The Sitka Conservation Society provides diverse environmental education programs, which reach hundreds of people from preschool age through retirement age every year. Some of these programs are actually done in the classrooms of local schools, while other programs include public lectures, field classes, and even boat trips for the community at large.
The Backwoods and Waters series is a mix of wintertime lectures and summer boat trips to some of the most ecologically interesting and important places on the Tongass. It is an opportunity for Sitkans to learn about the natural history of their own home and abroad.
The Sitka Conservation Society is engaging in an ambitious project to spread the word about the importance of salmon and wild salmon habitat to the environment and our way of life in Southeast Alaska. With funding from the Alaska Sustainable Salmon Fund, we are developing curriculum materials for educators, conducting teacher training workshops in monitoring stream health and water quality, developing a university-level course in watershed ecology, and airing hundreds of public service announcements on local radio stations.
The richness of the Tongass National Forest and the waters of the Outer Coast make Sitka unlike any place. The dense forests, towering mountains, and waterways make this environment a unique classroom for youth to learn skills and respect for the land. It is our hope that students connect to this incredible environment through hands-on learning and leadership opportunities in the community.
As the ninth largest seafood port in the country, Sitka is swimming with fish. Students should have access to this nutritious, local food that drives our economy and represents the interconnectedness of our community. Local fish lunches are served twice a month at local schools. The lunch program is served with a “Stream to Plate” curriculum, taking students through the cycle in which fish mature in our waterways, are harvested by local fishermen, undergo processing by our town’s thriving seafood processors, and finally grace our dinner table.
Each May in Starrigavan Valley, nearly 100 7th Graders from Blatchley Middle School in Sitka spend a couple days doing hands-on stream restoration and monitoring. In the classroom, the students learn about watershed ecology and salmon habitat. Then they hit the field and help professional watershed managers actually install in-stream wood structures to rebuild fish habitat.
Educating young people about energy issues is the best way to ensure an energy independent future for Sitka. The Sitka Conservation Society has begun visiting school classes to talk about energy. Lessons in the classroom visits include Sitka’s energy situation and conservation, fossil fuels in Alaska, home weatherization, and home and building energy audits.
Students in the Science Mentor Program gain valuable knowledge of the local environment by conducting ecological research studies with professional scientists. This program also prepares students for post-secondary studies and gives them a glimpse into careers in the ecological sciences. Individual students will gain valuable real-world experience by working one-on-one with professional mentors to develop, implement, and report on a research study that addresses a pertinent ecological question in the local Sitka area.
Baranof Island has one of the highest concentrations of brown bears in the world, and the Sitka Conservation Society is interested in seeing that bears and people coexist safely. The Bear Aware campaign strives to remind the public how to avoid unwanted bear encounters.
This week, Gwen Baluss will be in town to band juncos, chickadees, and sparrows again, and we could use your help! This effort is part of a long-term study to better understand the winter movements of these species. Last year we banded 97 birds and monitored them all winter long with your help. If you [...]
In early October two high school students, Sitka Sound Science Center educator Ashley Bolwerk, and I traveled to Lake Suloia on Chichagof Island. This trip was part of the Community Wilderness Stewardship Project funded by the National Forest Foundation and the Sitka Conservation Society Living Wilderness Fund in order to gather baseline data on wilderness [...]
The “why” of Fish to Schools has had clear goals from the beginning: connecting students to their local food system, learning traditions, and understanding the impact of their food choices on the body, economy, and environment. The “how” has been a creative process. Serving locally is one component of the program, but equally important is [...]
Can you teach economics to kids? I wasn’t sure. I’ve been scratching my head at how to convey such an advanced topic to third graders. So what if money stays here or goes there? A dollar is a dollar to a kid and they are going to spend it on the next trendy thing, right? [...]
THE TONGASS NATIONAL FOREST AND THE COHO SALMON: Alaska’s coho fisheries and the Tongass National Forest are closely related. Shot in Sitka over the fishing season of 2013 by Berett Wilber, this photo essay illustrates how conservation and restoration matter to local fisherman, and why it should matter to you.