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 jill@sitkawild.org.

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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 ktirman@sitkascience.org.

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Sitka Spruce Tips/Alaska Way Of Life 4-H Club to host open house and 2019-20 registration on Oct. 1

Youth ages 5-18 and their parents can learn more about programs offered by the Sitka Spruce Tips/Alaska Way Of Life 4-H Club by attending an open house and 2019-20 registration session from 5-7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 1, in Room 106 at the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus.

The Sitka 4-H club is coordinated by the Sitka Conservation Society and the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service. The Sitka club offers programs on wild edibles, archery, running, an adventure club, and more.

Youth and parents will be able to meet local 4-H leaders and get to know the programs. They can register or renew their registrations at the meeting. Scholarships are available for those who need assistance.

For more information, contact Emily at Sitka Conservation Society at 747-7509 or Jasmine Shaw at the Sitka office of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service at 747-9440.

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25th annual Running of the Boots raises funds for Sitka Local Foods Network and Youth Advocates of Sitka

It’s time to dig your XtraTufs out of the closet and paint them up. The 25th annual Running of the Boots begins at 11:30 a.m. (registration opens at 10:30 a.m.) on Saturday, Sept. 28, at the big tent near Totem Square park on Lincoln Street. For the second straight year, the costumed fun run fundraiser benefits two local nonprofit organizations — the Sitka Local Foods Network and Youth Advocates of Sitka. (Note, times are tentative, so watch for updates.)

This year, there will be more food, music and other tents staged near the start of the Running of the Boots, so it will have a more festive atmosphere. This change allows the race to be a bigger part of the Season’s-End Celebration festivities hosted downtown by the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce and the Alaska Cruise Line Association. In addition to the Running of the Boots, the Season’s-End Celebration includes a lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for Sitka residents featuring hamburgers and hot dogs. People are asked to make a $2 donation when they get their lunch, and the money raised will go toward the Sitka’s Cloud teen center project from the 2018 Sitka Health Summit that is being coordinated by Youth Advocates of Sitka.

“We’re happy to share this event with Youth Advocates of Sitka again this year,” Sitka Local Foods Network board president Charles Bingham said. “The Sitka Local Foods Network has hosted this event for more than a decade, but the last couple of years we weren’t sure if we had enough board members in town to keep the event going. We needed some help. It’s a great event, and I’m happy Youth Advocates of Sitka decided to partner with us again to keep it around for a 25th year. We wanted to honor the kid-friendly aspect of the event, and Youth Advocates of Sitka serves that role, as well as operating a youth-run food business (the Smoothie Truck) during the summer.”

“Youth Advocates of Sitka is proud to be involved with the Sitka tradition, Running of the Boots,” Youth Advocates of Sitka executive director Charlie Woodcock said. “Our vision is to empower youth to grow into healthy, happy, and productive members of our community. What a wonderful opportunity for us to support our youth and community with a fun and original celebration!”

So what is the Running of the Boots? It’s Southeast Alaska’s answer to Spain’s “Running of the Bulls.” Sitkans wear zany costumes and XtraTufs — Southeast Alaska’s distinctive rubber boots (aka, Sitka Sneakers). For the past decade, the Running of the Boots raised funds for the Sitka Local Foods Network, a nonprofit organization that hosts the Sitka Farmers Market and advocates for community gardens, a community greenhouse, sustainable uses of traditional subsistence foods and education for Sitka gardeners. The event also will raise funds for Youth Advocates of Sitka, which provides a variety of mental and behavioral services for youth and their families in Sitka, including the Sitka Cloud teen center that recently opened on Harbor Drive next to Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop.

The Running of the Boots is a short race built for fun and not for speed, even though one of the many prize categories is for the fastest boots. Other prize categories include best-dressed boots, zaniest costume, best couple, best kids group and more. The course starts at Totem Square park, and runners will run from one end of Lincoln Street to the other and back to Totem Square park (or, we may just run from Totem Square down Lincoln Street to St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral, where runners will loop around the church and head back to Totem Square). Note, the course is blocked off, so no cars for the kids (and parents) to worry about.

