Junior Ranger event to be held Saturday at Sitka National Historical Park


SitkaNationalHistoricalParkSignYour children can earn their very own free Junior Ranger Wilderness Explorer patch at Saturday’s Junior Ranger Event at the Sitka National Historical Park‘s visitor center. Join us from 10 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on Saturday, April 19, for ranger-led children’s programs, Junior Ranger activities and the awarding of patches and certificates.

This Junior Ranger Day will celebrate the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. Students can participate in interactive ranger-led programs and complete activities in the new Junior Ranger Wilderness Explorer book. Rangers will distribute the free books and help kids with the various mazes, word searches, and art projects. At the conclusion of the event, a free Junior Ranger Wilderness Explorer patch and certificate will be awarded to all participants.  Please note that this is a family activity and all children must be supervised.

In addition to the Junior Ranger Book activities, there will be several interactive programs offered throughout the morning. (See schedule below.) Light refreshments will be provided during the program.

Schedule of Events
Ranger-led Programs
10:25 a.m. to 10:50 a.m

Families can choose one of these Ranger-led programs; they will be repeated at 11:15 a.m.

  • Wildlife and Wilderness – How does the wildlife of Sitka National Historical Park and Baranof Island Wilderness rely on wild places to survive? Join us to find out.
  • Leave No Trace: Take Only Pictures and Leave Only Footprints – How can you ensure that wild places remain wild? Join a ranger to learn about how you can help preserve the park and other wild places.
  • Plants, Berries and Bark – Join a ranger to discover how wilderness and wild places around Stika provide abundant natural resources for a traditional subsistence lifestyle.

11:15 a.m. to 11:40 a.m.

Families are encouraged to attend one of these programs.

  • Wildlife and Wilderness
  • Leave no Trace
  • Plants, Berries and Bark

Junior Ranger Badge Presentation
12:05 p.m. to 12:15 p.m.

After completing a few activities in their Junior Ranger Wilderness Explorer books, students are invited to participate in our Junior Ranger ceremony. During the ceremony participants will take an oath with a ranger and receive a certificate and a patch. (Children may also return their completed books at a later date to receive their patch and certificate.)

About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 401 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov/sitk or visit our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/#!/SitkaNationalHistoricalPark.

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Next Discovery Days program at Sitka Sound Science Center to be about herring


The Sitka Sound Science Center recently introduced Discovery Days, a free program for annual pass holders that takes place from 10 a.m. to noon on various Saturdays. The next Discovery Days event is Saturday, April 12, and the theme for the day is herring.

Swing by the Sitka Sound Science Center, 834 Lincoln St., with the whole family for a variety of examples to explore and hands-on activities. Fisheries biologist Jessica Gill of the Sitka Tribe of Alaska will join us as we explore the world of herring. These forage fish are crucial to our marine environment, so swing by to discover their amazing qualities. We’ll even do some fish printing so you can take a herring picture home with you. It’s sure to be great time.

This is a family event and open to learners of all ages. The Discovery Days program launched in November and previous programs have been about fossils, birds, ice, animal tracks, plants, plankton, and hearts, and there was an overnight aquarium sleepover for kids and parents. The group also hosted a booth at Family Science Day at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School.

Annual passes are available at the door, $50 for families and $30 for individuals. Passes are available on Saturday. Keep your eyes open for upcoming Discovery Days activities.

SitkaSprouts_flyerIn addition, don’t forget the Sitka Sound Science Center recently launched a free new program called, “Sitka Sprouts: Planting the Seeds of Science in the Next Generation,” for kids ages 3-5. Sitka Sprouts takes place at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesdays at the Sitka Sound Science Center. The program features stories, activities and crafts, and the kids are encouraged to dress for the weather.

For more information, contact education manager Ashley Bolwerk or 747-8878, ext. 22 or abolwerk@sitkascience.org.

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Earth Week activities include gardening classes, a youth eco-challenge, and the Parade of the Species


2014+Earth+Week+posterEarth Day is on Tuesday, April 22, and Earth Week is April 20-26. Sitka will host a variety of activities for Earth Week, including some gardening classes, a youth eco-challenge, free bus rides all month, spring clean-up events, and the 13th annual Parade of the Species. Click the event names at this link for more activity details.

