North Slope students attend 18th Inuit Studies Conference

Inuit Studies Photo
Jaden Nethercott, Kenneth Ivanoff, Linda Nicholas-Figueroa and Nichole Tukrook on their way to Washington D.C.

Three students from North Slope high schools attended the 18th Inuit Studies Conference on Arctic – Inuit Connections held in Washington DC from October 24 thought October 28, 2012. The three students, Kenneth Ivanoff and Jaden Nethercott from Barrow and Nichole Tukrook from Pt. Lay were chosen to attend because of their participation in the summer science camp sponsored by Ilisagvik College for high school students.

According to materials distributed prior to the conference, “The Inuit Studies Conferences began in 1978 in Quebec City when members of the Inuksiutiit Katijamiit Association invited scholars to share their research concerning Inuit. Since then the ISC meeting has met every two years in different cities worldwide. The biennial Inuit Studies Conference serves the critical function of drawing together scholars and Inuit representatives to share research results in the fields of archaeology, anthropology, linguistics, political governance, environmental science, health, education, and culture.”

According to Ilisagvik science teacher Linda Nicholas-Figueroa,  “These three students participated in a summer camp centered around the changes in climate and permafrost on the North Slope.  We had various guest scientists studying different areas of these two topics come each day to speak to the students as well as provide hands on activities.  Eight students selected a topic that they were the most interested in and presented a PowerPoint presentation at the end of the two-week camp.  Three scientists judged the presentations and picked the top three whom would travel to DC for the conference.” A grant from the Youth Access Grant Program (YAG) paid for the students’ travel and participation.

Student participant Kenneth Ivanoff told Nicholas-Figueroa, who accompanied the students to Washington, that he was excited about meeting so many people from so many different places in the world. He told her he learned a lot from the sessions he attended and, in particular, enjoyed the plenary speech by Mark Serreze, Director of the National Snow and Ice Date Center. According to Ivanoff, Serreze “talked about things I learned in summer camp about the effects of global warming on sea ice and permafrost in the Arctic.”  Mead Treadwell, Alaska’s Lt. Gov., also spoke and discussed “the state’s work addressing cultural challenges, resource development, and environmental change.”  As liaison for Alaska to the Arctic Council, he addressed the issues of international geopolitics as it related to the work of the Arctic Council.

All three students agreed that the trip was interesting both in what they learned and whom they met, and added that having a chance to explore our nation’s capital was also exciting.

If you’d like to participate in conferences such as this one, or if you’d simply like to learn more about climate change, science and the Arctic, contact Linda Nicholas-Figueroa at 907.852.1848. For information on becoming a student at Ilisagvik or a participant in one of Ilisagvik’s summer camps, contact Janelle Everett at 907.852.1799.