This year’s 4-H Sustainable Harvest Camp may be over, but the knowledge shared among participants is likely to last a lifetime.
It’s knowledge that is wholeheartedly Alaskan — how to dress a deer, build a fire and shelter, as well as smoke, can and preserve salmon, for instance.
Darren Snyder, with the UAF Cooperative Extension Service Juneau office, said students experienced the salmon canning process first-hand — many filleted the salmon themselves — and were immersed in information that was rich with in-depth details from experts at the camp, which ran in mid-August at the SAGA Eagle Valley Center, near Amalga Harbor.
“(We had) one 4-H specialist who led (fish) anatomy, dissection and handling discussions,” Snyder said.
Participants learned not only how to carefully arrange the smoked salmon strips in the jars, but they also learned about the anatomy and life cycle of the salmon.
In other words: They got the full package.
Beyond the hands-on skills, Snyder said students learned the importance of and how to cultivate successful teamwork. They also learned leadership skills — an aspect always present in 4-H programs, he said.
After all, it took teamwork to create the final product when it came to canning the salmon. Snyder said king and chum salmon were donated by Douglas Island Pink and Chum Inc., and were brought to the camp by DIPAC employee Rich Matsen. John Smith, with the Indian Studies Program, brought his portable and personally-designed smoker. And Petyer Stortz, a statewide 4-H specialist from Palmer, came down to share the details of salmon themselves.
The camp began in 2009 and has since evolved to meet the needs and interests of the participants, Snyder said. Students at this year’s camp also learned firearm safety, navigation skills, and how to fish and harvest wild edibles, to name a few.
But camp-related activities are not over. Those who were involved in jarring the salmon still have to decide what to do with it, Snyder said.
“We’re going to leave it up to the kids,” he said. “Perhaps they will organize some community outreach.”
They couldn’t take the canned salmon home, he said, essentially due to health and safety concerns once opened. They were, however, allowed to sample their efforts.
Plans are already in the works for next year’s camp, Snyder said. There is even talk of a similar camp during winter months.