Read individual stories from the 2014 issue of SNRE Annual Highlights below, read the entire issue online or download the PDF

New guide provides Alaska herb information

An Alaska Herb Garden cover image

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. 

Learn more

NRM degree prepares Alaska students for careers

A Natural Resources Management student takes a quiet break at the Clearwater River during the 290 field course in May 2014.

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. 

Learn more

Extension celebrates 100 years

Pioneering Extension agent Lydia Fohn-Hansen, center, worked out of a tent and taught canning to the newly arrived Matanuska colonists in 1935.

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. 

Learn more

Youth program offers diverse activities

Jessy Brockmeyer pets a dog while a member of the 4-H mushing club prepares for dog mushing. Photo by Cassie Jackson

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. 

Learn more

Extension Expenditures by Revenue Source
Click to view larger image

Choose from the menu below to view Program Highlights stories from previous years.

Embracing technology to reach more Alaskans

Program Assistant Marsha Munsell leads a food safety workshop using the university videoconference network in Fairbanks, with participants in Palmer, Barrow, Kodiak and Tok.

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.

Learn more

Peonies new cash crop for Alaska

A bumblebee is attracted to a peony at the Georgeson Botanical Garden.

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.   

Learn more

Deltana canola developed at UAF

Canola Field at the Fairbanks Experiment Farm

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. 

Learn more

Boreal Alaska – Learning, Adaptation, and Production

Graduate students take forest measurements for the BAKLAP project.

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.

Learn more

Extension Expentiures by Category
Click to view larger image

Choose from the menu below to view PDF versions of current and past Program Highlights

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. 


Steve Sparrow

Interim Dean of the UAF School of Natural Resources and Extension and Interim Director of the Alaska Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station

Fred Schlutt

Vice Provost for Extension and Outreach and Director of UAF Cooperative Extension Service

District Map
Back to Top