Saturday, June 19, 2010

Seward DOT

It's Saturday after our first week of work and we have had an awesome time so far! We traveled down to Seward for a Department of Transportation (DOT) project. We worked along the Seward highway clearing brush from under and around gaurdrails. This work is important for a few reasons. First of all, it's important to clear the line of sight around tight blind corners so that cars have more time to see any obsticals in the road (accidents, animals, etc). Second, animals are everywhere and the more distance between the road and the brush means the animals are more visible for drivers and they will have more time to slow down and avoid hitting those animals. Lastly, the Seward highway is a gorgeous drive and is a designated Scenic Byway. We cleared an entire forest of Alder trees to open up a view of Kenai Lake for tourists and locals to enjoy as they drive past. This part of the project was so rewarding because shortly after we cleared an opening to the lake, some tourists pulled over to the side of the road to check out some moose near the lake. If it wasnt for our work, they wouldn't have been able to enjoy that beautifulview of the lake and moose.

Working with teenagers has been such a blast. They are so hilarious and make me laugh all the time! After just one week I have already grown to love each one of them and I'm so excited to spend the rest of the summer getting to know them even more.

The youth crews making smores during their training week.

A baby musk ox and its mom at Alaska's Wildlife Conservation Center
Never in my life would I have predicted myself to be wearing a hardhat, a reflective vest, and a face mask, working on the side of the highway with a bunch of teenagers. It sure is a blast though!! This is me using a brusher (a weedwacker on steriods) on our DOT project. Power tools are pretty fun!!
Two crew members and I decided to see if it was possible to stuff 100 M&M's in your mouth at once. Chris succeeded but Kellen (pictured) and I had to chew a little before the last ones would fit.  
The view of Kenai Lake that we opened up. You wouldn't have even known a lake was there before we started the project.
Meet the Barrell of Monkeys, the best Serve Alaska Youth Corps Crew ever!!
We took at trip to Seward's Sealife Center and I finally got to see puffins!!! Such crazy birds!!

A fur seal at the Sealife Center
Sea otters may be my new favorite animal. They are SOO awesome! We got to watch them swim and play in the water everyday on the drive to and from work.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Crews are here!!!!!

The youth crew members have finally arrived and our projects will start in just a few short days. The crew members are all from Alaska and are ages 17-24, with the majority of them 17. A number of them are from Anchorage, but others are from as far away as Barrow (on the Arctic Ocean!!) and Brevig Mission (close to Nome). They have been here for 4 days and it has already been such a blast getting to know them and see their personalities come out. We have been craming the 3 months of training we had into a one week crash course for them before we all head out on our first projects next week. I've been having a blast playing games with them, chatting around the fire, and learning about where they are from and what their lives were like growing up in Alaska.

Tonight we find out which youth will be on each crew so I'm really excited to find out. I'm not worried at all because they are all so awesome that no matter who ends up on my crew, I know we'll have a blast. They are all so eager to work hard and learn and give back to their state. I'm so impressed with their motivation and passion for this summer!
A close encounter with a moose right in the way of the trail!  
A Humpback Whale's skeleton at the Native Heritage Center in Anchorage
Hiking in Chugach State Park on the Power Line Pass Trail

Just a reference for how bright it is at night! I haven't seen darkness for a few weeks now!!!
Serve Alaska Youth Corps 2010!!
This is all the team leaders and the crew members getting sworn in to their term of service with Americorps!