Earth Week activities include the Parade of the Species, a youth eco-challenge, gardening class, free bus rides, and more

Earth Day is on Friday, April 22, and Earth Week this year is April 16-22. Sitka will host a variety of activities for Earth Week, including a couple of spring clean-up events, a gardening class, free bus rides, a bear aware canvassing campaign, a nature journaling community hike, a youth eco-challenge, and the 16th annual Earth Day Parade of the Species.

The Sitka Spruce Tips/Alaska Way of Life 4H Club will go Bear Aware canvassing from 3:30-5 p.m. on Monday, April 17, in neighborhoods along Indian River. The 4Hers will distribute bear aware literature to homes in that area to raise awareness about bear safety and garbage control. Contact Julia Tawney of the Sitka Conservation Society at 747-7509 or for more details.

The Sitka Spruce Tips 4H Club also will host a nature journaling community hike starting at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 18, at the Indian River Trailhead. This event will involve nature journaling and experiencing nature using all five senses. An RSVP is required to participate in this event, so please contact Julia at 747-7509 or to register.

There is a community-wide spring clean-up event from April 15-23, when people can bring in a variety of large items and hazardous materials to the transfer station and the Sawmill Cove Scrap Yard (hazardous materials are only April 22-23). This event is hosted by the City and Borough of Sitka Public Works Department.

The RIDE public transit in Sitka will offer free bus rides again this year during Earth Week (April 17-21). This has been a yearly offering from the RIDE, which is operated by a partnership between Sitka Tribe of Alaska and the nonprofit Center for Community.


The Sitka Local Foods Network will host a free gardening class during Earth Week. Kerry MacLane will teach “Extending Your Garden Season,” which takes place from 6:30-8 p.m. on Thursday, April 20, at the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall (408 Marine Street, parking off Spruce Street). Contact Jennifer Carter at 747-0520 or check the Sitka Local Foods Network website for more details.

The 16th annual Parade of Species, hosted by the Sitka Conservation Society, is on Friday, April 21. 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 2:45 p.m. and parade down Lincoln Street to the Sitka Sound Science Center at 3:15 p.m. There will be a number of community organizations with hands-on Earth Day inspired activities for the whole family from 3:30-5:30 p.m. after the parade. Prizes will be awarded for Best Use of Recycled Material, Most Realistic, Best Local Plant/Animal, and Best Group Costume. For more information, contact Julia Tawney at or call 747-7509. Click this link for a slideshow of scenes from the 2016 Parade of the Species.

The Rotary Club of Sitka will host a community spring clean-up from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 22, at Totem Square Park. This event is supported by Sitka Community Hospital, the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, and the City and Borough of Sitka. For more information, contact John Stein at 747-7811.


Sitka author Pauline Duncan will share her Sitka Herring and Baby Raven books at a Babies & Books Earth Day Event at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 22, at the Sitka Public Library. Babies, toddlers and siblings are welcome. For more information, contact the library at 747-8708.

The fourth annual youth eco-challenge is free and takes place from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 22, at the Sitka National Historical Park. School-aged youth teams (ages 5-12) will test their outdoor skills and teamwork while they make their way through the Sitka National Historical Park. Sign up in teams of four, or as individuals to be put on a team. Teams of multiple ages are recommended. It’s a race. Limited spots available, so register early. The registration deadline is 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 19. Contact Julia Tawney to register, 747-7509 or

The Sitka Gymnastics Academy‘s Earth Day Showcase takes place from 4-6 p.m. on Saturday, April 22, at the Sitka Cirque (207 Smith Street). The Sitka Gymnastics program is donating half of the money raised by this event to the Sitka Conservation Society. Tickets are $10 for adults and $3-$5 for youth.

• Sitka Earth Week Events Schedule for 2017

• Parade of the Species 2017 flier

• Eco-Challenge 2017 flier

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Teens can spend a week paddling a kayak in Glacier Bay Park and Preserve this summer

Are you a high-school-age teen from Southeast Alaska who wants to go kayaking in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve this summer? The National Park Service, will offer a kayak trip on June 2-9, in partnership with Alaska Geographic and Sitkans Against Family Violence (SAFV), using SAFV’s REBOUND curriculum.

