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James "Jim" Kowalsky

Jim Kowalsky

James “Jim” Kowalsky came to Alaska around 1970 when he helped his friend Gordon Wright move to Fairbanks for a teaching job at the University of Alaska. Jim earned a bachelors and masters degree from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and began his career teaching music in public schools and colleges, and played the trumpet in symphony orchestra performances. He had a strong love of nature, the outdoors and interest in conservation, so he was soon involved in Alaska’s burgeoning environmental movement. He was part of a group that founded the Fairbanks Environmental Center (now the Northern Alaska Environmental Center) in 1971, and served as their first executive director. He was then the Alaska representative for the national Friends of the Earth organization. In these positions, Jim was an effective leader in representing environmental concerns during conflicts over the authorization of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, implementation of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA), as well as the development of a nationwide campaign for the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. He has also been a strong advocate for protection of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil development and opposition to aerial wolf hunting. In 1980, Jim worked for the Tanana Chiefs Conference helping Alaska Natives in wildlife and resource management issues, and then served for over twenty years as director of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Rural Alaska Honors Institute (RAHI), which is a summer residency, college-prep program for rural Alaska Native high school students. After retiring from RAHI, Jim served as executive director of Adult Learning Programs of Alaska and founded Alaskans for Wildlife, to address many long-neglected wildlife issues. In 2020, he received the Alaska Conservation Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award. During all of this, Jim continued to perform music, serving 44 seasons as a trumpet player with the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra and playing in more than 100 villages over his 30 tours with the Arctic Chamber Orchestra.

James "Jim" Kowalsky appears in the following new Jukebox projects: