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Sitka’s 4H Club: Skills for an Alaskan Way of Life The richness of the Tongass National Forest and the waters of the Outer Coast make Sitka unlike any place else. Fittingly, Sitka’s 4H Club is like no other.

Exploring the Wildness of Alaska

The dense forests, towering mountains, and unpredictable waters of Southeast Alaska can be intimidating and humbling. They can also be a classroom where young people learn empowering skills and respect. In Sitka, we are fortunate to be surrounded by such a wild natural environment. Young people should not be sheltered from it; it should be part of their lives.

Example 4H Activites: •Berry Picking •Food Preservation •Fishing •Mushroom Hunting •Cooking •Hunting •Survival Skills •Outdoor Skills •Traditional Crafts

Skill Building across Generations

Many children in Sitka learn to hunt, fish, and forage at an early age. These are usually family activities, but not every child grows up in a household that hunts or picks berries. The 4H Club offers an opportunity for kids and parents alike to learn from each other, with parents and community members leading sessions on the skills needed to tap into the bounty of local foods.

Mushrooms, Venison and Wild Berries

This isn’t the ingredient list for an autumn recipe but rather the themes from three recent meetings of Sitka’s 4H Club. The club gets kids outside learning safety and survival skills, hunting, fishing, preserving their catch, and traditional crafts. Sitka 4H is shaped by the skills of parents and adult volunteers as they share their knowledge. Like all 4H Clubs, the Sitka Club strives to provide learning, leadership and community. It also teaches the values of environmental stewardship and builds awareness of our local environment.

Skinning and Butchering a Deer: A Recent 4H Activity

On an autumn Saturday afternoon, a group of kids huddled around a deer hanging in the Sitka Sound Science Center mill building. At first they stood a few feet back, taking the deer in slowly with curious gazes. They got more comfortable as Jack Lorrigan, the father of one of the children, began to explain how to skin the deer. Over the next two hours, Jack, who is the subsistence biologist with the Forest Service, demonstrated the various cuts and allowed kids and parents alike to wield the knife. Jack also shared stories of how he learned to hunt from his mother, carrying on Tlingit traditions, and he offered important ecological considerations from his work as a subsistence biologist. Andrew Thoms, executive director at the Sitka Conservation Society, helped Jack teach the lesson. Andrew had shot the deer along with Joel Martin and Paulie Davis on Kruzof Island in the Tongass National Forest.

For more information contact: Tracy Gagnon 907-747-7509

Briefing Sheet: 4H  

Sitka Conservation Society Briefing Sheet about Sitka's 4H club.