If you see a dozen kids sampling streamflow in California Creek or biking the Bird-to-Gird trail, they might be part of a new Four Valleys Community School summer program supported in part by a grant from Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area (KMTA). Scholarship support for the Community School’s inaugural outdoor summer intensives was one of seven grants awarded by KMTA at its May 5 board meeting in Girdwood.
This spring’s round of matching grants included educational projects by Girdwood Inc. and the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center as well as Four Valleys Community School. Recreational and historical grant recipients include a new Whittier City Park, a new historic showcase in the Begich Towers public lobby, reporting by the Glacier City Gazette, and repair of the historic Resurrect Art Coffee House in Seward.
Girdwood K-8 School teachers are volunteering time to design a place-based Girdwood Trails curriculum with lessons in ecology and history. This Girdwood Inc. curriculum is meant to provide field trip-ready kits and be accessible to visiting educational groups. KMTA will add Girdwood’s curriculum to KMTA’s other award-winning curriculum on their website.
The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center has already broken ground on an indoor education center, Bison Hall, which will also provide community meeting space and on-site potable water. Several partners are supporting the $2.2 million infrastructure project, and KMTA awarded AWCC a $25,000 to help complete the project.
Whittier Parks and Recreation is developing a new park behind the Whittier Community School to be an outdoor community space and a waypoint for community trails. Supported in part by KMTA, benches, barbeque grills, a volleyball court, and trailhead improvements will be part of the initial installation. Whittier students have already designed and constructed several of the park benches.
Whittier’s Begich Towers will be telling Whittier’s story past and present through a new exhibit on the building’s first floor public area. The display will include historic photographs and will be developed in partnership with the Prince William Sound Museum, East Aleutian Tribes, and Whittier Community School. Begich Towers is undergoing major renovations and in addition to the exhibit, KMTA’s grant will help provide for new rubberized, sound-proof flooring.
Glacier City Gazette will receive a grant to expand its coverage of heritage and recreation in KMTA communities of Indian, Bird Creek, Girdwood, Portage, Whittier, Moose Pass, Cooper Landing, and Hope.
KMTA will also assist in preserving Resurrect Art Coffee House in Seward. This historic community landmark was originally the Old Methodist Church Building and later the Lutheran “Sunshine” Church. New windowpanes will be purchased and installed to repair a large window vandalized two years ago. Exterior trim will be repainted. These repairs will usher in the building’s centennial in 2017, which Resurrect Art Coffee House’s new owners plan to celebrate with a community open house.
KMTA awarded up to $71,115 in community grants at its May meeting, to be matched by a minimum of $81,379 in contributions of finances, donations, and volunteer labor. The seven grant projects are investments in the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm corridor’s people and cultural and historic resources.