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The Yakutat Nature Society was founded in 2020 by Susan Oehlers, Mary Glaves, and a key community member, Samantha Lobdell, in an effort to advance the organizational operation and reach of the annual Yakutat Tern Festival, a migratory birding festival, started in 2011 in Yakutat, Alaska.
 

The Yakutat Tern Festival Story

The Yakutat Nature Society was founded in 2020 by Susan Oehlers, Mary Glaves, and a key community member, Samantha Lobdell, in an effort to advance the organizational operation and reach of the annual Yakutat Tern Festival, a migratory birding festival, started in 2011 in Yakutat, Alaska. The annual Tern Festival’s mission is to highlight the extraordinary natural and cultural resources of Yakutat by establishing a festival celebrating Aleutian terns.  The Yakutat area boasts the southernmost known and one of the largest breeding colonies of Aleutian terns within its range.  It is the intent of this festival to support, unify, and educate the community by promoting non-consumptive tourism and connect people with wildlife and the outdoors.

Walter Porter, a Tlingit Indian and mythologist from Yakutat, Alaska was working with the Yakutat Chamber of Commerce and worked with the U.S. Forest Service Yakutat Ranger District and Susan Oehlers to found the Yakutat Tern Festival. Walter spent a good deal of his boyhood years listening to his grandmother and other elders tell mythologies and legends that were handed down to them by their elders. In the mid 80’s he was invited to be the host on the “Box of Daylight” video put together by Sealaska Foundation, Alaska State Museum, Klukwaan Heritage, Alaska Humanities Forum, and others.

The first annual festival launched in 2011 and featured special events and seminars, a local art show, field trips, and kids’ programs all aimed at enriching the knowledge of the local area and immersing locals and visitors alike, in the natural and cultural resources of Yakutat.

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