Spotlight: Approaching energy needs with inventive solutions
Extension energy specialist Art Nash is interested in creative ways to provide energy to remote cabins and camps.
His practical remote energy workshops help participants analyze their needs and potential energy sources — and then consider the options. In addition to propane and battery power, Nash talks about windmills, rocket stoves and a variety of inventive gadgets from Alaska tinkerers.
Grassroots Peninsula Change Club makes exercising just a little easier
When Mary Olson discovered that the Nikiski senior center did not have exercise classes, she started one and now she’s teaching two.
Olson is a dedicated member of the Central Peninsula Change Club, which works to increase exercise opportunities in communities — and to build an environment to support this.
Helping to preserve Alaska foods
Food preservation classes on everything from making jerky and mozzarella to canning fish and game meat remain a staple of Extension work.
We’re reaching out in new and different ways now. In addition to hands-on classes, DVDs and online lessons on food preservation topics, we’re getting social. Agents launched a food safety, preservation and health Facebook page to answer questions and provide resources on topics such as storing potatoes, using a meat thermometer and finding cranberry sauce recipes.
A 4-H club from Tanana addresses the issue of suicide by speaking out
A group of seven 4-H’ers from Tanana showed courage at the Elders and Youth Conference in Fairbanks by speaking in personal terms about suicide, substance abuse and domestic violence.
Accompanied by their volunteer leader, Cynthia Erickson, the kids held signs with messages such as ”My dad’s suicide,” “Alcohol and Drugs” and “Family Death.” They also talked about their experiences — losing a father and uncle to suicide, sexual assault and family lives disrupted by drugs and alcohol
From the Director's Office
Another year has gone by so quickly. I am always amazed by our employees’ ability to deliver quality Extension programs to Alaska communities. The agriculture and horticulture faculty’s work on Rhodiola rosea, helping to develop a viable new crop in Alaska, is impressive. A brave Tanana 4-H club focused public attention on the issue of suicide prevention and abuse. Programming in other areas reflected the interests of our clients, including raising chickens, food preservation and energy options.
We received word this past year that Extension and the UAF School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences would merge in 2014. Extension programming should be strengthened by the merger, which will allow us to more easily draw on the expertise of the school and the experiment station.
Extension will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Smith-Lever Act on May 8, 2014. The act created the Cooperative Extension Service. It will be time to celebrate our past and current Alaska clients. Our history files are full of letters from homesteaders and others new to Alaska, trying to make a go of it in the last frontier. They tell of how the information Extension provided helped them. This is a time to honor the service of all Extension employees who have made a difference in Alaska. It is also time to reflect and plan for the next 100 years of Extension programming that addresses vital community issues.
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In search of the best tasting potato
Potatoes rank as one of the top five agricultural crops in Alaska. Varieties that can be grown in Alaska include many pigmented and specialty potatoes, but growers need to know which of these to produce for market and for seed stock.
Extension agents Leslie Shallcross and Julie Riley hosted the Potato Lovers Bash in Anchorage to introduce consumers to specialty potatoes and provide researchers and growers with information on the qualities consumers like — and don’t like.
Signing up for Chicken University
Alaskans are flocking to learn more about chickens. Classes about raising chickens for their eggs or meat have been popular around the state.
Juneau Extension agent Darren Snyder coordinated the second annual Juneau Chicken Summit in April 2013. Seventy residents came to hear about the basics of raising chickens, flock management, diseases and composting manure. They also participated in a self-guided “tour de coop” of area coops and saw a butchering demonstration.
Rhodiola rosea: helping to develop a new high-value specialty crop
Most of the world’s Rhodiola rosea crop grows wild in Siberia, where the medicinal plant can take many years to mature.
Extension has been working with an Alaska growers’ cooperative to develop the high-value specialty crop. Palmer agent Steve Brown believes that rhodiola is well suited to Alaska because it likes cold, rocky soils and it can mature here in four to five years.
“They’re a pretty tough plant,” said Al Poindexter, who runs a greenhouse near Anchor Point and raises seedlings for the cooperative. He distributed 47,000 of the seedlings last summer to growers and planted an acre himself.
Volunteers provide the heart and hands for Alaska Extension work
More than 2,000 volunteers further Extension’s work in Alaska every year. They teach gardeners, work with 4-H youth, serve on advisory councils, pull invasive weeds, test pressure canner gauges and more.
4-H relies on more than 1,300 volunteers who offer activities for the nearly 15,000 Alaska youth participants in 4-H camps, clubs and other special events.
State Advisory Council
The Cooperative Extension Service is in good hands. I am always impressed by the caliber of our Extension faculty and staff. Productive in the tradition Lydia Fohn-Hansen, one of the first Extension faculty in Alaska, they continue to do superb work implementing the strategic plan in the face of uncertain budgets, new priorities and program changes designed to keep the university and Extension relevant to Alaskans. They make me proud to be associated with Extension.
The same goes for the State Advisory Council. Members are talented leaders with diverse backgrounds from across Alaska who are passionate about improving the lives of Alaskans. They provide stakeholder feedback to help keep Extension focused on the needs of Alaskans, and they advocate for Extension programs wherever and whenever they can. It is my distinct pleasure to serve on the same board with these dedicated Extension volunteers.
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