Rural Youth Development Projects
4-H Sitka Youth First Responder Project
The Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) and UAF Cooperative Extension Service 4-H program developed the Sitka First Youth Responders program for teens to learn valuable skills while helping their communities.
Since the program began in 2004, more than 60 high schoolers have been certified as Emergency Trauma Technicians (ETTs) or Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs). That same year, the group, competing with similar groups from 13 Western states, won the Spirit of Youth Award and celebrated at ceremonies in Anchorage.
Other accolades include:
- helping Alaska Department of Health officials organize Sitka's first mass vaccine of more than 800 flu shots.
- assisting Mt. Edgecumbe and Sitka Fire departments with several mass casualty drills, acting as patients and as their own emergency medical division.
- assisting as first responders at high school games and other community events.
The 4-H Youth First Responder project expanded to Klawock in 2007.
Science Programs in Village Schools
Natural resources are central to rural Alaska communities. CES youth educators recognize the importance of applicable, place based information in local classrooms. The 4H Natural Resource and Youth Development Program annually offers training for rural classroom and agency educators that incorporate relevant, research based natural resource science delivered through hands-on, experiential learning. Subject matter for these trainings include Pacific salmon life cycle and management, forest ecosystems and management, wildlife conservation and management and climate change impacts affecting local natural resources – among many others. Many teachers going into rural classrooms are new to the profession, so workshops include current information on learning styles, teaching techniques and incorporating and acknowledging local culture and traditions. Support for educators throughout the school year is also provided by these programs through:
- Access to University and agency-partner resources
- 4H Science Updates newsletters delivered quarterly
- Distance learning opportunities for teachers
- 4H Rural Educators list serve
Gardening in Village Elementary Schools
Rural Development Projects promote self sufficiency through food production in rural communities. As part of that RDP introduces elementary age students to gardening programs such as GrowLab curriculum and equipment and Junior Master Gardeners. These students are being introduced to basic plant biology through hands-on experience while growing their own salads and ornamental plants. Curricula materials are correlated with Science Standards developed by the Alaska Dept. of Education & Early Development to assist educators address mandated learning objectives.
Youth ATV Safety
All Terrain Vehicles (ATV) and snow-machines are important means of transportation in rural Alaska. Each year many youth are injured in accidents involving ATV and snow-machines. ATV use off maintained trails can damage tundra and destroy important fish and wildlife habitat. RDP works with Alaska Trails, the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, other land managers and community groups to increase awareness of youth safety and environmental stewardship when operating or riding off highway vehicles. Materials developed by the National 4-H Program and the ATV Safety Institute are adapted for rural Alaska. Pilot projects focus on the Copper River Valley.