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Alaskan youth outline priorities for state's future

Posted: January 19, 2012 - 1:19am

A group of 55 young people gathered last week in Juneau for the 2012 Conference of Young Alaskans and issued their highest priorities in five subject areas: Energy and power, natural resources and environment, Ilakuyulluta (living harmoniously with oneself and others) and economic resilience and fiscal policy.

Delegates examined issues and set priorities in working groups and then came together as a whole to deliberate and vote on their top 10 priorities in five categories.

"These are the most important issues to young Alaskans today," said Terin Porter, COYA 2012 steering committee co-chair.

The priorities with the most votes in each category were:

• Energy and power: Make energy prices more affordable for all Alaskans.

• Natural resources and environment: Alaska will preserve and value traditional Alaska culture and protect subsistence lifestyles.

• Ilakuyulluta: Provide access to the education, preventative care, and resources necessary for healthy lifestyles.

• Education and workforce development: Educate Alaska students in ways consistent with their cultural traditions and interests.

• Economic resilience and fiscal policy: Support diverse economies that sustain our cultures and unique state.

"The process was grueling and the decisions were not easy," said Kirk Rose, 24, a COYA 2012 delegate who works on the active revitalization of Anchorage’s Mountain View neighborhood. "But ultimately, it was worth it. I'm humbled by my peers from around the state. The quality of discussion and the willingness to yield personal opinion in favor of an informed collective compromise was what made this so successful. These opinions must be heard. Our young leaders are acutely aware of the struggles and challenges that Alaskans face on a daily basis. More importantly, the delegates have great ideas and strong dedication to a brighter future."

The deliberations and decisions resulting from the conference are being assembled into a final report and a team of delegates will return to Juneau to share the report with legislators in March.

“Our 55 delegates are vocal, passionate, empowered and committed, especially to servant leadership,” Porter said. “We must pay attention to what they prioritize at this conference.”

The conference aired live on television and online and the archived video can be viewed at institutenorth.org.

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