Nebraska

What Does a Tribal Liaison Do in Region 7?

By Heather Duncan, Region 7 Tribal Liaison

The relationship between a federal employee and a Tribal representative is based on the same tenets as any other: respect, trust, and lots of honest communication. A large collection of history, policy, and case law defines the relationship between the federal government and Tribal governments. Because each Tribe’s interests and concerns are unique, I have no typical days – and that’s one of my favorite things about my job.

Tribal flags logoSince November 2014, I’ve been serving in a temporary position filling a vacancy in our Region 7 Office of Tribal Affairs. As part of these duties, I serve as a liaison between EPA and five of the nine Tribal nations in our Region. I also negotiate and manage several financial agreements with our Tribal partners.

To an outsider looking in, my day may look calm, spent sitting in a meeting room or in front of a computer. Behind the scenes, most of my day as a liaison is spent translating. I translate the opportunities, needs, and requirements of the federal government into actionable goals and tasks for the Tribes to consider. Likewise, I work to understand and translate the needs and priorities of the Tribes to create better opportunities and policies at EPA.

Outside of my Agency work, I do not have a background or experience with Tribal governments or cultures. I grew up an Iowa farm girl in an agricultural community inherently skeptical of the federal government. Neighbors may disagree with one another but are quick to unite to improve their community’s resilience. At home, handshakes are binding agreements and individuals are judged by their honesty and ability to follow through on their commitments. Growing up in an agricultural community has been excellent training for my experiences in our Office of Tribal Affairs. In many ways, working with the Tribes feels like home.

In my role as a Tribal liaison, it’s important to recognize the cultural and economic influences in scientific conversations and to share those insights as EPA discusses new policies and programs.

I have about two months left in my temporary assignment. In those remaining days, my desire is to do the right thing – one day at a time.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Bowl Games and Big (10) Data

By Jeffery Robichaud

Three of our four States have a college football team travelling to a bowl game this holiday season (Sorry Missouri, karmic payback for moving to the SEC I suppose).   Iowa State, Kansas State and Nebraska all get to take a trip someplace warmer.  Of course I type this as snow falls behind me outside the window.  I don’t watch many bowl games nowadays, but in my younger (read pre-wife and kids) days I watched way too much football.  One thing I remember from bowl games was the short infomercials about each of the schools, attempting to woo kids into thinking that Upper-Middle Northern Technical State College of the Plains was an awesome school by sharing stirring visuals of their picturesque tree-lined campus where everyone smiles and carries a handful of textbooks.  So in the spirit of sharing, I thought I might take this season to share a few of our favorite sites, where data abounds.   In order of historic bowl wins, Nebraska gets to be first.

Awesome Artistic Rendering of NE in Beef in "Beef Stakes," designed by art and technology student Sarah Hallacher

First up is the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources’ Nebraska Data Bank which is charged with developing, storing, processing and managing natural resources data relating to land and water resources of the State.  My personal favorite data set at the Data Bank is their Dams Inventory.

Next we have the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.  If you want to find a great place to camp or fish in Nebraska they have your map.  You can toggle between boating, fishing, hunting, parks, and trails by clicking on the tabs above the map.

Finally, the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, hosts quite a bit of GIS data within their School of Natural Resources.  They have some great holdings including climatology resources as do the folks at UNL’s Center for Advanced Land Management Information Technologies (CALMIT).  Give these folks a couple days to get over their Bowl Loss to Georgia  before you call them for further information (I’m going to take heat for this prognostication from several of my colleagues who are HUGE Big Red fans).

I know it is fun to read blogs but since it is still the season for sharing please share your favorite data sets…or how about data that is on your wish list in the comment section below.

Jeffery Robichaud is a second generation EPA scientist who has worked for the Agency since 1998. He currently serves as Deputy Director of EPA Region 7′s Environmental Services Division.  His Alma Mater, the University of Pennsylvania, won the Ivy League Championship yet again this year.  Go Quakers!

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.