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Meet the next generation of Alaska's conservation leaders


Alaska Center for the Environment is excited to introduce the 2014 Conservation Internship Program participants! The Conservation Internship Program strategically invests in young adults planning careers in conservation. These young leaders are willing to make a long-term commitment to preserving and protecting Alaska's diverse cultures and natural resources. Each year, Alaska Center for the Environment partners with the Alaska Conservation Foundation to provide undergraduate students, graduate students, and recent grads with unique opportunities to work at conservation organizations statewide in a variety of fields. Last week they completed an intense Orientation featuring dynamic issue speakers, breakout skill trainings, and the opportunity to create a strong peer network for the summer and beyond.

Kelsi Swenson, Alaska Center for the Environment
Kelsi Swenson is from the wonderful Inland Northwest city of Spokane, Washington. She's a senior undergraduate at the University of Alaska Anchorage studying Anthropology with an emphasis in human ecology. She is extremely interested in the influences and dynamics of change within human societies and their environments. As president of the Sustainability Club, she works closely with the student body to promote sustainable policy changes. She believes that the conservation and preservation of salmon habitat in Alaska is a crucial step in mitigating fossil fuel emissions and the effects of climate change. Kelsi is a founding member of Chronicles of Yarnia, a knitting club for those looking to learn and share new knitting techniques!


Laura Drotar, Alaska Community Action on Toxics

Laura comes from Michigan, studying Environmental Biology and Zoology at Michigan State University. She cannot think of a better way to grow as a scientist and an advocate for a more livable planet than to work with Alaska conservation. Alaska means a lot to her because it is full of adventure and beautiful creatures, and she wants to learn from everything and everyone here. She enjoys singing and playing the banjolele, and her favorite way to learn is through music and storytelling.


Courtney Foos, Alaska Marine Conservation Council

Cortney Foos born and raised in Silverdale, Washington, and has lived in Anchorage, Alaska since 2006. She moved up with some friends after graduating high school and has loved living here ever since. She currently attends the University of Alaska, Anchorage, and is obtaining her degree in Environmental Science. She has a passion for the outdoors and feels strongly about protecting the environment so that future generations are able to enjoy it. She enjoys outdoor activities, dancing, barbecuing with her friends and listening to the 90's band Salt N Pepper (not a joke).



Liz Schell, Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies

Liz recently graduated from Colby College in Waterville, Maine, where she majored in Environmental Studies. While at Colby, she was a member of the Woodsmen Team, which is a sport that emulates traditional logging practices in a competitive manner. She has lived in Colorado since she was eight. As a teen, she took a trip to Alaska with her parents and was astounded by the natural beauty of the area. She enjoys being outside, so conservation is very important to her. She looks forward to spending the summer learning about and promoting conservation in such a beautiful place as Homer, Alaska.


Cori Schleich, Discovery Southeast

Cori grew up in Wasilla, Alaska. She is attending Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington, studying Environmental Education because she loves playing outside with happy people. Cori is thrilled to explore the Juneau environment in the company of the lovely Discovery Southeast team this summer!  






 Jennifer Moskel, Kenai Watershed Forum

Jenn was born in NJ, grew up in NC, and has spent 3 ½ years living in Manhattan, a semester abroad in Ghana, and a J-term in Sydney. She will graduate from NYU this spring with a degree in Environmental Studies and minors in Anthropology and Environmental Biology. She is passionate about coastal and wetland ecosystems because their stories are often overlooked in the narrative of conservation. She wants to discover the most effective way to frame their story through public outreach and experiential education, and leave people feeling empowered to make a difference in their local and global environments. Most of her ecological experience is in urban environments focusing on severely degraded systems, so she's excited to see how the other half of the environmental sector lives!


Emma Hedman, Northern Alaska
Environmental Center

Emma Hedman just graduated with a Masters of Environmental Management from the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke, where she concentrated in ecosystem science and conservation, and community-based environmental management. Her research in grad school dealt a lot with the intersection of social justice and environmentalism, and she looks forward to using what she has learned for the Northern Center this summer. She decided to work in Alaska in conservation for the summer because of its reputation for wide open, wild places. In her opinion, there aren't enough places that are as vast and beautiful as this left in the world, and she is happy to devote her time to help preserve this important landscape for people, wildlife, and the future. In her free time, she loves to crochet, play old gameboy games, and take pictures of everything!


Sarah Stockdale, Sitka Conservation Society

Originally from New Mexico, Sarah graduated from Colorado College, where she got a degree in History-Philosophy. She has recently fallen in love with using radio as a way to capture local stories. This spring, she produced a series about environmental issues and identity in southern colorado for her local radio station. She is thrilled to travel to A­­laska for the first time and be the storytelling intern for the Sitka Conservation Society.   



Molly O'Ray, Southeast Alaska Conservation Council

Molly was born and raised in Canada's capital, and is thrilled that she is a recent honours graduate of Environment, Sustainability and Society, and International Development Studies at Dalhousie University. Molly is passionate about rainforest conservation and social justice and has jumped at opportunities to work in these fields.   During her past two summers, she spent time helping to protect the rainforest in Borneo, Indonesia, with DeforestACTION and helping to restore the rainforest in Panama with Alouatta Sanctuary. Over the past year she has also been working as Director of Research and Communications for saynotopalmoil.com to raise awareness about deforestation from the palm oil industry. Molly is excited to be getting the chance to move from tropical to temperate rainforest protection working with the SEACC.


Will Peterson,Yukon River Inter-Tribal  
Watershed Council

Willoughby was born and raised in Sitka, Alaska, a small island community in the Alexander Archipelago. He graduated from the University of California Irvine in 2013 with a bachelor's degree in Environmental Engineering and minor in Earth & Atmospheric Sciences. Will is also a freelance photographer and aspiring artist and graphic designer. He is currently learning Spanish and wants to learn his language of heritage, Tlingit. He hopes his career allows him to work on projects that help to better the Alaska Native community and help to conserve Alaska's unique beauty.

I hope you'll join me in welcoming these students to our great state! Feel free to contact me at claire@akcenter.org with any questions about the Conservation Internship Program.


Claire Pywell
Youth Organizing Coordinator
Alaska Center for the Environment  

Alaska Center for the Environment
921 W 6th Avenue, Suite 200
Anchorage, Alaska 99501
(907) 274-3621


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