Twenty-two youth from sixteen communities across Alaska have been selected as U.S. Arctic Youth Ambassadors. These inspiring youth represent the diversity of Alaska, and will serve as ambassadors for their communities and country in building awareness at home and abroad about their lives in the changing Arctic. During their tenure as ambassadors, the youth will share both their local perspective on Arctic issues and priorities and new knowledge they will gain by engaging with partners and leaders from around the world.
Earlier this month, the teens convened in Anchorage for a three-day workshop that prepared them to take on their role as ambassadors. At the workshop, the youth shared their stories of life in a changing Arctic, and identified various strategies they will use throughout the year to spread their stories and messages with local, state, national, and international audiences.
Arctic Youth Ambassadors talk with Erin Robertson, Arctic Press and Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Department of State
During the workshop, Emory, a high school student from Unalaska, shared his concerns about his community, “Unalaska is known as the seafood capital of Alaska so ocean acidification is a big issue. Acidification affects King Crab and other marine species, and if these species were to go away, Unalaska would fall, and many other coastal communities that rely on fishing would fall. There would be a catastrophic chain reaction.”
Rebecca is from Ketchikan and she’s a freshman at the University of Alaska Southeast. Rebecca has shared her concerns about transboundary mining in her home community, which is affecting traditional food gathering and fishing. She attends meetings of the KIC Tribal Council and the United Tribal Transboundary Mining Working Group. In her own words, “We are the next generation of leaders and it is very important to step up and be involved with issues involving our communities.”
Over the next year, these young ambassadors will continue to learn more about Arctic communities, cultures, and the environment that provides the basis for the food supply for Arctic families, as well as their cultural and spiritual identity. They’ll do so through a series of rural field expeditions, science seminars, and engagements with Alaska Native elders and other leaders from around the world. They’ll continue to apply their communication and social media skills, to amplify these lessons on a local, national and international level with their peers around the world.
Meet all of the U.S. Arctic Youth Ambassadors at arcticyouthambassadors.org. Stay posted on the Arctic Youth Ambassadors social media sites (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and follow us on Snapchat!) to learn more about what these extraordinary young Alaskans are doing to make a meaningful impact on the future of their communities.
Alaska Geographic is partnering with the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (which plays a key role in the Arctic Council’s Conservation of Arctic Flora & Fauna Working Group) to coordinate this program.