In a state where local food is not only defined by agricultural resources, but by wild, subsistence food resources, teen members of Alaska Youth for Environmental Action (AYEA) seek to educate and advocate for local food resources on the Last Frontier.
The AYEA statewide food book project, "Recipes for Alaska's Food Future," is a youth-driven project that was initiated by AYEA's chapter in Fairbanks, where this group of teens spent the past summer developing a community garden. Seeing the success of their community garden, the Fairbanks chapter wanted to create an educational resource book that highlights local, Alaskan food resources, unique to various regions and cultures, in collaboration with teens from across the state.
For the past two years, teens involved with Alaska Youth for Environmental Action have been learning about Alaskan food, celebrating their food heritage and advocating for sustainable food policies. In an effort to encompass these concepts, the food book project will compile recipes, stories, artwork, and photos, submitted by teens, that emphasize Alaskan teens' unique connections to local food resources.
Stories, art and photos are a powerful way to convey these connections to food whether a teen recounts a story of a family fishing trip in Bristol Bay, a teen shares photos of a caribou hunt he and his community members participated in near Arctic Village, or a teen poetically describes the first harvest of carrots from a community garden in Fairbanks.
The ultimate purpose of this project is to provide a resource in which AYEA teen members can actively ensure the persistence of local food resources, as well as their food heritage, through education and advocacy.
This March, AYEA teens will travel to Juneau and advocate for local food as part of AYEA's annual Civics and Conservation Summit. While in attendance, teens learn all about civic engagement, whether they are learning how to read a bill, communicate with the media, or conversing with state legislative members.
They will present AYEA's "Recipes for Alaska's Food Future" to their legislators and ask them to take leadership in ensuring a sustainable food future for Alaska.
In order to present the book in Juneau this March, we need to raise a total of $2,000 to print and bind 200 copies of the food book. Additional funds have been accrued from grants, therefore, we need to raise a remaining $1,000 to successfully print all 200 copies. All design and layout for the food book will be done in-house. Any additional funds raised beyond the $2,000 will go towards supporting new, local food-based projects proposed by AYEA teen members!
Aside from raising funds, AYEA staff will continue to collect recipes, artwork, photos, and stories. We are currently hosting a statewide writing contest, of which the top three writing submissions will be published in the food book. Our goal is to have at least 30 teens participate in the creation of this food book. As of now, we already have 29 participating teens!
Risks and challenges
Some of the current challenges that we face with developing this food book project is being able to successfully connect with teens from throughout the state for conference calls, weekly check-ins and project updates. Considering many of AYEA's teen members live in remote locations, much of the communication with them is dependent on phones and internet.
We overcome these locational challenges by connecting with teens during monthly conference calls and bi-monthly check-in calls, e-mails and Facebook messaging. We also communicate with adult mentors working with our teen members, in order to keep them updated so they can best support our teens with their tasks pertaining to the food book project.
As for future challenges with this food book project, one major challenge is getting the food book project printed in time for the Civics and Conservation Summit this year, which is scheduled for March 11-15. As a result, a detailed timeline has been developed. It includes a generous buffer in the event that layout completion or the printing process is delayed.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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