By Laurel Stark
Training Rural Alaskan Youth Leaders and Students (TRAYLS) uses an experiential learning approach to provide youth (ages 15-25) with hands-on natural resource jobs, community service, and cultural stewardship experiences. The 10-week summer employment program provides youth with the opportunity to develop workforce and leadership skills and to deepen their knowledge of local and global environmental issues.
TRAYLS mission is to provide youth from rural Southeast Alaska with a well-supported pathway to becoming productive, empowered and responsible leaders who contribute to the region’s cultural vibrancy, economic prosperity and ecological resilience. Crew members are trained in wilderness first aid and develop skills in personal finance, field monitoring, leadership and soft skills, trail construction, fisheries management and monitoring, stream surveys, boat safety, orienteering and navigation, invasive species monitoring, and see firsthand how federal agencies, tribal entities, and communities work together in natural resource management.
Key partners include the Sustainable Southeast Partnership, the US Forest Service, Sealaska Corporation, Organized Village of Kake, Hoonah Indian Association, National Forest Foundation, Student Conservation Association, and others. The multi-stakeholder collaborative program provides its youth participants with opportunities to explore an array of natural resource management and conservation careers including those with the Hoonah Native Forest Partnership and Keex Kwaan Community Forest Partnership: land-based community forest projects that model community-based stewardship and illustrate career opportunities for the youth crews.
Over the past four years, over 30 young people from Southeast Alaska have participated in TRAYLS programs in Hoonah, Kake, Sitka, and on Prince of Wales Island. For more information, visit sustainablesoutheast.net.
Laurel Stark is the Program Manager for Workforce Development at Spruce Root. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.