Giving Earth Week an early start is a presentation at 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 12, in Room 106 at the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus, when Gordon Wrobel will discuss his three-year USDA project to build local food systems in Elfin Cove. Contact the Sitka Local Foods Network at sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com for more information.

Lauren Oakes will discuss yellow cedar ecology and long-term vegetation changes in temperate forests impacted by climate change at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 17, at the UAS Sitka Campus as part of the ongoing Natural History Seminar Series.

yellow_cedarb_nathistorytalkBob Gorman of the Sitka District office of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service will give two presentations at 7 p.m. at the UAS Sitka Campus — on Monday, April 21, about extending the growing season and greenhouses, and on Tuesday, April 22, about sustainable wood heat.

There will be clean-up events from 9-11 a.m. on Saturday, April 19, for 4-H club members and other youth, and from noon to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, April 22, for Sitka Conservation Society members and other community members, both at locations TBA. There also is a community-wide spring clean-up event from April 26-May 11, when people can bring in a variety of large items and hazardous materials to the Sawmill Cove Scrap Yard, hosted by the City and Borough of Sitka Public Works Department.

The Sitka Community Ride bus service will provide free bus rides during the entire month of April in its annual recognition of Earth Day.

The youth eco-challenge is from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 26, at Sitka National Historical Park. School-aged youth teams will test their skills of compass navigation, bear safety, and fire building while they make their way through the Sitka National Historical Park. Sign up in teams of four, or as individuals and be put on a team. Teams of multiple ages are recommended. It’s a race. Contact Mary Wood to register, 747-7509.

Finally, the 13th annual Parade of Species, hosted by the Sitka Conservation Society, is on Friday, April 25. Parade participants are invited to dress as their favorite animal or plant and gallop, slither, swim, or fly with us. We will meet in Totem Square at 2:30 p.m. and parade down Lincoln Street to Harrigan Centennial Hall at 3 p.m. There will be a number of community organizations with hands-on Earth Day inspired activities for the whole family from 3-4:30 p.m. Prizes will be awarded for Best Use of Recycled Material, Most Realistic, and Best Local Plant/Animal. For more information contact mary@sitkawild.org or call 747-7509. Click here for photos of 2013 Parade of Species costumes.

• Sitka Spring Clean-Up Events 2014

• Sitka Earth Week Events Schedule for 2014

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Alaska Way of Life 4-H club seeks local gardeners to serve as program mentors

The Alaska Way of Life 4-H club gardens at St. Peter's Fellowship Farm in 2013. (Photo by Matthew Dolkas, courtesy of the Sitka Conservation Society)

The Alaska Way of Life 4-H club gardens at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm in 2013. (Photo by Matthew Dolkas, courtesy of the Sitka Conservation Society)

The Alaska Way of Life 4-H club would like to get its hands dirty and grow some food this summer.

We would love some mentorship and modeling to help us out and build community between our youth and gardeners. If you are interested in sharing your skills and spending a few hours with youth this summer, contact Mary Wood at the Sitka Conservation Society, 747-7509 or mary@sitkawild.org.

Mary said the 4-H club has space at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, so they are looking to meet with local gardeners and see what they are doing; so more like site visits. She’s hoping the gardeners also might be interested in taking volunteer leadership roles with the club and developing mentoring partnerships, which will help make the club program sustainable.

Sitka’s 4-H club is a positive youth development organization that gets youth civically engaged and physically active. Sitka has three 4-H projects: Baking, Shooting Sports, and the Alaska Way of Life outdoor education program. Sitka 4-H Community Club meetings are held at 12:30 p.m. the second Saturday of each month (April 12 is the next meeting) at the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall (408 Marine St.).

  • Shooting Sports: Contact Paul Rioux for more information,
  • Baking: Contact Amy Sweeney for more information,
  • Alaska Way of Life: Get outside, explore the Tongass, and build community with 4-H. Visit the Sitka Conservation Society website for more information on current events. Summer club registration for hiking, and gardening, and other activities is coming soon. Contact Mary at the Sitka Conservation Society for more information, 747-7509 or mary@sitkawild.org.