A maximum of eight students will be selected to participate in the trip.  Due to the contributions of partner groups, the trip is being offered free of charge. This trip is open to students from Sitka, Kake, Angoon, Hoonah, and Gustavus.

Participants on this trip will spend four days kayaking during the week-long trip, where they will learn about leadership, wilderness and community. The goal of the program is to provide opportunities for youth to connect to their national parks and public lands through immersive experiences in wilderness areas. In addition, they will:

  • Learn backcountry camping and travel techniques from wilderness experts.
  • Explore the cultural heritage and natural resources of the land.
  • Develop skills for positive group dynamics, healthy relationships, and respect for the environment.

Students will need to complete the application posted below and obtain one letter of recommendation from a non-family member and submit them to Ryan Carpenter of Sitka National Historical Park by Friday, April 7 (NOTE: The application deadline has been extended to Friday, April 21). Applications can be picked up between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. at Sitka National Historical Park, or you can access them at the links below or on the Sitka National Historical Park and SAFV websites.

For more details, contact Ryan at 747-0121 or, or contact Molly at

• 2017 Glacier Bay Student Application

• 2017 Glacier Bay Letter of Support

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Sitka Public Library to host a community presentation on being more bear aware

Learn how to be more aware of bears in Sitka by attending a free community presentation from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 22, at the Sitka Public Library.

Stephen Bethune, a biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, will give a community presentation on bear awareness, safety and garbage control. Come learn how to be safe around bears in Sitka.

For more information, contact Julia Tawney with the Sitka Conservation Society at 747-7509 or


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The Lucky Herring is Eco-Discovery Day topic March 17 at Sitka Sound Science Center

Join us for an epic herring journey from 10 a.m. to noon on Friday, March 17, at the Sitka Sound Science Center. Participate in games and activities to learn what it takes for a herring to go from egg to adult. Those who take the journey earn their very own Eco-Discovery button upon completion.

There will be multiple stations with hands-on activities appropriate for children between kindergarten and sixth grade. The expected time it takes to solve the mystery is 30-45 minutes. Kids should be accompanied by an adult.

Eco-Discovery is coordinated by a partnership between the Sitka Sound Science Center, Sitka National Historical Park and Sitka Conservation Society. For more information about the event, contact Kristina at

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Sitka Spruce Tips 4-H Club to host Spring Wonders Camp and Nature Journaling programs

The Sitka Spruce Tips 4-H Club will host the Spring Wonders Camp on Monday through Wednesday, March 13-15, at a variety of locations in Sitka. In addition, the club will host a Nature Journaling Series for five weeks starting on Monday, March 20.

The Spring Wonders Camp has two sessions, with ages 5-8 meeting from 9:30-11 a.m. and ages 9-older meeting from 2:30-4 p.m. Some of the activities include baking bread in a bag at the Sitka Kitch, hiking, and nature-inspired movement at Yoga Union. These activities are subject to change.

There is a $10 supply fee for the camp, and scholarships are available. Participants must be 4-H members to register, and the registration deadline for the camp is at 5 p.m. on Friday, March 10.

The Nature Journaling Series meets from 3:30-5 p.m. on Mondays starting March 20 for ages 9-older and from 3:30-5 p.m. on Tuesdays starting March 21 for ages 5-8. The series lasts for five sessions, and there will be no sessions on April 3-4.

There is a $5 fee for the journaling series, and scholarships are available. The registration deadline for this series is at 5 p.m. on Friday, March 17.

For more information on both programs, contact Julia Tawney of the Sitka Conservation Society at 747-7509 or

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AK Experience Camp gives youth a chance to experience Alaska skills and adventure


The 2017 AK Experience Camp is fast approaching (June 5-9 at the Eagle River Scout Camp in Juneau), so it’s time to sign up your Southeast Alaska youth now. Registration is on a first -come, first-served basis, and members of the Sitka Spruce Tips 4-H Club will be attending. You can find the registration information and pictures from previous years on the Southeast Alaska 4-H website here.

