Ambition. Alden Butzke’s got it. From foreign language classes to competitive sports, this 16-year-old Anchorage high-school student participates in a plethora of activities. Among these are CIRI’s Shareholder Participation Committees (SPC).
SPC Youth Representatives are CIRI shareholders or confirmed descendants aged 13 to 17 years. Youth are selected for the position based on an application, letter of introduction, reference letter and a short essay explaining why they want to serve and what they know about CIRI and their Alaska Native heritage.
“Youth Representatives play a vital role in our SPC,” said CIRI’s betsy Peratrovich, senior director, Shareholder Relations. “They help engage CIRI youth, aid in increasing communication between CIRI and its shareholders and descendants, and identify issues of both short- and long-term importance to the next generation of CIRI leaders.”
Alden learned about the SPC Youth Representative opportunity from his father, Jonathan Butzke, who had read about it in the Raven’s Circle newsletter. Alden had just returned from the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Foundation (HOBY) World Leadership Congress, “and the deadline was the next day. I had to scramble to get my application together, but I really wanted to do it. I think I got it in 16 minutes before the deadline.” According to Peratrovich, despite the last-minute scramble, Alden’s submittal was quite impressive, ultimately leading to his selection as a Youth Representative.
Alden and the other SPC members met Oct. 17-18 at CIRI’s Fireweed Business Center in Anchorage for training and workshops. It might not sound like most teenagers’ idea of a good time, but in many respects, Alden isn’t your typical high-school junior. “It was a different experience for me than for many of my peers because I love business and politics,” he explained. “I didn’t know what to expect; I imagined a board room with people in suits. But I learned a lot, and I learned a lot about CIRI. I met some very cool people and I look forward to maintaining those relationships. And I learned things like how to conduct a meeting in the business world (following Robert’s Rules of Order), which was very beneficial.”
Alden is a life-long Alaskan. His grandmother, Frances Butzke, was an original CIRI shareholder of Inupiaq descent. His great-grandfather was Orville Deville “O.D.” Cochran, a Territorial Alaska senator who helped usher through the Anti-Discrimination Act of 1945, a piece of legislation championed by Alaska Native civil rights leaders Elizabeth and Roy Peratrovich Sr., among others.
HOBY’s mission is to inspire and develop youth for a life dedicated to leadership, service and innovation. Programs serving local and international high-school students are conducted annually throughout the U.S. Alden was selected from the Alaska delegation to attend the World Leadership Congress, held July 23-30 in Chicago, where he met with more than 400 students from around the globe for a week of leadership skill-building, networking and service projects.
In addition to his work with HOBY, Alden has studied Japanese language since he was in first grade and is on track to be fluent by the time he graduates high school. He serves as president of Dimond High School’s Business and Entrepreneurship Club, plays interscholastic soccer and tennis, and volunteers for Habitat for Humanity and other worthy causes.
After high school, “I was thinking of going to college in in Washington, D.C., but after going to the SPC meetings, I became more interested in the business aspect of CIRI,” Alden said. “Maybe I’ll attend school in Alaska with scholarships from The CIRI Foundation. CIRI just seems like such a cool corporation. I definitely want to be a part of it.”
Visit ciri.com/youthreps to learn more about SPC Youth Representatives, including how to apply.