Letters – March 12

United we stand

If you were driving or walking by WKFL park on Valentines’ Day you would have seen a swarm of people speaking, cheering and dancing to raise our spirits and awareness about violence towards women. This event was called “One Billion Rising,” and was organized by the youth of Homer with help from the Haven House and Kachemak Bay Family Planning’s  R.E.C Room.
One in three women are sexually assaulted or abused in their lifetime. Yes, that is about1 billion women. Our celebration was for all women who have been affected by abuse, as well as a contemplation about how we can change this grim statistic.  
We want to send abundant thanks to all participants who came to the event to share their spirits and determination to end the abuse of women and girls.  We especially want to acknowledge the generous donations from The City of Homer, Safeway, KBay, Homer Theater and Two Sisters. A hearty thanks to Rudy Multz and Steve Collins who gifted us with the amazing speaker system that blasted everyone’s strong voices and music throughout the celebration.
Liz Villarrela, a local Zumba instructor, was kind enough to teach the “One Billion Rising” signature dance to symbolize unity and awareness. Special thanks go out to all the brave volunteer voices and poets — Ciara Cordes, Amy Woodruff and Sierra Smith — for their personal messages and insight on violence prevention. Without these donations, this important event could not have taken place.  
Please find something you can do to help stop violence against women and girls in your community.
Sincerely and much love,
One Billion Rising team

Paying it forward

Last week, U.S. Secretary of State, John F. Kerry, issued a communication to exceptional schools in the United States that support public diplomacy efforts by hosting high school exchange students sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. AFS has just learned that Kenai Central High School received this commendation from Secretary Kerry, and we want to express how proud we are to work in educational partnership with this outstanding school and its visionary leaders.
Nearly 30 years ago, I was welcomed into a U.S. high school as an exchange student from Argentina. The experiences I had while living with a host family, attending school and becoming a member of a community are what led me to an international career and eventually to become the president of AFS-USA.
As global headlines continue to focus on issues of conflict that affect us all, regardless of where we live, I cannot think of anything more important than creating opportunities for young people from diverse backgrounds to understand one another better.
By opening their doors to host exchange students, Kenai Central High School is providing all students with opportunities to increase their global awareness and cultural understanding as they continue on the path towards becoming global citizens and the kind of leaders this world needs.
The AFS mission is to help build a more just and peaceful world. Our work would be impossible if not for the outstanding educators, host families, and volunteers who recognize the importance of global exchange.
Thank you Kenai Central High School. We hope that more schools will follow the example you have set by hosting young people from around the world and encouraging US students to have a similar experience abroad.
Jorge Castro
President, AFS-USA and a former AFS Exchange Student to Paw-Paw, Michigan  

Efforts underway to rehabilitate sockeye salmon in the Susitna River Watershed

The Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association is gearing up to stock sockeye salmon smolt in Shell Lake located in the Susitna River Watershed in an effort to rehabilitate the sockeye population that is in trouble there.
Historically Shell Lake was a significant contributor to the sockeye production in the Susitna River Watershed with 60,000–80,000 sockeye smolt typically counted during migrations and exceptional adult returns of up to 70,000 fish. For the last several years, the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association has been counting the migrating and returning fish noting a steady decline in the numbers.
“Recent smolt and adult sockeye salmon migration data indicate the sockeye salmon population in Shell Lake is in trouble,” said Gary Fandrei, Executive Director. Even though the number of adult sockeye escaping to the lake in 2010 and 2011 was adequate, only five sockeye salmon smolt were counted leaving the lake in 2013. This level of production jeopardizes the sustainability of the Shell Lake sockeye population.
Through investigation and cooperation with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, it was determined that invasive northern pike, a disease caused by the microsporidian Loma salmonidae, and another parasite knows to cause kidney disease were all having a negative impact on the sockeye salmon population.
To circumvent the loss of sockeye fry by northern pike and to break the disease cycle, in 2012 the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association collected approximately 91,000 eggs from Shell Lake spawning pairs of salmon. These eggs were transferred to the Association’s Trail Lakes Hatchery in Moose Pass for fertilization, incubation, and rearing. “For the past two years, the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association has been rearing fry from Shell Lake at our Trail Lakes Hatchery. We plan to release these fish to Shell Lake in June,” Fandrei said.
By stocking sockeye salmon into Shell Lake as smolts, it is hoped that they will spend very little time feeding in the lake and thus will avoid ingesting the spores that cause the diseases and being prey to the northern pike population.
To suppress the northern pike population, the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association has captured and harvested hundreds of northern pike at Shell Lake for the past two years and plans to do so again this year. This pike-harvesting effort should also assist the sockeye salmon in their survival.
The Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association is dedicated to preserving and protecting the salmon resource in the Cook Inlet region for all users. The Shell Lake rehabilitation project is an important activity in support of that mission.
Gary Fandrei
Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association

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Posted by on Mar 11th, 2014 and filed under Letters to the Editor. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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