For a second consecutive summer, Alaska Sea Grant hosted Community Engaged Interns (CEI). The program is coordinated with a national initiative to mentor and train undergraduate students who are interested in marine and coastal professions and are from indigenous or underrepresented communities. Sea Grant programs across the country identify place-based projects that engage interns in research, outreach, education or communications. In addition to receiving individual mentoring from the local project host, the interns become part of a national cohort, which meets online for professional development and networking.
Selah Judge was one of three interns selected by Alaska Sea Grant for the two-month paid internship. She worked with Davin Holen, Alaska Sea Grant’s coastal community resilience specialist, to develop a survey and interview participants in the seasonal dipnet fishery on the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers in Southcentral Alaska. The results of the survey are expected to inform new potential outreach and engagement tools targeting Anchorage’s immigrant and underserved populations.
Below, Selah shares what she gained from her CEI internship.
I am currently going into my junior year at the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) in Juneau and am pursuing an interdisciplinary degree in the social sciences with my main focus in sociology and my secondary focuses in anthropology and psychology. Mentorship from my professors and peers has been an important part of my undergraduate experience. Being a CEI intern at Alaska Sea Grant has allowed me to expand my network of mentors as well as have a super cool summer job!
As a CEI intern I had the great experience of working alongside Davin Holen. He was trained as an anthropologist so he was the perfect person to be my mentor.
The focus of the internship was evaluating extension needs among marginalized and immigrant communities in Anchorage who use the Kenai and Kasilof dipnet fisheries. Davin mentored me on creating interview questions so I could take myself out into the field and learn in a hands-on environment. It took a lot of preparation with Davin to make sure I was doing the surveys ethically and to learn how to do them properly. I haven’t had previous experience in doing my own research, so he was a real mentor in teaching me how to do them myself.
I also explored the community gardens that are in Anchorage and got to meet the people who use these gardens for subsistence every day.
My biggest takeaway from this experience is how important it is to maintain subsistence access to the land because it is a necessity. Food scarcity is prevalent throughout our immigrant and marginalized communities, so maintaining access to subsistence fishing is paramount. It has always been a way that my family kept ourselves fed, and for some people it’s the only way to make sure they survive the winter.
Having the opportunity to see more of Anchorage and be able to widen my perspective on food sovereignty and the impact that subsistence fisheries and community gardens have will stick with me for the rest of my career. I hope to be a part in the future of maintaining those resources for all. I will also be taking what I have learned and using it in the fall when I return to school as the Native Rural Student Centers Student Coordinator at UAS.