During her semester at Conserve, (CS8), Roxanne Korpella fell in love with the dream of Alaska – its beauty, its wildness, and its immensity. She longed to see and help protect its resources of salmon, bears, and wilderness. Here, in her own words, she describes her two years of work with the U.S. Forest Service in the land she loves: Alaska.
“Last summer was my second in Hyder, Alaska. The U.S. Forest Service was hiring locally and had an inquiry at the post office. The application prompted potential candidates to describe their knowledge of bear habits and bear ecology. I was studying ceramics and felt severely under-
qualified but fell back on what I had experienced and learned at Conserve.
I was hired.
Confused and ecstatic, I tried on my uniform and began my adventure at Fish Creek Wildlife Observation Site in the Tongass National Forest. My first season involved primarily interpretive work regarding the spawning chum and pink salmon on site, and the cycles their arrival incites. Brown bears, black bears, wolves, mink, otters, gulls, mergansers, and bald eagles gather annually at Fish Creek to feed on the oily, protein-rich salmon.
I was engrossed in the beauty of the local ecology and once summer ended, changed my major to Biology with a focus in Ecology. Summer approached again and I had the amazing opportunity to work under Tongass National Forest wildlife biologist Ben Limle in Ketchikan. We worked from Shoal Cove on Revilla Gigedo Island for five day stretches, sleeping on a U.S.F.S. barge and conducting goshawk surveys. I was in love with the work. For the tail end of summer, I returned via float plane to Hyder and my previous position along
with additional trail-maintenance opportunities.
I attribute where I am largely thanks to Conserve School. My first summer spent in Hyder was directly after CS8 and I was filled with fresh optimism for the largeness and grandness of the Last Frontier. Alaska and everything it embodies is BIG!”
Photos submitted by Roxanne Korpella