Conference of Young Alaskans under way

Posted: Tuesday, January 06, 2009

GIRDWOOD - More than 50 young people are meeting in Girdwood for the Conference of Young Alaskans.

The conference came together as part of the state's 50th celebration of statehood and is a University of Alaska project. The conference runs through today.

Youths attending the conference are developing policy statements and proposing courses of action, which they will submit to the Alaska Legislature.

On Saturday, the group heard from Vic Fischer, a delegate to the state's constitutional convention. Youths also heard from U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Fran Ulmer, the chancellor of the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Organizers say mainly the youths will be setting their own agenda.

Fifty-five young people were selected to attend the conference after filling out an application and writing an essay.

"This event will act as a statewide vehicle to provide Alaskans with a better understanding of how the state came to be and will raise the level of public debate on many of the contentious issues Alaska faces today. In particular, it will recreate the atmosphere of unity and cooperation that marked the struggle for statehood," the event's Web site says.

The first Conference of Young Alaskans was held in Fairbanks in 2006 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Alaska's Constitutional Convention. Fifty-five delegates also were selected at that time to represent the voice of Alaska's future. More than 400 essays were received.

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