Spotlight: NC CASC Launches Tribal Climate Leaders Program at CU Boulder

The North Central Climate Adaptation Science Center (NC CASC) is pleased to announce the launch of the Tribal Climate Leaders Program that will support Native American students pursuing a graduate degree at the University of Colorado Boulder in fields related to climate adaptation science. 

The Tribal Climate Leaders Program (TCLP) provides five fully-funded, 2-year fellowships to Native American students affiliated with the 32 federally-recognized tribes in the North Central region (North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado). The NC CASC welcomed the first PhD student to the Geography Department in Fall 2019, and four masters degree students will be joining the Environmental Studies Program and the Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering this fall. “This is an important moment for CU Boulder to support Tribal students in the next step of their careers. They are the next generation of environmental leaders who will help us live more sustainably on our planet,” said Dr. Jennifer Balch, University Director of the NC CASC.

“The Tribal Climate Leaders Program is a great opportunity for tribal student leaders and the University of Colorado-Boulder to co-create an ethical space to strike a balance between tribal knowledge and climate science where tribal students can learn and practice effective ways of using climate science, data and technology alongside Tribal Knowledge,” said James Rattling Leaf, consortium partner in the NC CASC and member of the Rosebud Sioux tribe in South Dakota. “Success would be in the ability of tribal student leaders to see the multiple ways in which this climate science, data and technology can advance their leadership as tribal resource managers of the 21st century.”

Funding for the TCLP is provided by the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the Graduate School, the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), the Environmental Studies Program, and the Office for Outreach and Engagement. The Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies (CNAIS) , the Graduate School and the American Indian Law Clinic at the CU Law School will offer additional academic and social support for the students while they are on campus. Faculty mentors for the TCLP students are rostered in the Department of Geography, the Environmental Studies Program, and the Department of Ethnic Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

The North Central Climate Adaptation Science Center, NC CASC, is a partnership between the University of Colorado Boulder, US Geological Survey, and five consortium partners. It is co-directed by Jennifer Balch of CIRES and the Department of Geography at CU Boulder and Nicole DeCrappeo of the US Geological Survey. 

For more information on the Tribal Climate Leaders Program, please contact Heather Yocum, program coordinator, For complete information on the NC CASC, visit