The education program at UNDERC-West builds on the program at UNDERC-East, because students must participate in the UNDERC-East program in the summer prior to participating in the UNDERC-West program. This program is funded by Notre Dame and is currently available to 8 students of whom 4 must be Native Americans. Acceptance in the program includes tuition, housing, round trip transportation between Notre Dame and the UNDERC sites, and a $2500 summer stipend for the summers at UNDERC- East and West.
In the UNDERC-West summer (9 weeks), students receive six-credits for a Practicum in Field Environmental Biology (BIOS 35503-01) and to prepare for the program, a 1 credit introductory course (BIOS 35501-02) during the Spring Semester is required (on-campus or on-line). The summer class modules include wildlife ecology, grassland ecology, mountain ecology, Native American ecology, and stream ecology. Each module lasts 5 to 7 days. Furthermore, each student is expected in the remaining time to design and complete an independent field research project under the direction and assistance of the Director and Assistant Director. This project should be more advanced than in the first summer at UNDERC-East and hopefully will be designed to compare results between UNDERC- East and West. Therefore, a portion of the course involves more advanced training in experimental design, data collection, data analysis and presentation of research results (6th module). Each student's research project culminates with a written report and seminar presentation at the end of the course.
An added element of the UNDERC-West program is that students learn about and experience how Native Americans lived off the land and how this created their environmental awareness. This is accomplished through the interactions with Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and by living on their Flathead Reservation.
Habitats: grasslands, montane forest, and streams