• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
3m 2s

ANSEP helps Native youth get hands-on experiences

By Heather Hintze 7:22 PM July 29, 2014
KODIAK ISLAND –

It’s not your typical summer job: Trekking into the woods looking for bears.

For 18-year-old Randall Friendly it’s the internship of a lifetime. He’s working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at its Brown Bear Research Camp at Karluk Lake on Kodiak Island.

“No bears, just some sockeye swimming up the creek,” said Friendly as he scanned the area.

Unfortunately, all the bears are likely in the mountains foraging for berries. That means there’s a swarm of spawning sockeye that have taken over the creek.

A couple issues researchers are looking into is the declining bear population around the lake and why bears choose to feed where they do.

“It is surprising just having had past field season to compare it to,” said biologist technician Caroline Cheung. “It seems a little bit quieter, especially when you see these creeks filled with salmon. You think they’d be having a buffet.”

Dead salmon pile up with no bears around to eat them. Friendly wades into the water to kick some of them away from the research equipment.

He’s from Tuntutuliak, a small village of 400 people just outside Bethel. The rotting reds aren’t a sight he’s used to seeing.

“Where I’m from is between fresh water and ocean water, so it’s estuary. So we can fish there where the fish are healthy and silver.”

With no bears in sight, Friendly helps change out the memory cards and batteries in the bear and salmon cameras.

He knows every part of the project is important and he’s thrilled to help in every aspect.

Friendly is one of about 25 interns around the state from the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program (ANSEP).

The goal is to get Alaska Native youth interested in math and science and prepare them for college. Nearly 80 percent of ANSEP students have graduated college or are currently enrolled.

“It accelerates students and motivates them, so they believe they can do it,” Friendly said. “At first I thought it was going to be a hard thing but now I have the confidence to work harder.”

Friendly is the second ANSEP intern to work at the Brown Bear Research Camp, and staff welcome the help.

“It’s great having Randall out here, being able to share these experiences with him,” Cheung said. ”It’s not only enriching and rewarding, it’s exciting to see him so happy to be out here and to be eager to learn.”

The search for bears wasn’t a total bust. Friendly spotted a pair along the shore.

“They look like siblings because they’re both big,” he said while looking through his binoculars.

The team wasn’t able to get very close before the bears retreated into the woods.

Luckily, throughout the summer Friendly’s been able to tag along with researchers and get some very up-close encounters, almost too close for comfort.

“The exciting part is when we got to see the bears and when you’re watching them up close,” he smiled.

At Camp Island, he used the cards he collected from the cameras to start counting.

It’s his final week at work at the bear camp and he’s more than grateful for the opportunity.

“It helps you learn how to cooperate with others, work with other students and other people,” he said.

He’ll take those life lessons with him to college in the fall. Right now he plans to study biological sciences at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Editor’s note: KTVA would like to thank ANSEP for providing travel to Kodiak. 

Latest Stories

  • Weather

    Weekend weather forecast

    by KTVA Weather on Jan 24, 18:29

    Many areas across the Anchorage Bowl saw 3 to 5 inches of snow accumulation with this last snowfall. High pressure is already building in from the east, and it will produce lots of sunshine across the area as we head into Sunday. The trade-off will be pure cold weather with many locations barely getting out […]

  • Sports

    South Anchorage football hires Chris Borst, former Dimond head coach

    by KTVA Sports on Jan 24, 15:21

    After spending five seasons as head football coach for Dimond High School, Chris Borst is moving across town to coach alongside John Lewis at South. Citing differences in coaching philosophies, Borst left Dimond at the end of the 2014 football season. Former Lynx strength coach Nick Winkler will take over head-coaching duties at Dimond. This is […]

  • Politics

    Palin for president? Former AK governor ‘seriously interested’ in 2016 bid

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jan 24, 14:36

    Sarah Palin is “seriously interested” in running a 2016 campaign for the White House, according to a recent interview with the Washington Post. The former Alaska governor, the GOP’s 2008 nominee for vice president – and current star of the Sportsman Channel’s Amazing America with Sarah Palin — was asked by the Washington Post whether she was considering […]

  • News

    Anchorage man fatally struck by vehicle in Las Vegas area

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jan 24, 13:31

    An Anchorage man was struck and killed by a vehicle Thursday evening in the Las Vegas area as he crossed a highway, according to the Nevada Department of Public Safety. According to other local news outlets in the area, the Clark County coroner’s office has identified the man as 57-year-old Aarnout Michael Berry, of Anchorage. At […]

  • News

    Army soldiers at JBER, Fort Wainwright at risk of being cut

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jan 24, 12:39

    U.S. Army officials are holding meetings with 30 communities across the country as decisions are being made about where to cut around 120,000 troops by 2017. Alaska’s Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and Fort Wainwright are on the list of bases where reductions could be made. Municipality of Anchorage staff are told that it will be up to […]

  • News

    Anchorage police: 58-year-old male found safe

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jan 24, 12:35

    UPDATE: Anchorage police say Marion Dale Quint has been located and is safe. Original story The Anchorage Police Department is asking for public help finding a missing 58-year-old man last seen Saturday morning. Marion Dale Quint left his assisted living home on foot around 9 a.m., according to a statement from APD. The assisted living home […]

  • Politics

    Gov. Walker: Not easy to be the messenger

    by Rhonda McBride on Jan 24, 12:04

    Gov. Bill Walker said, for the first time in a long time, he had a good night’s sleep after he delivered his State of the Budget address on Thursday. He said it felt good to get the job done. “It was a critical message to get out to Alaskans,” said Walker. The governor said the […]

  • News

    New report reveals behavioral health crisis in Mat-Su

    by Kate McPherson on Jan 23, 23:18

    Not enough is being done to help Mat-Su Valley residents with mental health and substance abuse problems, according to a new report published by the Mat-Su Health Foundation. The report examined the care Mat-Su residents receive when they are experiencing a behavioral health crisis, brought on by mental health and substance abuse problems. A lack […]