Russian delegation studies environmental issues
Homer News (Homer, AK)
Posted on September 13, 2006
By Michael Armstrong
The five women and one man have been learning from their Alaska counterparts about ecotourism, environmental education and citizen science and activism. They’re here as guests of the Kachemak Bay Rotary Club and the Open World Program.
Representatives from the Great Baikal Trail project have also been visiting Homer in August and September. Ariadna Reida, director of the project, was here two weeks ago, as was Ivan Lisichkim. Volunteers from Homer have gone to Baikal to help build the planned 150-mile route around the lake in Siberia, including Pratt Museum director Heather Beggs. Anya Skitnevskaya, who Beggs met in Baikal, has been staying with Beggs this week. While not part of the official delegation, Skitnevskaya has been accompanying them on their visit and helping with translation.
Monday morning the delegation got a tour of Cook InletKeeper, the Kachemak Bay Conservation Society and the Homer Chamber of Com-merce.
At each stop, staff told them about the organization’s programs, such as InletKeeper’s volunteer water monitoring program or the chamber’s halibut derby.
They even got a chance to see derby director Linda Winters log a 260-pound halibut at the derby offices on the Homer Spit.
Several members said they were impressed with how InletKeeper involved citizen scientists in doing research. In Russia, research is done through universities, and would rarely be done by citizen volunteers.
“At Cook Inlet-Keeper, anybody can participate, anybody can volunteer, and also learn in two days how to monitor water quality,” said Natalya Zinyakova, dean and senior instructor in the Department of Social Communications, East Technical University, Nakhodka.
“In Russia, most of the discussion is based on a scientific level,” said Yuliya Galysheva, senior instructor in ecology at Far East University, Vladivostok.
Galysheva was also impressed by Homer’s environmental activism.
“Homer is an example of one of the greatest ecological principles: Think globally, act locally,” she said.
The Russian delegation went to the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center on Tuesday, Homer’s water and sewer plant on Wednesday and visits the Pratt Museum today. They also speak at the Kachemak Bay Rotary Club at noon today.
Friday, the delegation tours the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies and then crosses the bay to the center’s Peterson Bay Field Station, where they will monitor and pick up trash for the center’s CoastWalk project.
Zinyakova also met with Girl Scout leader Tina Seaton on Sunday.
Skitnevskaya said she has been studying the educational program of the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies, as well as how it promotes ecotourism in Kachemak Bay.
“Our goal is to improve ecotourism in Lake Baikal,” she said. “I got a lot of new thinking.”
The Open World Program is a nonpartisan initiative of the U.S. Congress with offices in the Library of Congress, Wash-ington, D.C., said Aleksandr Meltsev, a facilitator and translator for the delegation. Serge LeComte, a retired Russian professor from Anchor Point, also helped translate.
Over 10,000 participants from Russia have visited all 50 U.S. states. Meltsev said this delegation was the first Open World Program group to visit Homer.
“This program is giving a real chance for people from Russia to see another way of thinking — another way of working with the environment,” Skitnevskaya said.
“I think it’s real important to improve relationships with each other.”
[Reprinted with Permission]