My job allows me to visit a lot of Alaska on a yearly basis. I wanted to capture the trips in one location!

Sitka by the Sea, what a beautiful community

I have been to Sitka several times since moving to Alaska in 1996, and even lived there from Jan-May 1997 working for the University of AK Southeast~Sitka for those months.  Sitka has a wonderful history and it shines through even today.  Sitka sits out on the open coast and is typically 5-10 degrees warmer than Juneau, so spring was really in the air when I was there April 10 and 11 to work with Pacific High School, the alternative HS in town.

The City and Borough of Sitka is located on the west side of Baranof Island and the southern half of Chichagof Island in the Alexander Archipelago of the Pacific Ocean (part of the Alaska Panhandle. There are about 8000 people that live there, and it is one of Alaska’s bigger cities! The borough is the second largest incorporated city by area in the U.S., with a total area of 4,811.5 square miles (12,461.7 km2), with 2,874.0 square miles!

Sitka is a beautiful community on the sea.  They have an amazing arts program each summer for youth, the beautiful Totem Park to explore native totems, a raptor center that takes in birds (eagles mostly) that are ill or physically unable to care for themselves, and a large population of fisherman who love the land where they live!  Both the US Park Service, US Forest Service, and Coast Guard are in town as well as the UAS campus.  Along with the school district, South East Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) is the biggest employers.

One other noteworthy institution in Sitka is Mt. Edgecumbe High School.  I worked with staff at MEHS for 6 years and love the school.  It is a PUBLIC, statewide, boarding HS and up to 400 youth attend each year.  Students come from all across the state to attend the school and the graduates of MEHS (mostly Alaskan Native) go on to many of our states leaders in every imaginable profession!  It is a great school.  I even got to do the commencement speech there one year!

Some interesting history on Sitka:

The name Sitka comes from the Tlingit word meaning “People on the outside of Shee” and Shee was what the Tlingit’s called Baranof Island.

The Tlingit people have been in the area now known as Sitka for over 10,000 years.  However in 1799 Aleandr Baranov the governor of Russia America made this area a colonial trading area.  Battles ensued between the Tlingit’s and the Russians in 1802 and many Russians were killed or taken as slaves.  I found this about the next attack in 1827:

“The new Russian palisade atop “Castle Hill” that surrounded the Governor’s Residence had three watchtowers, armed with 32 cannons, for defense against Tlingit attacks.  Baranov returned to Sitka in 1804 with a large contingent of Russians and Aleuts with the Russian warship Neva. The ship bombarded the Tlingit fort but was not able to cause significant damage. The Russians then launched an attack on the fort and were repelled by Tlingit fighters and marksmen. However, the Tlingit gunpowder reserves had been lost before the Russian assault and the Tlingit were forced to leave the fort.

Following their victory at the Battle of Sitka the Russians established a permanent settlement in the form of a fort, named Novoarkhangelsk (Новоархангельск), or New Archangel, a reference to Arkhangelsk, the largest city in the region where Baranov was born. The Tlingit re-established a fort on the Chatham Strait side of Peril Strait to enforce a trade embargo with the Russian establishment. In 1808, with Baranov still governor, Sitka was designated the capital of Russian America.

Sitka was the site of the ceremony in which the Russian flag was lowered and the United States flag raised after Alaska was purchased by the United States in 1867 after the sea otter pelt trade died out. The flag lowering and raising ceremony is re-enacted in Sitka every October 18, known locally as Alaska Day.   Alaska’s first newspaper following the Alaska Purchase, The Sitka Times, was published by Barney O. Ragan on September 19, 1868. Only four issues were published that year, as Ragan cited a lack of resources available at the time. The paper resumed publishing the following year as the Alaska Times. In 1870, it moved to Seattle, where the year following it was renamed the Seattle Times (not to be confused with the modern-day newspaper of the same name). Sitka served as the capital of the Alaska Territory until 1906, when the seat of government was relocated north to Juneau.”

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Craig, Alaska on the 3rd largest island in the United States!

March 3&4, 2012

Craig, Alaska is on Prince of Wales Island, the 3rd biggest island in the United States and the 2nd biggest in Alaska.  (#1 is the big Island of Hawaii and #2 is Kodiak Island in Alaska).  The island is 135 miles, 45 miles wide and has an area of 2,577 sq mi slightly larger than the state of Delaware.  Approximately 6,000 people live on the island.  Craig is the largest town on the island and about 56 miles (40 minute flight) from Ketchikan and 220 miles south of Juneau.  I took Alaska Air to Ketchikan and on the way landed in Sitka. Once I was in Ketchikan I took a small flight to Craig.  I left Juneau around 10 a.m. and got to Craig about 1:45.  It was really, really windy flying from Ketchikan to Craig and I was actually happy I had not eaten lunch!

The plane lands in the community of Klawock where I rode with the superintendent (who was also on my plane) to Craig.  About an 8 mile drive.  As we landed in Klawock you could see some of the clear-cut areas and the mill, which processes the wood.  Craig also relies on the timber industry.  Fishing and fish processing are the major industry of Craig.  There are about 1400 people that live there year round and many are involved in the fishing industry at some level.

I ran to the Dreamcatcher B & B and checked into my beautiful room then to the school where I met up with the board.  We did our workshop and I got back to my place about 8 p.m. where I did a quick walk, even though it was raining a bit. (hence the pictures are dingy).

I got up at 5:30 a.m. so I could catch the 7 a.m. flight to Ketchikan (about 25 minute flight going this way) and then the 8 a.m. flight from Ketchikan to Juneau.  There were 2 stops on that flight, Wrangell and Petersburg (with an 11 minute flight between the 2 stops), finally getting to Juneau around noon on Wed.

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Working with 70 amazing youth and adults at RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership)

March 29/30

After a week at home (which included our June Nelson Scholarship selection day and our Fly-In where board members come to Juneau to talk to their legislators), I was off and running again.  This trip was to Kenai where I would have the honor of working with some amazing young leaders in this state!  I have helped with the Rotary Youth Leadership 7 out of the last 9 years, missing one when Harry and I were out of the country on our Panama Canal Cruise and the other last year when I tore my ACL.

This years group was one of the best ever!  I had a great time with them AND I was so exhausted when I arrived home on Friday night that Saturday was almost a bust… but I have recovered and am enjoying a beautiful spring day here.

Kenai/Soldotna are about a 3.5 hour drive south of Anchorage and about a 20 minute flight, I opted for the flight.  RYLA was held at a camp in the woods right off the main highway, but if felt like we were hours away from civilization.  On Thursday we started off with hours of getting to know each to know one another activities.  Within no time the youth and adult volunteers were laughing, talking and having a great time.

Friday was full of more content workshops on personality styles, diversity, ethical decision making and defining a leader.  The pictures I have posted are from the activity on Building a Leader.

Though both days were in the high 40’s there is still a lot of snow as you can see in the pics.

A good time was had by all.

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