The camp registration fee is $300 and the 4-H enrollment fee is $25. The check for camp will need to be made out to Southeast 4-H and can be dropped off at the Juneau office of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service at 450 Whittier Street, or mailed to UAF Cooperative Extension Service, P.O. Box 21266 Juneau, Alaska, 99802. There are scholarships available through Juneau Parks & Recreation and also through the Juneau UAF Cooperative Extension Service office.

The 4-H fee can be paid via credit card online during enrollment in 4-H. We are still requiring the paper form of the registration for our camp, but families also need to enroll in 4-H Online. Please visit the enroll in 4-H page for details. After you have filled out the online forms you will pick a club and project. Select AK Experience Camp for the club and adventure/challenge for the project. If you have already enrolled at 4-H Online, please go into your youth’s account and select AK Experience Camp as an additional club. This helps us to keep up to date on the youth who get to go to our awesome camp.

Special Invitation to Youth Leaders: We have created an opportunity for youth entering 10th through 12th grades to attend the Pre-Camp Teen Leadership and Adventure which is Wednesday to Friday, May 31-June 2, and is the new venue for our signature survival shelter overnight adventure. This training session prepares our youth leaders for assisting at camp and participation is by a special application (available upon request).

For more information about the camp, please contact Darren Snyder of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service by email at or phone at 907-523-3280, Ext. 2. For help registering for camp, please contact Susie Wilkie by email at or phone at 907-523-3280, Ext. 0

This camp is brought to our Alaskan youth by partners at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service 4-H program and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, with the invaluable help of a robust team of trained volunteers and professionals. The UAF Cooperative Extension Service is truly thankful for everyone who gives so much to make this camp possible. Thanks and we’ll see you at camp!

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Registration open for 2017 Sitka Sound Science Center summer camps


100_0532Summer camps are an important part of the Sitka Sound Science Center’s mission for increasing understanding and awareness of Sitka’s ecosystems. Throughout the year, its educational programs offer many opportunities for emerging scientists of all ages to join the scientific community. During the summer, the camps promise to be some of the most fun and adventurous experiences for being involved in science.

The Sitka Sound Science Center partners with organizations across the community — including Sitka Conservation Society, Sitka Fine Arts Camp, National Park Service (Sitka National Historical Park), U.S. Coast Guard (Air Station Sitka), U.S. Forest Service (Tongass National ForestSitka Ranger District), and the Sitka Tribe of Alaska — to take advantage of professional expertise in natural sciences, technology, engineering and culture.

13479396_1024381470991904_2139465712_nThe Sitka Sound Science Center offers week long camps during eight weeks of the summer months. While topics and ages range vary from week to week, all camps are age appropriate, richly experiential, outdoor and community exploratory, and project-based. Each camp session includes 3-5 scientists and educators with 10-20 campers. Community partners ensure engaging field trips and activities. Camps end with a culminating presentation or activity open to the community.


Registration Fees:  

  • SSSC Members and Coast Guard Family = $100/camper and $120/family camp
  • Non SSSC Members = $125/camper and $150/family camp

For more information, please contact Janet Clarke, SSSC Education Manager at 747-8878, ext. 3 or


asa-and-jesseThis year, our summer camps share a common theme of “MOTION”. Whether it is a first grader exploring biomimicry or an eighth grader looking at the engineering behind electric cars, all of the summer camps emphasize building strong science foundations in an engaging, active manner that celebrates exploration and tinkering.

There is one Family Camp this year designed for campers to share a scientific learning experience with their significant adults. The Sitka Sound Science Center knows that a common summer outing like this is part of what makes the summer break so special.

