Story last updated at 4/10/2013 - 6:21 pm
Prince of Wales Island students from the Southeast Island School District and Craig School District enjoyed a variety of educational and recreational activities while visiting Sitka last fall during the annual WhaleFest celebration.
Students Tayjha Tripple, Steven Helgeson and Valeria Gomez Rodriquez of Thorne Bay School; Caitlyn Hammond and Anthony Howell of Naukati School; Jeff Wetton of Howard Valentine School (Coffman Cove) and Taylor Stumpf of Craig High School were selected for a University of Alaska Sitka (UAS)/US Department of Agriculture (USDA) scholarship which provided tuition and travel expenses to Sitka where they completed a college level genetics lab at UAS; extracting and analyzing DNA collected from different whale skin samples.
At WhaleFest, a celebration of Marine Life, students attended a three day symposium presented by nine marine scientists who discussed current research findings on the connections between oceans and forests. The seven high school students experienced dorm life while staying at the former Sheldon Jackson campus dormitories, participated in a 5K run, savored a catered banquet featuring Author Seth Kantner, and boarded a haunted US Coast Guard ship. Two UAS credits were earned for the students' efforts in Sitka.
Based on their great performance in Sitka, UAS Professor and Biologist Jan Straley invited three SISD students to Anchorage to participate in the Federal Subsistence Board meeting on fisheries. Jeff Wetton, Steven Helgeson and Victoria Arvizu (Howard Valentine School) were impressed with the participatory nature of the regulation process and glad to see Prince of Wales Island resident Anthony Christensen serving on the Board.
While in Anchorage, the three students also attended an Alaska Marine Science Symposium at the Hotel Captain Cook. When their papers covering issues observed at the Federal Subsistence Board meeting are complete, the students will receive credit through the University of Alaska Sitka.