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TOGIAK: The USFWS + Kids + Environmental Education = Success
Alaska Region, August 2, 2004
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?The best camp I?ve ever been to!? was the common cry following the 2004 Cape Peirce Environmental Education Camp on Togiak Refuge after five days of teaching local kids about the natural history and Yup?ik viewpoint of the area. On the coast of Togiak Refuge in southwest Alaska, Cape Peirce is one of the most spectacular sites in the Refuge System as one of the largest ?haulouts? or shoreline sanctuaries for Pacific walrus in the U.S. Besides walrus, Cape Peirce is home to 16 other marine mammal species, some 1.5 million cliff-nesting seabirds, and is an important migratory stop for 250,000 ducks and geese, as well as numerous species of shorebirds, landbirds, and raptors.

Eight kids (ages 11-14) from four villages (Dillingham, Clark's Point, Twin Hills, and Quinhagak) attended the camp, now in its 11th year. Staffed by Togiak Refuge with support from village councils and schools, studies focused on local birds and marine mammals. Cape Peirce is one of three annual science camps the refuge has sponsored recently, each funded through Challenge Cost Share projects with partners interested in teaching local youth about the natural world of Bristol Bay, Alaska. Earlier this summer, the Refuge sponsored a raft-based camp for six students who floated down a tributary of the Togiak River for five days studying terrestrial and aquatic environments. A two-week ?Salmon Camp? allowed Refuge fishery biologists to discuss biology and management of the region's key economic species.

While the season for education camps may be over, memories for the students will last a long time and Refuge resources will benefit indefinitely through a better-informed citizenry.

Contact Info: Kristen Gilbert, 907-786-3391, Kristen_Gilbert@fws.gov



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