The Fellowship Begins
By LeRoy Christensen (Weber State University)
So there I was…on a ferry to Skagway with no solid way to get to Whitehorse. That is where the rest of the Fellowship was bunkered up. With a kind heart and an eagerness to learn I was able to catch a ride with a Whitehorse nurse and her son that was returning from a camping trip. I think that could be said about many of the kids I would soon meet the next morning over a glorious cup of coffee. Right away the group started growing and learning together; discussions kicked off about the natural world. All of them looking to play there part to make the world a better place. Although many could barely keep themselves from harms way. Joe and Nico (showed up a week early) suffered substantial injures to the head and wrist, respectively. But that cup of coffee kicked off what would become the most EPIC Round River student group EVER!!
Since then we have expanded our minds and fed off the many different backgrounds that we all bring to the table. Some with a strong science background, others skilled in humanities or journalism and even political science. The perfect storm say our noble leaders. The Fellowship has exceptional chemistry and things that need to be done get done. Our hikes into the beautiful mountains of Atlin are always filled with laughter and cheer. Somehow, I can’t tell you how, we still see the wildlife that is the flowing blood of the ecosystem we have chosen to spend our summer studying. Golden Eagles, Stone sheep, Hoary marmots, and the majestic Woodland caribou just to list a few.
But the real treat is to listen to the local Taku River Tlingit First Nation speak of their role. They have much pride and knowledge for their people have used this land for centuries. They welcome the student program and are eager to tell their stories and invite us into their homes. Its only been but a week but feels like we are family… A Fellowship in conservation. As a community Atlin is trying to set an example on how to tackle big conservation problems. The Tlingit First Nation is the very mold that forges the sword of cutting edge conservation. Traditional knowledge of the Taku First Nation people in balance with solid science wield the handle, Round River as the steel edge, and the student program being the point.