This article was originally published in the Peninsula Clarion.
Eve Downing, a 16-year-old from Sterling, has been chosen as an Alaska Youth for Environmental Action Youth Salmon Fellow, an extension of the Alaska Center Education Fund program.
The Youth Salmon Fellowship grew out of a campaign from 2016 called Save Our Salmon, where members of Alaska Youth for Environmental Action worked on salmon-related issues.
“The fellowship is a youth-founded and youth-driven program,” Tasha Elizarde, the supervisor of the Youth Salmon Fellowship program, said. “Our fellows developed their own work plan and are engaging in projects that promote their individual passion for salmon.”
Downing, along with four other fellows, receives a basic stipend for their work on promoting updates to fish habitat laws while working directly with the Stand for Salmon campaign.
Downing said she applied because it was a cause she thinks will impact all Alaskans.
“I see how deeply salmon affects people in my life,” Downing said. “Every single person in Alaska can find a way that salmon affects them.”
In its inaugural year, the Youth Salmon Fellowship gives Alaskan teens an opportunity to work with organizations across the state in advocating for protections on salmon habitats. The four other fellows are from Utqiagvik, Palmer, Shishmaref and Dillingham.
“This is a way for teens who are interested in this issue to work on it,” Meghan Cavanaugh, Field and Political Director at the Alaska Center, said.
The application process for the fellows required them to answer essay questions regarding salmon’s importance to them and how they can contribute as a fellow. Finalists went through an interview process.
Funding for the program comes from Alaska Youth for Environmental Action, a 20-year-old program that is part of the Alaska Center Education Fund and seeks to empower young Alaskans to work on their choice of environmental issues.
Downing’s position will last for the duration of the summer. She will work in conjunction with Cook Inlet Keeper when canvassing for Stand for Salmon, and then independently on her own salmon-related project.