• 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

    Another round of snow across Alaska: Winter weather advisories in effect

    by Melissa Frey on Jan 15, 21:14

    The next storm system to impact Southcentral, southeast and interior Alaska is moving into Prince William Sound Sunday night. Here’s how this storm will affect each region: Southcentral Snow showers started picking up Sunday evening and will continue to fall overnight through early afternoon on Monday. Most of the area is under a winter weather […]

  • Sports

    Basketball team from Florida travels to Alaska

    by John Thompson on Jan 15, 19:18

    When the Riverview Rams boys basketball team boarded a plane in Sarasota, Florida, they had no idea what what was waiting for them in Alaska. Most players had never seen snow, and some had never flown on a plane. Riverview Rams of Sarasota, FL basketball team explore AK Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage @airlinesclassic #AAClassic17 […]

  • News

    Chalkyitsik, Fort Yukon tribes celebrate historic land-use plan

    by Rhonda McBride on Jan 15, 18:35

    As one tribal leader put it: The land is our culture and our culture is the land. That’s why two interior Alaska tribes in Chalkyitsik and Fort Yukon celebrated historic land-use agreements with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that were more than eight years in the making. The BLM land-use plan covers about 6.5 […]

  • News

    ‘Positive and happy’: Friend describes woman found dead in her vehicle

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jan 15, 16:28

    Two communities are mourning the loss of a young woman from Nome, who, after being reported missing, was found dead in an Anchorage parking lot. Martina Painter, 25, was found inside her car Thursday afternoon near University Lake, according to police. Police said a family member reported her missing in Anchorage Wednesday night when she didn’t […]

  • News

    Delta flight makes unexpected landing in Cold Bay, FAA points to engine trouble

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jan 15, 14:01

    Last updated at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 15 ANCHORAGE — A Delta Airlines flight made an emergency landing in Cold Bay Saturday morning after experiencing what an aviation official described as engine trouble. Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer confirmed the flight’s detour, but couldn’t elaborate further about what was wrong with the plane. […]

  • Lifestyle

    ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’: Ringling Brothers circus to end after 146 years

    by KTVA / AP on Jan 15, 12:57

    The owners of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced Saturday that they will close the 146-year-old show in May. Kenneth Feld, the chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment, which owns the circus, said declining attendance combined with high operating costs are among the reasons for closing. “There isn’t any one thing,” Feld told […]

  • Guests at Dimond Center Hotel details late-night shooting

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jan 15, 12:11

    Last updated at 11:40 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 15 ANCHORAGE — Multiple shots were fired outside the Dimond Center Hotel Saturday night, striking the north side of the building and breaking at least one window. Anchorage police issued a dispatch about the shooting at 11:25 p.m., saying they had responded to the scene of the […]

  • Politics

    Alaska legislators see urgency in budget work but face rifts

    by Associated Press on Jan 15, 11:39

    Alaska legislators agree on the need to address the state’s multibillion-dollar budget deficit. But rifts remain over how best to do that, with divisions forming over taxes, how much to keep cutting spending and whether the state needs to tinker with Alaskans’ beloved yearly oil wealth check. A new 90-day legislative session begins Tuesday. Many […]