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.