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2017 Chalkyitsik Open House – Event Report

Acting Refuge Manager Nathan Hawkaluk, Yukon Flats NWR, reports that the Chalkyitsik Open House was a huge success!  

“It was a hot and busy afternoon, but I felt it was very well received by the village residents and especially by all the youngsters that participated in all the arts and crafts projects and the archery shooting.

A huge thank you to our volunteers Mark Ross and Francesca Demgen, whose travel was funded by the Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges.  Your help and involvement was vital to the success of the event.  You are both invited next year as well!!”

The Friends also helped cover other event supplies and food for the celebration.

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Kodiak Refuge Salmon Camp

June-August, 2017

The mission of Salmon Camp is to educate Kodiak’s youth about the natural and cultural systems that define Kodiak’s geography and empower learners to investigate their own connections to this special place through hands-on learning, self-reflection and group discovery.


Since 1996, Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, in conjunction with Alaska Geographic and the Kodiak community, has sponsored the Kodiak Summer Science and Salmon Camp. Within two years of its inception, Salmon Camp became the largest science-based camp in Alaska. In 2002, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recognized Salmon Camp as one of its top five environmental education programs in the nation. This camp serves students from kindergarten through 8th grade.  The Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges has supported the camp for several years, providing funding for educational experiences.


The camp kicked off in early June with “Fishing Day,” with 125 attendees.  Bird TLC from Anchorage was on hand with a live bird demonstration, featuring a merlin and a peregrine falcon. Check out some photos below.








(photos by Lisa Hupp/USFWS)
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Events Report: Spring Bird Walks (Kotzebue) & Fairbanks Film Night

May 20-23, 2017
Selawik National Wildlife Refuge hosted its annual Spring Bird Walks.  The Friends sent expert birder George Matz of Homer to Kotzebue to lead several walks.

“Thanks to everyone who ventured out on one of our bird watching events this weekend! We enjoyed looking at birds in their bright breeding colors, visiting with folks, and learning a bit more about the feathered travelers that are flying home to Alaska to nest. Thanks to Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges volunteer George Matz (center of photo above) for being a part of the fun!”
  -Susan Georgette, Selawik NWR Manager




June 3, 2017
Friends gathered for an encore screening of “The Million Dollar Duck,” with host Adam Grimm, at Morris Thompson Cultural Visitor Center in Fairbanks. Refreshments were served, duck stamps were sold, and fun was had by all!

BELOW: Friends in Action: Sarah Mathews, Joseph Morris, and Adam Grimm (signing duck stamps).  













 

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2017 Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival


This past May 4-7, the Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges co-sponsored the 25th Annual Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, in Homer, Alaska at Alaska Maritime NWR’s Headquarters, Islands & Ocean Visitor Center.










Our Special Guests included Keynote Speaker, J. Drew Lanham and Featured Author, Paul Bannick.   




 Both Speakers presented a variety of workshops & lectures.










Raymond VanBuskirk (BRANT Tours), Neil Gilbert (2017 Schantz Scholar), and Keynote J. Drew Lanham enjoy a boat trip with Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies


Festival Participants enjoy the “Birders Breakfast,” and learn more about the Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges.












Bird TLC of Anchorage presents an up close experience with some feathered friends.






















Junior Birders Award Ceremony – check out all these fledgling ornithologists!













David Raskin (Friends President) with Keynote J. Drew Lanham and Marga Raskin (Friends Member)


USFWS Service, working hard throughout the weekend to make sure everyone had a wonderful time at the Festival.

 
Viewing Stations!




Raymond and BJ bird watching during the Viewing Stations.












Save the Date!  May 10-13, 2018! 

