This project provides partial support for 8 high school students and 4 adults from St. Paul and St. George, Pribilof Islands, Alaska to attend the Ecosystems Studies of Sub-Arctic Seas (ESSAS) Open Science Meeting (OSM) taking place in May 2011 in Seattle, Washington. The 6 students from Senior or Junior classes will be selected by their teachers to develop a plenary presentation on their on-going studies of the biology and economics of the red king crab industry, one of the main fishing industries in which communities participate. In addition, 2 younger students will present posters of their research on red king crab. The students presentations will be based on over seven years of observations and research on this industry. The 4 adults will be one parent from each community, a teacher, and Dr. Michelle Ridgeway who has been working closely with the schools and their students on this project through a summer science camp where Ridgeway is the science mentor.

Project Report

Principal Investigator: George L. Hunt, Jr., Research Professor, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. It is recognized that Native American students are under-represented in the student populations of American Universities, particularly in the sciences. The occasion of the 2nd Open Science Meeting (OSM) sponsored by the international organization, Ecosystem Studies of Sub-Arctic Seas (ESSAS) provided an excellent opportunity to introduce young Native Americans to the scientific research that has been on-going in the Sub-Arctic seas. Because there were to be sessions on research being conducted in the Bering Sea, and because junior high and high school students at the Pribilof Islands, a remote group of islands in the Bering Sea, had been participating in summer science camps and projects related to the Bering Sea, this project was used to help support the travel of eight students and three chaperones from the Pribilof Islands to attend the ESSAS OSM in Seattle. The Pribilof students, all of whom are Aleuts, were invited to give the opening 20 minute presentation of the meeting, as well as a poster. Their presentation and poster were excellent and of considerable interest to the audience, which consisted of close to 200 internationally renowned marine scientists from 13 countries. The students participated in the Workshops and Scientific Sessions as well as all social activities of the OSM. A favorite image of mine from the poster reception was that of a young Aleut student diving under a row of posters to get to a particular poster followed by a senior Japanese scientist in coat and tie. The enthusiasm of the Pribilof students was contagious, and added greatly to the meeting. In turn, these young students were excited about science, had the chance to have their science projects validated by an international audience, and had the opportunity to visit scientific institutions and the University of Washington campus while they were in Seattle. It was clear that they were stimulated to consider careers in science, and many expressed the hope that the trip could be repeated in coming years. What made this experience unique was the opportunity for the Pribilof students to address the entire conference in its first plenary session. This meant that the students were actively involved in the meeting, and were thereafter known to all of the participants, thereby facilitating further exchanges between the students and the attending senior scientists. Also, having managed to give a presentation to a large room full of scientists, the students were thereafter fearless, and frequently asked questions of speakers in other sessions. It is clear that they were fully engaged. An important result of this project is that other organizations are considering how to accomplish similar inclusion of young students from the remote villages of Alaska in their major meetings. Likewise, I have had the opportunity to talk with teachers from other Alaskan village schools, and they were enthusiastic about participating at some future date. The value of this project will be greatly increased if others seek ways to include young science students in major conferences.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Polar Programs (PLR)
Standard Grant (Standard)
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Anna Kerttula de Echave
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University of Washington
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