Supporting our children’s early childhood education

PHOTO BY SHARON WLAYSEWSKI-THOMPSON

Bristol Bay FISH EXPO began as an endeavor to creatively fund a local child care facility in Naknek - a critical piece of infrastructure that was missing in this small, rural Alaskan community. With proceeds brought in from the first Bristol Bay FISH EXPO, support from the Bristol Bay Borough and donations from the community and fishing industry, Little Angels Childcare Academy was able to open their doors in October of 2017.

They recently received their state license this May 2019 and are now able to serve more children.

Supporting early childhood education continues to be part of our mission and priorities. Even as the show grows, we will continue to support the future of this region - our children - by ensuring a safe and nurturing environment for the children of Bristol Bay during their most critical stages of development. Your participation in Bristol Bay FISH EXPO makes possible quality and affordable childcare programs for local fishing families and our future fishermen.

 

 

Our Founders & Organizers

Sharon and Katie launched Bristol Bay FISH EXPO in June of 2017. Their purpose was twofold - the first was to provide a sustainable funding source to operate and implement a constant improvement program for the Little Angels Childcare Academy - a 501 (c)(3) non-profit child care facility serving the fishing community of Naknek, Alaska; the second was to provide an event immediately preceding the start of the commercial fishery that takes place in the home of the world's largest wild salmon run - Bristol Bay. Their intent was to better connect the community with the industry that so heavily relies on the local salmon resource.  The event has fast become a highly anticipated trade show - setting itself apart as the only industry trade show specifically for the Bristol Bay fishery and taking place right in the heart of Bristol Bay.

Katie Copps

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Mother to three amazing and remarkable women Elena, Sassa and Francie.   They are her fire, her glory and her drive.

Helping organize Bristol Bay Fish Expo is Katie's hobby.   The creative process and building empires with her battle buddy, Sharon,  feeds her soul.   Through the process of creating and building the Bristol Bay Fish Expo, she has been humbled to work with a group of powerhouse women who are movers and shakers of the industry.  It blows her mind how the simple idea of Bristol Bay Fish Expo has come to fruition and has become a platform for the Bristol Bay fishing industry and community to come together.  Katie strongly believes that the industry and community all have the same goal and that is to protect our natural resources and harvest our fish.  The industry needs the community and the community needs the industry, we would be nothing without the other. 

Katie's occupation is a Physician Assistant with a passion for rural medicine and working with the underserved.   If you get to know her, you will learn she is never short of an idea and the drive to just get things done.   

Traveling is her crack.  Freedom is her sanity.  She loves going on adventures with her girls or somewhere celebrating Mother Earth on the river, trails, in the sun, snow or rain.   Her favorite Alaska activities include picking berries, picking fish and picking sea (soul) glass.  She has the best friends and family on earth.


Sharon Wlaysewski-Thompson

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I was born in Alaska but migrated to the lower 48 and grew up in Montana.  After completing college in the midwest and film study in Los Angeles, I finally returned to my home state and landed in Bristol Bay to work in a cannery with my sister.  The process and the place changed me.

Over a decade later, I still make my home here with my three children.  My babies cut their teeth on smoked salmon strips and napped in fish boxes. We love to work the subsistence net and bring fish to my sister for custom processing. 

Being a mother and raising my children in a healthy and safe environment is my primary occupation.  I also try to find time to work on my filmmaking and writing craft.  Steelbird Productions is my other baby and making a feature film is my dream.  For now, I enjoy capturing footage throughout the year for different endeavors, including the <NN> Cannery History Project.  I also serve as Board President of Little Angels Childcare Academy. 

I'm not really sure of much anymore, except that every child is precious and deserves to be protected and cared for at any cost.  With the help of many generous and talented individuals, Bristol Bay Fish Expo has kept our Childcare Academy afloat.  Our amazing wild salmon not only provide sustenance for our kids, they have provided a safe place for their early childhood development.