There will be lots of prizes, including some new pairs of XtraTufs. There also is live music, and fun for the entire family. Some of the better costumes in recent years have been worn by adults.

The entry fee for the Running of the Boots is $10 per person and $30 per family, and people can register for the race starting at 10:30 a.m. Costume judging starts about 11 a.m., and runners hit the streets at 11:30 a.m. (NOTE: these times are tentative and may be changed).

As usual, local merchants have donated bushels of prizes for the costume contest. The Sitka Local Foods Network will host a farm stand booth with fresh veggies for sale from St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm. The booth takes debit cards, WIC vouchers and Alaska Quest (SNAP) electronic benefit cards. The Smoothie Truck also will be at the event.

To learn more about the Running of the Boots, contact Charles Bingham of the Sitka Local Foods Network at 623-7660 or by email at charleswbingham3@gmail.com, or contact Charlie Woodcock of Youth Advocates of Sitka at 747-2910 or by email at charlie.woodcock@sitkayouth.org. We also need several volunteers to help set up and take down the race (at least two needed) and to judge the costumes (two needed). Contact Charles Bingham, Charlie Woodcock or Sydney Carter of YAS (747-2848 or sydney.carter@sitkayouth.org) to learn how to volunteer.

Historical information about the race (through 2005) can be found online at http://www.runningoftheboots.org/. Info about the Sitka Local Foods Network and more recent Running of the Boots events (2008-18) is online at http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/ (type ‘Running of the Boots’ into the search bar near the top of the page). Click this link to see a slideshow of scenes from the 2018 Running of the Boots.

Also, don’t forget to like our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork and follow our Twitter page at https://www.twitter.com/SitkaLocalFoods (@SitkaLocalFoods) to stay updated on Sitka Local Foods Network activities. The Youth Advocates of Sitka page on Facebook is https://www.facebook.com/sitkayouth.

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Sitka National Historical Park to host an intertidal BioBlitz on Aug. 3

From 8-11 a.m. on ​Saturday, Aug. 3, Sitka National Historical Park will host biologists from the Sitka Sound Science Center, who will work with the public to conduct a BioBlitz in the park’s tidelands. This is the last monthly BioBlitz of the summer.

Content experts will guide small groups of the public to find, photograph, and identify the diverse life found within the intertidal zone. The goal of this project is to attempt to identify all the species found within the park’s tidelands and capture some of the biodiversity found there.

This project is funded by the National Park Service through a cooperative effort with the Sitka Sound Science Center and these observations will inform the park’s all-taxa inventory of species.

Members of the public interested in participating can meet at the park’s visitor center any time between 8 and 11 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 3, to meet the biologists and start exploring. We will provide the equipment and expertise; all experience levels are welcome.

For additional information, visit the park’s webpage at http://www.nps.gov/sitk or call the Visitor Center at (907) 747-0110.

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Sitka National Historical Park to host an intertidal BioBlitz on July 6

The Sitka National Historical Park will host an intertidal BioBlitz from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, July 6, at the tent outside the park’s visitor center.

During this event, participants will attempt to identify as many intertidal critters as possible. The park will provide identification experts, guides and equipment. This event is co-sponsored by the National Park Service and Sitka Sound Science Center.

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Sitka Sound Science Center hosts guided tide pool walks in early July

Join a Sitka Sound Science Center interpreter for a morning of intertidal exploration during three guided tide pool walks in early June. The walks begin at 9 a.m. on Thursday, July 4; at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, July 5; and at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 6. The times vary each day because of the tides.

Participants will meet at the science center for a brief overview of the intertidal zone and what we can expect to see on the beach, as well as a beach etiquette talk. After that, we will head out to the beach adjacent to the Science Center for our beach walk.

The cost is $10, and includes all day admission to the aquarium and salmon hatchery. For more information, contact SSSC aquarium outreach manager Sandy McClung at 747-8878, Ext. 16, or smcclung@sitkascience.org.

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