SSSC Field Station

The Sitka Sound Science Center offers a variety of academic support for colleges and universities looking to conduct field courses in Southeast Alaska. SSSC provides lab space, classrooms, inorganic and organic specimens, as well as access to our small saltwater aquarium and touch tanks. We strive to provide the hands on experiences and support necessary for quality, interdisciplinary field work here in Sitka, Alaska. Colleges and universities bring their professors, their students, and their classes to Sitka, where SSSC staff and associates provide local knowledge, transportation, field trip coordination, expertise in outdoor recreation and additional support. The former Sheldon Jackson College campus (owned and operated by the Sitka Fine Arts Camp) can provide housing, dining services and recreational facilities.

Interdisciplinary Learning

An interdisciplinary approach to learning  has become an important tool in modern academia. Such an approach to learning synthesizes more than one discipline and ultimately enriches ones academic experience. At the Sitka Sound Science Center we believe that in order to best understand the interconnected nature of Sitka’s environment, people, industries, wildlife and their shared future, an interdisciplinary education is critical. At SSSC we provide the logistical support necessary for faculty and students to adequately explore such relationships and intricacies.

The Science Center is capable of supporting four main academic modules: Marine Science & Fisheries; Forestry & Botany; Anthropology & Tourism; Geology & Energy Systems. We encourage the integration of each of our advertised support modules and take pride in our ability to assist students and faculty carryout a diverse range of field work in an equally diverse series of locations. Whether you’re heading out into Sitka Sound for a marine wildlife cruise, hiking a ridge-line along one of Sitka’s multi-million dollar trails or exploring the Tongass National Forest, the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world, SSSC staff introduce field course participants to one of the greatest natural classrooms on the planet. –

Several schools have already based field courses out of Sitka Sound Science Center, where our staff, expertise, access and unique environment work to assure the highest caliber of field study. We are constantly seeking new ways to showcase all of what Southeast Alaska has to offer visitors and believe building academic bridges across disciplines and around the nation is the most appropriate and progressive means of achieving this goal. Past participants include Knox College, University of San Francisco, Stanford University, and more!

If you’d like more information on basing field courses out of Sitka Sound Science Center or would like to arrange a focus group to discuss all we have to offer, please feel free to contact our field course development specialist:
(907) 747.8878, ext. 11
The Sitka Sound Science Center is a registered member of the Organization of Biological Field Stations

Geology & Energy Systems

Alaska is famous for its exotic terrains and Sitka is no exception. With plenty of Sitka gray wacke, geologic surprises abound. Mt. Edgecumbe, a leaky transformer volcano, dominates the landscape and has a $1million world-class trail stretching over 7 miles. Baranof Island affods a myriad of geologic field trips on and off the road system and interconnected trail system. Sitka’ geographic isolation has led to some innovative energy systems. The major expansion of our hydro-electric dam makes for an interesting case exploration of rural Alaskan energy systems and has exposed new geologic issues.

Forestry & Botany

With immediate access to the Tongass National Rainforest, the largest temperate rainforest in the world, Sitka is a first class destination for those interested in forestry and botany. With over a 100 inches of rainfall a year, Sitka’s forest provides field course students with the an opportunity to explore the intricacies of a temperate environment in a living, breathing laboratory found nowhere else on earth. Looking to take your field experience to the next level? Explore the alpine and high altitude plants and ecosystems at the top of any one of Sitka’s many mountains, a fine excuse for a hike and some field work made fun. Student can also learn from natural resource manager about the balance between recreation and forest products uses in the Tongass, how forest management has changed in the last 50 years the latest research on forest ecology.

Marine Sciences & Fisheries

Situated on the outside of the Alexander Archipelago, Sitka boasts direct access to the Pacific Ocean making it an ideal location for marine science discovery. A diversity of seabirds, marine mammals, fish and invertebrates are accessible by the road system or by kayak. The Sitka inter-tidal environments are regionally and world renowned and provide field course students with an infinite number of beautiful and natural- occurring laboratories. Whale Watching and other wildlife tours are easily arranged. One of the first hatcheries in Alaska, the Sheldon Jackson Salmon Hatchery at the Sitka Sound Science Center provides a unique opportunity to learn about the history of aquaculture and commercial fishing in Alaska, and to engage in hands-on learning with technical and industry professionals. The Sheldon Jackson Hatchery provides field course students with a tangible means of understanding Alaska commercial fishing issues, the science and business of fishery enhancement operations in Southeast Alaska and the biology and science of salmon.

Anthropology & Tourism

In our increasingly globalized society tourism has become the subject of much critique. Where better to break down and understand the implications of this international and multi-billion dollar industry than in Sitka, Alaska? As one of Southeast Alaska’s premier travel destinations, Sitka is popular with cruise ships winding their way up the Inside Passage. With the thousands of people who visit our small coastal community during the summer travel season comes a whole host of planning issues and social questions for the community. How are rural economies affected by such an influx? What are the environmental impacts of tourism? What are the impacts of tourism on culture? Sitka has more National Historic Landmarks than any other town in Alaska. With our unique combination of Native Alaskan, Russian and American history, Sitka is a culturally-rich location primed for exploration. Explore Sitka’s Tlingit heritage on a walk through Totem Park, during a performance by the Sheet’ka Kwaan Naa Kahidi Dancers, or through a tour of the Sheldon Jackson Museum, the oldest in the state. Explore Russian America as you only could in Sitka with a visit to Castle Hill, St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Church, or the Bishops House. Fishing is one of the Borough’s main economic sectors, which means Sitka is a prime location for an analysis of fishing, both as an industry and regional culture.