Born in New Mexico and raised in Arizona, Katie Russell spent her youth hiking, camping and attending and teaching at summer camps. About to begin her junior year pursuing environmental studies at George Mason University in Virginia, she is in Homer for the summer, interning at the Islands and Ocean Visitor Center.
“Being outside and doing hands-on things really sparked my interest and passion for protecting the environment,” she said.
In Homer as part of a Student Conservation Association (SCA) internship, Russell is working with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge out of the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center (IOVC). She has been leading programs, including guided hikes and tide pooling trips, creating identification information about the local ﬂora and fauna and giving presentations to the public about the refuge.
She shared that upon arriving into Homer mid-May, her one hesitation was dealing with Alaska’s cooler weather.
“Growing up in the dessert, with summers being 120 degrees, I was expecting it to be pretty cold here,” she said. “It’s the coolest summer I’ve ever experienced, but it’s not as cold as I thought it would be.”
She is interested in working with both federal programs and community-driven projects, like the citywide composting program she helped to create in Washington, D.C. this past spring, with city council members where she is going to school.
“I think it’s important that students and community members work to better their local area,” she said. “I like programs and projects where anyone can jump in and help.”