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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

ALASKA NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGES: Campers get outside to learn about their cultural traditions and the wildlife in their backyards.

Region 7, January 23, 2015
Celebrations for July 4th were in full swing on St. Paul Island this past weekend! The entire community turned out to partake in the fun and games, and participants in the Seabird Camp suited up in their seabird costumes for the parade
Celebrations for July 4th were in full swing on St. Paul Island this past weekend! The entire community turned out to partake in the fun and games, and participants in the Seabird Camp suited up in their seabird costumes for the parade - Photo Credit: n/a
Salmon Campers on Kodiak participate in 4th of July Parade as well.
Salmon Campers on Kodiak participate in 4th of July Parade as well. - Photo Credit: n/a

For the past two decades, Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuges have worked alongside local communities to provide science and culture summer camps for rural youth. During these camps, students spend time outside exploring their wild backyards with teachers, mentors and elders, while gaining a better understanding of natural resource issues impacting their lives, and practicing cultural traditions with guidance from village elders.

During the summer and fall of 2014 the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service expects to participate and or coordinate 14 camps serving over 100 communities across Alaska.

Kenai National Wildlife Refuge
Critter Day Camps 


Summer science camps have occurred at the Kenai Refuge since 2008.  These week-long day camps have students (primarily grades 2-5) exploring in the outdoors while learning about Alaskan plants and animals, their habitats, life cycles, and adaptations through various arts and craft activities, science experiments, and skill based  education including digital photography, map and compass, and basic survival.

Becharof National Wildlife Refuge
Taquka Kuik (Bear Creek) Science and Culture Camp
The Taquka Kuik Camp fosters a bond between students and their wild surroundings, and between youth and elders. Lessons emphasize safety in the outdoors and scientific c and traditional ways of knowing. Students learn from science experts, at least one elder and other cultural inheritors. The cultural wisdom of the Alaska Peninsula teaches us the value of careful observation, active listening, and sustainable management of natural resources.

Communities Served: Perryville, Chignik Bay, Chignik Lagoon, Chignik Lake, Port Heiden, Pilot Point, Egegik, Igiugig, Newhalen, Nondalton, Kokhanok, Port Alsworth, Levelock, Naknek, King Salmon,
Camp Contact: Julia_Pinnix@fws.gov, (907)246-1211


Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge
Camp Qungaayux
Camp Qungaayux is a week long day camp established in 1997, to preserve Unangan Culture. The Qawalangin Tribe of Unalaska has partnered with U.S. Fish and Wildlife for fifteen (15) years giving the tribe the opportunity to teach Traditional Knowledge and Western Science while students participate in traditional cultural practices and environmental awareness.

Communities Served: Unalaska, Atka, Nikolski, Akutan and potentially Adak
Camp Contact: kendra_bush-stlouis@fws.gov


Alaska Maritime & Izembek National Wildlife Refuge
Sand Point Science & Culture Camp
The Qagan Tayagungin Tribe’s Culture Camp provides students with a healthy alternative option during the summer. During this camp, students are provided with: beading instruction, bent wood hat/beaded headdress making instruction, regalia construction, Unangam Tunuu language instruction/emersion, traditional dance instruction, traditional food harvest and preparation, traditional vessel construction, drum making and traditional basket weaving. Refuge staff provide supplemental instruction in about of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges and lessons designed to increase skills among children related to scientific c inquiry.

Camp Contact: kendra_bush-stlouis@fws.gov

Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge
The Pribilof Seabird Youth Network
The Seabird Youth Network holds summer seabird camps on the Pribilof Islands that includes youth ages 4 to17 years-old. Camps are designed to provide hands-on scientific c experience and teach new skills, encourage critical thinking, increase understanding about local resources, and be fun. Read more at: http://seabirdyouth.org/our-blog/

Communities Served: St Paul Island
Camp Contact: kendra_bush-stlouis@fws.gov


Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge
Introduction to Field Ornithology
During this high school level course, students spend their summer exploring the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge’s birds through field courses, in-class sessions and hands on learning.

Communities Served: Tok, Tanacross, Tetlin, Northway, Dot Lake, Mentasta
Camp Contact: mary_timm@fws.gov


Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Camp Goonzhii
Students participating in Camp Goonzhii make connections between scientific c and traditional Gwich’in understandings of animals and environment. With an emphasis on place-based education, the camp will create opportunity outside the regular school year for students to learn about science and culture, and the connections between. The camp is designed to be interactive and hands on setting with teachers from diverse fields.

