The Alaskan Youth Stewards (AYS) program provides youth from Southeast Alaska with paid, hands-on experience in natural resource management and monitoring, scientific data collection, community service, and cultural stewardship in their home communities. The 10-week program provides youth ages 15-25 with the opportunity to develop workforce and leadership skills and to deepen their knowledge of local and global environmental issues.

AYS programs (TRAYLS and Youth Conservation Corps, or YCC) are devoted to developing workforce and leadership skills in underserved youth from rural communities. AYS programs are managed through the Sustainable Southeast Partnership (SSP) with support from Spruce Root. These programs are sustained by a diverse partnership of organizations, tribes, and community stakeholders. Other core partners include the United States Forest Service (USFS), Sealaska Corporation, school districts, and individual community members, among others.

AYS and HIA Environmental also strive to provide youth with professional, educational, and personal development experiences after the summer season through involvement in STEM opportunities in the fall, winter, and spring. This includes introducing students to the national American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) Convention, Alaska Youth for Environmental Action (AYEA), Rural Alaska Students in One-Health Research (RASOR), and dual-enrollment college courses in the school.

Our Mission: To provide youth from rural Southeast Alaska with a well-supported pathway to becoming productive, empowered and responsible leaders who contribute to our region’s cultural vibrancy, economic prosperity, and ecological resilience.

To fulfill our mission, the AYS program introduces youth to various natural resource management careers, offers professional and personal development training, builds soft and hard skills, and provides environmental education. By fostering critical-thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork skills as well as involving youth in data collection for ongoing research projects, natural resource monitoring, sustainable management practices, and local social, environmental, and cultural issues, youth are better prepared for careers in natural resource management and higher education so they can be an effective leader in their community.

HIA Environmental has hosted the TRAYLS/AYS program in Hoonah since 2018. Past projects have included traditional wild food harvesting, processing, and distribution, resource monitoring surveys, salmon and deer habitat restoration work, interviews with local artisans, recreation site maintenance, and more.