Team projects are a key element of the Alaska Salmon Fellows experience. Cohort members work together in sub-groups to identify experiments that have the potential of impacting systems change. Teams self-manage the execution of this work and leverage their own program learnings and network resources to make a meaningful impact in their community. 

The projects from the second cohort are listed below. 

Actor Map Roadshow

Project Team Members: Catie Bursch, Stephanie Quinn-Davidson, Matt Rafferty

Initial Project Background: As Alaska Salmon Fellows working within and discussing the Alaska salmon/people system, we endeavored to find new ways and opportunities to shift the system to be more sustainable and equitable. In other words, we believe that the continuation of salmon runs in perpetuity should be a priority and access to the salmon resource and the decision-making should be equitable. 


How can we shift the current system of salmon in Alaska closer to our goals of sustainability and equity? How can we help the Alaska salmon/people achieve its maximum potential? 


We intend to determine what the salmon/people system truly looks like based on the perspectives of Alaskans involved in the system. Our team recognizes that different people perceive power and influence in the salmon/people system uniquely. Before trying to shift the system, it would be insightful to first record these perceptions in order to better understand the system and find strategic points to focus on. Without data to understand perceived problems and power structures, efforts are operating blindly. The key to success in shifting a system lies in optimizing the activities, relationships, and interactions among the various components - where can we make small shifts that have large impacts?


Actor maps are powerful visualization tools that can help us (change agents) describe and diagnose the current state of a given system and identify opportunities for improvement. They are an effective way to infuse systems thinking into strategy development and evaluation efforts. Actor mapping will not only offer a visual depiction of the key organizations and/or individuals that make up and/or influence a system but will also show their relationships to a given issue and to one another.


The Actor Map will reveal: 

  • The perceptions of different sectors in the system 

  • How sectors saw their influence on the system and how other groups perceived them.

  • Patterns in how people do or do not communicate between groups

  • Which relationships hold the most potential for change

  • Where opportunities are to bridge current blockages between actors

  • Where to catalyze potential momentum between actors


Project Approach:

  • Invite ~80 people who work in the salmon-people system to actively map the system using a proven actor mapping session guide 

  • Conduct 8 total actor map workshops with ~12  folks, one map with each sector

  • Conduct surveys to capture perceptions and demographics of participants.

  • Record notes on conversations and topics discussed during mapping activity

  • Produce individual actor maps for each sector and a comprehensive map for all

  • Analyze qualitative results from the maps and the discussions to identify blockages and opportunities in communication between sectors.


Outcomes & Learnings:  

  • Connected with ~80 people from diverse sectors of the Alaska salmon/people system 

  • Participants realized how their sector sees the power within the system 

  • Generated an Actor Map Roadshow Final Report based on the analysis of the actor maps, the pre and post surveys, and conversation notes

  • Present project results at the American Fisheries Society. 

  • Provide visibility to future groups as they design their projects (e.g. Recommendations can be used to help target blockages and create opportunities for equity and sustainability in the system)

  • Option to hold future Actor Map Workshops with each sector at 3-5 year intervals to measure change over time and to offer new data to those facilitating conversations between leaders across sectors

salmon map.png

Salmon Circles

Project Team Members: Donna Aderhold, Brooke Wright, Danielle Stickman


Initial Project Background: We intend to foster conversations among diverse members of the Alaska salmon/people system to better influence the relationship between people who are placed in adversarial or hierarchical positions. Through a facilitated conversation, individuals will be able to truly listen to each other and develop a deeper understanding of different points of view. Relationships will develop that allow individuals from different sectors of the salmon/people system to reach out and talk to each other to resolve issues rather than remain encamped in their own perspectives.


The beauty of the salmon/people system is that individuals come with their own values, experiences, expertise, and cultural backgrounds. Many fisheries-related meetings are set up in a way that establishes or strengthens divisions between sectors and people. The primary sectors that participate in these types of fisheries meetings include subsistence users, sport fishers, commercial fishers, management agencies, and scientists. There are other sectors of the salmon/people system that do not participate in meetings and may not consider themselves part of the system, even though they have considerable influence on the system.


