Community Corner: Passing the torch through story

By Lisa Matlock Outreach Coordinator Many of the council’s volunteers and staff experienced 1989’s Exxon Valdez oil spill firsthand. Memories of the smell, the terrible sights and sounds, and the social and environmental impacts on communities drive our volunteers to keep such a thing from happening again. For today’s youth, who will someday join the board to represent communities impacted by that spill, the need to be vigilant and resist complacency can seem vague and somewhat disconnected to their daily reality. A recent focus of the council on oral history of the oil spill and our creation as an organization, is helping fill this gap. … Continue reading

Community Corner: Sharing our mission with students

By Lisa Matlock Outreach Coordinator Universities, both from Alaska and out-of-state, offer field courses that can connect students to places and topics firsthand, adding a dose of reality to their academic learning and creating lifelong memories for participating students. Every year the council receives requests for presentations and educational activities to help students understand our mission, our work, and its global significance. … Continue reading

Listening to downstream concerns

By Lisa Matlock Outreach Coordinator Over the past two months, Executive Director Mark Swanson and I have been traveling as part of the council’s community outreach program to a good number of our downstream communities. The term “downstream” was coined after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, when oil spread across more than a thousand miles of coastline in southcentral Alaska, including the southern Kenai Peninsula and Kodiak Island. Because of this, when industry works on contingency planning for safe oil transportation through Prince William Sound, the council regularly speaks up for downstream communities and resources that could be affected by an accident. So it is important for us to visit these communities to hear from these citizens about how our mission connects to their priorities and community needs. … Continue reading

Developing internships for the council’s future

By LISA MATLOCK Council Outreach Coordinator In February 2015, the council will be 25 years old. We are an organization in transition, created by one generation and moving to the next. In the past year alone, several board members and long-time staff have retired, or, sadly, passed away. At every meeting, the board discusses the importance of finding and recruiting passionate younger citizens who will eventually be called upon to represent the council’s member entities and work on behalf of our mission. To help answer this need, the council has been developing an internship project to engage the next generation. Pilot internships The project began in 2014 with two interns working on very different pilot projects. Cordova High School student Sarah Hoepfner spent a few hours each month of the past year using traps and plates to monitor for European green crab and invasive tunicate species in the Cordova area. She also worked with several classrooms in Cordova this spring and at the Copper River Wild! Festival this summer to educate youth about invasive species. Sarah has been mentored by Information and Education Committee volunteer, Kate Morse, and Science Advisory Committee project manager, Joe Banta. Sarah’s final report on this summer’s aquatic nuisance species monitoring will be completed this fall. … Continue reading