Civics & Conservation Summit

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2017 Civics & Conservation Summit

Applications for the 2017 Civics & Conservation Summit have now closed.
Stay tuned to see photos and bios of our 2017 delegates! 
When? March 13th-18th
Where? Downtown Juneau, with lodging at the Shrine of St. Therese
Who? Teens ages 13-18 years old from anywhere in Alaska!
Cost? Recommended $125 tuition; travel and tuition scholarships available on first-come, first-serve basis
Why? Learn more about environmental issues and legislation, meet your legislator and learn about the civic process, make your voice heard!
Contact Allison Barnwell at 907.274.3640 for more information.

What is the Civics & Conservation Summit?

Each spring, AYEA youth delegates travel to our state capital in Juneau, Alaska and gain skills in communication, advocacy, and the democratic process. Teens meet with their legislators and advocate on the issues they care about. When they return to their home communities, they continue exploring and working on these issues with new skills. The Civics & Conservation Summit is a transformational experience that empowers young people to make real change on the issues that they are most passionate about.

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Tuition costs $125 per teen, but scholarships are available for both tuition and travel. Please contact Allison Barnwell at 907-274-3632 or allison@akcenter.org for more information. Meet the 2016 youth delegates here.>>

During the training, youth learn: how to talk with the media, how to communicate with elected officials, how to read a bill, and how to impact decisions our leaders make about our environment and our lives. We also include sessions on the tribal resolution process, environmental justice, and defining sources of power and influence. The training ends with youth-led visits to state legislators to discuss environmental concerns and interests. This is a life-changing training that will give teens skills they can go on to use in any arena.

Questions? Contact Allison Barnwell at 907-274-3632 or allison@akcenter.org for more information.

 

2016 Civics & Conservation Summit Recap

 

“This week just changed my life plans.”
-Tadhg Scholz, Homer, 17

The Civics and Conservation Summit changes young people’s lives. And this year was no exception. Twenty youth gathered from across the state for the week long training in Juneau. Teens came from Barrow to Unalaska to Fort Yukon, and brought their unique perspectives and culture into the diverse group.

“Youth have opinions that matter.”
-Kaitlyn Phillips, Barrow, 13

The teens looked in depth at 4 different bills: 2 bills on the health and safety of our wild Alaskan salmon stocks, one related to toxins in children’s products, and House Bill 233 to establish a Climate Change Commission. Backing up their work on HB 233, the teens had the support of over 1,200 Alaskans that signed their climate change petition to reduce carbon emissions. For four days teens were in and out of meetings with their Representatives and Senators, touring the Capitol building, learning what it would take for these bills to pass and advocating to move them to a vote.

“The most important thing I learned at the training was
that with help from others, anything is possible.”
-Waylon Ulroan, Chevak, 16

A huge highlight of the trip was the hour the teens spent talking to Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallot. They spoke about climate change and rural communities, the administration’s plans for reducing carbon emissions, and his journey into politics. When Carly Dennis of Eagle River asked the tough question of the administration’s plans on climate change, the Lieutenant Governor responded, “We are establishing, through the Commissioner at the Department of Environmental Conservation, a climate change work group that will focus on a broad range of potential and real initiatives that the state could take to be responsive to climate change. Emissions is a principal focus, but in Alaska, climate change is causing and will cause in a period of time huge change in our state.” The teens came away from the meeting excited for future action from the administration on climate action and responsiveness. As the Lieutenant Governor noted, “There’s a lot for Alaska to do, there’s a lot for the nation and the world to do.” AYEA hopes that the administration will take those first steps to doing something about climate change and the threat it poses to Alaska.

“While growing up my parents always talked about their chosen families.
I think, now I know, that I have found mine here at AYEA.”
-Kaihinjik Alexander, Fort Yukon, 13

For the final event of the Summit the teens hosted the first ever “Youth State of the State Address.” The event attracted more than 10 different representatives and senators, and while the crowd munched on wild king salmon, seven teens spoke on the issues that they were most concerned about for the future of Alaska. Carly Dennis spoke about renewable energy and the need for funding and more projects, especially for our rural communities. Jode Sparks of Sterling and Kaitlyn Phillips of Barrow spoke about the importance of education for building a strong state and future. Janie Standifer of Tyonek talked about how salmon are key to her village and way of life, and how threats to salmon like Chuitna coal mine need to stop. Cade Terada of Unalaska and Elvie Underwood from Fairbanks spoke out on the need for climate action due to the costs to our state, and Sofia Astabuaraga wrapped up the event with wise words on how youth are the leaders of today and tomorrow and want to see action from decision makers on their concerns.

“One important thing that I learned is that you don’t need to hold in your
thoughts and that you don’t need to know anyone to speak up. I know
I was shy, but hopefully next year I’ll let all my thoughts come out.”
-Reigh Chayalkun, Barrow/Chevak, 13

The 2016 Civics Summit was a whirlwind of learning about the legislative process, new people and different cultures, making new and lifelong friends, creating plans for action and stepping up to voice the opinions of youth and their communities. Kaihinjik Alexander from Fort Yukon noted at the end of the week, the Summit taught him, “everyone, no matter their age, size, or differences can make the change.. they will make change.These young people are the change they want to see in the world, and they are urging our state leaders to follow.

“I learned that everyone, no matter their age, size, or differences
can make the change, that they will make change.”

“The most important thing I learned at the training was learning
about other cultures and connecting with my own.”
-Roan, Homer, 16

“I learned how valuable personal connections can be, whether
it’s to a peer or to a legislator. I also learned the importance
of asking questions and voicing your opinion.”
– Carly Dennis, Eagle River, 17

Stay tuned to learn how you can support the teens’ efforts!

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AYEA’s Youth Delegates are from Fort Yukon, Shishmaref, Eagle River, Teller, Chevak, Barrow, Aniak, Fairbanks, Anchorage, Unalaska, Homer, Palmer, and Craig. You can ‘meet’ all of the 2016 Youth Delegates here.

Read a full recap of the 2015 Civics and Conservation Summit here!

Alaska Center for the Environment’s mission is to engage and empower Alaskans to protect and conserve the natural resources that support our unique quality of life for current and future generations. Through the Alaska Youth for Environmental Action (AYEA) program, we are building a movement of diverse young people who have the skills, knowledge, and experience to be effective advocates for their communities.

Allison Barnwell
Youth Training Coordinator
(907) 274-3640
allison@akcenter.org