We wrapped up another great season with our summer AYS crew (Susan Bradford, Leif Gray, Kelly St. Clair, Jermaine Johnson, and Theodore Elliott). Together with impressive local support, they completed eight weeks of valuable environmental work, cultural stewardship, and community service in Hoonah. Keep reading to see some of the projects they worked on!
Food Harvesting and Processing
HIA and Huna Heritage Foundation partnered for their fifth year of harvesting and processing for Hoonah’s annual food fair. The AYS crew always embraces the opportunity to give back to the community through food.
On this year’s harvesting list were beach asparagus, Hudson Bay tea, bull kelp (for pickles) and blueberries. We were joined by members of the Tidelines Institute for harvesting and processing the bull kelp using HIA’s canoes. HHF made a great video showing all the steps we went through to make kelp pickles:
Work with the US Forest Service
The Forest Service funds a large portion of the work AYS does and the crew always looks forward to helping them with their projects and learning from their expertise. In 2022, the AYS team cleared out a fish-pass, cleaned up and maintained recreation sites accessible from town, and picked invasive oxeye daisies.
Indian Environmental General Assistance Program (IGAP
IGAP is funded by the EPA and monitors environmental factors that impact community health. The AYS crew enjoyed assisting Jeromy Grant and Ricardo Contreras with the collection of shellfish to assess population health, install stream monitoring equipment, and accompany geologists looking at the causes of landslides around Hoonah.
Hoonah Native Forest Partnership (HNFP)
It’s always exciting to go out with the HNFP crew. This year, the AYS crew joined them on fish surveys documenting juvenile salmon. Streams containing salmon are added to the state’s Anadromous Waters Catalog, which in turn entitles them to a higher level of ecological protection.
HNFP also partners with the Forest Service and AYS for stream restoration projects to improve habitat for salmon runs.
Cultural Celebration at Home and Homeland
We had the honor of participating in Hoonah’s Haa Tóo Yéi Yatee culture camp. It was powerful being able to support such an important event. The Sustainable Southeast Partnership was also in attendance and made a spectacular photo album: 2022 Haa Tóo Yéi Yatee | Flickr
Earlier, the AYS crew also had the privilege of traveling to Sít’ Eeti Gheeyi. We wrote a blog post detailing it here: Alaskan Youth Stewards in the Park – HIA Environmental (hia-env.org)
Work From Home
While the AYS crew spent most of the summer “out the road,” they also stayed in town or nearby to work on our community potato garden, mobile greenhouse, improve local berry patches, and help prepare for and then clean up after Hoonah’s July 4th celebration.
Tree Coring & Forest Inventory Plots
To round out the season, the team cored trees for the College of Wooster to see how climate and other factors have affected tree growth in the region. They also surveyed forest plots for a study being done by the Forest Service to record the characteristics of different areas in relation to the presence of edible berries.
It was an amazing summer for our AYS crew and we could not have done it without all the support we received. We are extremely grateful to HIA staff, HHF, the Forest Service, CCTHITA, Hoonah City Schools, the National Park service, SSP, Huna Totem Corporation, and other local partners! Thank you everyone in Hoonah for supporting and taking pride in our youth!