clint Jacks, a retired OSU Extension leader in central Oregon, is serving as the local site coordinator.

“As the employees gain concepts and skills from college courses, they will be able to improve child and family services at Warm Springs Reservation and also to advance opportunities for themselves and their families,” Rosenkoetter added.

Each tribal employee receives an individual plan for higher education and/or continuing education. Plans are developed based on each individual’s interests, entering skills, past educational history, personal preferences, and desired rate of course attainment.

Rosenkoetter said only two similar partnerships exist in the country, at Michigan State University with 12 Michigan tribes and at Arizona State University with the Navaho.