Jnauary 19, 2006

Young Alaskans Share Their Visions and Goals

For Immediate Release
January 16, 2006

The fifty-four delegates to the Conference of Young Alaskans met in a final session today to decide their vision for Alaska's future. In fast-paced but respectful debate on some of the toughest challenges facing Alaskans, the delegates, ages 14 to 25, argued passionately for measures they believe will improve life in Alaska. In all, they approved five vision statements, 26 goals, and more than 50 action items for their formal report, which is to be published in February.

The report will focus on five key topic areas: education, healthy communities, responsible use of natural resources, leadership, and reviving the Alaska spirit. The delegates heard from speakers throughout the conference about, among many other issues, the natural resources article of Alaska's constitution.

Their unified vision statement on resources is simple: "Alaskans will responsibly manage, develop and conserve our land and natural resources while protecting the long-term benefit for all." The delegates set out goals for natural resources that called for balance, for cultivation of alternative energy sources, empowering people to participate in natural resource decisions, and protection of subsistence and non-traditional resource uses.» In one of the controversial topics discussed today, delegates voted by 59% to call on Alaskans to work with the federal government to develop oil resources of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and a natural gas pipeline by 2011. There were similar controversial issues in each topic area, but most of the items to appear in the report were approved by overwhelming majorities.

In closing ceremonies, the youth, who came from 23 different communities around Alaska, heard from Rep. Mary Kapsner, D-Bethel. She reminded them that the inspirational leader Martin Luther King, Jr. was only 39 when he died. "You're never too young to get involved, you're never too old to stay involved, and I think that's one of the great things about democracy," she said.

The conference, which began with a welcome dinner Friday night, was organized by the University of» Alaska's Creating Alaska project. It has been held on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus, which hosted Alaska's Constitutional Convention 50 years ago.

In closing comments, many delegates said the conference helped them grow in their ability to work toward a common goal with people of differing opinions, in the spirit of those who crafted Alaska's constitution. "Everyone's ideas were respected, and I really appreciate that," said Drew Cason, a delegate who attends West High School in Anchorage.

Katie Hurley, who served as chief clerk of Alaska's Constitutional Convention, sat through all proceedings of the youth conference. Hurley said she was impressed with the knowledge and commitment of the delegates. "I know now that I don't have to worry about the future," she said.


The Vision and Goals statement of the Conference of Young Alaskans is attached. For more information, or to obtain photos, contact Patti Harper, Public Information Specialist, at (907) 786-1169 or patricia.harper@alaska.edu.
Conference of Young Alaskans: Vision and Goals

Alaska will empower its next generation of leaders to make informed decisions by encouraging participation in and an understanding of Alaska's values, diverse cultures, and history.
1 Alaska will provide» mentorship at local, regional, and statewide levels.
2 All Alaskans will» have opportunities for leadership development.
3 Alaskan leaders will» take ownership of our state's well-being, and strive to retain» Alaskan leadership.
4 Alaska will create and continuously» support the development of leadership in rural communities and among» minority groups
5 Alaskan's will» strengthen communication, interactions and exchanges between urban-rural» communities.
Alaska will continue supporting and developing higher quality educational opportunities that are relevant in urban and rural Alaska in order to secure and sustain our future, and the futures of our children.» We will attract, retain, and strengthen educators and students who are proactive and innovative in their teaching and learning while being engaged with their communities.
1 Alaska» will create, recruit, and retain quality educators invested in Alaska's» future.
2 Alaska will recognize» individual needs and provide support for Alaskan students in their diverse» ways of learning.
3 Alaska will strive to» understand and close the achievement gap between demographics and increase» graduation rates in Alaskan schools.
4 Alaska will provide» incentives and opportunities to attract and retain educated Alaskans.
5 Alaska will develop and» implement interactive, culturally relevant and appreciative curricula for» all age groups.
Natural Resources
Alaskans will responsibly manage, develop and conserve our land and natural resources while protecting the long-term benefit for all.
1 Alaska will maintain a» balance between the environment and the economy.
2 Alaska will promote» sustainable resource development while cultivating its alternative energy» resources.
3 Alaska will promote» responsible current and future resource use to provide for all» generations.
4 Alaska will empower its» people in the decision making process regarding the use and development of» its natural resources.
5 Alaska will protect» subsistence and personal use of natural resources.
6 Alaska will pursue» non-traditional resource uses for economic development.
Healthy Communities and Families
Alaska's families and communities will be healthy and safe, and will enjoy a high quality of life, civic participation, education, culture, and community connectedness and collaboration.
1 All Alaskans will» have essential community and civil services.
2 All Alaskans will» have affordable and accessible quality healthcare.
3 All Alaskans will be» civically informed and engaged to better ourselves, our families, our» communities, and our government.
4 Alaskans will have» affordable and accessible quality social and mental health services.
5 Alaskans will» eliminate violence, including (but not limited to) sexual, physical and» emotional abuse.
Alaska Spirit
We will endeavor to build a sustainable and vibrant Alaska, united by our commitment to the Alaska Spirit, which celebrates not only the unique history of our state, but the rich heritage stemming from the diverse culture that each person brings to the Last Frontier.
1 Alaskans will know» about Alaska.
2 Alaskans will be» engaged in government.
3 Alaskans will» celebrate our diversity and frontier spirit as a means to unify the state.
4 Alaskans will have» the opportunity to live traditional and unique lives.
5 The Spirit of Alaska» will be passed on to each generation.