Well, here I am back at the Coast Guard Academy after an amazing weekend in (you’ll never guess it) SITKA, ALASKA!! How lucky am I, right?! Well, as some of you may know I had an internship this summer through the Marine Sciences department at the Sitka Sound Science Center in Sitka, Alaska, which is one of the most beautiful places on earth in my opinion and naturally I wanted to go back. Lucky for me, our internship invited us back to Sitka for a weekend in November for the annual Whale Festival, or Whalefest. Whalefest is a four-day event full of research symposium presentations, scientific talks, a film night, wildlife tours, concerts, and much more! Of course we simply had to go, but we weren’t sure how we would get the funding so I did a little bit of research. As fate may have it, on the Friday before Whalefest weekend, the University of Alaska Southeast, along with the Science Center, was hosting the National Ocean Science Bowl competition right there in Sitka. This is a competition where high schoolers from all over the state (even the country) come to compete in a trivia style competition with questions solely focused on our ocean environment. I saw this as the perfect opportunity to do a little recruiting so I talked to Admissions and pitched my idea and BAM! It worked, we were going back to Alaska!!
I know it seems crazy to fly all the way across the country for the weekend, but it was definitely worth it. We arrived Thursday night just in time to have dinner with all our friends from Sitka. Then, Friday we volunteered at the Science Bowl competition all day! I was wearing my favorite Coast Guard Academy lacrosse shirt (had to represent!) and talking to the high school students about the Academy every chance I got! After that, we got to attend some of the scientific talks and experience Whalefest, which was a blast! On Saturday morning, we donned our very professional Service Dress Blue uniforms and gave an hour long presentation to the community and the high schoolers from the Ocean Bowl about the Academy and the admissions process. Our presentation was a huge success and people were asking lots of great questions (they also loved the Bears backpacks, brochures, and pens we handed out as well). After the presentation we explored the festival some more and soaked up the beautiful (rare) sunshine that was shining down on Sitka that weekend. On Sunday, I went out in a little skiff with some friends and got to see the humpback whales bubble net feeding and breaching out of the water! It was absolutely incredible (and a tiny bit scary) to see these massive and majestic animals so close to us! Overall, the weekend was absolutely amazing and I am beyond lucky to have had the opportunity to go. I will never be able to thank the Coast Guard enough for the opportunities it has given me to learn, travel, explore and experience the world.