Gaa'Oziskwaajimekaag Gabe-gikendaasoowigamig

Floral pattern with text that says, A Culture of Success.

Natural Sciences & Technology

Boozhoo! Welcome!

The Department of Natural Sciences & Technology supports the institutional mission and goals of Leech Lake Tribal College. Our programs prepare students for careers in natural resources, life sciences, forestry, computers and technology, as well as set a foundation necessary to enter a Bachelor’s Degree program. Internships, field experiences, and research opportunities expose students to the benefits of science and technology while developing workforce skills. Our three degree programs promote and facilitate respect and appreciation for Anishinaabe heritage, culture and values. Come join us!!

Melinda Neville
Natural Sciences & Technology Department Chair
Ph.D., Ecology & Environmental Sciences, University of Maine, ABD (in progress)
M.S., Ecology & Environmental Sciences, University of Maine, 2006

STEM Faculty
Eric Kuha, M.A. English, Bemidji State University, 2009
Michael Price, M.S. Foresty, University of Montana,  
Neah Goodwin, B.S. Secondary Math, Bemidji State University, 1997
Stacie Lyon, M.S., Psychology of Culture, Walden University, 2012
Steve Smith, B.S., Biology and Chemistry, Concordia College, 1987
Kelly Nipp, M.S., Mathematics, Bemidji State University, 2006


From native geneticists who developed maize, to the southwestern chemists who produced dyes for pottery and weaving, Native Americans were involved in genetics, engineering, architecture, chemistry, pharmacology, and physics long before Europeans landed in North America.

What is STEM?
Stem is the acronym for “science, technology, engineering, and math”. The National Science Foundation (NSF) would like to see an increase of students graduating with a STEM-based degree. They provide funds to colleges for the development of courses, educational materials, and qualified instructors.

STEM at LLTC means you enroll in courses and work towards a degree in a STEM related field. A STEM field is any field that fits under the umbrella of science, technology, engineering, and math. So, it covers a pretty broad range. Every career is touched by the STEM field one way or another.

Read more about STEM programming in Minnesota at MN-STEM online.

Melinda Neville

Melinda Neville
Natural Sciences & Technology Department Chair & Earth System Science Instructor
(218) 335-4232

The program is designed for students to receive an Associates of Arts Degree in Liberal Education with a STEM Emphasis upon completion of the requirements. The program will provide students with an opportunity to customize their educational background to fit the student’s future four year STEM major of choice. This degree allows for flexibility, whether pursuing a concentration in any STEM area, or a broad overview of the STEM field.

Graduates of the Associate in Arts Degree in Liberal Education with a STEM Emphasis can transition into a four-year STEM Bachelor of Science degree.

Earth Systems include the lithosphere (geology), the hydrosphere (hydrology), atmosphere (meteorology), and the biosphere (biology). ESS students will gain an understanding of how the individual systems of the Earth interact, including the influence of humans on these systems.

A strong emphasis on environmental monitoring is included in the program to prepare students for careers in the Earth Systems sciences.

The Degree Program is centered and infused with a culturally relevant material. It is the intention of this course of study to provide students an exposure to the Ojibwe language and allow them the opportunity to understand Anishinaabe values and how these values can provide a foundation for lifelong learning and community involvement.

The credits a student earns at Leech Lake Tribal College are accredited and will transfer to colleges of the student’s choice, depending on transfer equivalency guidelines.


Articulation Agreement Augsburg College Liberal Education.pdf
Articulation with Bemidji State University.pdf

The ESS program focuses study on the geological, biological and chemical nature of our world from an Indigenous perspective.

ESS Classes focus on many of the materials and processes that you see around you every day:

  • The lithosphere includes the rocks and soil beneath your feet. The ESS program explores geology (GEOL 110) and soils (GEOL 210) of the Leech Lake area and the processes that operate above and below the surface of our Earth.  
  • The hydrosphere includes the water in wetlands, lakes, and streams, underground and in the atmosphere. The ESS program focuses on water quality (ESS 240) and aquatic ecosystems (FOR 210).  
  • The atmosphere is the envelope of gases surrounding Earth, including the air we breathe. Remarkable processes produce our weather and climate which we study (ESS 220) to better understand air quality issues.  
  • The biosphere includes all living things. Through biology and ecology courses, ESS students learn about the intricacies and interconnectedness of our living world.  

ESS courses blend physical, chemical and biological science with a place-based focus on the Leech Lake Reservation area, using both Western science and Indigenous American knowledge. We bring experts into the classroom and collaborate with them for research and employment opportunities.

Programmatic Learning Outcomes

Graduates will be able to:

  • Students will gain a fundamental knowledge of the individual Earth Systems, Atmosphere, Hydrosphere, Lithosphere, Biosphere, as well as understand how these systems interact. 
  • Students will be able to systematically collect, organize, and present appropriate scientific data from Western and Indigenous American views using a variety of sources including independent research, written journals, and the Internet; asses the validity of the data and interpret it correctly.     
  • Students will be able to apply the scientific method by formulating a hypothesis; researching the topic; determining appropriate tests; performing tests; collecting, analyzing, and presenting data; and finally proposing new questions about the topic. 
  • Students will gain a fundamental understanding of the impact that human beings have on these systems in order to solve real-world problems. 

The program is designed for students to receive an Associate in Science Degree (A.S.) upon completion of the requirements. Gikenimindwaa Mitigoog translates to ‘getting to know the trees,’ an apt description for a program which provides graduates with broad based field knowledge of forest lands, the organisms inhabiting them and the systems (soil, water, air) that support them. Students complete course work designed to develop an understanding of natural systems, examine human impacts and interactions, and practice relevant field and technical skills. Students who chose this option are prepared for employment at the technician level upon completion of this degree, or they may choose to continue on into a four year program.

The Forest Ecology program is intended for students with an interest in plant communities, water, forestry, wildlife and fisheries and/or recreation management.