Youth programs of the Chugach Children's Forest
In 2009, the Chugach Children's Forest took action with the following programs.
Annual Youth Expeditions
The Youth Expedition Series marked its inaugural journey in 2009 with a week-long expedition to Prince William Sound. These annual expeditions travel to some of Alaska's wildest places, engage youth in stewardship projects, and provide them with an understanding of what public lands mean to adjacent communities. Stories and discoveries from expeditions are shared through youth-produced media, public presentations, interactive websites, and integration into school programs.
This year's expedition traveled aboard research vessels in Prince William Sound, where they explored and documented the Sound 20 years after the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Planned expeditions for 2010 will focus on the effects of climate change in southcentral Alaska.
Youth-Managed Public Land and Chugach Conservation Corps
What better way to engage youth than to directly put their ideas into practice? Students from Anchorage's King Career Center developed a proposal for Alaska's youth to manage portions of the Chugach National Forest, with an eye towards improving outdoor opportunities for younger visitors. With guidance from the U.S. Forest Service and coordination from Alaska Geographic, the porposal incorporates elements of resource monitoring, long-term planning, recreation, and education.
Based on the students' proposal, the Chugach National Forest created the new Chugach Conservation Corps program. This summer program employs high school students to help improve the visitor experience thorughout the forest and provides extensive opportunities for participants to work with forest professionals, learn about forest management, gain expsoure to new realms of science and technology, and explore the natural world of southcentral Alaska.
In 2009, seven students took part in the program's inaugural season. They helped lay the groundwork for a new trail in Portage Valley (the Explorer's Ridge Trail), enhanced campgrounds and backcountry camping opportunities, and completed a series of educational videos for visitors, among other projects.
Student Films, Radio, and Media Projects
The Chugach Children's Forest strives to use youth-directed media to document successes while educating their peers and the public at large. In 2009, students created a series of educational videos about the forest--view the full collection on YouTube! Students from the Alaska Teen Media Institute and Spirit of Youth also produced a series of radio programs and other media projects related to the Chugach National Forest--listen to them here.
Home Base After School Program (2008)
For two weeks in June 2008, fifteen students in the Home Base After School program joined Alaska Geographic and other community partners to explore the trails, glaciers, rainforest, and waters of the Chugach National Forest and Prince William Sound. It marked one of the first on-the-ground programs of the Children’s Forest.
Experience it through the students' words! You can also learn more about the program--and what it meant for these young Alaskans--from Home Base After School Director Shirley Mae Springer in this YouTube video.
The Chugach Children's Forest acts as an organizing force for existing programs in southcentral Alaska that are also working to get youth outside. Learn more about our partners and the many exciting programs they offer.
2010 Programs Under Development
The Chugach Children's Forest is expanding its youth programs in 2010! Stay tuned for exciting new opportunities in the following areas:
• Youth engagement in climate change research
• Internships and mentoring programs
• Projects connecting local schools with public lands
• Expanded youth-produced media projects
• Increased volunteer and service learning opportunities