PALMER— Julia Scully, a recent Palmer High School graduate, was recently chosen as one of four Alaska Youth for Environmental Action Youth Salmon Fellows, a program that fosters youth voice and presence.
All for the salmon’s sake.
“This fellowship has been a huge eye opener,” Scully said.
As an extension of the Alaska Center Education Fund program, each salmon fellow across the state will advocate for salmon habitat protection, each taking a different approach based on their own experience, skills and location.
“Each fellow takes a different approach,” Tasha Elizarde, Salmon and Political Engagement Intern for the Alaska Center said.
The two primary goals of each salmon fellow are: first, to advocate for safe salmon habitats through canvassing attending events and forming their own events and activities and second, to promote Ballot Measure No. 1, a bill meant to restrict on human activity along salmon-bearing streams.
Ballot Measure No. 1 was ultimately struck down and stripped apart. The cut down version will appear in the general election. This didn’t seem to discourage the Stand for Salmon campaign, the environmental advocacy group that created the fellowship program. Scully and her other fellows receive a basic stipend from the group for their work on promoting updates to fish habitat laws, while working directly with the Alaska Center.
“A lot of the time people aren’t aware,” Scully said. “People don’t really know what ballot measure one is about.”
This is the first year of the Youth Salmon Fellows program, funded by the Alaska Youth for Environmental Action, a 20-year-old program from the Alaska Center Education Fund and that strives to empower young Alaskans to work on their choice of environmental issues. The four other fellows in the program are from Utqiagvik, Palmer, Shishmaref and Dillingham.
Scully said that she will be attending the University of Redlands to continue her studies in public health and environmental policy. Like her cohorts, Scully indicated that the state of being with the salmon affects everyone in Alaska.
Scully and her fellow fellows have completed various projects over the summer and are just getting started. Scully did a lot of canvassing and event organization while the other fellows focused their energies on other mediums like collecting stories through interviews and photographs, according to Elizarde.
“Youth in Alaska have the most to gain or lose according to the decisions we make today regarding our wild salmon,” according to the Alaska Center website. “Healthy wild salmon mean sustainable jobs for young Alaskan fishermen, preservation of knowledge and tradition, and food on the table for their families.”
Scully is planning on hosting an open mic night at the Palmer Downtown Deli. She is still working out the details, but aims to have the event on Aug. 23. The theme will be of course, centered on salmon, be it a wild fishing story or a scientific perspective. Like her efforts before, she hopes her event will help educate the people in her community.
“More than anything, we just want informed voter decisions. Yes, I want it passed but I also want people to be informed,” Scully said.
In order to be eligible for a Youth Salmon Fellow position, applicants must be ages 15-19 and residing in Alaska at the time of employment. AYEA members and alumni are preferred but anyone is welcome to apply, according to the Alaska Center website.
By JACOB MANN
First Published in Frontiersman.com>>
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