February 24, 2006

Conference of Young Alaskans Report Issued Online - Youth to Present Ideas to the Alaska Legislature Next Week

For Immediate Release
February 24, 2006

The final report of the Conference of Young Alaskans is now available online at coya.alaska.edu. The 63-page report highlights the vision, goal and action statements delegates approved during a four-day conference at the University of Alaska Fairbanks January 13-16. Delegates developed recommendations in five key topic areas: education, healthy communities, responsible use of natural resources, leadership, and reviving the Alaska spirit. The report includes charts that show votes on challenged items and final recommendations, letters from some of the delegates about their experiences at the conference, and working lists from small group sessions.

The University of Alaska organized the conference of 55 youth, the same number of delegates who wrote Alaska’s constitution, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Alaska’s Constitutional Convention. The young Alaskans ranged in age from 14 to 25 years old, and were attending high school, college or in the workforce. Selected from application essays by a nine-member conference steering committee appointed by UA President Mark Hamilton, they came from 25 different communities and had 15 different ethnicities.

“The most important outcomes of the four days were the values instilled in the young delegates, the respect they developed for Alaska’s past and present leaders, their newly established insight into the challenges facing the diverse peoples and regions of Alaska, and the inspiration they found for making a positive difference in our state’s future,” wrote the steering committee in a letter transmitting the final report.

Ian-Michael Hebert, chair of the conference steering committee, said more than 20 of the delegates and steering committee members will travel to Juneau next week in an independently organized effort to present their recommendations to legislators. Hebert says the House State Affairs Committee has invited the youth to present their report on Tuesday, Feb. 28.

As they meet in Juneau, the delegates will also be discussing ways to continue the youth dialogue about Alaska’s future, including the idea of forming a Society of Young Alaskans.  “Those who participated in the conference were inspired by the spirit of communication and collaboration that created our constitution and carried Alaska to statehood,” Hebert said.He said he hopes Alaska’s youth can find an avenue to carry forward that spirit in addressing the challenges that face Alaska today.


Contacts: Patti Harper, Public Information Specialist at (907) 786-1169, patricia.harper@alaska.edu;
Ian Michael-Hebert at (907) 978-2925, lovebeeing@yahoo.com