New guide provides Alaska herb information
Barbara Fay's grandmother introduced her to aromatic herbs. Fay held the basket while her grandmother picked garden herbs and tucked the extras in her granddaughter’s braids. “I would smell them all day,” she said.
After moving to Fairbanks in 1967, Fay read up on herbs, tested different varieties in her garden and began teaching classes with a friend in their homes. They talked about folklore and growing and cooking with herbs, and they served a five-course meal.
NRM degree prepares Alaska students for careers
Every May, University of Alaska Fairbanks students majoring in natural resources management take to the road to explore the amazing and vast classroom that is Alaska.
From Fairbanks to Seward, academics and adventure meld to help NRM students understand how the state’s natural resources are managed. Meeting with natural resources managers in private industry, agencies and parks, students get ideas for future careers in conservation, park protection and interpretation, regulation, restoration, soil science or forestry.
Extension celebrates 100 years
The Cooperative Extension Service marked its centennial in 2014.
The Smith-Lever Act established Extension to “aid in diffusing among the people of the United States useful and practical information,” particularly in the areas of agriculture, home economics and rural energy.
Youth program offers diverse activities
4-H offers a lot of variety these days. In addition to traditional programs, such raising animals, cooking and sewing, participants may break-dance, luge, serve as legislative pages and study martial arts, science or photography.
A seventh-grade class at Effie Kokrine Charter School in Fairbanks is a 4-H mushing club. Teacher Cassie Jackson works geography, English, math and history into the curriculum and students meet with mushers. Nenana musher Jessie Holmes is working with the class this year and other mushers will stop by.
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Embracing technology to reach more Alaskans
May Buongiorne tends a two-acre garden and raspberry patch in the Dry Creek community, about 40 miles east of Delta Junction.
Some 70 area residents rely on the garden’s bounty, so Buongiorne eagerly signed up for the four-month Master Gardener training offered by videoconference in Delta Junction.
Peonies new cash crop for Alaska
A little over a decade ago, just about the only peonies growing in Alaska were a few backyard bushes. Now 24 farms belong to the Alaska Peony Growers Association.
Horticulture Professor Pat Holloway said commercial production began in 2004 with small test plots in Fairbanks, Kenai and Homer. By 2012, more than 100,000 roots had been planted by 38 growers. The projected statewide harvest for 2015 is over 1 million peony stems.
Deltana canola developed at UAF
One-of-a-kind agricultural research in the U.S. is being conducted at UAF, where scientists are growing non-genetically modified Polish canola.
Canadians began releasing canola as an edible product during World War II. The UAF research hails back to the 1970s, when rapeseed (an inedible close cousin to canola) trials were conducted for industrial oil.
Boreal Alaska – Learning, Adaptation, and Production
In one of the most ambitious forest regeneration experiments in Alaska, University of Alaska Fairbanks forest scientists surveyed the massive Rosie Creek Fire site (burned in 1983) to determine biomass potential. Previous work was halted after funding disappeared decades ago. “I knew there was more to the story,” said Professor Glenn Juday. “With BAKLAP we were able to salvage the initial investment and make it pay off 30 years later. That’s really gratifying.”
The data the researchers collected on forest regrowth gives state foresters unprecedented information to better discern the impacts of a changing climate.
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Note from the Dean & Director
2014 was a year of change. On July 1, the UAF School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences and the Cooperative Extension Service combined to form a new unit.
We’re now the UAF School of Natural Resources and Extension. The goal of the merger is to strengthen the research, teaching and outreach missions of both former units, which include the Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. We’ve been partners for years, but we’re working more closely than ever to extend our resources. Extension staff and researchers in Palmer now share space at the Matanuska Experiment Farm and we’re integrating our work across the state as opportunities open.
Our clients will not notice any change in service. Extension remains the outreach arm, delivering the latest research findings and community education, and the experiment station provides the research arm. Together, our programs play a vital role linking the knowledge generated at the university to meet the needs and interests of Alaskans.
The school provides relevant, hands-on natural resources research and academic instruction for undergraduate and graduate students. After streamlining its undergraduate offerings, the school now offers one Bachelor of Science degree in natural resources management. This strengthens our academic offerings, which provide a wide variety of relevant disciplines, including sustainable agriculture, policy and law, ecology, forest sciences, economics and planning.
As we move into 2015, we know we face some serious challenges, especially from a funding standpoint, but we also believe it will be an exciting year as the merger becomes reality. We have set the groundwork for a really strong unit and we look forward to the coming year.
Interim Dean of the UAF School of Natural Resources and Extension and Interim Director of the Alaska Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station
Vice Provost for Extension and Outreach and Director of UAF Cooperative Extension Service