Copper River Record 2015
By Robin Mayo
In the twelve years WISE has been doing programs many of our participants in those programs have graduated and pursued careers in fields connected with the natural environment. WISE will be doing a series of articles about those graduates, how WISE may have influenced their path in life, and what it means to them.
Trevor Grams grew up in an outdoors-loving family , with the great Copper River Watershed as his extended backyard. “The Copper Valley is special. It is the place where I grew up. It helped define who I am today.” This confident young man seems equally at ease shredding the backcountry on his snowboard, or wearing a tie and speaking as valedictorian of his high school class.
Trevor grew up attending WISE programs at school, and in 2011 participated in the Copper River Stewardship Program. He had an “aha” moment when learning about the complex land management interactions in the watershed. “It made me realize how small I am, how many different interests are at work here. BLM, Park Service, Forest Service, Native Corporations, all with completely different strategies.”
In October 2013 Trevor joined a group from WISE that travelled to the WILD10 wilderness conference in Spain, and had another awakening. “It opened my eyes up to what is going on around the world, and made me realize how good we have it in Alaska. People were comparing land management strategies, citing Alaska as a good example.” Trevor was pleased to hear that the management of the fisheries in Bristol Bay and tourism in the Tongass are considered models for sustainable industries around the world. The experience in Spain also had an impact on his future plans, as he learned to think about things on a global scale.
What are those future plans? A typical college freshman, Trevor admits they change nearly every week. Officially an earth science major, he has been thinking a lot about geography and economics, both open-ended flexible subjects which deal with global issues. On the day we spoke, he’d just heard that UAF has a new 200 foot icebreaking research vessel, and he was wondering what path might get him a chance to get on that ship. Whatever he ends up doing, he wants it to have a global impact, and enable him to live in a place where he can continue to live the active outdoors lifestyle he loves. “Every time I go out in the backcountry it opens my eyes. I feel refreshed and have a better perspective on things, and it helps me stay motivated.”
When asked about the motivation, Trevor grins. “If I know I have a trip coming up, it helps me get my homework done, so I am free for the weekend.” For teenagers growing up in the Copper River Valley, Trevor advised “get after it! If you want something go for it. Opportunities may be hidden, you need to keep your eyes open.” He also acknowledged that in the long run, it is networking and connecting with people that is most important.
WISE is proud to count young people like Trevor Grams among our “Alumni.” His thoughtfulness about the world around him, and his many connections with people and the natural world will serve him well wherever his paths take him.
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.