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AK MARITIME: Outreach Grand Slam!
Alaska Region, May 1, 2005
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The outreach team at Alaska Maritime Refuge hit three homers the third week of April as record breaking events were spread over 1500 miles of Alaska's coast - from Shemya Island in the western Aleutians, to Kodiak Island, and back home in Homer at Alaska Islands & Ocean Visitor Center.

First up to the plate was seasonal Refuge Ranger, Doug Stuart, who normally spends his summers interpreting the Refuge to passengers aboard the State ferry Tustumena. This week, Doug flew to Shemya at the Air Force's expense to give interpretive programs to the workers at Earickson Air Station. One of the outermost Aleutian islands 1,500 miles from Anchorage, Shemya is part of the Refuge but the Air Force has primary jurisdiction. Doug lured 60 exhausted workers from their rooms, one-third of the island's work force, to hear his history of WWII's effects on the Refuge and its wildlife. Doug's other 2 programs were also well attended. Air Force brass from the mainland were conveniently on-island at the time, an added bonus. A Refuge cooperative agreement, one of several agreements with the Air Force, funds this natural resource education on the island.

Next up was Melonie Shipman, Education Specialist, who was accompanied by two volunteers and our Alaska Natural History Association (ANHA) employee, Karen Marquardt, as they journeyed by ferry to Kodiak Island for the Whale Fest. This festival celebrates the spectacular migration of grey whales past Kodiak Island. National Marine Fisheries Service runs the festival but turned to Alaska Maritime Refuge for its expertise in marine education. For 6 years, Melonie has run school programs for Whale Fest as well as whale watching hikes on shore. The team did 11 programs at Kodiak schools including ?Do Birds Wear Underwear?? ?Whales and Seabirds Linked Together,? and ?Otterly Wonderful Otters.? Whale Fest enabled Alaska Maritime employees to assist Kodiak Refuge in developing whale learning stations at the Kodiak Refuge Visitor Center for the ?Families Understanding Nature? (FUN) day program. Karen also shared her experience and lent a hand to her new Kodiak ANHA counterpart.

With key staff scattered throughout America's most extensive Refuge, Islands & Ocean Manager Marianne Kronk worked double-duty to finish the week with the best Earth Day celebration ever held in Homer. Over 700 people flooded Islands & Ocean Center to celebrate Earth and its wildlife through music and 17 booths set up by Refuge partners. Children got their pictures taken in stunning intertidal critter costumes at the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies booth, planted native seeds with the Pratt Museum while dads and other grease monkeys made car talk around the hybrid gas/electric car. Retired Kanuti Refuge Manager Tom Early dropped by the event and noted, ?You?re always just partying down here in Homer.?

And that's the kind of week it was.

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



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