Birch bark texture.

Ahtna Kanas Winter 2021

HOPE Shareholder Program

In 2019, the Ahtna Board of Directors launched the HOPE (Helping Our People Excel) Shareholder Program with a primary goal of getting more shareholders employed and gaining work experience. The Board had specific changes they wanted to see, including changing the intern program to a higher-level program that was eventually named the Ahtna Special Forces. Included in the HOPE program is funding village-based shareholder hire, the Career Assistance Program, Ahtna Vocational Scholarships, resume writing and interview tips and coaching.

To learn more about these programs, please visit the Shareholder Enrichment section of the Ahtna website.

Career Assistance Program

Provides Ahtna shareholders with funding to assist with pre-employment preparation, job improvement and training. The program is open to voting shareholders (Original, Inherited, Gifted, Class L) that are 18 years of age or older. Shareholders must submit an online application to request funding that will improve their career opportunities. Enrollment is open all year round.

Ahtna Vocational Scholarships

Provides Ahtna shareholders with funding to meet their educational goals in the trades or vocational schools. Enrollment is open all year round. Amount expended YTD 2020: $30,000.

Resume & Interview Coaching

Ahtna utilized a contractor to assist with interview coaching and professional resume assistance. 23 resumes were created in 2020.

Village-based Shareholder Hire Programs and Village Assistance with Land Projects

Ahtna is providing financial assistance to Tribes which support and promote village-based shareholder employment. For 2020, Ahtna Inc. funded approximately $80,000 in Shareholder Hire for community-based programs in the Ahtna villages. Some of the projects completed in 2020:

  • Native Village of Kluti-Kaah worked on Bible Conference renovations, Headstart building renovation, CLRC Emergency shelter, and Kluti-Kaah Greenhouses.
  • Native Village of Tazlina worked on fishwheel renovation and maintenance, community garden and greenhouse, assistance with other projects and painting of all buildings.

Ahtna’s Shareholder Enrichment Department is here to support you wherever your career goals may take you. Below are profiles on a few of the shareholders we’ve assisted.

If you are interested in any of the programs highlighted, or are looking for educational, training or career assistance, please email or contact Tracy Parent in Anchorage at (907) 868-8250 or Starr Knighten in Glennallen at (907) 822-3476.

Jared Virgin, Ahtna Vocational Scholarship Recipient

Jared Virgin is a member of the Udzisyu (Caribou) Clan and lives in Tazlina. His parents are Teri Nutter and Joey Virgin. His maternal grandparents are Larry Nutter and the late Louise (Ewan) Nutter and his paternal grandparents are Margaret Virgin and the late Joseph C. Virgin.

Jared is currently attending the West Coast Heavy Equipment Training Center in Woodland, Washington. He plans to obtain full-time employment as an Operator in the oil and gas construction field after he completes his training.

When asked why he decided to pursue this career path, Jared replied, “I have raced motorcycles most of my childhood. My parents and grandparents were super supportive of my passion to race and my parents agreed to build a racetrack around our house. My Grandpa (Nutter) bought equipment and agreed to let me operate his equipment to change and modify the technical difficulty of my racetrack with the scaling of jumps, table-tops, corners and whoops. It was probably through this opportunity and experience that I decided to pursue my education and career as a Heavy Equipment Operator.”

Jared’s vocational training was fully paid for by a combination of scholarships through Ahtna’s Shareholder Enrichment Program and Copper River Native Association’s Tribal Services Program.

“It is an honor to be a shareholder of Ahtna, Inc. where my corporation is committed to investing in my future through meaningful and purposeful opportunities such as scholarships, employment and training and providing other financial support through annual dividends,” says Jared.

His advice to fellow shareholders is, “Don’t let yourself hold YOU back from pursuing your education or career goals. It is terrifying to step outside of your comfort zone, but the personal gratification of accomplishments and success of bettering yourself is well worth it!”

“I am blessed to have a super awesome and supportive family. My parents, grandparents, siblings, aunties and uncles have provided encouragement, prayers, and most of all their unconditional love and support.”

