Community Outreach and Engagement

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It is critically important that Alaska Native, rural communities and tribal organizations and Alaska co-management councils are kept informed of USGS research activities and findings. Involvement of and collaboration with students also provides valuable perspectives to USGS science. This page offers information on how USGS communicates its activities and seeks opportunities to gain important perspectives from students and communities.

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The USGS participates in meetings and co-management councils to inform Alaska Native and rural communities of our research plans and findings, especially for studies that take place near communities or for research with findings that may be of high interest to communities.  The USGS actively supports the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program (ANSEP) through internships, classes and mentoring. The USGS also participated in the recent revision of the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee’s (IARPC) revision of “The Principles for Conducting Research in the Arctic” and we follow these important guidelines in our work.  We welcome comments on new venues for sharing our information and ways of gaining perspectives that will inform how we conduct and communicate our activities.

2019 Outreach and Engagement Activities

Keychain for USGS outreach activities about bird banding and reporting

Keychain developed for USGS outreach activities about bird banding and reporting in Yup'ik and English. Yup'ik translation provided by Jakob Sipary, Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program (ANSEP).
(Credit: John Pearce, USGS. Public domain.)

USGS Scientist Attended the Alaska Nannut Co-Management Council Meeting in Nome, AK: Alaska Science Center scientist Todd Atwood attended the Alaska Nannut Co-Management Council (ANCC) meeting in Nome on October 29-30, 2019. The ANCC represents Alaska villages on matters concerning the conservation and sustainable subsistence use of polar bears. Atwood provided an update on research activities in 2019 and plans for 2020. For more information about ongoing polar bear research please visit https://www.usgs.gov/centers/asc/science/polar-bear-research

USGS and USFWS Visited with Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Communities to Discuss Bird Bands: Alaska Science Center supervisory wildlife biologist John Pearce and Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge biologist Bryan Daniels visited with residents of three communities on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta in western Alaska October 9-11, 2019. The goal of the trip was to hear people's perspectives about bird banding and the reporting of band encounters to the USGS reportband.gov website. Following community engagement on the topic, USFWS and USGS are banding more waterfowl species on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta to inform the management of waterfowl populations throughout the Pacific Flyway. Additionally, the USGS and USFWS have spent the past year requesting feedback from Alaska Native co-management councils about the best way to talk with hunters about bird banding and reporting of encounters. These conversations, and recent assistance from Alaska Native Science and Engineering Students, have led to the creation of important talking points and outreach materials that USGS and USFWS will present in western Alaska this week. Feedback from these meetings will be discussed with co-management councils next spring and incorporated into future outreach programs.  

Yellow-billed Loon on a lake in the northern area of Alaska.

Yellow-billed Loon on a lake in the northern area of Alaska.
(Credit: Ryan Askren, USGS, Alaska Science Center. Public domain.)

USGS Briefed Native Village of Nuiqsut and North Slope Borough Planning Commission
Alaska Science Center Supervisory Wildlife Biologist John Pearce visited Nuiqsut, Alaska, on September 24th and 25th to brief the Native Village of Nuiqsut on USGS research activities on lands near the village (Colville River Delta and National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska). Pearce also attended the North Slope Borough Planning Commission Meeting on September 26, 2019, in Utqiagvik (Barrow), Alaska. Pearce provided an update about on-going and new USGS research on the North Slope of Alaska that may have implications for North Slope Borough's planning and permitting actions.

USGS Presented to Alaska Migratory Bird Co-Management Council
Alaska Science Center Supervisory Wildlife Biologist John Pearce presented to the Alaska Migratory Bird Co-Management Council on Wednesday, September 18, 2019, in Anchorage, Alaska. Pearce updated the group on recent and ongoing USGS migratory bird research and USGS efforts to inform rural communities in Alaska of these research studies. The Alaska Migratory Bird Co-Management Council was formed in 2000 and consists of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and representatives of Alaska's Native population. The Council's primary purpose is to conserve migratory birds through development of recommendations for the subsistence spring/summer harvest in Alaska.

USGS Attended Inuvialuit-Inupiat Polar Bear Joint Commission meeting
Alaska Science Center scientist Todd Atwood attended the annual Inuvialuit-Inupiat Polar Bear Joint Commission meeting in Anchorage, Alaska August 20-22, 2019. The commission includes members from northern communities in Alaska and the Northwest Territories and makes recommendations on the management of polar bears. Atwood presented an update on research activities and discussed the results of recently completed studies.

USGS Presented to Association of Village Council Presidents
Alaska Science Center Supervisory wildlife biologist John Pearce and Alaska Native Science and Engineering Student (ANSEP) USGS intern Jakob Sipary gave a presentation to the Association of Village Council Presidents (AVCP) in Bethel, Alaska, on Thursday, July 25th. Pearce and Sipary have been collaborating with the USGS Bird Banding Lab to find ways to encourage hunters in western Alaska to report metal bands that they encounter on migratory birds. Pearce and Sipary have developed a number of new tools that might be helpful in community outreach and education and will discuss with and get feedback from AVCP on these new tools. Staff of the USFWS Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge in Bethel, Alaska, also participateed in the meeting.

USGS Participated in Harmful Algal Bloom Workshop
USGS Alaska Science Center scientists Caroline Van Hemert and Matt Smith and Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program student intern Jakob Sipary participated in a harmful algal bloom workshop in Nome, Alaska, on July 17, 2019. Van Hemert and Smith presented on recent USGS research related to algal toxins and effects on marine resources, such as seabirds, and also participated in a panel discussion regarding current events in the Bering Straits region and how communities and agencies are responding and coordinating their activities. More information about USGS research on marine algal toxins and seabirds can be found here.

Sea otter in kelp

Sea otter in kelp.
(Credit: Benjamin Weitzman, U.S. Geological Survey. Public domain.)

Community Outreach - USGS Presented on Sea Otter and Nearshore Ecosystem Research
On May 17, Alaska Science Center biologists, Kim Kloecker and Benjamin Weitzman, presented information on USGS research and then participated in a community conversation about ecosystem changes in the marine environment in the coastal towns of Seldovia and Port Graham (near Homer, AK). They were invited to take part in the community's ongoing series focused on climate change, along with other researchers from the Gulf Watch Alaska Program, a multi-agency, long-term monitoring program. Kim presented current research on sea otter diets in the region and Ben covered some of the results of his doctoral research on bivalve communities in the Gulf of Alaska. More information about the USGS Nearshore Marine Ecosystem Research Project and the Gulf Watch Alaska Program can be found at https://www.usgs.gov/centers/asc/science/nearshore-marine-ecosystem-research and https://gulfwatchalaska.org/.

USGS Met with the Point Lay Tribal Council to Discuss Walrus Research
Alaska Science Center scientist Chad Jay met with the coastal community of Point Lay on March 21, 2019, to discuss results of a new study that used a drone to estimate the size of a large aggregation of walruses that forms near Point Lay when sea ice disappears offshore each year in late fall. The population estimates are important to DOI management agencies for authorizing offshore oil and gas activities in the Chukchi Sea.

USGS Attended the North Slope Game Commission Meeting
USGS Alaska Science Center Research Wildlife Biologist Todd Atwood attended the annual meeting of the North Slope Borough Game Commission meeting in Utqiagvik on February 20-21, 2019. The commission is comprised of members from northern communities and makes recommendations to the borough on wildlife management priorities. Atwood presented an update on USGS polar bear research activities and plans for 2019.