The Alaska Youth for Environmental Action program unites urban and rural teenagers, encouraging and training them to combat climate change. The program is celebrating 20 years, having engaged with over 5,000 teens since 1998.

"Since last August, August of 2017, [AYEA] gave a bill to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation," said current AYEA member Ciara Hellmann. "[It] asked the state, basically, to regulate resource extraction and reduce carbon emissions, and asked them to adopt a climate package."

Teenagers had the opportunity to engage with Gov. Bill Walker's administration, exchanging ideas and working on solutions for climate change and proper resource development in Alaska.

Over the course of its tenure, AYEA has met with governors, other elected officials, and even international organizations to discuss climate change.

Climate change hit very close to home for Maka Monture Paki, who grew up in Yakutat and was an AYEA member 10 years ago.

"When I was a little girl, we never had any problems with having enough salmon to fill our freezers or to be able to sustain our communities and our families," explained Paki. "In the past several years, we have seen a huge decrease in how much salmon we get in Yakutat... really scary."

AYEA is hosting a fundraiser Saturday, Dec. 1, from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Alaska Native Heritage Center. Tickets and more information can be found on AYEA.org.

The organization will also be hosting a 20 year reunion the following Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Anchorage Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

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