By Keir Reyes-Johnson, Intertribal Agriculture Council, Pacific Region

Photo credit: Karuk Tribe

This blog is part of a series of profiles of Native Farm to School Champions, organized and collated by the Intertribal Agriculture Council (IAC). IAC is NFSN's 2019 National Partner of the Year, and we are excited to collaborate with IAC on this storytelling project to celebrate farm to school activities happening across Indian Country. These Champion profiles were written and submitted by IAC's Regional Technical Assistance Specialists, and these programs will be recognized for the farm to school leadership at the 2019 IAC Annual Meeting. Learn more about the IAC at

The Karuk Tribe is strongly committed to growing opportunities for Tribal and local youth to engage with their traditional food system. Lisa Hillman, the Director of the Píkyav Field Institute, has led a powerful effort to build integrative traditional and local foods curriculum into years of Farm 2 School (F2S) related initiatives. The Karuk Tribe initially received a F2S subaward in 2015 which enabled staff to hire Native food forager contractors who collected hundreds of pounds of acorns, grapes, huckleberries and more. The program organized field trips to foraging sites, conducted a baseline survey of traditional foods consumption at area schools, and built and implemented K-12 Native food system curriculum. Many schools throughout the Mid Klamath Region of California (Junction, Orleans, Happy Camp, and Forks of Salmon Elementary Schools, Yreka Tribal Headstart, and Happy Camp High School) partnered to implement this important programming.

In 2017, the Karuk Tribe received a $100,000 F2S grant to expand upon ongoing initiatives (developed under their initial sub-award) to further support their impressive traditional foodways educational initiatives. Under this grant, Lisa and her team were able to publish many articles and present findings and best practices at venues across the region and beyond. Continued emphasis was placed on honing and expanding K-12 curriculum as well. The true impact of the F2S based efforts over the years is immeasurable. Lisa and her team are cultivating meaningful change in their communities through food and nutrition-based curriculum that follows the unique practices of the Karuk people.

Lisa has been very impressed by the process of working with both F2S grants and has recently shared that the “Farm 2 School grants have been the best grants I have ever worked with.”

IAC has been a longstanding partner of the Karuk Tribe’s Department of Natural Resources (which houses the Píkyav Field Institute among other programs), sharing resources and assisting with identifying funding for youth-led initiatives, highlighting the Karuk Tribe’s impressive community-based programming nationally, advocating for the protection of Tribal sovereignty and ancestral territory management, and outreaching to Karuk youth to involve them in IAC Pacific Region Native Youth Food Sovereignty Summits in 2018 and 2019.

Learn more about the Karuk Tribe Farm to School Grant here: