Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Alaska Food Festival and Conference set for Nov. 7-9 in Anchorage

The Alaska Food Festival and Conference will occur Nov. 7-9 at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

The Alaska Food Policy Council, the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service and UAA will host activities at Lucy Cuddy Hall, including a conference Nov. 7 and the Alaska Food Festival Nov. 8, with local foods to sample, a farmers market and a dozen food workshops.
Yes, we can...grow our own food in Alaska. Learn more about it at the Alaska Food Festival and Conference.
Food Policy Council co-chair Liz Snyder said the conference and festival is for everyone interested in food in Alaska.

“The idea is to celebrate, strengthen and promote our local food system and to connect with the community,” she said.

Ken Meter, a food system analyst from Minnesota, will open the conference with a talk about building food security and his recent work analyzing Alaska’s food system. The conference will also include a photo documentary on food insecurity and sessions on community-based fishermen, planning and promoting a specialty food business, emergency preparedness, traditional and customary foods, farming in Alaska, food cooperatives, and food and hunger policy advocacy.

Workshops during the Nov. 8 food festival will cover cooking and baking with Alaska barley, keeping chickens in urban Alaska, powerhouse Alaska fruits and vegetables, food preservation resources, harvesting from the garden, fermentation and fermented foods, growing and using herbs, and more. Most workshops are free, but a few have materials fees.

The conference will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 7, with a food policy networking event from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The festival will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Nov. 8. Participants may tour various food sites in Anchorage on Nov. 9, including the Bear Tooth restaurant, the Fire Island bakery, the Downtown Soup Kitchen and more.

The festival admission fee is $10 and different registration options are available for the conference. The tour is free. See the full schedule, registration and self-guided tour information at The Alaska Food Policy Council is a coalition of agencies and individuals interested in improving Alaska’s food security.

UAF campus forest tour offered

Cooperative Extension Service forester Glen Holt will offer a forest management walking tour Saturday, Nov. 1, at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Glen Holt
Participants will meet at 1 p.m. at the Taku Parking Lot recycle bins, off Farmers Loop, for a 1.5-hour tour through the nearby forest. Holt said the tour will help private landowners learn how to manage the trees on their property, mitigate hazards, provide sustainable firewood and determine general forest health. Participants will learn which trees to cut for firewood and which to save and why.

Call Carmen Kloepfer at 907-474-5854 to register for the tour by Oct. 31. Participants are advised to dress warmly.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Grad students to share Peace Corps experiences

Graduate students in the School of Natural Resources and Extension will share their Peace Corps experiences Friday, Oct. 24 at 2 p.m. in Murie 107.

Julie Cislo, SNRE's Coverdell Fellow this year, served in Panama, teaching English to elementary school children.

Julie Cislo with children in Panama.
Samantha Straus, a Master's International student, recently returned from The Gambia, where she worked with community members on agro-forestry projects.

Samantha Straus with her host mother in The Gambia.
Willie Wilkins' service was in Malawi, helping with gardening, agro-forestry, medicinal gardening and HIV/AIDS education.
Willie Wilkins

Each student will give a lecture, followed by questions from the audience.

For more information, contact Associate Professor Susan Todd.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Students: earn money and scholarships while working an "outdoorsy" internship

Jeff Chen, Student Conservation Association recruiter, will be at the University of Alaska Fairbanks in late October to inform students about expense-paid internships. He will give a presentation Monday, Oct. 27 at 6 p.m. in the Murie Auditorium. Students are encouraged to bring laptops so they can begin the application process that night.

SCA internships can take students to amazing places.
Each year, SCA places over 2,000 interns in a diverse array of businesses, public land agencies and nonprofit organizations throughout the U.S. Students serve in national parks, historic sites, earning a weekly living allowance and AmeriCorps education awards.

Selected interns receive free travel, training and housing. The opportunities are available to all areas of study and there are spring break options, leadership opportunities and summer internships in Alaska and Outside.

Contact Chen at 907 -717-8414. He will also be at the Natural Resources Career Fair Oct. 23 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Wood Center.

