Saturday Oil Spill Event to Teach Kids Environmental Awareness

green_crab.jpgA young green crab. Via Wikipedia

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The generation that remembers the Exxon Valdez oil spill wants to make sure the next generation doesn’t forget. That’s one of the reasons the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council is hosting an educational youth program on Saturday, according to outreach coordinator Lisa Matlock. She says the board has made an extra effort to invest in educational initiatives especially in the last few years.

“More than half of our board have turned over in the past couple of years. We have the generation who were around during the Exxon-Valdez oil spill who are very passionate about making sure that never happens again, are starting to retire. And they are concerned about the next generation having young people who are interested in oil spill prevention who will take their place on the board someday.”

But it’s not just about creating environmental leaders.

Jane Eisemann is a former council board-member, and says it’s important for everyone to understand the process that brings oil to us as consumers.

“We all, I think, we take it for granted that you just go to the pump and you fill up your vehicle. Or you know, we use oil in our homes to heat, we use oil for our recreational vehicles, our vessels, our fishing fleet. Where does that oil come from? What is the cost to our environment? I believe that young people need to understand where these resources come that provide the quality of life that we’ve become so used to.”

She says she’ll staff a station at the program this weekend.

“My specialty on Saturday will be introducing folks that come by the booth on methods to clean oiled wildlife, if we did have a spill event and I think not only wildlife, but the affects of oil on eggs, whether it’s fish eggs or marine birds.”
Eisemann says people will complete hands-on activities.

“And determine what works best for cleaning wildlife, what are some of the techniques and then again emphasizing that the best thing to do is keep the oil out of the water. And I think that’s a big part of Saturday’s activities is, yes, we have contingency plans if there is a spill, but the best plan is to keep the oil out of the water to begin with.”

Another volunteer, Trent Dodson, has been involved in organizing the event and will educate people on a crab that originally comes from Europe.  

“The invasive species that have been introduced into Prince William Sound and Cook Inlet in some degree have come in in the ballast water in some of these tankers and some of this other vessel traffic and so when they get ballast water from elsewhere, they come into Alaska and they exchange that ballast water and they introduce – in this case, we’re gonna be talking about green crabs – into the environment.”

You can learn more about the green crab and cleaning oil-affected wildlife at the Kodiak National Wildlife Visitor Center between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday.

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