The Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies celebrated its thirty-fifth anniversary Wednesday. Community members and staff gathered to celebrate at a block party with food, games and live music near downtown homer.
The energy at the block party Wednesday evening was contagious.
“Well there is a lot of things going on! We have food, music and a lot of other things too. We have painting rocks, bean bag games, making your own bean bags!” Eleven-year-old Rebecca Trowbridge said with excitement.
There were over 100 people at the celebration near downtown Homer. Community members and staff were there to recognize decades worth of educational programs that connect people with the outdoors through guided hikes, tours and school programs.
Many of those attending have been part of the organization since its early days. Steve Yoshida, a founding member, explained its origins
“I bought some property at a state auction. I was going to build a cabin there and realized I couldn’t,” Yoshida explained, referring to the property in Peterson Bay a few miles from Homer. “I sold that property to a doctor friend from Hawaii.”
After the property was sold, Yoshida had the idea to use it as an educational center and sought to buy the property back.
“A bunch of us were talking about an educational program. We felt that we needed a place. So, we went to Dr. Wong and asked him if he would donate or sell us this perfect place, and he agreed at no interest and unlimited terms,” Yoshida recalled. “So that was the beginning of how we could have an educational center.”
The center soon became Coastal Studies headquarters and the young organization gained an identity by fighting oil companies looking for places to drill nearby.
“Oil was such an important part of the growing economy, and they were looking at sources for oil all over the state including this bay,” Yoshida said.
Coastal Studies used its educational message to help sustain the beauty of Kachemak Bay and the diversity of wildlife it offers.
Current executive director Beth Trowbridge is proud of Coastal Studies’ legacy and the sustaining force it’s become on the Southern peninsula.
“I think it’s pretty remarkable that our organization is as stable as it is and been around for 35 years. It’s kind of grown into a substantial community,” she said.
The center was also celebrating a new mural on its downtown . The mural, by Brad Hughes, is called “Inner Tidal Exploration,” and it shows two children playing with an octopus and an eagle.
The next big event for Costal Studies is the coast walk kickoff on Sept. 13. People can sign up for the program and pick an area around Kachemak Bay to clean up sometime between September and the end of October.