Camp descriptions are outlined below:

  • ANIMAL LOCOMOTION (June 5-9 from 9 am to noon) — What are strategies that animals on land and in the marine environment use to move? How can humans use these observations to engineer solutions to motion challenges. Campers will explore biomimicry in this high energy, motion emphasized camp. Grade: Campers entering first through third grade in Fall 2017
  • OCEAN IN MOTION (July 17-21 from 9 am to noon) — Plankton and plastics have one thing in common – they travel on ocean currents. Campers will look at all kinds of currents in the natural world and develop understandings about causes and characteristics of currents through observations, experimentation, and modeling. Grade: Campers entering first through third grade in Fall 2017
  • MAGNIFIED ART (June 12-16 from 1-2:30 pm) — Students in the elementary camp at Alaska Fine Arts Camp have the option for participating in a workshop that is a partnership between SSSC and SFAC. Campers will enjoy artistic expression of the worlds revealed under magnification. Sign up for Magnified Art at Sitka Fine Arts Camp or on the SFAC websiteGrade: Campers entering fourth through sixth grade in Fall 2017
  • SPORTS MOTION (July 10-14 from 9 am to noon) — What factors affect the path of a projectile?  How do pitchers change the drop on a ball? Can we use scientific understandings of motion to be better ball players? Campers will exercise both their minds and their muscles in the sports motion camp. Grade: Campers entering fourth through sixth grade in Fall 2017
  • BLADES IN MOTION (July 24-28 from 1-4 pm) — “There is no such thing as a gliding helicopter.” The design challenges of helicopters, windmills, propellers, and other blades will keep these campers busy. Field trips, observations of insects, plants, birds, and marine life as well as sessions with experts will create new ways of thinking for our young engineers. Grade: Campers entering fourth through sixth grade in Fall 2017
  • REVOLUTION (June 12-16 from 9 am to noon) — “We all want to change the world.” How do engineers become innovative designers? In this camp, we will use a design process to generate ideas, solve problems, and test prototypes related to contemporary industry products and processes.  Expect some very unique challenges and thought-provoking experimentation. “Revolution” will be facilitated by visiting engineers. Grade: Campers entering seventh through 12th grade in Fall 2017
  • OCEAN ADVENTURE (June 20-28 from 4-7 pm) — Campers will explore different ways to explore the coastline of Baranof Island by participating in kayaking, paddle-boarding, snorkeling, and hiking. Grade: Invitation-Only Camp for those students who participated in “BLAST” at Blatchley Middle School during the 2016-17 school year.
  • FAMILY CAMP: EARTH ON THE MOVE (July 5-7 from 10 am to 2 pm) — Learning about our island is fun for all ages — especially when the topic is dirt. In this camp, scientists from the US Forest Service will lead explorations of geologic landforms. Each day will feature a new field trip to learn about faulting, uplift, and erosion. Field trips, experiments, and modeling activities will mean active families. Family camps are perfect for everyone – parent(s) and children, of course, but also visiting favorite aunt/uncle and their nephews/nieces, grandparents looking for quality time opportunities with grandchildren, and so on. Note: Each family registration includes up to three individuals; there will be a $10 fee for an additional family member.

100_0484Postscript for Parents:  Trying to decide what age group is the best fit for your camper?  Please read the descriptions below to select the grade level that best suits your child this year.

What happens at camp?  Each camp follows a similar daily schedule: opening activity, content rich exploration, physically active game or walk, a snack, project time, closing activity.  However, content complexity, group skills, and time spent on each task differ with age groups.

What are the skills expected at the camps?

  • Grades 1-3 camps — Campers should be easily able to walk to the Sitka National Historic Park, around the loop trail, and back again. They should have group skills such as listening, waiting for their turn, and kindness toward others. Content is integrated into stories, explorations, games, and projects. Activities work time is restricted to about 30-45 minute blocks.
  • Grades 4-6 camps — Campers should be able to sustain 30 or 45 minutes of a game or walk. They are expected to be able to listen to other’s ideas, plan together, and play cooperative and competitive games. Campers in Grades 4-6 learn content from direct instruction, experimentation, and discovery activities. These campers can plan to work on challenges or projects in 45-60 minute blocks.
  • Grades 7-9 camps — Campers in Grades 7-9 should be able to sustain focus for an hour long field trip, be able to swim, and be capable of rigorous activity for an hour or more.  They must exhibit a more mature level of cooperative planning, division of jobs, affirmative relationships, and self-discipline. These campers will experience content from direct instruction, individual research, group share, scientific method, and Q & A with experts. Work blocks will be 60-90 minutes, and in some cases may extend for several hours.

To register for the camps, click this link and fill out the online form.

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