By Stephanie Blake
The Chugiak-Eagle River Foundation
After Eagle River successfully hosted the Arctic Winter Games in 1996, a $45,000 surplus was transferred to a brand new foundation formed for the betterment of the Chugiak-Eagle River Area. With additional help from the Glenn and Mary Lou Briggs Estate in 2004, Chugiak- Eagle River Foundation took on a permanent place among the many generous patrons of our local community. The chief aim of the Foundation is to invest long term in our community and its residents, and they do so in the form of scholarships and grants when and where possible.
One of the many ways this foundation supports Eagle River and Chugiak is through the administration of the Briggs Memorial Scholarship, honoring the legacy of Glenn and Mary Lou who repeatedly provided financial support for members of Chugiak High School to go on to college when they didn’t have the means to do so. Today the scholarship is open to all graduating seniors or members of Chugiak and Eagle River who are planning to attend college or a vocational school. Sadly, few have taken advantage of this opportunity and applied for the scholarship. If you think you might benefit from additional financial assistance as you move forward in your education, consider visiting http://www.cerfoundation.org and checking out the scholarship offerings right here in our community.
The Foundation has also been a great mechanism for funneling resources toward areas of need within the community in the form of grants. Just last year at Gruening Middle School, they contributed toward the purchase of new smart boards and French horns for the band program. Funding was also directed toward the work needed at Chief Alex Park, teacher recognition among the community, repairs done at the local Chamber office, support for Team Alaska at the Arctic Winter Games, the Bear Paw Festival, and graduation celebrations for the high schools. The Chugiak-Eagle River Foundation has an abiding stake in the quality of life that we enjoy and hopes to generously support Chugiak and Eagle River through permanent funding and community donations for many years to come.
The Eagle River Nature Center
The Eagle River Nature Center is a treasure within our backyard, providing countless vistas for exploration and learning. It is one of the places we frequent with our families, and visitors from all over the world make a point to stop by and gaze at the grandeur there. Run by a staff of 6 employees and an army of dedicated volunteers, it is nothing short of amazing that they accomplish so much.
Instilling a passion for nature within youth is at the core of the Nature Center’s mission. Through countless classes and programs, children have funneled into the lodge and out to the trails to seek and find knowledge about the environment around them. There is a Junior Naturalist Program (K-12), Little Explorers for toddlers and their parents, an astronomy program, and classes and activities every weekend of the year for children and adults. And adult-focused learning opportunities are plenteous.
The staff and volunteers at the nature center expertly help visitors with bear awareness, trail conditions, and what’s what in the local flora and fauna – all while maintaining over 10 miles of trails, a cabin, and three yurts. It is an excellent spot to breathe-in Alaska, take a hike, watch the salmon run and marvel at the largeness of it all.
If you’d like to support the Eagle River Nature Center, consider participating in their May 18th Music in the Mountains fundraiser. They will have a band on-site, food, and beverages from are breweries -all in support of this local gem we are truly blessed to have. More information is available at https://www.ernc.org/.
Jeff Hill Legacy Fund
In the spring of 2012, the Jeff Hill Legacy Fund awarded its first scholarship to Sebastian Alvarez-Herrera, a local cadet at UAA who planned to follow in the late Captain Jeff Hill’s footsteps by joining the United States Air Force. When scholarships are awarded in the spring of this year, the Fund will have given $65,000 to young men and women since its inception. These funds not only alleviate the financial burdens of cadets so that they can more freely pursue their dreams of serving in the U.S. Air Force, but they also help keep the memory of a good man burning bright.
Captain Hill was tragically killed in a C-17 accident on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in July of 2010, leaving behind his wife Rachel and two young sons. Hill is remembered as a one-of-a-kind type of person -a man who embodied incredible virtues and the knack for living each day fully in the present. His story inspires, because like many, he was often told “no” as he pursued his dream of becoming a C-17 pilot. Rather than tucking tail, he kept knocking on life’s doors until they eventually opened to him. Hill became the first cadet at UAA to earn their pilot wings, and later, against all odds, was offered his dream post flying C-17s here in Alaska. But Captain Hill was also known as a leader, the kind of leader that invests themselves in the lives of the men and women who served under him. The kind that can’t easily be forgotten.
Consider supporting the Jeff Hill Memorial fund by attending an annual beer tasting and silent auction event held at Jitters on April 27 at 7:00 pm. For tickets, scholarship information or more information about Captain Jeff Hill, go to http://www.jeffhilllegacyfund.com/.