Intern leads efforts to encourage respectful harvest practices

Woman holding and talking about seaweed to man and woman in rain gear on a sandy Southeastern Alaskan beach at low tide.
Avery Herrman-Sakamoto talks about seaweed to harvest camp participants. Photo by Sunny Rice/Alaska Sea Grant.

August marked the end of a summer-long Community Engaged Undergraduate Internship in Petersburg with intern Avery Herrman-Sakamoto and local Alaska Sea Grant agent Sunny Rice. The two worked together for 10 weeks researching, developing materials, and planning for a harvest camp for adults new to harvesting plants and animals in Southeast Alaska.

Avery, a recent high school graduate born and raised in Petersburg, drew upon her personal experience and training in Lingít (Tlingit) language, culture and harvest practices to design and teach the workshop. She incorporated information she learned about paralytic shellfish poisoning from Kodiak agent Julie Matweyou, and about the state subsistence management structures from coastal community resilience specialist Davin Holen.

cover of booklet and sample page. Cover reads Beginning Harvesting on Seet Ka Kwaan and the sample page shows wild celery–tall light green plant with a fuzzy stem and white flowers at the top.

Harvest camp participants spent the first day discussing Lingít land and resource use, respectful harvest practices, and their own experiences with harvesting and respectful use. The second day included a field trip to nearby Kupreanof Island to identify and learn about the uses of edible and medicinal plants and animals in the intertidal, forest, and muskeg.

Each participant received a booklet created by Herrman-Sakamoto and Rice with questions to consider before identifying and harvesting eight commonly harvested plants and animals. The booklet includes Lingít, English and scientific names, ways to identify them, and their uses.

Avery plans to attend the University of Alaska Fairbanks this spring. “Mentoring Avery was the start of a great collaboration,” said Sunny Rice. “I’m not looking at this internship as just a one-and-done. We’re already brainstorming other projects to work on together and I hope she’ll look to me for mentorship as she starts classes.”

Harvest camp participants in raingear standing on a dock with water and trees in background. A boat and some structures are also behind them. A rainy cloudy day in Southeast Alaska.
Harvest camp participants. Photo courtesy Sunny Rice.