Whitten Burrage Law’s Commitment to Diversity
Whitten Burrage-Sponsored Native Explorers’ Dino Expedition
(Oklahoma City) As a testament to their commitment to education, conservation and environmental preservation, the Native Explorers Foundation (“NEF”) sponsored by the Whitten-Burrage Law Firm, took thirteen (13) students to Black Mesa in the far Northwest Oklahoma Panhandle to experience science in the outdoors. These students, mostly from Oklahoma, came from as far away as Oregon to participate in the NEF expedition.
The Native Explorers Foundation was created by Dr. Kent Smith, a member of the Comanche Nation, and Whitten Burrage Law partners Reggie Whitten and Michael Burrage.
Incredibly, less than 0.25% of students awarded a B.S. degree were Native American according to latest statistics. The NEF strives to reverse this trend by recruiting, training, and educating Native Americans in the earth sciences, natural sciences, and biomedical sciences as well as medicine. To date, NEF has touched more than 627 students.
“At Whitten Burrage Law, our community involvement focuses on areas of greatest need that can be positively impacted by our firm. Nearly 5 million Americans are Native People, and we must do more to assist. This is not only a wonderful opportunity to pay it forward; it is an excellent opportunity to enrich every single individual who participates. Judge Burrage and I are committed to making Native Explorers one of the most effective educational tools in America,” says Reggie Whitten.
NEF provides mentors, internships, summer programs, networking, scholarships and an opportunity to experience science to support academic achievement. Summer programs include expeditions to remote areas specifically selected for their concentration of ancient fossils giving participants an opportunity to experience science outside the classroom.
This year, NEF participants traveled to Gate, OK and dug for fossils of small vertebrate mammals from the Cretaceous and Jurassic periods. Afterwards, the explorers traveled to Black Mesa where they explored numerous fossil quarries and archeological sites. In addition, the 2011 explorers were graciously awarded iPads by the Whitten Newman Foundation with the hopes it would help inspire them to “do science”. 2011 participant, Hope Harjo stated, “I appreciate everything Native Explorers program has done. It was a great opportunity and I’m glad I was able to go!” Another 2011 student, Jena Fox, expressed her desire to return for 2012’s expedition, “to help pass on a culturally rich and informative experience!”
The NEF program is an accredited three (3) hour upper level science course. Therefore, participants receive 3 hours of 4000 level sciences upon completion of an expedition. Dr. Kent Smith offers the students a rare opportunity of having a mentor with both a CDIB and a Ph.D.
Native American students interested in science, medicine and/or paleontology are encourage to apply today. To learn more:www.NativeExplorers.org.