2017 YO Summit Recap

Alaska Youth for Environmental Action (AYEA) hosted it’s annual Youth Organizing Summit in a camp just north of Anchorage over the last weekend of August 2017. Nineteen teens from all across the state gathered for 4 days of learning about organizing, campaign planning, and producing effective actions. With these newly tuned skills they were able to create a major climate change action, lead and inspired by these youth organizers.

Teens traveled from Chevak, Juneau, Sterling, Anchorage, Palmer, Unalaska, Utqiagvik, Homer, and Seward for the Summit. Youth trainers, including Kaitlyn Phillips, Jode Sparks, Brian Conwell, and Sofia Astaburuaga, kicked off the Summit with trainings focused on developing youth leadership, understanding issues of salmon and climate change, and creating visual art. And of course, they played lots of games, danced, roasted some s’mores, played music, sang, and shared food from their home communities.

From this YO Summit, the teens formed a plan to advocate for stronger salmon habitat protections in Alaska over the course of the 2017/18 campaign. Last year, Representative Louise Stutes introduced HB 199 to update the law governing salmon habitat- a law that hasn’t changed since statehood. Excited by this opportunity to modernize our permitting process and bring it up to speed, the teens chose to spend the school year working to raise awareness and show support for the bill through continuing their Save our Salmon Campaign. The amazing youth leaders enacted some fresh approaches for this year’s campaigns. They wrote a resolution to present at the Alaska Associated Student Governments conference, developed a plan for engaging high school students from across the state in salmon habitat issues through a contest, and laid the groundwork for getting more businesses involved in salmon habitat protections.

On the final day of the Summit, the group switched away from salmon issues to focus on climate change. With the help of lawyers from Our Children’s Trust and Brad DeNoble, AYEA delivered a 160 page rulemaking petition to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The petition built on a decade of AYEA action on climate change, and asked the DEC to create a plan to address climate change in Alaska. The teens were met by reporters at the DEC building, where they were able to talk about their reasons for submitting this rulemaking petition. Commissioner of DEC, Larry Hartig, also greeted the teens and chatted with the group about their petition.

From climate action to salmon to singing some tunes with new friends, the Summit was an incredible four days of coming together around meaningful actions for the future of our state.

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