By Hannah Heimbuch
Local non-profit Homer Wilderness Leaders, better known as HoWL, is expanding its programs in 2014 to include school presentations from the End of the Road all the way to Anchorage. HoWL instructors like Jesse Toubman will be continuing a program that presents essential Alaskan wilderness and stewardship courses to schools on the Kenai Peninsula, but venturing to the Anchorage area is new territory for the organization.
“One of our goals for doing this outreach out of town and in Anchorage and other Kenai Peninsula schools is that hopefully we will get more students participating in HoWL from out of town, which will give our program more of a traditional summer camp feel to it,” said Programs Director Libby Veasey. This means young explorers will have a chance to meet students from, hopefully, all over the state and country, she said.
“You will have the opportunity to make your camp friends, which are often life-long friends,” Veasey said.
HoWL, founded in 2009, aims to empower Alaskan youth through outdoor adventures and experiential education. Over the course of its five-year history, HoWL has led more than 500 young students into Alaska’s wild corners. Students have ventured out on community events, day trips and multi-day expeditions that run the gamut from backpacking to rock climbing and canoeing.
The presentation program, starting again this spring, will offer up interactive information and learning opportunities for elementary and middle-school aged youth. This will include teaching the principles of “Leave No Trace” wilderness ethics, geared toward clean and sustainable use of the wild outdoors, encouraging young people to take on roles as earth stewards.
“Our goal is to introduce environmental stewardship and wilderness survival to every fourth- through eighth-grader in Homer,” said Veasey. “In addition to the in-school workshops we will be challenging the students to pick up litter on their own and thus become environmental stewards.”
HoWL staff and high-school peer leaders will discuss Leave No Trace and similar concepts, as well as introducing the DiRtBaG program — Discount Rates for Boys and Girls. Participants in DiRtBaG are eligible for scholarships for the summer programs, which they earn by picking up litter around their community.
“Through their participation in this simple task all students will have scholarship opportunities with HoWL,” Veasey said.
Clean wilderness practice and survival skills go hand in hand, according to HoWL leaders, which is why they’ll also be teaching students how to make and maintain survival kits, as well as instructing them on bear safety and precautionary measures.
HoWL leaders hope to expand these school learning opportunities throughout Alaska, helping to educate and inspire a new generation of conscientious leaders in both the environment and community realms.
If your school is interested in hosting a wilderness survival or environmental stewardship presentation, contact HoWL Inc. At firstname.lastname@example.org or (907) 399-4695
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