Some sectors of the salmon/people system perceive other sectors as adversarial (e.g., sport and commercial fishers seeking allocation), some sectors do not know they are part of the system (e.g., oil and gas or mining industries) or do not understand their role in it (e.g., property owners, land sub-dividers and developers), and some sectors hold positions of power over others (e.g. management boards). These differences limit or block relationships, understanding, and empathy between sectors and individuals who represent sectors.


By placing individuals from different sectors in a position of equity and safe vulnerability in a facilitated conversation, participants in the conversation will have the opportunity to share their experiences and listen to those of others, leading to strengthened relationships and a greater understanding and empathy for different perspectives of the salmon/people system. The goal would be for these new relationships to allow individuals to seek shared goals that lead to sustainability of salmon and greater equity within the sectors.


Project Approach:

  • Leverage the facilitation training from the Alaska Humanities Forum to plan out a Salmon Circle design structure and format that is inclusive and thoughtful

  • Conduct 3 2-hour salmon circle sessions with cross-sector representation totaling up to ~50 participants

  • Use photographs provided by Salmon Fellows to elicit meaningful dialogue around the state of the salmon/people system

  • Enable participants to discuss in one-on-one dialogues the value of salmon in their lives


Outcomes & Learnings:

  • Realized that in depth, meaningful dialogue and interactions with opposing stakeholder groups within the salmon community is absent, and very much needed (e.g. community dialogue within fisheries)

  • Project team facilitators learned about the power of an effective team, supported by strong and trusting relationships

  • Project team facilitators strengthened their facilitation expertise by learning the intricacies of intentional space holding including the invitation to lean into provocative dialogue

Salmon Unlimited

Project Team Members: Taylor Evenson, Mark Young, Marcus Mueller, Freddie Christiansen


Initial Project Background: Salmon Unlimited is an organization that has a long-term vision to be an accessible, inclusive organization in Alaska that provides education and opportunities for connection across different sectors.


The mission of Salmon Unlimited is concerning the conservation of salmon and heritage of Salmon people; and whose key tenants include inter-societal stabilization through forward facing ethics, progressive resource management adaptation through sharing interconnected perspectives, and empowering interdependent relationships across “sectors” through facilitating empathetic viewpoints and illustrations of interdependence.


Project Approach:

  • Create an organization called Salmon Unlimited to serve as a platform to bring people together to realize common values and create the best possible outcomes for salmon and people

  • Work together as a team to create a logo, educational material, and marketing collateral which help to stand up an official organization with a presence in Fairbanks

  • Host a public engagement booth at the Fairbanks Outdoor show (Created an interactive fish wheel game, an interactive salmon people system map, hosted a “Salmonar” – which is a seminar about salmon with show participants from subsistence, commercial, sportfish, personal use and policy/management sectors)

  • Enlist membership, donations, and interest in volunteering or participating in the organization’s future

  • Explore a deeper understanding of foundational elements required for an equitable system, starting with forward facing ethics.


Outcomes & Learnings:

  • Learned to slow down and validate assumptions before implementing salmon/people system solutions

  • Realized a new paradigm is needed to foster healthy and productive conversations around the state of salmon

  • Discovered there is an appetite and interest in bringing together a cross-sector representation of the system to have intentional and meaningful dialogue around the current state of salmon

  • Learned there's an opportunity to increase the sustainability and well-being of the full system by increasing transparency into each other's industries and worldviews.

State of our Salmon

Project Team Members: Michelle Ravenmoon, Frances Leach, Kelly Harrell


Project Background:

 How do we as Alaskans, know if salmon in our region and state are healthy? Where are we getting our information? Who are we turning towards? What types of resources and tools might be developed in the future to provide more accessible, trustworthy and comprehensive information on the state of our salmon? What are the best tools and resources that the public can access now to increase their knowledge on the state of our salmon? What are key indicators that inform us about the health of salmon stocks in a particular region and across the state? How does this differ based on culture, and what does traditional knowledge tell us about how we should approach these questions? These questions are important to the future of salmon in Alaska. Our project explores these questions and will help our team members, other Salmon Fellows, and members of the general public to become more informed on salmon health in Alaska.


The State of our Salmon project’s intent is to educate and help inform fellow Alaskans about the who, what, where, why and how of data, indicators, access to information, and conveyance of traditional knowledge on salmon health.


