Copper River Record February 21, 2019
By Robin Mayo
On February 11th and 12th, four Copper Basin youth traveled to Anchorage to participate in Alaska Forum on the Environment. They re-united with 4 Cordova students with whom they shared an intensive 10-day expedition on Copper River Stewardship Program in the summer of 2018. The 8 students planned and presented “Linked by the River,” a multi-media presentation on how shared wilderness experiences encourage camaraderie, mutual understanding, and a stewardship ethic.
Alaska Forum on the Environment (AFE) is a statewide meeting attended by hundreds of people, including agency representatives, tribal leaders, businesses, and educators. As well as inspiring keynote speakers, a multitude of tracks give everyone a chance to learn and connect on topics as diverse as marine debris, disaster response, climate change, and alternative energy.
AFE also includes a youth track, and we shared meals and laughter with youth from all over the state who also gave presentations on their projects. WISE has taken students to AFE for the past 5 years, as it is a wonderful chance for them to connect on a statewide scale. Some of the students also documented their experience and earned college credit from UA Bristol Bay Campus.
The 30-minute “Linked by the River” presentation used a variety of media and the diverse talents of the students to tell their story. They shared photos and anecdotes from the journey, played videos, and taught the audience an “icebreaker” game to demonstrate the power of laughter to connect. The highlight was a song re-written for the program, featuring all 8 stewards singing along with 2 ukuleles and a guitar. The audience of 75 went away humming and singing “We had lumps in our throats ‘cause we knew we wanted more time…” To see a video of the song, visit Wrangell Institute for Science and Environment (WISE) on Facebook, and don’t forget to check out all the other events and like our page while you are there!
The funds for the AFE experience were raised at a Taco Feed in the fall, when the stewards shared their final projects from the Copper River Stewardship Program. Families and community members chipped in to help with the expenses of travel, lodging, and food. Conference registration fees are waived, and many of the meals are provided as part of Youth Track activities.
For students who would like to embark on a similar adventure, applications will be accepted in March for Summer 2019 Copper River Stewardship Program. We are looking for youth from the Copper Basin and Cordova, or with significant ties to the Copper River Watershed, who want to explore, learn, and share with their communities. And they will earn High School credit from Copper River School District. Watch this space for more details!
Photo: From Left: Josie Beauchamp, Warren Brower, Lindsey Gordon, and Cozmo Harder are joined by 4 Cordova students for the grand finale of their song at Alaska Forum on the Environment.
Who We Are
WISEfriends are several writers connected with Wrangell Institute for Science and Environment, a nonprofit organization located in Alaska's Copper River Valley. Most of these articles originally appeared in our local newspaper, the Copper River Record.