(Photos courtesy of Lisa Hupp/USFWS and Robbi Mixon/FANWR)

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Growing New Birders & Public Lands Users at the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival

What does it take to grow new birders and public lands users?  The U.S.  Fish and Wildlife Service in partnership with Alaska Geographic aim to figure this out through immersive experiences  for youth on and about public lands. In this spirit, a group of 9 young people, accompanied by Helen Strackeljahn of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Eileen Kazura and Reth Duir of Alaska Geographic, attended the 25th Annual Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival with generous support from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The group of current high school and college students from Anchorage, Alaska, were all first time birders when they arrived in Homer for the Shorebird Festival. Over the course of the Festival, they learned how to use binoculars, spent time in kayaks, and discovered their own personal bird story in a workshop with keynote presenter J. Drew Lanham.  These activities and more were made possible through a generous grant from the Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges.

Throughout the weekend, the group spotted Sandhill Cranes, Western Sandpipers, Greater White-Fronted Geese, and many more migratory species. They also had a number of close-up encounters with Homer’s resident Bald Eagles.

Highlights of the trip included kayaking around Yukon Island, pictured above, which began with entertainment on the water taxi provided by Dave Aplin of World Wildlife Fund, and culminated in a kayak race back to the shore. The group also enjoyed exploring Homer and attending the On the Wing Concert, Birder’s Breakfast and Keynote Speeches. 

Many thanks goes to the array of partners and sponsors, who made it possible to connect these urban youth to their Alaska Refuges.


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“The Million Dollar Duck” – Friends Film Screening with Adam Grimm

It’s movie night in Fairbanks! Come join the Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges for a free screening of the film The Million Dollar Duck.

When: Sat. June 3
Time: 7 – 9 pm
Where: The Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor Center, Fairbanks, AK
Cost: FREE

This fun and quirky documentary "focuses on the strange and wonderful world of the Federal Duck Stamp Contest, the only juried art competition run by the U.S. government. This film explores the eccentric nature of the contestants who enter each year for a chance at wildlife art stardom, while also reflecting upon the history and challenges facing the continued existence of this successful conservation program”

The movie will be introduced by Adam Grimm, a two time winner of the Federal Duck Stamp competition.

Family friendly event, Light refreshments, and signed duck stamp art available for purchase.

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2017 Art in the Arctic: Event Report



The Second Art in the Arctic took place on Saturday, March 4, 2017, 10-8:30, at Birch Hill Nordic Center in Fairbanks, Alaska. Enjoy photos from this fantastic outreach event, attended by over 200 people. 

The numerous artists included Randall Compton, Kristen Hendricks,
 Iris Sutton, Frank Entsminger, Vladimir Zhikhartsev, Sandy Jamieson, Rita Butteri…and many other inspiring people!






Friends Members Jason Sodergren, Betty Siegel, and David Personius, with Adam Grimm, two-time winner of the Federal Duck Stamp Contest. Adam was our special guest artist for this year’s event. 




David Personius created a 3-D version (drake only) of Adam’s 2014 winning design that was auctioned as a fundraiser for our Friends of Alaska Refuges.





The Art in the Arctic included a screening of The Million Dollar Duck, silent and live auctions benefiting the Friends, sale of collectible Duck Stamps and posters signed by Adam Grimm, and wine and cheese, donated by the National Wildlife Refuge Association.  The event was sponsored by Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges, Ducks Unlimited, and Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, with support from the USFWS.










 
 
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Kanuti’s Annual Winter Celebration, Community Dinner & Outreach Event

Kanuti’s Annual Winter Celebration, held recently in Allakaket, AK, was attended by over 60 people from Allakaket and Alatna and was once again a hit with kids and adults alike. This year, Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve helped support the effort. Marcy Okada, the Subsistence Coordinator for Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve and Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, and Maria Berger, the Lead Education Specialist (NPS) at the Fairbanks, Alaska Public Lands Information Center, attended the event and provided a well-received after-dinner presentation about Gates and NPS, and a craft table that was very popular with the youth.

