Sitka from the Channel
It's a remarkable place to be! Look out your window at breath taking mountains, endless forests, crystal clear ocean and a towering volcano. Take a walk and you might see bears, deer, rock-scaling mountain goats or soaring bald eagles. Hop on a skiff and you'll likely spot seals, humpback whales, sea otters, or sea lions.
If you value interaction with the natural world, there is not a more beautiful place to work than Alaska. And in Alaska, there are few communities that compare with Sitka's overwhelming natural beauty.
Cultural / Recreation Activities
Sitka has a wide variety of music, art, and educational activities to offer. There are interest groups for everyone: hiking, sports, arts, writing, environmental, public radio. There are frequent concerts and a movie theater that shows first-run movies.
Sitka is in the Tongass rainforest. Most of the year, the temperature is between 40-60 degrees. It rarely drops below 30 or goes above 70. It is often overcast and rainy. November through January are particularly dark with shortened winter days. The weather is rarely an impediment to doing what you want to do, but if you are sensitive to gray weather and need sunshine, you need to take that into consideration when applying for an Americorps position.
Sitka (population 8,500) is the only community of any size on Baranof Island and is not connected directly with any other community. There are only 14 miles of road in Sitka. You can't go into the city to "see a play or go to the mall." Getting out of town sometimes takes some planning and definitely takes some $$. There is ferry service as well as daily jet flights--which need to be booked in advance.
There are two hospitals which offer complete emergency and routine medical services as well as physical therapy and dental services. Persons who need the care of specialists must go to Seattle or Anchorage. If you have a medical condition which requires specialist care or could result in a medical crisis, please take this into consideration when applying for this position.
Like many West Coast cities, housing costs in Sitka are very high. Because of the seasonal nature of work in Sitka, housing in the summer is particularly tight.
Housing is NOT provided by the University or Nine Star for Americorps members. The living stipend is offered to help with housing expenses. We will make every effort to connect you with possible housing situations before you get here so that you will have a place to stay--but we cannot provide housing for you. You must make your own rental arrangements. If you come during the summer, you may have to accept a shared living situation or something a little further from town than you'd prefer. After the summer tourist season is over, housing opens up and there are many more choices. Many of our AmeriCorps members in the past have found house-sitting or boat-sitting arrangements or have been able to share houses or apartments with other volunteers in Sitka to keep expenses low.
Realistically, you'll need some start up money to tide you over until you start receiving your stipend from Nine Star. You may need to put down a rental deposit and/or a deposit on your city utilities. You'll need some food money to start with. Plan ahead.
We have several large supermarkets and have access to the same food products and fresh produce as any community in the Lower 48. There are about 10 restaurants with a variety of eating choices.
Sitka is very informal. You will rarely, if ever, need dress-up clothes. You can wear slacks or jeans to work. You'll need a light jacket during most of the year and a heavy warm coat for winter. A rain jacket and good wet-weather walking shoes are a must!
Sitka has a public bus system. The bus operates during business hours on weekdays and is working on expanding their hourly schedule.
You can bring your car on the Alaska Ferry (leaving from Prince Rupert, British Columbia is least expensive). You can purchase a cheap car here and resell it when you go. People rarely drive over 35 mph--so an older car is very useful. If you live in the downtown area, you can walk most places and can certainly walk to work. We have had AmeriCorps members in the past who have used cars and others who have walked or rode a bike. It depends on your personal requirements. The University has vehicles that can be used for work-related activities.
Vacation / Time Off
The AmeriCorps contract requires that you complete 1,700 hours of service during the contract year. Our program in Sitka operates fully during the fall and spring semesters (August through May). We are open during the summer with limited hours. The Campus is closed for two weeks at Christmas. We make every effort to accommodate your personal goals and needs. If you are planning to attend school after your service year, we will adjust your work schedule to allow you time to relocate. Most of our AmeriCorps members schedule their hours more heavily during the academic year.
We want you to enjoy your time here and fully participate in our community. We want you to travel a bit and enjoy Alaska. This is a beautiful and wonderful place! We have kept in touch with many of our past AmeriCorps and Vista members, many of whom now live in Alaska permanently.