"Sara tirelessly works to reduce the vulnerability of indigenous communities in the Midwest to climate change." -from Minnesota Climate Adaptation Awards nomination
Sara Smith has served as the Tribal Climate Resilience Liaison for the Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center / College of Menominee Nation since 2017. She uses her expertise in research, natural resources, ecology, Traditional Ecological Knowledge, and indigenous communities to engage with indigenous people across the upper Midwest and their climate adaptation efforts.
Through her work as tribal liaison, Sara conducted multiple site visits with more than 8 Tribes and helped to draft 3 vulnerability assessments in just 3 years, but her work has not stopped there. She also serves in a lead role for the Northeast Indigenous Climate Resilience Network, which makes climate change tools and science available to indigenous communities, and she is a member of the Tribal Adaptation Menu (TAM) Team, which authored Dibaginjigaadeg Anishinaabe Ezhitwaad - A Tribal Climate Adaptation Menu.
Sara is recognized for her commitment to respecting the perspectives and rights of indigenous communities, and ensuring their voices are heard in climate change adaptation conversations. She has shown an exceptional ability to engage, organize, and facilitate partnerships with and within tribal communities, which has led to her becoming a regional leader in just a few short years. Because of her "knowledge, drive, and commitment", she is an invaluable figure in the Minnesota climate adaptation community, and deserving of the Individual Adaptation Award.