Education, Innovation and Leadership: Field Notes from Cordova

Education, Innovation and Leadership: Field Notes from Cordova

By Sarah Burch and Savannah Crichton.

The dirt path twisted along Eccles Creek and bent to the swatches of moss, tree roots and foliage that carpeted the forested area. After a bit of a walk, our group came upon a charming neighborhood of six houses, one of which belongs to Anita and Dana Smyke. 

Leading the experience was UAF’s Upward Bound associate director, Brian Reggiani, and the program’s director, Adam Low, both of whom have strong Cordova ties. Reggiani grew up with the Smykes’ kids, and Low was their science teacher at Cordova High School. The Smykes welcomed our group into their home and everyone piled onto the couch to eat cookies, reminisce and discuss the future of science education. 

We were among this group. We are Sarah Burch — ACEP’s newest energy fellow for the Alaska Microgrid Group, focusing on grid projects throughout Alaska — and Savannah Crichton — ACEP’s learning designer fellow, working on energy curriculum design. We both came into this opportunity through the Alaska Fellows Program, which pairs future leaders with community and professional mentors in Alaska.

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A group of people interested in energy education meet community leader Anita Smyke on the coastline near her home in Cordova. From left are Smyke, Adam Low, Asma Alomari, Savannah Crichton, Ashley Guernsey, Cailin Yaeger, Petie Deever, Sarah Burch and Gracie Farnham. Photo by Dana Smyke.