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Agriculture and Horticulture
The pandemic increased concerns about food security. Alaskans wanted more guidance about raising their own food and maybe had more time to garden. Agents and staff reported high interest in classes and increased phone calls and emails. Sitka and Juneau combined efforts for a Master Gardener class by Zoom - and participants continued to meet informally for months afterward. A Southeast gardening conference co-sponsored by Extension drew 600 participants - four times the usual number.
Health, Home and Family
Some StrongWomen and Strong Senior strength-training groups continued to meet outside during the summer, by Zoom and even phone. Programming in chronic disease and diabetes management and prevention shifted to Zoom. Food preservation clsses, which are usually hands-on, presented a special challenge but many online sessions were offered despite this and hundreds of pressure canner gauges were tested by appointment. More than 200 people signed up for a Zoom session on birch tapping and syrup making.
Mining and Petroleum Training Service
The mining and workforce development program, which trains underground and surface miners at its facility near Delta Junction, operated at a reduced capacity because of COVID restrictions, and its federally mandated Mine Safety and Health Administration training transitioned successfully to distance delivery.
4-H and FFA got creative. FFA's state convention met by Zoom and Google Classroom, complete with skills and written competitions and speech contests. 4-H youth participated in watercolor and art lessons, livestock educational activities and even a yak farm tour by Zoom. Kenai 4-H even hosted a drive-in livestock auction. Many 4-H offices distributed activity kids on gardening, computer coding and cultural activities, such as making a story knife.
Cooperative Extension provides trusted, research-based information to Alaskans. It is part of a national education network supported by a partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and land-grant universities.
Researchers with the Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station create knowledge and solve problems in agriculture, forest sciences and outdoor recreation.
The Mining and Petroleum Training Service delivers training, development and consulting services to resource industries.
The impacts here provide a glimpse at our accomplishments for 2020.
Despite restrictions, agricultural, forestry and outdoor recreation research continued. The changing climate and lengthening growing season may mean that it is possible to grow different vegetable and grain varieties. Trials for both continued in Fairbanks and Palmer. Cover crops were tested to determine how best to enrich soils, and greenhouse research looked at crop production and the use of LEDs. Research continued on harvesting and drying firewood and on recreation surveys.
Malting and feed barley varieties are being evaluated for their adaptability to Alaska. Most of the malting barley that is used to make beer in Alaska, is imported from the Lower 48. Farmers get higher prices for malting barley.
Experts from the Mining and Petroleum Training Service have been invited to help Greenland's KTI Rastofskolen establish an underground training center and share their Arctic expertise.
4-H and Youth
For seven years, 4-H has provided an enrichment program for incarcerated youth at the Fairbanks Youth Facility. Activities include learning how to train service dogs, yoga, drawing and drumming. 4-H agents also help youth plan and cook meals for their families and visitors during holidays and contribute to the facilty garden.
Alaska Weeds ID
The Alaska Weeds ID mobile app has seen 6,000 downloads over five years and use of it is accelerating. Individuals may identify problematic weeds and report the locations of them on public lands. USDA has provided funding to add insects to the app.
Past Annual Highlights
- Boreal Alaska - Learning, Adaptation and Production
- Deltana canola developed at UAF
- Embracing technology to reach more Alaskans
- Extension celebrates 100 years
- Field course, NRM degree prepares Alaska students for careers
- New guide provides Alaska herb information
- Peonies new cash crop for Alaska
- Youth program offers diverse activities