Started in 2008 with the Chugach Children’s Forest partnership, our youth stewardship programs aim to inspire strong personal connections and a path toward lifelong stewardship of Alaska’s wild natural places. The Chugach Children’s Forest remains a cornerstone of our programs while our partnerships have evolved to include youth engagement with the Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, and Bureau of Land Management in Alaska. Through our newest initiative, we are working closely with the FWS and State Department to foster youth leadership in the US Chairmanship of the Arctic Council; the Arctic Youth Ambassador Program.
In addition to offering first-time experiences for young Alaskans, these partnerships foster long-term involvement—from youth leadership roles, internships and jobs, school credit and higher education opportunities, and mentoring toward career pathways. Rather than one-time opportunities, our youth programs are intentionally developed to foster pathways toward long-term youth involvement and leadership. But we don’t do this on our own. Alaska Geographic is part of a growing network of Alaska organizations committed to improving opportunities for Alaskan youth, and increasing opportunities for community organizations and public lands agencies to benefit from the incredible wealth of experiences and insights young Alaskans offer.
Most of our youth programs focus on partnerships with schools and teachers, as well as summer and after school programs. Alum of our programs have gone on to volunteer with the Student Conservation Association, work for public lands agencies and conservation organizations, and several have returned to work for our youth programs and mentor their younger peers. Our 22 Arctic Youth Ambassadors from across the state are helping to engage the state and nation in critical international dialogue and policy-making around the rapidly changing Arctic. Youth participants in most of our programs are nominated by teachers and mentors, and are recruited with a goal of reaching primarily underrepresented teens.