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North American Outdoor Institute to offer Be Wilderness Smart class April 23 in Sitka

Sitka Community Be Wilderness Smart Flyer

Do you enjoy getting out into the outdoors near Sitka for recreation? Then you should check out the Be Wilderness Smart class offered from 6-8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 23, at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

This free, two-hour class is offered by the North American Outdoor Institute, based in Wasilla, Alaska. The course is geared for anybody who lives, plays and/or works in the wilderness or remote backcountry, and the goal is to reduce injuries, deaths and rescues in the backcountry. This class is free, but pre-registration is required by calling 1-907-376-2898 (Wasilla number), sending an email to info@naoiak.org, or going to http://www.naoiak.org/ and clicking the registration form.

More information about the class series, which will visit several locations around the state, is posted below:


Every year, there are thousands of people who venture into the vast wilderness of Alaska searching for fun and adventure, peace and solitude or just to enjoy the beauty. While most of these adventurers end their journeys with no issues, some are not so lucky.  We find that, sometimes, even the best of plans can go wrong.  Over the past several years, there has been a rise in the number of wilderness related injuries and deaths in the state of Alaska.  The Alaska Department of Public Safety is supporting the effort to change this fact by funding free wilderness safety awareness and education classes for the general public.

From Ketchikan to Fairbanks, Talkeetna to Seward, Anchorage to Sutton, you are sure to find a training program available in your community this winter provided by the professionals with the North America Outdoor Institute.

“We know people are going to recreate in areas that put them at risk,” said NAOI Education Director Dorothy Adler.  “We just want to provide them with information and skills to help them make good decisions about the way and places they recreate so they avoid injury or know what to do when or if things go wrong.”

According to Adler, the Be Wilderness Smart program is designed as a fun, interactive experience that gives participants an opportunity to learn and practice skills including wilderness first aid, fire and shelter building, navigation, knots and a myriad of other life saving wilderness skills.

“We have something for everyone,” said Adler. “Whether you’re just getting started or a long time veteran that wants to be challenged, we are here to help you find it.”

Courses include school, community awareness and half-day field training. Visit naoiak.org to view the schedule.

Classes fill up quickly and registration for all field programs is required. To schedule a program for your school or community, or to learn more, contact the North America Outdoor Institute at info@naoiak.org. These programs are made possible with financial support from the Alaska Department of Public Safety, Division of Alaska State Troopers

For more information or to register, click on the links below.  Be sure to check back often as classes are being added as they are confirmed.

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Sitka Sound Science Center offers a variety of one-week summer camps for kids


Registration for 2014 summer camps hosted by the Sitka Sound Science Center now is open. There are six camps and a kayak expedition available this summer for children from grades 1-12.

Check out the summer camp portion of center’s website for more information and to register. The camp descriptions are posted below.  Online registration is through cvent, which is linked on the left and on the summer camp page of the center’s website.  These camps are going to be a ton of fun.

Sign up will again be through Cvent, our new online event registration form. Each of the six camps is $85 for the week and includes a daily snack. The kayak expedition is $150 before March 27 and $300 after March 27 (Sitka High School is subsidizing part of the expedition cost through Sitka Charitable Trust funding only available through March).

2014 Summer Camps

Grade ranges indicate what grade the camper will be in this coming fall.