Kanuti truly enjoyed partnering with NPS during this event, and very much appreciated the support NPS provided. The community seemed to greatly enjoy being able to learn so much in one stop. UAF representatives were also at the School during the evening event, providing excellent information about their programs and a table of information and free items. The community had a full night of fun! Of course, one of the most enjoyed parts of the evening, was the Taco dinner, provided by Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges and fully prepared by Friends Volunteer Sarah Matthews, who worked hard during the entire event to make sure everything we needed was taken care of – thank you Sarah for your hard work making a wonderful dinner for so many! And thank you to UAF for providing a great dessert! In the spirit of doing more with less, working together can fill in gaps while also strengthening ties. Kanuti looks forward to continuing to work with partners and the communities of Allakaket and Alatna in the future.





(Report filed by: USFWS)

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Kenai Refuge Celebrates 75 Years of Conservation



by Leah Eskelin, Park Ranger
(all photos by USFWS)

 Celebrating 75 years of conservation at Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Refuge staff hosted an evening celebration on Friday, December 16th at the new Refuge Visitor Center in Soldotna.  Sponsored by the Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges, National Wildlife Refuge Association, Alaska Geographic and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Retirees Association, the party showcased the Refuge’s diverse landscapes through artwork by volunteer photographers Tom Collopy and Mary Frische, family activities and a centerpiece cake that, well, took the cake.


Seventy-five years ago, on the heels of the attack on Pearl Harbor that led the United States into World War II, the President signed the document that created the Kenai National Moose Range. Later, in 1980, the passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) would change its name to Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, and broaden its purpose. A grassroots effort to protect wildlife being over harvested on the Kenai Peninsula resulted in this federal action, and without it the landscapes that are so beloved by residents and visitors alike would have been lost long ago.  With this protection, wildlife habitats, recreational opportunities and the integrity of salmon-rearing streams that are the linchpin of much of the local fishery have survived the decades, and will endure beyond our years here.


More than 200 guests attended this event, where they dressed as their favorite Kenai animal in the photo booth, “became” moose, the Refuge’s signature wildlife, by designing moose headbands and decorated reusable canvas tote bags. It was a great celebration and one that would have been impossible without the support of the Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges.  Refuge staff send their thanks to each member of the Friends organization, for this and other efforts to spread the word about these majestic public lands across the state.








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2016 Refuge Week – Celebrations at Arctic, Kanuti, and Yukon Flats Refuges

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by Allyssa Morris, Environmental Education Specialist (USFWS)

National Wildlife Refuge Week reminds Americans how nature enriches our lives and adds to the beauty of our country.  This special week highlights the National Wildlife Refuge System – the network of lands and waters that protect wildlife and their habitats.  This year Arctic, Kanuti, and Yukon Flats Refuges celebrated that connection with the natural world by hosting two events in Fairbanks with the help of the Friends of Alaska Refuges.

Archery Night was held at the Morris Thompson Center on October 11, 2016. The event was geared for youth ages 9+ years old. Trained Service staff and volunteers taught youth proper techniques and skills in an outdoor setting. Inside the main lobby there was an array of activities such as owl pellet dissections, pelts and skulls, and the opportunity to make a nature-inspired rubber stamp card. Visitors were also able to warm up with a cup of hot cocoa. Friends of Alaska Refuges member Dave greeted visitors at the entrance and member Joseph grilled hotdogs. It was a brisk and cold evening full of activities and smiling faces.

The second event was Refuge Day at the Fairbanks Children’s Museum. This event was geared for youth ages toddler to 8 years old. Attendees were able to make a squishy sensory fish pouch, play an animal matching game and even receive a blue goose removable tattoo.  The highlight of the event was meeting Puddles the Blue Goose, who received many hugs throughout the event. Friends member Jeff handed out juice boxes and cookies and Friends member Sarah led a craft on making blue goose clothespin magnets. This was a fun day to learn and celebrate the refuges!

  
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Friends Member Dave Personius greets visitors at the Morris Thompson Center at Archery Night

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The Cotter Family dissects owl pellets and learns about food chains with Botanist Janet Jorgenson

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Betty Morris, age 2, demonstrates how big a polar bear can be

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Refuge Day at the Children’s Museum:
Puddles with Children’s Museum Staff;  Friends members Jeff Walters and Sarah Mathews hand out cookies and juice to attendees.

 

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