The group at Point Barrow

For all but a small number of people in our country, the Arctic Slope of Alaska is unknown and unknowable. Most will not have the incredible opportunity, as we did Wednesday, to meet a whaling captain and learn about the community effort that goes into hunting a whale. Or to meet a whaling captain’s wife and learn about the responsibility of outfitting crews and processing the meat so that everyone eats.

Participants of the 13th Annual Educational Tour of Alaska went to Prudhoe Bay and Barrow to listen, to learn and to see first-hand what life is like in a place unknown to them.

We visited an alternative high school that helps students achieve graduation; a tribal college preparing youth for the jobs of today and the challenges of tomorrow; a dental clinic that is changing caries statistics for local children; a library with a vibrant program for young readers; and a cultural center that shares a unique way of life. We met people passionate about preserving the past, enhancing the present, and grabbing the opportunities the future will present.

We all walked away knowing a little more, and feeling a lot richer from the experience.