Farm to table takes on new meaning at Effie Kokrine Charter School

At Effie Kokrine Charter School, locally grown food did not have to travel far for a wholesome “farm to school” experience.

Local harvest takes on a whole new meaning when the food is grown in a school’s back yard, harvested by students, prepared and served on site.
From left, FFA members at Effie Kokrine Charter School serve up homegrown food at their school: Stefania Kremer, Suleymi Juarez and Catalina Kremer.
Spearheaded by the school’s FFA advisor, Avril Wiers, the project was an offshoot of the summer science program. All season, 25 high school students worked with Wiers in the school garden, growing vegetables and earning science credits. The students read “Chew on This” and Omnivore’s Dilemma” (young readers’ edition).

The Farm at Effie Kokrine also includes ducks, chickens and rabbits. A local Kiwanis Club helped the students build a barn for the animals this summer. Wiers teaches two, four-week sessions of the summer program, with students spending half their time in the classroom and half in the garden. “It’s project-based learning,” she explained. Exploration is the theme, and one student took off with landscape design and another was drawn to beekeeping.

With a grant from the Alaska Division of Agriculture’s Farm to School program, the Effie Kokrine FFA chapter was able to fund the school garden and purchase kitchen swag (hats and aprons), a French fry cutter and a chest freezer.

With the freezer, Wiers plans to preserve more of the garden’s bounty next summer. She has been managing the school garden for years, with its popularity among students growing alongside the veggies. The school even had three CSA (community supported agriculture) members this summer, with  members paying an upfront fee for a portion of the harvest. “We’re breaking into that scene a little bit,” Wiers said.

Her hope is that more vegetables can be served in the school cafeteria. “And we want to integrate cultural foods into the lunchroom,” she said. “We want the students to be more aware of where their food comes from. It’s easy to be complacent about where food comes from but when you plant the seeds, pick the veggies and serve them, that’s a great lesson for kids to learn.”

For the first few weeks of school, the cafeteria featured lettuce from the garden. On Sept. 22, Wiers and her FFA members served roasted cauliflower and Romanesco broccoli, roasted root vegetables and raw carrots at lunch time. Dressed in their FFA blue jackets and new aprons, the students handed out containers of food, while one young man recorded his classmates’ opinions about the menu.
“We tried to make it a special day,” Wiers said. “We needed to use up the veggies from the garden and thought it would be better to have a big event.

“The students have been really supportive,” she added. “We had to find common ground between what the kids will eat and what will grow in Alaska.”

Teacher James Krall said he would love to see the school garden grow. “The best thing that could happen to a school is local food and especially with kids growing the food.”

Wiers has applied for funding to purchase a hydroponic system so the students could grow lettuce year round. “We could stock the salad bar with Effie-grown lettuce,” she said.

Students at Effie Kokrine started a petition to get a salad bar in their cafeteria and they now have it, one of the few schools in the school district with that option. “They were getting the after-lunch slump,” Wiers said. “They wanted to integrate fresh, light, healthy options.

“We have opened up the dialog about what we eat and why.”

Contact info:
Avril Wiers’ email:

Yummy food grown at the school was served to students.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

NRM alum earns UAF alumni achievement award

Jeff Roach, who earned a B.S. in natural resources management in 1987 and did graduate work in NRM at UAF, was honored recently by the UAF Alumni Association with an alumni achievement award.

Jeff Roach
Roach chose natural resources management because he wanted a career in the outdoors. "NRM has been the key to the jobs I got," he said. "My land use planning studies with Susan Todd were instrumental in my getting a great job with the Department of Transportation."

What he liked best about his time with the School of Natural Resources was the camaraderie with other students and the approachability of the faculty. He said he was Professor Pat Holloway's first advisee. "It was an interesting learning experience," he said. "I had a good relationship with my professors."

The following story was prepared in 2012 by the UAA Office of University Advancement (reprinted with permission):

Jeff Roach knows how to run a small city. It’s just one of those things you pick up when you earn four academic degrees and serve 31 years in the Army National Guard. He also flies helicopters, appreciates the symphony and knows how to milk a cow. It’s no surprise that this lifelong learner has been entrusted with leadership positions and has fostered a love of learning in his three kids. But where did it all start?

