SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Volunteers on Prince of Wales Island work and learn


April 28, 2016
Thursday PM

(SitNews) Craig, Alaska - Recently, the U.S. Forest Service and Southeast Island School District, Thorne Bay, partnered together to provide a second annual Alternative Spring Break in Alaska for Linfield College students. The college is located in McMinnville, Oregon. It was a resounding success, according to staff, students and educators. The students elect to be part of this work/learn program each year. Eleven students and one faculty advisor arrived on Prince of Wales Island Sunday, March 21, and their schedule was full the entire week.

jpg Volunteers on Prince of Wales Island work and learn

Linfield College students volunteered their spring break time to do brush work at the El Capitan area to open the ocean view to camping visitors.

The educational theme was sustainability. Alaskans from around the island showed them what Alaskan sustainability means, how it can be different from what they’ve learned about so far, and that it works. Students learned that Alaskan sustainability means many things; personal accountability for what you buy at the store, what you can grow at home, what you do with your garbage or by-products of other work, and how you re-purpose things that would otherwise go in the garbage or recycling bins.

Service work the group provided for the Forest Service included:

  • maintenance work at two cabins, including a thorough cleaning of Control Lake cabin and grounds; sanding and painting of bunks at Staney Creek cabin and some grounds work;
  • brushing work at the El Capitan area to open the ocean view to camping visitors;
  • laying additional gravel at the Gravelly Creek Day Use Site;
  • cleaning up several garbage dump sites along the 20 Mile Spur Trail road and at the Harris River Campground.

“The group worked hard all week,” said Forestry Technician (Recreation) Katie Rooks. “The students were eager to learn and work, and it showed as their smiling faces greeted the coordinators every morning, with a little extra coffee and cookies for them, as well.”

A highlight of their work projects was building a new chicken coop for Thorne Bay School, which already has a complete greenhouse, converted from hydroponics to aquaponics last year. Colter Barnes, the school principal, is passionately engaged with this project and has spearheaded it from the beginning. He presented facts about the aquaponics system and how it works to the group last week, and then got them to work framing and finishing a chicken coop, complete with roosts and laying boxes. Jonathan Fitzpatrick of Southeast Island School District also presented to the group about biomass boilers.

By the end of the week, the group had already put in their work hours, so a visit to Kasaan’s Totem Trail and Whale House was first on their agenda. Two members of the group had been here last year on the Alternative Spring Break trip and remembered it clearly, but as the renovation work on the Whale House has progressed, it looked much different now. The tour was made complete by Harley, a young Haida man we met in the carving shed who gave us a tour and spoke to us about many aspects of Haida traditional culture. He even sang a song using a traditional drum box handed down through his family. Harley’s stories about the totems, their meanings and traditional culture in general were wonderful and the students were listening in rapt attention. Before leaving, they were given the honor of helping the Whale House restoration crew move some large floor timbers into the Whale House.

Then it was on to Craig, where the big attraction was whales, and the students were lucky enough to see all kinds of marine mammal life from the point at Graveyard Island, and even a whale-tail slap (after a short visit to town for some souvenirs and hot drinks).



Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews


Source of News:

U.S. Forest Service


Representations of fact and opinions in comments posted below are solely those of the individual posters and do not represent the opinions of Sitnews.


Publish A Letter in SitNews

Contact the Editor

SitNews ©2016
Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska

 Articles & photographs that appear in SitNews may be protected by copyright and may not be reprinted without written permission from and payment of any required fees to the proper sources.

E-mail your news & photos to

Photographers choosing to submit photographs for publication to SitNews are in doing so granting their permission for publication and for archiving. SitNews does not sell photographs. All requests for purchasing a photograph will be emailed to the photographer.