Communities Served: Arctic Village
Camp Contact: joanne_bryant@fws.gov, (907)455-1834


Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Kaktovik Marine Science Camp
Students travel aboard a research vessel, while collecting and examining aquatic organisms, and discussing Abyssal Plains and thermoclines alongside arctic researchers. Students also learn about the near shore marine ecosystems and explore and appreciate the amazing marine resources in their backyard from the perspective of oceanographers and scientists.

Communities Served: Kaktovik
Camp Contact: david_payer@fws.gov, (907)455-1830


Innoko National Wildlife Refuge
Round Mountain Outdoor Science Camp
The Round Mountain Science Camp is a unique opportunity for students of the Iditarod Area School District. This camp gives students the opportunity to learn about the scientific process and the natural world in a dynamic outdoor classroom. In the past, it has been a singular experience; where students have felt the exhilaration of holding a live migratory bird during banding demonstrations, or the triumph of standing on Takotna Mountain looking over the Kuskokwim valley and realizing how far they have come.

Communities Served: McGrath, Takotna, Nikolai, Grayling, Anvik, Shageluk, and Holy Cross
Camp Contact: clara_demientieff@fws.gov, (907)524-3251


Kanuti National Wildlife Refuge
Saagelekkakk’et (Henshaw Creek) Weir Science Camp
This camp is a week-long outdoor immersion experience students and local village residents acting as camp staff, alongside Friends volunteers and the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC) and the Fairbanks North Star Borough District Watershed School. The camp runs alongside a functioning salmon weir, an ideal setting for introducing students to careers in natural resources, and allows students to experience hands-on learning in a natural setting that inspires responsible stewardship of the refuge.

Communities Served: Allakaket, Alatna, Bettles, Evansville, Hughes, Huslia
Camp Contact: allyssa_morris@fws.gov, (907)456-0213

Selawik National WIldlife Refuge
Selawik Science-Culture Camp
More than 150 kids from the Iñupiaq village of Selawik in northwest Alaska celebrate the natural history and cultural traditions of their homeland, With the golden fall tundra spread out in every direction, kids checked fish nets, scaled and cut fish, picked cranberries, hunted caribou and seals, butchered moose, practiced with GPSs, searched for aquatic insects, measured permafrost depth, and sketched plants. Camp lasts for two weeks and provides numerous opportunities for learning, but remains relatively unstructured to honor one of the joys of outdoor life: freedom from strict time schedules.

Communities Served: Selawik
Camp Contact: susan_georgette@fws.gov, (907)442-3799


Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge
Kodiak Salmon Camp
During Salmon Camp over 150 campers learn about the natural and cultural systems that defi ne Kodiak’s geography. Camp empowers learners to investigate their own connections to this special place through hands-on learning, self-reflection and group discovery. See what campers are up to by following the refuge’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kodiak-National-Wildlife-Refuge/177332455047

Communities Served: The City of Kodiak and the villages of Port Lions, Old Harbor, Akhiok, Larsen
Bay, Ouzinkie and Karluk.
Camp Contact: michelle_lawson@fws.gov, (907)487-2626


Togiak National Wildlife Refuge
The Cape Peirce Marine Science and Yup’ik Culture Camp
After a long flight to one of the more unique destinations on Togiak Refuge, Cape Peirce, campers explore is rocky cliff s during a week of activities. They can spot Pacific c walrus, spotted and harbor seals, and a variety of nesting seabirds. Campers explore the ecology of tide pools, bear safety, wilderness survival techniques, and about edible plants and traditional uses from visiting with local elders.

Communities Served: Quinhagak, Goodnews Bay, Platinum, Togiak, Twin Hills, Manokotak, Dillingham, Aleknagik, Clarks Point 
Camp Contact: allen_miller@fws.gov, (907)842-8404


Togiak National Wildlife Refuge
Salmon Camp
Along the shores of Lake Aleknagik, campers explore fisheries careers and develop a stewardship skills related to the region’s abundant salmon resources. Bristol Bay is home to the largest wild salmon runs in the world, it is
critically important that the youth of the Region understand the part they will someday play in how those resources are studied and managed. This camp is in partnership with the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corportation. Learn more at http://www.bbedc.com/?page_id=157

Communities Served: All communities within the Bristol Bay region (32 total communities)
Camp Contact: allen_miller@fws.gov, (907)842-8404


Togiak National Wildlife Refuge
The Summer Outdoor Skills and River Ecology Float Camp
Students travel by river to both have fun outdoors and come away with a deeper sense of stewardship their wild backyards. During their float students learn river rafting, sport fishing, archery, and about the careers working with wildlife.

Communities Served: Quinhagak, Goodnews Bay, Platinum, Togiak, Twin Hills, Manokotak, Dillingham, Aleknagik, Clarks Point
Camp Contact: allen_miller@fws.gov, (907)842-8404

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