Summer 2017 is in full swing for the Chugach Children’s Forest! Despite the frenzied pace, there is finally time to take a step back and reflect on all that’s happening through another summer season of new experiences for Alaskan youth on the Chugach National Forest. Since the beginning of June, nearly 30 young Alaskans have had immersive educational experiences on the Chugach National Forest through a handful of Chugach Children’sForest programs.
Early in June, nine middle-school students joined staff from Alaska Geographic and the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council aboard the Babkin Marine Research Vessel for six days exploring Western Prince William Sound and learning about oil spill recovery, the ecology of the region and lifeways of people living and working in this special environment. A highlight of this experience was connecting with a group of researchers studying Pigeon Guillemots, and visiting a working fish camp in Main Bay.
Below: The CFCC at one of their work sites
This summer saw the first ever Chugach Forest Conservation Crew (CFCC), a program developed in partnership between the U.S. Forest Service, Alaska Geographic and the Student Conservation Association. This pilot program convened eight Alaskan teens to do service work and learn about the multitude of projects that are undertaken by the Forest in a typical summer. The team backpacked, maintained hiking and biking trails, surveyed cache pits and kayaked their way through their four weeks together, and finished up with a career development workshop and meeting Terri Marceron, the Forest Supervisor. The breadth of experiences in the four weeks was a fast-paced introduction to the Chugach National Forest and asked participants to think deeply about their futures while living and working together as a team.
Backpacking on the Seward Ranger District
Another Habitat Restoration Expedition also hit the field later in July, with time spent in Eshamy Bay and points north in Prince William Sound. This type of program, now a mainstay of the Chugach Children’s Forest suite of programs, introduced nine teens to the Chugach National Forest through assisting with an ongoing invasive species removal project, learning about forest management and the Nellie Juan – College Fiord Wilderness Study Area and kayaking between campsites.
Throughout all of these programs and more across the Forest, young people are learning about, serving, and sharing ideas about the future of their public lands. Stay tuned to this blog for more in-depth stories about participants and what they’ve taken away from their CCF programs.