The Alaska Humanities Forum announced 16 new additions to its Alaska Salmon Fellows program last week. Two Homer residents were selected for the second round of the program. Homer City Council member and Gulf Watch Alaska Science Coordinator Donna Aderhold was among those selected throughout the state. Homer commercial fisherman Catie Bursch and Kenai Peninsula Borough Land Manager Marcus Mueller were also on the list.
Kitty Farnham with the Humanities Forum said the program aims to bring diverse groups of people together, such as scientists, commercial fishermen and artists, in order to create initiatives related to salmon.
“They’ll be connected across this diverse network and have an opportunity over the 18 months to meet, learn, work together and ideally identify a few initiatives that can positively affect the relationship between salmon and people,” she explained.
Farnham said the first cohort broke down into several groups to work on different projects. Some focus on public engagement, and other are science and policy based.
Farnham said one project is examining how fishery managers can factor in other values beyond the price per pound or the number of salmon available for harvest.
“There are many other values, cultural values, historical values, health and well-being,” she said. “The team is going to be looking at how Alaskans value salmon and seeing whether or not some indicators might be able to be drawn out from public engagement, which can now be used by managers.”
The new group will meet for the first time at the end of this month in Petersburg.
Aderhold said she’s particularly interested in the relationship between salmon and people.
“We’re all a part of this salmon system,” Aderhold added. “Yet, we don’t all seem to recognize what role we play. How do we get everybody to understand we have a role and we can help salmon sustainability?”
Bursch said she isn’t set on any particular project idea and wants to hear from others in the group, but she did say she may want to find a way to examine declining salmon stocks around the state.
“I just keep trying to figure it out. What are we going to do differently in Alaska? I kind of never come up with any good ideas in my own head,” Bursch said. “I would love to just learn more from other people who are coming at it from different perspectives and different skills.”
Farnham said the group with meet four times in different coastal communities around the state to work on its projects in person. One of those meetings will overlap with the previous group in Kodiak in October.
The new group will use up the last of the Humanity Forum’s current funding for the project, but Farnham said it plans to use the first group’s work, which will wrap up this fall, to apply for more grants.