This summer I’m spending under the midnight sun working at the Northern Alaska Environmental Center (www.northern.org). The center is proudly the “Northernmost conservation organization” in the United States, and works tirelessly to protect the wildlands of Interior Alaska and the Alaskan Arctic. Located in Fairbanks, AK, the Northern Center, as locals know it, promotes conservation of the environment and sustainable resource stewardship through education and advocacy. There are four main programs of the Northern Center: Alaska Legislature, Arctic, Clean Water and Mining, and Renewable Energy.
Here at the Northern Center I am the newly created Arctic/Energy Intern. The goal of this internship is to span program goals to show the many connections between climate change, the Arctic, and renewable energy in Alaska. After a year at BCEP, the linkages are obvious, though it is my job to portray so primarily through creation of a new website section. I have two main tasks on my summer checklist. The first is to research, write and publish a brand-new climate change section for their website. Stay tuned for more developments and the link to the finished product. So far I’ve mapped out the site (drawing from just about every BCEP class we’ve taken so far!) and have done extensive research on observed and anticipated climate impacts within Alaska. I’ve learned more than I thought I ever would on walruses, bowhead whales, and permafrost. It has been a great supplement to our classes. I didn’t think I’d be using the Bard library system so much this summer, but I am grateful for the journal selection!
My second objective this summer is to research existing organizations also engaged in the renewable energy field. This entails a lot of preliminary web research, lots of phone calls, and soon meeting with folks to learn what their niche is, where they see renewable energy in Alaska going, and what can be done to strengthen the field. In August there is a renewable energy fair at a geothermal hotspot/spa resort: Chena Hot Springs. We’ll have a table and will be able to provide fairgoers with all the information they need to make the change over to renewable energy (that is where I come in, with the synthesis of all the outreach projects).
The Northern Center staff members are very experienced grassroots organizers and have so much to share and teach – which they do daily. We are immersed daily in the political in’s and out’s of Alaskan issues in-state as well as those in the national spot light. Intern supervisors have been amazing outlets for showing us the ropes. We’ve been to public hearings, testified under the NEPA process, and attended University of Alaska lecture series. Information is everywhere!
Our bosses are careful not to make our summer all work and no play. As generous as they are with information on Alaskan environmentalism, so too are they generous with information on where to camp, where to hike, and collectively seem to be able to I.D. just about any plant and animal that we come across. While fighting for Alaska’s wildlands it is important to get out there and experience what you’re working for. As such, the other interns and I have been out on the land camping, hiking, canoeing, bouldering, and more. Just outside of Fairbanks proper lays a vast landscape to explore, and since it doesn’t get dark during the summer months, there is plenty of time for discovery. I’m looking forward to another two months of in the state at the Northern Alaska Environmental Center!