(ANCHORAGE, AK) June 20, 2011-The Student Conservation Association (SCA), the nation's leading conservation service organization for youth, recently presented its "Serving Youth Serving Nature" Partner Award to Amy Shaw of Kenai, AK.
Shaw, a biologist and internship coordinator at the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association (CIAA), has recruited and trained 65 SCA interns over the last two years. The interns sample smolt and adult salmon throughout the Yentna, Susitna and Skwentna watersheds, which stretch from Denali National Park to the Kenai Peninsula. Their efforts help to protect salmon resources, maintain the stability of fish populations, and ensure the salmon's economic viability for the Cook Inlet region.
Interns work through a cooperative agreement between the State of Alaska and the Alaska Sustainable Salmon Fund (AKSSF). Part of this agreement includes a self-imposed 2% tax on commercial fish industry workers to support the protection of salmon populations. Through their research, the interns help AKSSF and the State maintain the health of the Coho and Sockeye populations in the surrounding region.
Interns gain many benefits from conducting hands-on research at the remote field sites, including increased skill sets, on the job experience, and a greater familiarity with Alaska's unique salmon runs.
Shaw says her greatest satisfaction comes from seeing the interns grow more confident and capable with experience. "It's amazing to see how self-reliant they become," she notes.
"By the end of the summer, they're calling me and saying, ‘we had a problem while you were gone and we tried this and this...and fixed it.' That's probably the coolest thing I get to see."
In order to work effectively from their remote Alaskan camp sites, Shaw ensures that every intern is outfitted and deployed safely and successfully trained in field sampling, bear safety, boat safety and plane safety, wilderness first aid, and backcountry base-camp design.
"Alaska is such a big wild place," Shaw says. "Safety is my number one priority."
But when work schedules permit, Shaw enjoys making personal time for the interns as well, from taking them on fieldtrips, to inviting them to her home for barbeque - even adding cheeseburgers to regular supply deliveries as a special treat.
Thanks to Shaw, upon completing their two-week safety training the interns are not only thoroughly prepared, but excited about the fun experiences they'll get to have in the bush.
SCA relies on the support of many resource management partners like Shaw, whose support helps SCA achieve its mission of "building the next generation of conservation leaders."
The Student Conservation Association (SCA) is the only national organization that develops tomorrow's conservation leaders by providing high school and college students with conservation service opportunities in all 50 states, from urban communities to national parks and forests. Since 1957, SCA's hands-on practice of conservation service has helped to develop new generations of conservation leaders, inspire lifelong stewardship, and save the planet. SCA is a non-profit headquartered in Charlestown, NH and maintains regional offices in Boise, ID, Oakland, CA, Pittsburgh, PA, Seattle, WA, and Washington, D.C. For more, logon at thesca.org.