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Get Outdoors Anchorage Gets a Boost

On Monday, August 10 at 10 am, many community partners gathered at Nunaka Valley Elementary School parking lot in Anchorage, walked through the “scary” tunnel under Boniface, and celebrated a U.S. Department of the Interior “50 cities designation” at Russian Jack Springs Park. Mayor Berkowitz welcomed Deputy Assistant Secretary of the US Department of the Interior Kris Sarri as she made this exciting announcement. 

“We welcome new resources to coordinate our many public and private partners to get kids and families outside,” said, Anchorage Mayor Berkowitz.  “We know Anchorage is a great place to Live.Work.Play. year round, and we hope to give more kids the chance to experience the great outdoors.”

“It is exciting to see so many community partners pulling together for a cause,” said Eleanor Andrews, Board Chair of the Anchorage Park Foundation.  “Schools on Trails and Youth Employment in Parks will benefit from these federal resources, and that means kids from all neighborhoods in Anchorage will have more opportunities.”

As a result of this new funding, Get Outdoors Anchorage, through the YMCA, will be hiring a Get Outdoors Coordinator who will work with the many afterschool programs, schools, and community organizations to make sure kids get outside, get healthy, and experience what Anchorage has to offer. 

Through the Corps Network and Youth Employment in Parks, the Anchorage Park Foundation is proud to accept an Americorps member to serve as the coordinator for Schools on Trails.  The coordinator will work with schools and community partners all over Anchorage to find out what teachers and other programs need to get kids outside.  The new program is announced with the Anchorage School District at Nunaka Valley Elementary School’s home trail – Russian Jack Springs Park.

Get Outdoors Anchorage is a coalition of public and private partners that first organized in 2008 to sign a Children’s Bill of Rights.  The group signed a new and improved Children’s Bill of Rights on August 10. The coalition is responsible for this web site!

 

 

2013 Christmas Bird Count at the Alaska Zoo by Beth Peluso, Audubon Alaska

On December 8, four teams of kids and adults headed out into the Alaska Zoo for the 4th Christmas Bird Count for Kids. This annual event is hosted by a partnership of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the Alaska Zoo, Audubon Alaska, and the US Fish & Wildlife Service. This year’s participants included 26 kids, 19 adults, 13 volunteers, 3 Education staff, and a partridge in a pear tree (but the last one didn’t count on our checklist!). Volunteer bird leaders helped each group identify the wild birds they spotted.

 

The teams spent an hour outside and counted a total of 10 species of wild birds at the zoo: Mallard, Common Raven, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, American Three-toed Woodpecker, Black-billed Magpie, Black-capped Chickadee, Boreal Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, and Bohemian Waxwing. The young birders counted a total of 213 individual birds. Several kids enjoyed doing interviews for a local TV station (Channel 11). Participants recounted their lists over pizza and hot chocolate. Everyone received take-home bird journals, and there were prizes for the group that saw the most species (8) and the highest number of birds (74).

Photo by John Gome/Alaska Zoo

Find Tracks in the Snow!

Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you need to stay inside!  In fact, there are lots of things to do and lots of fun to be had exploring Alaska’s winter landscape. Before going out, be sure to dress properly and take the equipment necessary to keep you comfortable. Check our  “Safety Outdoors” section to learn more.

You may choose to snowshoe, ski, skate or just have fun in the snow.  But have you ever taken the time to discover wildlife in your area during the winter?  During the winter animals leave loads of clues to let you know they have been there. You can even try to figure out what they have been doing.  Sometimes they stop to eat, other times they interact with other animals – all these activities and more can be discovered by carefully reading their tracks and other signs in the snow. The Alaska Department of Fish & Game has available online “Wild Wonders…Trek on in and learn about tracks!”  Mike Taras, Alaska Department of Fish & Game has written "Impressions in the Snow...Winter Tracking in Alaska."

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