Roach’s parents, in search of northern adventure, moved from their Michigan dairy farm to the foot of North America’s tallest peak in Talkeetna, when he was a teenager. Alaska has been home ever since. Growing up in a state that’s home to six of the 10 largest national parks in America influenced his decision to study outdoor recreation and natural resources.

After graduating from Susitna Valley High School, Roach joined the Alaska Army National Guard. He began taking classes at Matanuska-Susitna College, arranging his academic schedule to accommodate his Guard commitments. “There were enough classes being offered that I was able to make it work,” he says. The agriculture program awarded him a scholarship and he earned his associate degree in agriculture in three semesters at UAA’s community campus in Palmer. “I liked the small school atmosphere and the rural setting. We had a tight-knit group of students in the agriculture program where I developed wonderful friendships.”

Beyond his school and Guard commitments, he also worked part time for some of the dairy farms in the Mat-Su Valley that were just starting up through a state farm development program. Guest speakers in his agriculture classes discovered his dairy farm background and offered him work on their farms milking cows. Not the most traditional after-school job in Alaska, but one he was glad to take if it meant helping him achieve his goals.

Home nowadays is Fairbanks where Roach works as Northern Region planning manager for the State of Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. He is also a lieutenant colonel and currently serving as chief of staff for the Alaska Army National Guard.

Roach and his wife, Sherilyn, who met while studying natural resources at UAF, started their careers in Eagle, a rural town just west of the Yukon-Alaska border with seasonal access on the Taylor Highway. “She has an adventurous spirit,” he says. From New York’s Vassar College to UAF, Sherilyn had a little time to acclimate to frontier living before accepting a teaching post in Eagle alongside Jeff in his new role with the National Park Service as a park ranger. Roach’s first impression of Eagle? “I loved it!” he says. “I love small towns.” From one small town to another, the Roach family moved from Eagle to Tok, where he took a position with the Bureau of Land Management before ultimately settling back in Fairbanks.

Roach’s travel credentials extend well beyond Alaska, however. In his role as an Army National Guard officer, he’s been deployed to Haiti, Honduras, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Kosovo. His missions have varied—from peacekeeping to disaster relief as he worked his way up from helicopter mechanic to Officer Candidate School graduate and helicopter pilot. One master’s degree in management and another in strategic studies, in combination with his field experience, helped to prepare him for his 15-month deployment (2006–2007) as operations officer for the 1/207th Infantry Brigade in Kandahar, Afghanistan. “It was like running a small city,” he says of his role overseeing operations at the Kandahar airfield for 14,000 troops. “I didn’t sleep much.”

Roach volunteers with the Emergency Services Commission, KUAC Public Radio Citizens' Advisory Council, VFW, Army Aviation Association and his church. "I enjoy serving others," he said.

“I think the military breeds volunteerism,” Roach says. “When you come back from a high tempo operation, volunteering is a great way to use up all of that energy in a positive way.”

Education has always been important to Roach. "My wife has been a high school teacher for 24 years, and I’ve been involved as a student, instructor and supervisor. I feel that being a life-long learner is an important factor for a successful life,” he said. And while he may be done accumulating those academic degrees that started with an A.A.S. from Mat-Su College, he is looking forward to accepting new challenges as he progresses in his side-by-side civilian and military careers.

But it’s not all work and no play. Roach is looking forward to another winter of ice fishing and cross-country skiing.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Want to study in China?

Representatives of Jilin Agricultural University, Changchun, China, will be at UAF this week to work on developing exchange programs with the School of Natural Resources and Extension.

Jilin Agricultural University
A presentation on scholarships will be given Thursday, Oct. 9 from 3:40 to 5:10 p.m. in Arctic Health Research Building, room 183. Lifeng Zhang, vice president of Jilin; Lanpo Zhao, dean of the College of Resources and Environment; and Chun Cui, vice director of the Office of International Cooperation and Exchange; will answer questions about JAU and explain scholarships that are available from the Chinese government.

For more information contact or call 474-7083.