Community Corner – Outreach activities help us connect with others in our region

By LINDA ROBINSON
Council Outreach Coordinator

On September 29, we participated in the Chugach Regional Education Forum. The goal of the event was to gather educators from the Chugach region to discuss projects and get a better understanding of what educational resources are available in the region.

Participants included teachers and organizations that provide educational services for students. Presentations covered topics such as diversity in the regions’ schools, how traditional knowledge is used in education, and education outreach. Participants learned about the Prince William Sound Science Center, Alaska Sealife Center, the Alaska Sea Otter and Steller Sea Lion Commission, Alaska Geographic, Kachemak Bay Research Reserve and the council. It was a very worthwhile forum and helped firm up connections and relationships among the region.

This year for the first time we had a booth at November’s Alaska Federation of Natives conference, held this year in Anchorage. At this statewide meeting of Native Alaskans and others we were able to reach out to many attendees from the council’s communities and beyond. Some visitors included former Alyeska-council liaison Gary Bader, former council board members Scott Sterling and Pete Kompkoff and many others. Board member Patience Andersen Faulkner and staffer Serena Lopez assisted with the council’s booth.

I attended the Alaska Committee for Noxious and Invasive Plants Management in Kodiak, October 30-November 1. This year marine invasive species were on the agenda. Topics included aquatic invasive species in Kodiak, early detection of zebra and quagga mussels in Alaska, promoting environmental stewardship in rural Alaska, potential impacts to Alaska’s fisheries from Didemnum Vexillum (a tunicate or sea squirt), and invasive species management programs in Alaska.

Staffer Anna Carey took the booth to the Society for Environmental Technology and Chemistry conference in Long Beach, California in November. Carey, board member John French, and the Scientific Advisory Committee’s Debu Misra were able to attend several scientific presentations related to oil spill technology.

In early November, Mark Swanson visited Valdez Elementary School and spoke with several fifth grade science classes. The presentation was part of the Information and Education Committee’s youth involvement project. Swanson talked to the students about the council and the concerns of various users of Prince William Sound. The students participated in facilitated group discussions about those concerns and looked at measures to balance everyone’s common interests.

Also in November, board members John Velsko and Blake Johnson assisted me at the booth at Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle. This conference attracts fishermen and others who live and/or work in the Alaska fishing industry. It is always very well attended.

All of us here wish you a very happy 2013, and a huge thank you to our wonderful volunteers for their hard work in protecting our waters.