This project will shift the salmon system in the short term by providing key indicators that inform us about the health of salmon stocks in a particular region and across the state.  For the long term this project would help develop resources and tools that will provide more accessible, trustworthy and comprehensive information on the state of our salmon. In addition, through this projects resources the public can have increased access to the knowledge base on the state of our salmon and the project will provide key indicators that inform us about the health of salmon stocks in particular region and across the state.  Having a better handle of on the state of our salmon we will have better tools for management to make better decisions, to see patterns and to see changes from effects like climate change.


Project Approach:

  • Develop a survey that gathers data on salmon health

  • Identify key stakeholders in the community to enlist in the survey

  • Identify key indicators for salmon health in the state and be able to point to several key resources the general public can access

  • Solidify understanding in differences between western and indigenous perspective on indicators of salmon health


Targeted Outcomes & Learnings:

  • Interviewed SASAP team, meet with researchers, managers and traditional knowledge holders, and active fishery stakeholders

  • Strengthened networks and relationships, build new connections with people, organizations, and agencies

  • Gained visibility into the SASAP network and helped to shape and outline a desire and need to more deeply explore salmon science and salmon health indicators

  • Developed more informed opinion on the health of salmon in the state among team members

Salmon People Podcast

Project Team Members: Toby Sullivan, Matt Varner, Peter Bangs


Initial Project Background: Salmon are locally extinct or endangered throughout most of Europe, Japan, New England, and the Pacific Northwest, and remain in abundance only in Siberia and Alaska. However, the resounding defeat of the recent Alaska salmon ballot measure implies that Alaskans are unaware of the scarcity of salmon in other parts of the world, and do not place a high priority on the sustainability of salmon here. Likely reasons for this include a continuing belief in Alaska exceptionalism, the myth of super abundance, and a lack of understanding of the effects of development of salmon spawning habitat. All of this means that unless we begin to make better resource policy choices and embrace a stronger conservation ethic, the history of salmon in much of the rest of the world will repeat itself in Alaska and the “death by a thousand cuts” which has happened elsewhere will happen to Alaska’s salmon populations too


Our hope however, is that by engaging listeners with stories about the history and biology and cultural importance of this great fish, told by Alaskans themselves, we can increase awareness and challenge assumptions. We hope these stories will stimulate conversations about salmon and lead to better resource policy decisions.


Because salmon are not equitably distributed among users, this podcast series will also talk about allocation issues between commercial, subsistence and sport fishermen, between rural and urban fishermen, and between Alaska Natives and other people in Alaska. We hope that by making listeners aware of these issues and presenting possible solutions, the podcast will create the social and political will to solve them.


In the short-term, we hope this podcast will raise awareness about the vulnerabilities of salmon, the need for better habitat conservation, and the impacts of allocation decisions. In the long-term, the podcast aims to foster a deeper understanding that salmon are an important part of the connective web of between humans and the natural system we inhabit. We believe that a wider appreciation of this understanding would enlarge the constituency of salmon sympathetic Alaskans, leading to greater political will to foster public policies which increase the likelihood that salmon will thrive in Alaska for centuries to come.


Project Approach:

  • Use interviews with knowledgeable Alaskans about specific salmon issues to create a conversational and story-based podcast about Alaska salmon

  • Use the podcast as a platform to create awareness of the issues facing salmon in Alaska

  • Trigger a desire amongst listeners to create social and political pressure to address systemic salmon challenges

  • Deepen the understanding of the importance of salmon to all Alaskans on a physical, spiritual and emotional level

  • Use the 3 podcasts in the initial Salmon Fellows project as a pilot for a longer narrative series to illuminate components in the salmon/people ecosystem

  • Enlist the support of Kodiak Maritime Museum to secure funding and to provide a vehicle to distribute the podcast series

  • Enlist the support of KMXT radio to help distribute the podcast on statewide radio

  • Track downloads and listenership on the radio to better understand their impact


Outcomes & Learnings:

  • Produced three 20-minute podcasts from interviews with 10-15 people

  • Plan created to involve more stories to create a full year long series

  • Educated listeners on salmon sustainability and equity issues

  • Developed a partnership with Kodiak public radio station KMXT, Alaska Public Radio Network, and Kodiak Maritime Museum to create an ongoing podcast series

  • Gained an appreciation for the talents of the other team members and widened the field of people they know through the project

  • Increased ability among team members to express personal thoughts and beliefs within the salmon conversation