Engaging Youth For the Commonwealth: January News

2015 is off to a great start for Ogallala Commons! With the help of our partners, we are excited to announce some new funding and programs to continue engaging the young people in our communities.

Funding for Internships

Ogallala Commons recently received a $9,200 grant from the First Nations Development Institute of Longmont, Colorado.  This award will support OC’s Community Internship Program by funding 4 internships for Native American young adults.

First-Nations-Logo“Over the past 3 years, First Nations Development Institute and Ogallala Commons have formed a strong partnership that is helping youth to gain work experience and skill development,” notes Darryl Birkenfeld, OC Executive Director.  “Through internships, these youth are also exploring career options that can bring them back to their Native communities in the Great Plains and Mountain West.”  The FNDI grant will fund Community Internships in 2015 at Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, Ogallala Sioux Tribe at Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, and one of the Pueblo Nations in New Mexico, in addition to the FNDI office in Longmont, CO.

Youth Summit in February

Save the DateNative Strong: Healthy Kids, Healthy Futures at the Notah Begay III Foundation and Ogallala Commons have teamed up to convene an innovative conference, Native Youth Leaders: Revitalizing & Embracing Wellness Through Food, on Wednesday, February 4, 2015 in Albuquerque, N.M. at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. Applications were received from 25 youth leaders (ages 16-25) to represent their communities in New Mexico, Arizona, and South Dakota.

NYL Conference BagRevitalizing and Embracing Wellness Through Food strategies present some of the most complex challenges Native youth face today. “Why should I care about food and wellness?” is a question that goes to the heart of establishing wellness and behavior change. The answers affect tribal policies concerning education, cultural preservation, and wellness.  We look forward to sharing photos and outcomes from the conference in our February newsletter.

Art in Agriculture: Catching Up with Rebecca J. Hopp

We recently saw this great video profiling the work of OC Intern Alumnus and artist, Rebecca Hopp (2013). The video, created by Brenda Cruz, an artist and videographer in Houston, is part of a series highlighting female artists in Houston. Read what Rebecca has to say and check out the video below.

Growing up on a farm in Minnesota, the surroundings of land, labor, and harvest made an impact on my perspective of life and art. I never saw myself becoming a farmer, but instead I had the desire to develop an understanding of the land. My artwork focuses on our natural sources, the land and the people who make up agriculture.  I wasn’t cut out for plowing fields or growing corn, but it’s wonderful to see that I am now planting seeds of knowledge and creativity through my artworks that I share with my students. Using art as my outlet, my goal is to help educate and encourage conversations about agriculture. For me, the process of making a work of art is just as important as the final piece. The process becomes a personal educational experience as I research various topics, which open up conversations for others to learn and explore new perspectives on agriculture. The digital photograph is a starting point, I need to have my hands in the work by adding marks or making photographic transfers, to complete the story of the image.  I am currently working on images for a project called Dearth with a fellow Texas Tech alumni, Dr. Jenny Lloyd-Strovas, that focuses on the playa lakes of West Texas and the Ogallala Aquifer.  The goal of Dearth is to communicate scientific facts through artworks, specifically about the water issues in West Texas. The exhibition will be held at LHUCA in Lubbock from May through June. Education is a large part of my art making process. I love to research, to hear stories about the land and the people who work on it, and later transform those ideas into new works of art. I’m blessed to use my creative skills everyday as I teach Houston youth through a program called Literacy through Photography. Through this program, I help enhance the learning experience for students by adding photography and writing exercises. I also work for Houston Center for Photography and use photography as an outreach tool for children who are hospitalized at Texas Children’s Hospital. Once again, it’s a learning process, I think sometimes the students usually teach me more than what I seem to teach them! — Rebecca J. Hopp

Join Our Program

2014 Ogallala Commons InternsOgallala Commons is on the lookout for candidates and partners to create 70 community internships and apprenticeships during 2015, in the states of Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Oklahoma.  Motivated youth, college students, and adults can gain valuable work experience and skill development by conducting projects that add value to local communities and institutions—in addition to a stipend and hometown career exploration opportunities.  You can build a diverse range of skills in community development projects, leadership, entrepreneurship, nonprofit outreach, agricultural careers, health care, renewable energy, social networking, and rebuilding local food systems, just to name a few areas!  You can also apply using this link:


To access the room block by phone use “Ogallala Commons Room Block” at:  (806) 803-5514

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If you need help with your reservation call (806) 803-5500 for assistance.