  • 2013campadaptationsCreepy, Crawly Camp –  Bugs, slugs, mold and mushrooms are just a few of the little known creepy, crawlies we’ll explore in this camp.  We’ll dig deep and uncover the amazing world of tiny critters that are all around us. Grades: 1-2. Dates: June 23-27. Times: 8:30-11:30 a.m.
    Instructors: Ashley Bolwerk and guest speakers.
  • Sitka Edibles –   In this summer camp, we’ll eat our way from the forests to the ocean, learning the importance of local plants and animals as food, medicine, and fun.  Which plants taste good and are safe to eat?  What can we eat on the beach? Put on your galoshes and bring your taste buds and come explore these questions and so much more. Grades: 1-2. Dates: July 7-11. Times: 8:30-11:30 a.m.
    Instructors: Ashley Bolwerk and Patty Dick.
  • The Art of Nature –  Natural beauty is all around us. Within that beauty is a world of science and understanding. Join us for this camp to discover some of the ways science can inform art and art can help us with understanding the world.  We’ll use the natural world as inspiration for our art work and combine natural materials and traditional art supplies to create unique works that have a special science connection. Grades: 3-5. Dates: June 16-20. Times: 1-4 p.m. Instructors: Ashley Bolwerk and Bayla Laks.
  • SIRFer Marine Science Camp – Wide tidal flats are a standard part of the Southeast Alaska landscape. But take a closer look at kelp, crabs, and sculpins with real working scientists who spend their lives dedicated to marine science research and you’ll never look at the intertidal the same. The Scientists in Residency Fellowship (SIRF) brings two marine scientists to Sitka this month and they will be helping with this camp to expose students to science careers while kids have a chance to have fun in the mud. Grades: 3-5. Dates: July 14-18. Times: 1-4 p.m. Instructors: Andrea Pitz and specials guests, Cascade Sorte and Matt Bracken (visiting Scientist in Residency Fellows).
  • kayaktripRenewable Energy Camp –  Windmills, hydropower, solar panels, saltwater heating, and other renewable energy sources are the wave of the future.  Come explore the science behind all of these big ideas that are revolutionizing the world. We’ll experiment with the world of engineering as we create our own renewable energy sources and tour the places in Sitka where alternative energy is being used. Grades: 6-8. Dates: June 9-13. Times:  1-4 p.m. Instructors:  Ashley Bolwerk and guest speakers.
  • Trash Camp – Join the Sitka Sound Science Center’s recent efforts to clean-up and spread the word about marine debris, which is a growing concern of coastal towns around the world.  From tsunamis to Great Pacific Garbage Patches, we’ll dive into it all the issues around this knee deep topic.  We’ll even spend the day out in Sitka Sound removing debris from one of our beaches.  Then, we’ll take what we collect and create a Fourth of July parade float to share the camp efforts to battle one of the largest problems facing our oceans today. Grades: 6-8. Dates: June 30-July 4.
    Times: 1-4 p.m. (with an all-day beach cleanup scheduled for Tuesday, July 1).
    Instructors: Ashley Bolwerk and Margot O’Connell.
  • kayaktrip2Field Science Expedition** — The Field Science Expedition is a four-day sea-kayak expedition where students explore the natural history of Southeast Alaska. Four educational modules: forest ecology, stream ecology, marine ecology, and outdoor skills important in field research will be covered through experiential activities during the expedition. Camp cost includes a professional guide, all equipment (except personal gear like a sleeping bag, etc), professional instruction, food, and the Allen Pt. Cabin rental.  This opportunity is being offered in a joint collaboration between the Sitka Sound Science Center, the Sitka Conservation Society, and Latitude AdventuresAges: 14-18. Dates: June 1-4.
    Instructors:  Ashley Bolwerk and Scott Harris (Sitka Conservation Society). **Cost: $150 before March 27, $300 after March 27 (Sitka High School is subsidizing part of the expedition cost through Sitka Charitable Trust funding only available through March).

If a camp is full and you want to get an email if a spot becomes available or for more information, please email Ashley Bolwerk at abolwerk@sitkascience.org.

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Sitka Sportsmans Association hosts April 5 open house to launch new Scholastic Clay Target Program


The Sitka Sportsmans Association will host an open house at 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 5, at its range (5211 Halibut Point Road) to introduce an exciting new Scholastic Clay Target Program for Sitka youth, grades 4-12, interested in the safe, fun world of competitive shooting.

Our Sitka team will compete against teams from Southeast, Anchorage, other parts of Alaska, and national teams in the exciting game of skeet, trap, and sporting clays. This is a team event and teams will consists of 3-5 shooters per squad. Bring the kids out, there is no need to have experience. Kids shoot at their experience level, gun safety, coaching and loaner guns will be provided.

There will be a demonstration at 1 p.m., followed by registration for youth in grades 4-12 (preregistration is available). Parents and prospective coaches are encouraged to attend.

For more information about the Sitka program, contact head coach Noel Hutton at 738-4860 (call or text). To learn more about the Alaska Scholastic Clay Target Program, go to http://www.aksctp.org/.

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