Teens from around Alaska converged March 15 to 19 at the ninth annual Civics and Conservation Summit. Sponsored by Alaska Youth for Environmental Action, the summit provides training in state government structure and function, with an emphasis on the legislative branch, by focusing on current legislation dealing with environmental issues.
Eighteen teens from 10 communities across Alaska met with Special Assistant to the Governor Joe Balash as well as all of their senators and representatives. They also attended a House floor session and testified at a bill hearing, and they wrapped up the week with a celebratory community dinner where they honored legislators with their annual Environmental Action Awards.
Joe Balash signed the AYEA petition to put $50 million in the Alaska budget for renewable energy. Teens brought AYEA's statewide campaign petition to their legislators, asking them to sign it and show their support for budgeting $50 million for renewable energy.
AYEA youth chose "Renewable Energy in Alaska - Our Time is Now" as this year's annual statewide campaign issue because of its timeliness and its potential in Alaska.
One youth noted, "Renewable energy makes me feel inspired. All the possibilities and potential are there, we just need to call attention to it. I feel like this (issue) could really take off. It makes me feel ambitious and energized and determined and indefatigable. I feel like it can change the face of Alaska to everyone else in the U.S. and the world, and I feel like it's worth pursuing if it has that potential."
This year's summit included teens from Anchorage, Dillingham, Emmonak, Healy, Homer, Juneau, Kasilof, Kotzebue, Palmer and St. Paul Island. The 2009 summit was sponsored by the Skaggs Foundation, the Alaska Conservation Foundation, numerous community partners and donors from around the state and many dedicated volunteers.
Alaska Youth for Environmental Action is a high school environmental leadership program of the National Wildlife Federation founded by six teenagers in 1998. For more information visit www.ayea.org.