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Snowmobile Race: A Venue for Student Exchange

Iron Dog Provides Opportunities to Engage Urban and Rural Students in Meaningful Exchange

The Iron Dog is partnering with King Career Center to continue in its second year
of the Iron Dog Urban-Rural Student Exchange Program. High school students
from Unalakleet will be traveling into Anchorage to work with local students on
race logistics for the start of the 2012 Iron Dog race out of Big Lake, AK.
Anchorage students will then travel to Unalakleet for a similar experience along
coastal Alaska.

The student exchange allows students from both urban and rural communities to
come together and collaborate on a single project while fully immersing
themselves into another culture. "Providing students the opportunity to
experience work environments in both urban and rural communities provides a
lesson no classroom can facilitate," said Mike Woods, a Resource Development
teacher and Iron Dog Exchange coordinator at King Career Center. Woods is
currently in the application process to select a new group of students to
participate in this year's exchange.

In order to be accepted into the exchange, students go through an application
process and eligibility check. Once selected, students go through a series of
lessons where they are tasked with finding out information about the community
they live in so to be aware of how life in their community is unique. Students then
begin correspondence with the partner school in the weeks leading up to the race
start, journal throughout their experience, and conclude with an essay recapping
their entire Iron Dog adventure. “We aim to show the students that the Iron Dog is
more than a race; that it’s a prime example of how communities must come
together and work with each other to pull off a unified goal. In this case it’s a
snowmachine race, but the principles they learn will apply to many circumstances
the students are likely to face in their future,” said Woods.

In addition to the schoolwork students put into their preparation, they are also
tasked with fundraising efforts to assist in the cost of the exchange. Though there
is much work involved with the lessons, journaling, essay writing and fundraising;
students are excited about this opportunity. “I think that this trip was one of the
best things that could have happened to any high school student. The trip was
fun, and we stayed busy and had a good attitude the entire time. There was not
one reason that I can think of that would make me change this trip in any way,”
said Fayleen Peters, a student from Tanana who participated in the 2011 Iron
Dog Urban-Rural Student Exchange.

"The Iron Dog touches more communities than any other sporting event in
Alaska. From urban centers to the smallest remote communities, our race
provides more than just an exciting snowmachine race," said Kevin Kastner, Iron
Dog executive director. Kastner, along with Cynthia Erickson from Tanana,
initiated this program in 2011 when he began in his current role with the Iron Dog.
“We recognize that this event could not take place if we didn’t have the support of
the checkpoint communities throughout the state. We are grateful for the support
we receive, and engaging students from those communities in this program is
one way we can give back,” said Kastner.

The exchange is made possible through the partnership of Era Aviation through
the transportation of all students and teachers and Doyon Limited for providing
support for student lodging.

Iron Dog, Inc. 7100 Old Seward Highway, Suite C, Anchorage, AK 99518
phone 907.563.4414 fax 907.563.4080 www.irondog.org

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