“We envision an Alaska where everyone is educated about healthy, local food, is able to access it, and respects its cultural relevance.”

This collective vision spurred twelve teens from across Alaska to sacrifice their weekends to participate in Alaska Youth for Environmental Action’s (AYEA) Annual Fall Youth Organizer Summit. The teens traveled from Arctic Village, Fairbanks, Dillingham, Anchorage, Seward, Homer, Kodiak, and Mount Edgecumbe to the Summit to gain fundamental skills for effective activism, learn about food issues, and create and plan projects which they will implement throughout the school year.

These Youth Organizers are planning and developing a statewide cookbook project, a compilation of original art, recipes and creative written content related to Alaskan food.

From October 6-8 in Camp Togowoods in Wasilla, the teens received training from AYEA staff and adult mentors in topics such as community organizing, outreach, and holding effective meanings, and were also engaged by several guest speakers. Melissa Heuer of the Renewable Resources spoke on the Pebble Mine, Faith Gemmill of REDOIL talked with the youth about indigenous issues and subsistence living, and a group of AYEA program graduates led a panel discussion on life after AYEA.

The Youth Organizers embraced the opportunity to connect with current leaders in the environmental field as well as with each other by engaging in a night of cultural sharing. The youth brought food from their communities, shared recipes and stories, displayed photographs and artwork, and exhibited their musical talents. “The AYEA Fall Summit is one of the most important weekends of my life because it taught me how to nourish my mind, my body, and my soul,” said freshman Vika Morozova of Steller Secondary School in Anchorage.

The Summit concluded with the Youth Organizers beginning work on their personal submissions for the statewide cookbook and planning local projects for Food Day on October 24.

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