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Biology Professor Collaborates with Education, Government and Native American Tribal Leaders on Heritage Seeds Project

Ferris State UniversityProfessor of Biology Scott Herron, a member of Ferris State University’s College of Arts Sciences faculty, will collaborate with a consortium of educators, anthropology experts and Native American tribal leaders in a grant-funded “’Heritage Seeds for Sustainable Lifeways’ project.

Herron has more than a decade of experience as a visiting professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan’s Biological Station near Burt Lake, in Cheboygan County, Mich. The professor has Anishinaabe and Miami family roots, and is the president of the Society of Ethnobiology. Part of his continuing efforts to preserve and promote learning with regard to heritage, or native seeds, involves planting heirloom and pollinator-focused native plants in gardens, both on the Ferris campus and in the Big Rapids area.

There are a total of eight educators, researchers and Native American heritage experts among the investigators and team members involved in the project, according to Herron.

“We are trying to develop a plan, policy and approach to accommodate access to heritage seeds, along with the information that is curated in collections at the University of Michigan, to benefit the communities from which the seeds originated,” Herron said. “I am honored to be part of this group of people working together to address this matter as it develops.”

There was a meeting on Aug. 29, 2016 in Ann Arbor with UM partners, along with members of the Anishinaabe and tribal communities, where the issues were defined that led to the Heritage Seeds for Sustainable Lifeways proposal.

The group is supported by a $10,000 Emerging Opportunities Program Grant from the Graham Sustainability Institute at the University of Michigan, and the project period continues through Sept. 15 of this year. Herron said this was the first funding sought to support this work, which is likely to continue beyond this fall.

“The $10,000 was the maximum award available from the institute,” Herron said. “During the summer, our team will work on producing a collaborative framework, or policy document, that would be made available to the stakeholders,” Herron said. “I anticipate there will be events in Ann Arbor, including a two-day workshop to highlight our efforts.”

Herron concluded that this research will present a greater learning opportunity for students of many colleges and universities, along with other groups when their work is complete.

“The University of Michigan’s Matthaei Botanical Gardens, along with the university’s Museum of Anthropological Archeology are viewed as a resource to benefit the entire state of Michigan,” Herron said. “This project is likely to produce a more collaborative and inclusive use of these facilities which could certainly include visits from Ferris faculty and students.”

Heritage Seeds Supporters

PHOTO CAPTIONS: Ferris State University Biology professor Scott Herron, shown in the photo near the top of this story, is among the team members in a University of Michigan grant-funded research project, “Heritage Seeds for Sustainable Lifeways.” Shown in the group photo, Herron is standing in a brown shirt in the back row). Herron is among the team members in a University of Michigan grant-funded research project, “Heritage Seeds for Sustainable Lifeways.” This photo is from an Aug. 29, 2016 meeting in Ann Arbor that prompted the effort to pursue this project.