Olaf Lord, Union Apprentice Graduate

Olaf Lord is a member of the Udzisyu (Caribou) clan and is from the village of Gakona. His parents are Gladys and Olaf Lord. His grandmother is the late Florence Tyone and his grandfather is the late Fred Sinyon. His great grandfather is the late Jack Tyone and his great grandmother is the late Elsie Tyone.

Olaf has been a member of Teamsters Local 959 for nine years and currently works at the Glennallen Response Base. His main duty is oil spill response, but he also performs maintenance on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS). This includes flying in a helicopter to inspect the 800-mile-long pipeline.

Good pay and benefits such as healthcare and a retirement plan played a huge part in Olaf deciding to become a Teamster, but he enjoys the added perks of meeting new people and seeing the world. “You are given per diem for travel and the pay can allow you to build your savings so you can afford to buy that new home or car you’ve been wanting.” He adds that you are always learning new things and if you work hard there are opportunities for growth such as moving into a supervisor role or higher paying position. Another reason he recommends a trade is because, “You should have something to fall back on. This year many people were laid off because of COVID, but construction has remained steady.”

“You’re investing in yourself for you and your family. Working in a union brings a feeling of stability. It affords you the ability to fund your own hunting trips. In order to have it all you need a good job, and one of the ways to find that is to join an apprenticeship program.”

Olaf’s advice to shareholders interested in an apprenticeship program is, “Stop doubting yourself. Whatever you think you can’t do, physically or whatever, change your life and remove those barricades you have that are keeping you from applying. Just apply and get your foot in the door. You will gain independence by having a trade. Our Elders want to see us succeed and prosper. I’ve seen people down and out and rise to succeed. Make yourself proud.”

Other helpful tips Olaf shared include:

  • Don’t be afraid to go out and work away from home.
  • Spend wisely while in the apprenticeship, be smart and save.
  • Get experience while you are trying to become an apprentice, recommendations will go far in an apprenticeship program.
  • Show up to work on time, show that you can steadily work before applying for an apprenticeship.
  • Call your fellow shareholders who have been through the process. We are happy to give advice to show you, you can do it.

More tips from Shareholder Enrichment:

  • Build your work experience. Even if you work at home or for a friend, add those skills to your resume. Shareholder Enrichment can assist with creating or updating your resume.
  • Applications must be filled out in full, any blank spaces will be rejected or flagged.
  • Get ready for a Fit Test – Fitness testing includes checking your blood pressure and heart rate and ensuring you are fit for duty by doing exercises such as running up stairs.
  • Expect a drug screening – They all do them, and they vary depending on the apprenticeship.

Get ready for the interview process – Need coaching? Shareholder Enrichment can help.Tired of staying at a job and being stuck at one wage? As an apprentice you keep growing in salary. Has an apprenticeship program piqued your interest? Contact Shareholder Enrichment to help you get started. This link will help you keep informed of upcoming application deadlines for each program:

Joey Hart Jr., Mariner

Joseph Hart Jr. grew up around the Copper Valley and moved to Valdez in 2002. His father is Joseph Hart Sr. and his mother is Cena Rhodes. His paternal grandparents are the late John and Velma Hart and his maternal grandparents are the late William Poplin and Judy Yates.

Joey is an Operations Coordinator with Edison Chouest Offshore. He is responsible for recruitment and career development for their Alaska Native Program. The program’s goal is to provide entry-level opportunities for Alaska Natives in the maritime industry, along with career advancement using specialized development plans catered to each mariner. Edison Chouest Offshore works alongside Alaska Native leadership to provide career opportunities and build their workforce in Alaska.

Joey says that Ahtna was crucial in connecting him with Edison Chouest Offshore and supported him through all that was needed to get started with them. He offers this advice to shareholders looking to build a life-long career like he has, “Make the most of any opportunity and learn from others. I never thought of working in the maritime industry before this. Surrounded by a great team, I worked hard, and it all helped me to where I am today. Find your passion, seek your opportunities and make the most of every chance you have to seize them.”

If working in the maritime field interests you, please contact Shareholder Enrichment about a future with Edison Chouest Offshore! No experience is necessary.