The goals of the Summer Camp at NDSU include introducing tribal college students to STEM disciplines and career opportunities, exposing them to city and campus life, attracting them to four year STEM programs, and engaging tribal high school and college faculty in career improvement and lesson development. This two-week camp is usually offered in the first two weeks of June each year. The camp has two tracks, tribal college student track, and instructor and teacher track. The student track was expanded Summer of 2015 into a two-tiered approach to give students who have previously participated in University Summer Camp a more research focused experience. The intention of this expansion is to give returning students a different experience with STEM research and more opportunity to consider enrolling at NDSU or UND in a STEM related program. This second tier is part of the ND EPSCoR NATURE+ program that aims to improve enrollment and retention of Native Americans in ND college and university STEM related programs.

University Summer Camp - NATURE student track

NATURE Student Track

In 2015, twelve American Indian students from three tribal colleges participated in the NATURE Summer Camp June 1-12. Concurrently, six Tribal college faculty and two Reservation high school math/science teachers worked together with the faculty from NDSU and UND to develop lesson plans for the high school summer camps in June and July at the tribal college sites and for the upcoming Sunday Academy sessions, held one Sunday a month through the academic year 2015-2016. A two-day workshop was held the end of July at NDSU for the tribal college faculty and teachers to practice and perfect the hands-on activities in the lesson plans they developed for the Sunday Academy for the upcoming academic year.

Four student groups worked with NDSU faculty and one group with UND faculty. The five student presentations on the closing day of the camp showcased the collaboration of 12 American Indian students from tribal reservations across North Dakota and faculty and graduate students from the state's two research universities UND and NDSU. Opportunities for recreation and social interaction provided for the students to experience campus and city life at NDSU and UND added fun to the rigor of the camp. The camp concluded with a closing ceremony with a closing prayer followed by a luncheon.

Robert Pieri, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, directed the camp with assistance from Chad Ulven, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering. The primary resource faculty for instruction and mentoring during the camp include: Turk Rhen, Associate Professor of Biology (UND), Adnan Akyuz, Professor of Climatological Practice (NDSU), Jun Kong, Associate Professor of Computer Science (NDSU), Jayma Moore, Core Labs Manager (NDSU) and David Wells, Professor or Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering (NDSU). Graduate students Paula Comeau, Natural Resources Management (NDSU) and James Schanandore, Zoology (NDSU) assisted in instruction and logistics of the camp. NDSU and UND students who helped with mentoring and logistics for the camp include: Ryan Brown, Darrin Frederick, Taryn Payer, Brianna Provost and Jordan Syverson. Many other faculty from UND and NDSU helped with department tours and laboratory demonstrations.

University Summer Camp - NATURE+ student track

NATURE+ Student Track

In 2015, ND EPSCoR partnered with ND INBRE's Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) to create a two tiered-approach in providing even more exposure and experience in research for tribal community students (i.e. high school and college). Nine Native American students from two tribal colleges and a primarily undergraduate institution participated in the NATURE Summer Camp June 1-12. The students spent time at both North Dakota State University and the University of North Dakota.

ND INBRE's SURP program provided programming and research activities for the students with Indigenous perspectives on research. To participate in SURP, students were required to be tribal college students and at least 18 years of age. This included students who will begin their first year of college in fall of 2015 or those who have completed their Associates degree in spring 2015. The University Summer Camp's Opening Ceremony, Closing Ceremony, and other program activities overlapped between the two programs. One goal of the partnership was for SURP students to serve as role models and mentors to NATURE students.