About this project

The Alaska Care and Husbandry Instruction for Lifelong Living (A-CHILL) program is a 4-year Indian Education Demonstration project that brings together Alaska Gateway School District (the award recipient), Yukon-Koyukuk School District, and their communities.

Together, the schools and their local community members will collaboratively engage students in grades 6-12 to be inspired and learn valuable knowledge and skills related to the sciences, math, language arts, and college & career readiness.

This project builds on and expands the Frank Attla Youth & Sled Dog Care-Mushing Program, which has been piloted in Huslia for multiple years.

Key Partners & Roles

Alaska Gateway School District

Leads project activities and management; District participants include students, teachers/school staff, and members from their area communities.

Yukon Koyukuk School District

District participants include students, teachers/school staff, and members from their area communities.

Brightways Learning

This K-12 nonprofit helps in fiscal management, data collection, and coordination; Leads coordination and facilitates Professional Development opportunities.

Musher Coordinator

Kathy Turco leads in: working with communities to implement the program and handle logistics; assisting in-kennel teachers with materials and resources for in-kennel classes; providing supplies to dog mushers; acting as a liaison between communities and schools; and, coordinating volunteers including parents & elders. Kathy also works with Musher Coordinator Trainee, LeAnn Bifelt.

In-Kennel Class Coordinator

Local on-site/in-community coordinator is responsible for: scheduling the In-Kennel classes with the Teacher; keeping in close contact with Dog Musher Teachers, and as necessary helps troubleshoot and solve scheduling problems; keeping then local School Principal informed about In-Kennel class progress and any issues that may arise; handling logistics such as A-CHILL project supplies; communicating with the local Tribe/Community about their ideas for involvement in both In-Kennel and In-School classes; and, reporting class activity data and any issues to the Musher Coordinator.

Dog Musher Teacher

Local on-site/in-community Musher Teacher is responsible for: the hands-on portion of the veterinary science class for middle and high school students; using the dogs in their kennel to work in partnership with the Teacher to educate students about dog health including proper feeding, housing, dog yard maintenance, and dog exercise; during In-Kennel classes, showing students dog care,  how to handle dogs of all sizes and ages, and how to run (mush) dogs using musing equipment during In-Kennel classes; and, explaining the rich cultural heritage of sled dogs.

Local Culture Expert

One or more local on-site/in-community culture experts who work collaboratively with the local kennel and school staff to support locally relevant and responsible cultural learning for their local students.

Veterinary Science Teacher

This professional educator is responsible for the academic portion of the grade-specific veterinary science class for middle and high school students. She works with the dog musher teacher to incorporate dog health and dog care into the curriculum. An asynchronous course is currently developed and available to high school students, Introduction to Veterinary Science; a middle school class is also in development.

Advisory Council

Members are responsible for assuring fidelity of project implementation, monitoring and giving feedback for ongoing adjustments/improvements, helping to evaluate progress, suggest professional development activities, and advise on policies and procedures.

Additional Supporting Partners

Include but not limited to:

Project Goals

  • Goal 1: Increase community collaborative efforts that promote college, career readiness of Alaska Native Students

    • 1.1 Community participation in volunteer work with sled dog program

    • 1.2 Community support and participation in cultural training
  • Goal 2: Increase College Enrollment

    • Alaska native students will increase dual credit courses enrollment

    • Alaska native students will show a 10% increase in the percent of students enrolling in college or post-secondary after high school
  • Goal 3: Increase Graduation Rates

    • Drop out rates will reduce for Alaska native students

    • Alaska native students yearly graduation rates will increase each year of the projec
  • Goal 4: Improve Student’s Career and Technical Skills related to Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Sciences

    • Alaska native students enrolled in courses related to Animal Husbandry/Veterinary Sciences

    • Students successfully complete prescribed courses

    • Students obtain apprenticeships for job experienc
  • Goal 5: Improve Teacher Cultural Heritage Knowledge

    • Develop a professional development schedule

    • Recruit teachers to participate

    • Participants show growth in knowledge on pre/post assessment

Project Components

Include but not limited to:

  • Dual credit courses for High School Students
  • In-Kennel Classes (integrated during school day and/or as after-school offerings)
  • Spring Institute (2 days) for Teachers and Community Members
  • Summer Camp (5 days) for Students, Teachers, and Dog Mushers
  • Veterinary Science and other related courses
  • Support for Teachers and Community Members integrating local and culturally relevant contexts for academic learning