Professional Development for K-12 Educators to Support Yukon River Salmon Stewardship in Rural Alaska

This proposal is a request for support for a four-day professional development teacher workshop to be held in Fairbanks, Alaska, in fall, 2012, for approximately nineteen rural educators representing communities with strong cultural, economic, and ecological ties to Yukon River salmon. The workshop is the centerpiece of a year-long Yukon River salmon education program supported by the project partners: University of Alaska Fairbanks Alaska Sea Grant (UAF ASG), UAF Cooperative Extension (CE), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG). The Salmon-in-the-Classroom program for rural Alaska schools is a continuation of the Alaska 4-H Natural Resource and Youth Development Program (NRYD) which has been highly successful in serving the needs of youth from rural communities across the state since 1991.

Originally developed to provide fisheries education to youth in eight communities impacted by declining salmon returns on the Yukon River, it has grown to include more than 80 rural communities throughout Alaska, including many in the Yukon River Drainage.  The annual professional development workshop provides an important opportunity for isolated teachers to network and mentor with other educators from similar school and community settings, along with having direct access to scientists and researchers. Participating teachers use the materials and training provided to create a salmon education program throughout the school year that integrates watershed monitoring, salmon biology, traditional science, subsistence, and fisheries management and allocation issues into the classroom curriculum. Students learn the importance of preserving spawning and rearing habitat, and migration corridors for salmon. This helps both students and their families to become stewards of their fishery resources. The greatest impacts of the program are realized through high quality professional development opportunities focused on salmon as a resource of cultural, economic, and ecological relevance; a basis for place-based teaching methods and resources integrating Traditional Knowledge; and a vehicle for increasing math and science literacy and positive development in rural youth.

19-STE-11-N Professional Development for K-12 Educ...