Maritime refuge hires environmental educator

Kendra Bush-St. Louis has started work as the new environmental educator for the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, with offices in the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center. She takes the place of Lisa Matlock who left the refuge for other opportunities nearly two years ago.

“Kendra will have to hit the ground running with the spring school field trip season almost upon us but she is just the woman to do that” said Refuge Public Program Supervisor Poppy Benson. 

She will be responsible for all the refuge’s youth and education programs including Youth Conservation Corp, school programs in Homer, on the Kenai Peninsula and in bush villages, field trips to the visitor center,  the four stewardship camps in Native communities that the refuge supports, kids contests, Scout programs, and junior ranger badges and junior birder programs.

A veteran of five years of teaching high school biology and four seasons working for the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Bush-St. Louis recently received a master’s degree in environmental education. She and her husband, Jon, and two young daughters recently relocated to Homer from Sterling.   

It was not until retirements shrunk the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service work force in Alaska, that money could be found to cover this high priority position.  The unfortunate consequence of two years without an educator is that the number of students and teachers served by the refuge’s education programs was cut nearly in half.  

“Kendra will need to do some rebuilding, but she has the energy to do that,” Benson said.

Also, after a funding-related year gap, the Refuges’s Youth Conservation Corp program is once again offering two paid internships to Homer youth, ages 14-19. Students will experience refuge work in biology, education and maintenance working alongside two Sand Point youth. Unique travel experiences will include teaching at the Sand Point culture camp, travel by ship, and field work in Southwest Alaska. Applications are available now at Islands & Ocean and are due April 21.

Refuge Manager Steve Delehanty said he couldn’t be happier to have the environmental education position and the YCC positions restored.

“Youth are the future of wildlife conservation. Working with schools and teens is some of the most important work we do,” he said.