KETCHIKAN — When kids come to the Tern Festival at Yakutat this month, they will be learning about birds from artists, naturalists, birders and biologists. They will also be getting outdoors and learning to love it. And that is exactly what the Forest Service and its partners want them to do.
The festival’s TERN of Events youth activities recently received a $9,000 grant from the Forest Service More Kids In the Woods program. Combined with $12,000 from partners, the funds will support educational leaders who will enhance festival offerings and expand instruction to young people about natural sources.
The partners include: Yakutat Healthy Community Coalition, Alaska Native Brotherhood/Alaska Native Sisterhood Camp 13-Yakutat, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, National Park Service, Yakutat Police Department, Yakutat Coastal Center, Yakutat Chamber of Commerce, Yak-tat Kwaan Inc., Yakutat Tlingit Tribe, and the Yakutat School District.
“The Tern Festival is an amazing event,” said Teresa Hunt, Yakutat Ranger District Resource Assistant. “The Forest Service and partners contribute their time, energy, and resources to help connect kids and families with the natural world. Education of the local community, particularly youth, and stimulating ecotourism in the Yakutat area are two key objectives of the festival.”
The third annual Tern Festival, which happens this year from May 30 to June 2, features credited naturalists, birders, biologists, and/or artists leading youth art activities, seminars, and field trips. One of the largest and southernmost known breeding colonies of Aleutian Terns exists in Yakutat. The area is currently at the forefront of Aleutian Tern research, including studies on population trends, nesting ecology and migration patterns.
U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell announced the award funding to help national forests enhance More Kids in the Woods programs. The announcement is one part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s efforts to strengthen the rural economy, invest in youth, and leverage resources through partnerships. More Kids in the Woods challenge-cost share projects are based on substantial Forest Service involvement with partners mutually contributing to the implement of the project. Alaska was one of 16 states receiving awards. The Yakutat District on the Tongass National Forest is a 2013 recipient.
Hunt believes the future of natural resources conservation depends on future generations’ understanding of the role of the nation’s forests to provide clean water, clear air, recreation, and multiple other benefits. Helping children develop a love of the land will enable them to meet conservation challenges of the 21st century, particularly those related to the effects of climate change and sustainable management of natural resources.
For more information, go to the Yakutat Tern Festival website at http://www.yakutatternfestival.org/index.htm or contact Teresa Hunt (Resource Assistant) or Susan Oehlers (Wildlife Biologist) at 907-784-3359.