At the end of June, Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program hosted a camp in Anchorage for students from around the state to explore careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Tyson Olsen from Koliganek is one of three students from Bristol Bay who was selected to participate in ANSEP’s marine biology career exploration camp. He and 51 middle school students from around the state stayed five days at the University of Alaska Anchorage campus learning first-hand about marine biology research. For Olsen, the highlight was a field trip to Jakolof Bay in Homer.
“The tide was low so we saw all the stuff that was living in between the low and high tide. There were fish that were able to stay out of water for a while. Also at that bay there were people digging for clams,” says Olsen.
Another activity that Olsen enjoyed was performing a necropsy on an otter.
“The people there with the otters studied how they died,” says Olsen. “They did that with us, so they studied the outside. Then we dissected them. The liver was a little blackish inside.”
ANSEP exists to provide education opportunities and financial support for Alaska Native students in science and engineering. The aim of this camp was to give their youngest set of students a vision for careers in marine biology.
“The whole idea behind it was to just expose them to the different things that someone could do in marine biology,” says Yosty Storms, a regional director for ANSEP. “We want to serve those that have been historically underserved or underrepresented and get them involved.”
Olsen is not sure he’ll set his sights on a marine biology career just yet, but he does have an interest in STEM.
“I just try to make this as good as possible so when I choose what I want to do I’ll have a high chance of getting it. It will probably be something in science, technology, math or engineering. It’s just my best subjects,” says Olsen.
Two other students from the Bristol Bay area also attended ANSEP’s career exploration camp. Newhalen’s Aileen Lester and Gabriel Olympic from Iliamna also participated.