My name is Shannon and I’m an Arctic and Northern Studies major. This is my second semester at UAF, and I moved up here from San Francisco in August. I took GEOG 101 last semester as a prerequisite to Polar Geography, a required course for my major, and I took this as a major elective because I really like geography. When I was a kid I auditioned for Where In The World Is Carmen SanDiego? but ended up being too young to shoot in the timeframe they wanted–I was devastated.
As far as Alaska goes, I’ve only ever lived in Fairbanks, but I’ve also lived in San Jose, Santa Cruz, and Campbell, California, and Lawrence, Kansas. I do know a fair amount about Alaska geography thanks to A) being a nerd and B) the Iditarod Historical Trail and the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Last year I led a fundraiser during the Iditraod called the “Igivearod” to help send kids from the village of Nikolai on a field trip to Anchorage, build a reading nook in a school in Nome, and fully fund all the active DonorsChoose.org campaigns in the state of Alaska. We try to focus on the needs of communities along the Iditarod Trail itself, and we’ve repeated it during the Kuskokwim 300 and coming soon, the Willow 300. through this work, I’ve come to know quite a bit about Alaska geography and the needs of rural communities. I also think of Nikolai as “my village” so whenever I see it on a map or hear someone talk about it, I say “That’s my village!!” and then have to explain that I’ve never been there, I just really like it and have a lot of little friends there.
Here’s a map showing the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race route, which alternates each year between the northern and southern routes: