Final Post

I realized I had forgotten to explain what we did during our “Fisheries Week” back in Sitka, Alaska.

After we all enjoyed a couple of days off and a warm shower, we started our week with a cookout at Halibut Point Recreation Site. We had coho, sockeye, and King salmon, along with black cod and halibut. These were the five fish we would be learning most about through the course of the week.

On Monday, we met at the Sitka Sound Science Center and had lectures and a management panel with Kristen Green, Dave Gordon, John Littlefield, and Knox College Assistant Professor of Political Science Andy Civettini. Kristen and Dave both work for Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and John is the former president of the Southeast Alaska Regional Advisory Council.

At night, we watched Eating Alaska with  filmmaker Ellen Frankenstein. Ellen showed her movie at Knox a couple of years ago, and I attended then. It was great to see it again after experiencing some of the themes of eating in the Alaskan landscape.

On Tuesday, we had an introduction to Alaska aquaculture and salmon hatchery operations with Jim Seeland and Lon Garrison. Jim is a professor at University of Alaska, Southeast, and Lon works at the Sheldon Jackson hatchery.

We learned how to measure fish health, and our picture ended up on the front page of the Daily Sitka Sentinel! At night, we had a Local Politics Panel on Federal Lands with Scott McAdams, former Sitka mayor and U.S. Senate candidate; John Stein, former Wasilla mayor; and John Holst, former Sitka Assembly member.

Wednesday was our fishing practicum, which I previously mentioned in another post.

Thursday, we went from boat to market meeting the plant managers at the Seafood Producers Cooperative and Big Blue Fisheries. Seafood Producers Cooperative is the place in charge of distribution to places like Whole Foods.

Later on, Professor Andy Civettini gave a lecture on policy and real-world consequences.

At night, we attended Sitka Conservation Society’s Community Salmon Bake. The funds raised will be used to support salmon education and outreach programming at SCS. It was a really nice event and allowed us to talk with some of the people we’ve met around the community. The rhubarb sundaes were a great treat, too!

Friday, we went on a closing hike with Richard “Nels” Nelson, cultural anthropologist. He wrote the book The Island Within, which won the John Burroughs Medal for distinguished natural history writing. He writes on the relationships between nature and people.

On the hike, he spoke of his connection to food and place. He is a subsistence hunter and spoke of the important connection he has with the deer in Alaska. Listening to what Nels had to say was my favorite part of fisheries week.

It has been a journey following the fish from forest to plate. I wanted to let some time set in before wrapping it up.

We all got something different out of it. Some were given experience in fields they hope to pursue in the future — from working in a department of fish and game, a science education center, as a cultural anthropologist, or for Nora and James, possibly a future in radio!

For some people, this trip meant thinking about food, managing natural resources, or civic engagement differently. For others, it was an awesome educational experience that allowed them to see Alaska.

For me, it was really important to see all the parts that go into creating a system. It was a unique experience that I am so happy to have been a part of. In addition, I understand myself better as a human and animal. Kayaking and camping in the wilderness truly make you understand your place in the world and the importance of nature.

Signing off,

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Yes, We Can (Salmon)!

A group of Knox students prepare salmon for canning. Click on the picture to check out a video of Reina Galvan ’15 learning how to remove the skin on a salmon filet!

Photo by Kyle Walenga ’13

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Eating All Day

During the kayaking portion, our guides told us that it was important to snack all day to keep our energy levels up and keep us warm. That was not hard for any of us to do! Because of its importance, I decided there should be a whole entry about it.

In addition to snacking all day, we often ate wild food. We harvested beach asparagus or Salicornia virginca with pasta and burritos. We cut up bull kelp to put in beans and rice, ate wild goose tongue greens, salmonberries and twisted stalk when we could find it. On one occasion, a couple of us harvested limpets from the shoreline and used them in pasta (pictured below). Limpets are aquatic gastropod mollusks, or snails, that have a conical shell. They are really delicious and made the pasta especially tasty!

We ate something really unexpected while in the wild. Guess what it was? PIZZA!

We made the dough from scratch, which was really fun. We mixed up the flour and the yeast with warm water. To get the yeast to rise, we put the kneaded dough into plastic, sealable bags and put them under our shirts, using our bellies as our own personal ovens. It was really fun to be eating pizza in the wilderness!

When we got back to town for our fisheries portion of the course, we ate a lot of salmon (King, sockeye, coho, and pink), halibut, black cod, and rockfish. In addition, a group of us went and picked salmonberries so we could make salmonberry jam. We made two jams: salmonberry and then a salmonberry-strawberry mix. The salmonberry jam ended up more like syrup, but is still delicious and great to put on ice cream.

In addition to the jam, we canned sockeye and coho that we caught during the fishing practicums to take home, too. Our guide’s wife, Patti, showed us how to can salmon. It was a really fun learning from a Sitkan how to do so.

This blog is wrapping up as the course finished this weekend, but there will be a few more posts, so check them out!

Hannah Black ’14 shows our enthusiasm for snack time

My group’s wild Alaskan pasta with harvested limpets and beach asparagus

The green circle in the middle is a delicious limpet!

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Tlingit and Natural History

These cuts in this Sitka Spruce were used by the Tlingit people to signify a good place to come ashore. Additionally, these cuts helped the Tlingit harvest pitch (sap) from the trees, which are good for starting fires or may be used as an antiseptic.

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The View from a Campsite

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The Swim Edition

While we are in our cook groups making dinner a few days into the trip, Philip Bennett decides he wants to take a swim. At first, most people think he is joking. It had been quite cold and very rainy the previous few days, and it had not been much better on that day.

Additionally, keeping warm and dry were two of the most important things for us to do, so taking a swim in the less than 50-degree water seemed insane. But it happened! Some of them even brought some biodegradable soap and shampoo to clean up a bit.

Here are some pictures from the adventure:

Kyle Walenga ’13, Zoe Marzluff ’15, James Fenner ’14, Marie Anderson ’14, and Reina Galvan ’15 run into the 50-degree water on a rainy day.

James Fenner ’14, Kyle Walenga ’13, and Reina Galvan ’15 wash up and have fun.

Even though it was super cold, Marie Anderson ’14 stayed in the water extra long and enjoyed a swim.


Philip Bennett ’14 pretends to swim like a sea otter.

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We Love Kayaking!

Jordan Durrett ’13 and Zoe Marzluff ’15 kayaking

Philip Bennett ’14 shows some style while kayaking a single.

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Skipping Rocks

Kyle Walenga ’13 skips rocks, one of our favorite pastimes on the trip.

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Safety First!

Nora McGinn ’14 tries on her safety suit to go commercial fishing. It is important that the suit fits and that she be able to get the suit on within 60 seconds if the boat begins to sink.

This one did not fit her, so she ended up giving hers to a much taller Kyle Walenga ’13 (not pictured).

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Shots from the Inside Passage

A photo of our kayaks and the beautiful scenery

Head Guide, Scott Harris, teaches us how to put up tarps.
Pictured (from left to right): Scott Harris, Jordan Durrett ’13, Sebastian Rouanet ’13

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