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Adventures Afloat: Alaska: Deep Into the Last Frontier

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Road Scholar
Program #18667RJ

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14 Days | 13 Nights
EasyFor people looking to exercise their minds more than their bodies. Minimal walking and not too many stairs.
ModerateThese programs get you on your feet and include activities such as walking up to a mile in a day through a city and standing in a museum for a few hours.
ActiveFor people who enjoy walking as much as two miles a day, perhaps to explore historic neighborhoods or a nature trail.
Moderately ChallengingFor hardy explorers who enjoy a good physical challenge, spending most of their days on the go.
ChallengingGet ready to keep up with our highest-energy group. These demanding, and rewarding, programs are for seasoned outdoor enthusiasts.


These instructors are participating on at least one day of one date of this program.
Please note that changes may occur.

Brenda Campen

A long-time resident of Alaska, Brenda Campen is passionate about the history of America’s “Last Frontier.” Her 33-year career in teaching social studies led her to Native communities in the interior and in the southeast region of the state. For 25 years, she taught at Mt. Edgecumbe High School in Sitka, a state residential school for rural and Alaska Native students. Brenda’s expertise in Alaska history and contemporary issues has earned her multiple awards, including the first Governor’s Award in the Humanities for Alaska History Teaching, and the Alaska Historical Society’s Contributions to Alaska History Award. Brenda divides her time between Sitka and a cabin near the Admiralty Island village of Angoon.

Donald Poling

As an educator, naturalist, author and historian, Donald Poling enjoys sharing the history and natural beauty of Alaska with students of all ages. His family’s own history in Alaska is rich — in 1900, Don’s great grandfather arrived in Alaska for the Nome Gold Rush, and ended up with a career as a bookkeeper at the local bank. His parents were teachers for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, a career path that allowed Donald to grow up in a variety of Alaska Native communities including Chenega, Metlakatla, Quinhagak, Juneau, Nenana, Fairbanks, and Nome. After studying sociology, anthropology and education at Alaska Methodist University, Don worked as a teacher and naturalist for the U.S. Forest Service on Alaska Marine Highway vessels, providing presentations on regional ecology and history. In 2011, Don published the book, “Chenega Diaries,” a compilation of letters, diaries and photographs on Chenega history, and is currently working on a history of the Yupik Eskimo village of Quinhagak.

Joe Williams

Born and raised in Saxman, Alaska, Joe Williams has been an elected tribal president, vice-chairman for the Alaska Inter-Tribal Council and the area vice president for the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). He was the first Tlingit native to be elected as mayor of Ketchikan Borough, and served as the City of Saxman mayor, making him the only elected official to hold both the borough and city mayoral positions. Joe owns and operates Where the Eagle Walks, a historical walking excursion and lecture company in Ketchikan, and provides lectures on the Tlingit culture. He enjoys sharing his wealth of knowledge about the Ketchikan and Saxman cultures.

Dixie Alexander

Dixie Alexander is the cultural program director for the Tanana Chiefs Conference at the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center. Born into a family of Gwich’in heritage, (her father, Silas Alexander, Sr., hailed from Fort Yukon while her mother, Charlotte Douthit, was from North Pole), Dixie was raised with her 12 brothers and sisters in Fort Yukon. Over the past 30 years, she has shared the rich traditions of Athabascan history and lifestyle with local businesses and organizations. Dixie loves to teach, and leads a multitude of workshops on native crafts including beadwork, caribou hair tufting, porcupine quill work, basket making, mask and doll making, and more. Dixie also offers classes on moose and caribou tanning, boot and snowshoe making, and teaches traditional techniques for building canvas canoes, drums, fish wheels, toboggans and frames for drying furs.

Group Leaders

Group Leaders make sure your program runs smoothly and are attuned to the needs of Road Scholar participants. These Group Leaders are participating on at least one day of one date of this program.
Please note that changes may occur.

Karen Christner

Karen Christner has made Alaska her home since journeying there with her husband, Jere, and their three children more than 30 years ago. After pursuing careers as an entrepreneur and substitute teacher, Karen became a Road Scholar coordinator through the University of Alaska. Soon, she embraced a role as a Road Scholar instructor and has shared her love for Alaska’s natural beauty, culture and local cuisine with lifelong learners.

Jere Christner

Jere Christner loves to share the joys of living in Alaska during his role as a Road Scholar group leader, instructor, and coordinator. Jere moved to Alaska after accepting a position with the U.S. Forest Service, and specialized in ecology, wildlife management, watershed, and subsistence. Since retiring, Jere and his wife, Karen, have shared their expertise of the sciences, natural resources and government of Alaska with lifelong learners.

Mary Stensvold

Mary Stensvold is the regional botanist for the USDA Forest Service Alaska Region and is based in Sitka, Alaska. In this capacity, she administers a program emphasizing rare plant conservation, as well as botanical surveys and monitoring, revegetation, ethnobotany, botanical publications, and botanical interpretation. She holds a Ph.D. in botany from Iowa State University, and her current research involves a circumpolar study of moonworts ferns. Other areas of particular interest include wild-plant gardening, drawing, painting, woodcarving and northwest coast Native art. Fieldwork takes her to remote areas throughout southern Alaska, from Prince William Sound in the west, to the southern tip of the "Panhandle" in the east. She has been presenting natural history lectures on ships in Alaska, British Columbia and Norway since 1991.

Valerie Hershfield

Valerie Hershfield has been working in the educational travel business for 17 years, and has visited over 100 countries in the process! She started as a journalist and copy editor for a daily paper and a volunteer EMT for her local fire department in New Hampshire, and she just volunteers as a docent at The Marine Mammal Center. In her own words, “The greatest joy of traveling with groups is sharing that ‘first time’ experience with them. Even if I’ve been to the place before, I get to see it with new eyes.”

Our Value Promise To You

You won't find a better value.

at no additional cost on this date ...
13 nights of accommodations
37 meals: 13 breakfasts, 11 lunches, 13 dinners
13 Expert-led lectures
11 Field trips
1 Hands-on experiences
1 Performances


Ratings are determined by participant evaluations.

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