In Focus: We Must Go To Them

In 2021, three members of the SAME Leader Development Program Class of 2020-2021 researched the best ways to more effectively engage American Indian/ Alaska Native (AI/AN) youth in STEM for their capstone Utilization Project.

The research they conducted led to a strategic construct, “we must go to them,” and was awarded a grant from the United Engineering Foundation in 2022. With matching assistance from the SAME Foundation, four geographic and culturally diverse SAME Posts jumpstarted outreach efforts in their local AI/AN communities, conducting at least one event customized for the community’s local culture and priorities.

These pilot efforts not only introduced more AI/AN youth to STEM opportunities, they provided valuable lessons learned toward a future toolkit for STEM engagement that additional Posts will be able to follow.


The Albuquerque Post provided instruction, material support, and outreach as part of four events in the local community.

Santa Ana (Pueblo) Youth Hands-on Hydrology Outreach. This STEM Camp, held in July 2022, provided attendees a chance to learn more about hydropower science, alternative and renewable energy, environmental science, and fluid dynamics. In addition to financial support, Jon Pena, Albuquerque Post President, spoke to the camp about Hoover Dam as well as dams in general.

Pueblo of Santa Ana 21st Environmental and Health Fair. SAME sponsored a table at this outreach event, which drew 150 members of the community. The SAME table provided innovative hands-on geological exhibits and giveaways for all ages to help increase environmental awareness, provide outdoor education, and build partnerships that will enhance environmental stewardship across tribal lands.

American Indian Services Pre-Freshman Engineering Program. Funding provided robotics kits, a 3D printer and filament, and Chromebooks for graduates of this three-year program targeting middle school students.

New Mexico Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Achievement 2022 STEM Ag Career Fair Day. The program provided transportation and housing costs for 115 students and chaperones from native communities with financial limitations to attend this career fair for middle and high school students.


After meeting with representatives of the Ahtna Native Corp., the Anchorage Post developed a STEM, Construction, and Surveying Camp that was held in September 2022. Campers had an opportunity to participate in a variety of hands-on activities, including a 3D laser survey, water sampling, and pipe cutting and fusion. Along with operating the camp, the Post’s contributions covered transportation, housing, program development, and all materials for 18 youth and adults to participate. Student also were provided a stipend to overcome any financial burden due to attending.


The Panama City Post provided support for STEM materials, instructor support, and field trips to the Tallahassee Regional Crime Laboratory and Gulf Specimen Marine Lab and Aquarium as part of the Florida Indian Youth Program Camp, which was held in July 2022. Participants at the camp were Native American, Native Alaskan, and Native Hawaiian students ages 14–19 living in Florida and Georgia. Additionally, earlier in the year as part of the 2022 SAME Panama City Industry Day, the Post hosted a panel presentation to an audience of SAME members from across the region on how to work in Indigenous communities and how to approach these communities in order to have successful outcomes on engineering projects.


After a number of conversations with the Cherokee Nation and Kids Spark (a manufacturer of STEM equipment), the Tulsa Post provided STEM equipment to the Cherokee Language Immersion School, a community school for elementary students who are taught exclusively in the Cherokee language. A total of 18 STEM Pathways Labs for grades 2 through 5 (enough for 72 students), were provided to the school, with the school agreeing to provide translation of the materials.