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Young Women Who Fly with the Geese

Aleutian Island


Confronting an environmental disaster, a woman rediscovers her heart. Now she’s making a new generation stronger. You can, too.

This article appeared in the Fall 2002 issue of Spirituality & Health. I sat alone, perched on a 200 – foot ridge overlooking the vast Pacific Ocean on Chowiet, a remote, uninhabited Alaskan island, hundreds of miles from the mainland. The wind caressed the tall grasses of this weathered, treeless landscape. Scores of cliff-nesting thick -billed murres tended their nests and eggs. Alone silvery-gray fulmar soared silently overhead. The year was 1989. Roughly 600 miles northeast, in Prince William Sound, the Exxon Valdez had run aground. Prevailing currents and winds were carrying the oil spill toward Chowiet and eight other islands. Known as the Semidi Islands National Wildlife Refuge, they are breeding and nesting grounds for almost three million seabirds and marine mammals, so volunteers had been rushed here to count wildlife before the devastation. My mission, along with three other women volunteers, was to count seabirds, eggs, hatched chicks, and fledglings at specific sites each day. The data we gathered over six weeks were entered daily into a laptop computer at our base camp so …

Kim Marie Murphy is the founder of SEEK, a nature-based empowerment program for girls. She lives in Ashland, Oregon.

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