Young Leaders in Beringia Develop Future Project Ideas
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At the 2011 inaugural Youth Forum held in Nome, Alaska on September 9th and 10, a group of young people from around the Beringia region gathered as part of a special summit sponsored by the National Park Service's Shared Beringian Heritage Program.
They learned about past and present projects and research being conducted in their region and sponsored by the Shared Beringian Heritage Program. During the brainstorming sessions that followed, the youth were divided into four groups focusing specific subject areas. These included: Archeology, Cultural Preservation, Climate Change, and Subsistence. Youth collaborated with expert "mentors" and came up with ideas for future Beringia projects involving and directed by young people. The recommendations included several ideas for new Beringia projects that could be funded by the Shared Beringian Heritage Program or other sponsors of such programs.
The Cultural Preservation group proposed maintaining and sustaining the Siberian Yupik language via a shared curriculum based on native dances, sports, handicrafts, and art common to indigenous people in Alaska and Chukotka. The Climate Change group suggested that students document changes to subsistence hunting calendars in Beringian villages as a result of climate change and post these results to a special website. The Archeology group wanted to conduct archeology workshops for students, scientists, and residents of Beringian communities to simultaneously learn from each other and improve relationships between these groups. The Subsistence group recommended the development and distribution of an educational booklet and DVD on subsistence activities for school curriculums in rural areas, state-wide, and even nationally through social media and real-time learning.
At the main Beringia Days 2011 conference during a special session dedicated to youth and attended by some of the top scientists and researchers in Beringia, participants and program staff received very positive and encouraging feedback on the project ideas. The Shared Beringian Heritage Program then presented the project ideas to the Beringia Panel during their 2011 annual meeting on October 7th and 8th. The Panel was so impressed by the youth-generated ideas that they allocated funding to get the projects started and develop plans to move them forward.
The aim is to flesh out and advance the ideas in conjunction with Youth Forum participants and other interested young people. The Beringia Program is now working on outreach with young people, cultivating possible partnerships, and seeking out other sources of funding. In Alaska and in Chukotka, the young leaders from Beringia who originated these concepts will be included every step of the way towards advancing these ideas and turning them in to realistic and achievable projects. The Shared Beringian Heritage Program encourages all who are interested, both youth and adults, to get involved in these projects. Please contact Shelley Wesser (email@example.com) or Elizabeth Shea (firstname.lastname@example.org) at the Beringia Program if you would like more information.