All images by by Bethany Goodrich. Above: Mia by a resting totem in her community of Wrangell.
Youth engagement has been a focus area of the Sitka Conservation Society for the past decade, with efforts including hosting and supporting high school interns working on community sustainability and environmental policy efforts, as well as communications and storytelling. SCS provides these opportunities with the hope of supporting youth to grow their understanding of history, their culture and communities, climate change issues, policies, and political landscapes, and the power of communications and storytelling. Our organization's commitment to community sustainability is dependent on the investment and empowerment of future Alaskan leaders. We have continued to develop our youth programs, from 4-H Alaska Way of Life to our high school internships, with the understanding that creating career pathways for youth throughout the region are foundational to building local capacity and lasting positive change.
Mia Weiderspohn is Sitka Conservation Society’s 2022-2023 Living Heritage Research and Communications Intern. Through her internship, and with the support of the US Forest Service Wrangell Ranger District, Mia is investigating Lingít historical and current use of important places around her community of Wrangell. Through her podcast “Mia’s Gift,” she further explores and shares Wrangell’s culture, her personal familial history, and her journey learning the Lingít language. When describing the podcast, Mia explained how she enjoys connecting with elders and learning about her community and trying to get a bigger picture of its history. You can find and listen to “Mia’s Gift” here on KSTK.org.
While visiting Sitka to participate in Sitka Conservation Society’s annual meeting, Mia visited the local radio station, KCAW. SCS’s Sitka Youth Community Development Catalyst, Emily Pound, interviewed Mia on air about her internship and what she has learned through her experiences researching and hosting her podcast. Mia spoke to the importance of youth exposure to elders which, for her, has guided and grounded her life.
"Youth and adults should know that empowering youth is very important. Never take those who are younger than you for granted. Age is just a number."
Mia in front of Wrangell's Chief Shakes Tribal House
Looking on the community of Wrangell