Banff Film Festival tickets on sale now at Hames Athletic Center and Old Harbor Books

The Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival will make a stop in Sitka as part of its annual world tour, and tickets are available now at the Hames Athletic and Wellness Center and at Old Harbor Books.

The Sitka screening takes place at 7 p.m. on Feb. 28 at the Sitka Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students and seniors. There will be a variety of door prizes given away after the screening. This year’s films will raise money to benefit the Hames Wellness Fund, which support scholarships, senior walking hours, family fund days, BMS DYP Week, and many community partnerships. Tickets are selling out, so buy yours now.

Each year, the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival celebrates life in the outdoors with a nine-day festival (Oct. 31-Nov. 8, 2020) at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in Banff, Alberta, Canada, featuring a series of short films, books and other media. Films may feature kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, wingsuit flying, rock climbing, mountaineering, skiing, surfing, fishing, and a variety of other outdoor activities.

With stops planned in about 550 communities and more than 40 countries across the globe, this year’s tour features a collection of the most inspiring action, environmental, and adventure films from the festival. From approximately 400 films entered into the annual festival, a variety award-winning films and audience favorites are among the films chosen to travel the globe.

During the world tour, a selection of the films is shown in each community, with a different set of films shown in each participating community. The world tour allows local communities to use the films as fundraisers, and the tour has made several stops in Sitka in the past.

Follow Sitka BANFF Film Festival 2020 to stay up-to-date with sneak peaks.

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Eco-Discovery event on Friday, Feb. 20: Help find Bella the Baby Sea Urchin

Help find Bella the Baby Sea Urchin during an Eco-Discovery event.

Students from kindergarten to sixth grade and their families can join in the fun from 10 a.m. to noon on Friday, Feb. 20, at the Sitka Sound Science Center (Note: this is a teacher in-service day, so no school). This month’s event involves traveling to four different stations to learn about the diet and habitat needs of sea urchins, as well as currents and tides in Sitka, to help you locate Bella and return her to her urchin barren. The Eco-Discovery series is hosted by the Sitka Sound Science Center and the  Sitka National Historical Park. 

The series, which is offered free to the public, is designed for youth from kindergarten through sixth grade, and is self-paced. On average it takes participants between 30-45 minutes to complete the program.  Youth participants must be accompanied by an adult.

For more information about the Eco-Discovery series, contact Kristina Tirman at 747-8878 or

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Sitka to host its local Christmas Bird Count event on Saturday, Dec. 28

This year is the National Audubon Society‘s 120th annual Christmas Bird Count, and Sitka will be one of several Alaska communities to host a local event, with Sitka’s event set for Saturday, Dec. 28.

During this event, local teams will hike around various sections of Sitka in an attempt to count as many different birds they can find. There will be a planning meeting and slideshow to review local birds at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 26, at the Alaska Raptor Center. A post-bird count social event takes place at 4 p.m. Saturday in the house above Pet’s Choice Veterinary Clinic.

The Christmas Bird Count, which started nationally in 1900 with Alaska’s first event in 1941, involves thousands of bird-watchers, hikers, nature lovers and more each year. The count is for a 24-hour period and local events can take place from Dec. 14 to Jan. 5 this winter to still count. This event is open to all ages, and many families participate.

Last year, on Dec. 29, 2018, in Sitka, there were 75 different bird species spotted by 55 Sitka participants. The most common bird seen was the Northwestern crow, with 503 counted. They also counted 476 common ravens and 295 dark-eyed juncos. You can find Sitka 2018 stats here. You can check out other 2018 stats (and early 2019 stats) by clicking this link.

In 2015-16, the Alaska Audubon Society reported 1,157 Alaska counters in 37 counting areas recorded 149 different species and 123,658 total birds. Kodiak’s Narrow Cape-Kalsin Bay recorded the most species in Alaska in 2015-16 with 74, followed by Sitka with 68 (Alaska overall stats aren’t available for the more recent Christmas Bird Counts).

For more information, contact Victoria Vosburg, DVM, at or 738-8661.

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Sitka Teen Hiking Club launches and meets every other week at The Cloud teen center

A new Sitka Teen Hiking Club has been launched, and it will meet every other week at the new teen center, The Cloud, on Harbor Drive.

The club launched in October, and currently meets at 3 p.m. on Fridays. But there is discussion about moving the time and date to a weekend morning for more daylight walking. The hiking club is a partnership between The Cloud, which is coordinated by Youth Advocates of Sitka, and Sitka Counseling.

The hiking club is open to all teens, ages 13-18, in Sitka. Hikers should bring a water bottle, appropriate shoes for hiking, and rain gear. Snacks and transportation to that week’s hiking location will be provided.

For more information, contact Eli Evans at or 738-8266.

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Sitka’s Alaska Way of Life 4-H Club to host Fall Foraging Fun event on Nov. 1

The Alaska Way of Life 4-H Club in Sitka will host a Hudson Bay tea collecting event from 1-4 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 1. This event is for kids in grades K-5 and takes place at the Southeast Alaska Career Center, 205 Baranof Street, between Pacific High School and Baranof Elementary School.

This event is free, but there is limited space and pre-registration is required. This event is open to students registered in 4-H (contact Sitka Conservation Society, 747-7509, or the UAF Cooperative Extension Service Sitka office at UAS Sitka Campus, 747-9440, to learn how to register for 4-H), the Sitka Native Education Program or the Sitka Tribe of Alaska.

For more information, contact Emily Pound at Sitka Conservation Society at 747-7509 or

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Alaska Way of Life 4-H Club to host five-week Wild Edibles Series for youth

Want to learn more about the food growing around you? The Alaska Way of Life 4-H Club will host a five-week Wild Edibles Series for youth ages 5-18 from 3:30-5 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday afternoons, from Oct. 14 through Nov. 13, at a variety of locations around Sitka.

Participants will interact with wild edibles in a variety of ways, including identification, harvest, local importance, and preparation. Topics this year include berries, mushrooms, salmon and seaweed, with the emphasis on harvesting and eating. The series will build up to cooking and preparing food for the annual Sitka Conservation Society Wild Foods Potluck from 5-8 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 17, at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

Spots are limited, and the cost of the series is $15 per person. All participants must be registered with 4-H, which is $25 for the full year. Scholarships are available.

To learn more, contact Jill Hayden with Sitka Conservation Society at 747-7509 or

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2019-20 Sitka Sprouts program plants the seeds of science for a new generation

Plant the Seeds of Science in the next generation! The Sitka Sprouts free nature education program for kids ages 3-5 and their parents meets from 10:30-11:30 a.m. on Tuesdays at the Sitka Sound Science Center.

Each session includes a story, followed by a number of hands-on crafts and activities related to the theme of the story. No registration is necessary, just stop on by. This program runs from September through April each year.

For more information, contact Kristina Tirman at 747-8878 ext.3, or

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