Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Distance-delivered classes offered this spring

Students may take distance-delivered classes with the School of Natural Resources and Extension this spring on horticulture, GIS programming, nutrition and soil chemistry. The graduate natural resources management seminar will also be distance-delivered.

All are offered through UAF eLearning and Distance Education or from SNRE directly.

Classes through eLearning include horticulture, GIS and nutrition. Emeritus Horticulture Professor Pat Holloway will teach two one-credit horticulture classes, Plant Propagation I, Seeds and Seed Germination, and Plant Propagation II, Vegetative Propagation. Professor Dave Verbyla will teach GIS Programming and Professor Roxie Dinstel will teach Nutrition Across the Lifecycle, which are three-credit classes.

Plant Propagation I, NRM 150, will run from Jan. 17 to Feb. 28 and will cover the botany of seeds from flowering to seed development, methods of seed germination, and the germination of wild and cultivated seeds. A course in basic biology, botany or plant science is recommended as background.

Plant Propagation II, NRM 151, will run March 21 to May 2. The course will cover the principles and practices of plant propagation useful in horticulture botany, forestry, agronomy, vegetation and land reclamation projects and plants research. The course will cover propagation methods and will emphasize Alaska native and economically useful plants. A high school course in biology is recommended as background.

Holloway will also teach the one-credit Plant Propagation Practicum from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 8-11, which will not be distance delivered.

GIS Programming, NRM 638, will include programming for ArcView, Arc/Info and ArcGIS. It will include programming techniques for customizing GIS, efficient batch processing, and development of custom tools for GIS display and analysis. An introductory GIS course such as NRM F338 or equivalent is a prerequisite.

Nutrition Across the Lifecycle, NRM 393, will explore nutritional information based on age groups of people. It uses current research to explain the nutritional foundations necessary for the growth, development and normal functioning of individuals in each stage of their lifespan.

See more information about the classes at Anyone interested in the eLearning classes may register through eLearning or through UAOnline.

Other SNRE distance-delivered classes offered through UAF this spring include:
• NRM F692 Natural Resources Management Graduate Seminar
• NRM F466, Environmental Soil Chemistry

Friday, January 6, 2017

Entries due Jan. 20 for SNRE food security contest

Participants in the Refugee Farmers Market Project prepare to sell vegetables
 at the farmers market in Spenard.

The deadline for entries is Jan. 20 for undergraduate UAF students who wish to compete in writing, engineering and media contests that address food security issues in northern communities.

Organizers of the second annual Food Security in the Arctic competition will award $1,000, $500 and $250 prizes for first-, second- and third-place awards in three contests sponsored by the School of Natural Resources and Extension.

Contest co-chair Professor Jenifer McBeath said students are invited to address some of the issues involved with developing environmentally responsible agricultural practices in the North. An estimated 95 percent of food consumed by residents is produced elsewhere and it travels over a tenuous transportation network, she said.

For the essay contest, students may submit up to an eight-page, double-spaced essay about the challenges or innovative solutions involved in growing and storing food in northern communities.

Participants in the engineering contest are asked to submit an engineering design that attempts to address energy-efficient and environmentally friendly large-scale food storage in the North. Designers should research and consider the ideal conditions that aid in cold climate food storage. Individuals or teams may compete. The designer of the winning entry will be awarded $5,000 to build a prototype.

Students who participate in the media contest are asked to submit a 30-second public service announcement that represents some of the current challenges in growing food in northern communities. Films or videos should be submitted as an uncompressed MOV or M4P file.

For more more details about the contests and the entry form at For more information, contact McBeath at 907-474-7431 or

Friday, December 16, 2016

OneTree Alaska to sell wreaths, luminaria

From left, Sally Kieper, Morgan Kertzmann, Shaun Johnson and Siddalee
display the wreaths they created last week during the OneTree event.

If you haven’t stopped by OneTree Alaska for the holiday wreath- and ornament-making event, it’s not too late. There is a session today from 2-6 p.m. and on Saturday, Dec. 17, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will be held in OneTree’s community science center, which is the former Lola Tilly Commons kitchen on campus. For more information, contact OneTree Alaska at 474-5517.

OneTree is also selling wreaths and ice luminaria through Dec. 22. Wreaths can be ordered by calling OneTree and picked up the following day. Wreaths will sell for $20, $30 and $40, depending on size. They can be picked up Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and weekdays through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Lumaria made in the program’s birch sap buckets will sell for $10 each and come with a tea candle. OneTree is trying to raise $2,500 by the end of the year to receive a matching grant for its program activities.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

OneTree to offer wreath-, ornament-making activity

Bill and Cassandra Sanborn pose with the wreaths they made at OneTree's 2015 event.

OneTree Alaska will offer three opportunities in December to make holiday wreaths and ornaments from local forest materials.

The activity will be offered from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on two Saturdays, Dec. 10 and Dec. 17. It will also be offered from 2-6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 16. All three events will be in OneTree’s community forest science center in the former kitchen of Lola Tilly Commons at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The entrance is on the west side of the building.

Families are welcome. The wreaths will include boughs donated by the Fairbanks Kiwanis Club. The materials fee is $20 and a surcharge will be added if someone wants to make an extra-large wreath. A prorated rate will be offered to families. No registration is required.

OneTree Alaska is a forest education, research and outreach program of the UAF School of Natural Resources and Extension. For more information, contact OneTree Alaska at 474-5517.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Research finds sharing, cooperation key to Arctic villages

Barrow community members share the work of hauling out a harvested
 bowhead whale. Photo by Jenny K. Evans

A new analysis of subsistence data collected in three Arctic communities underscores the importance of social ties and sharing among households.

The analysis draws on data collected in 2009 and 2010, as part of research led University of Alaska Fairbanks Professor Gary Kofinas. The Subsistence Sharing Network Project analyzed the flows of subsistence goods and services among households in Kaktovik, Wainwright and Venetie.

Results from that earlier research found that 60 to 75 percent of the harvesting was the result of household and community cooperation, rather than hunting done by individual households. Hundreds of thousands of pounds of wild foods moved among households in the one-year study period, distributed through sharing, whaling crew shares, community feasts and other social relationships.

Findings highlighted the interconnectedness of the communities, different patterns of sharing for different resources and the sheer magnitude of sharing in the community, said Kofinas.

“Households not only shared within communities, their networks of sharing also extended to other communities across Alaska and to northern Canada,” he said.

Shauna BurnSilver, who worked on the initial study as a postdoctoral researcher, shared the data with a systems modeler at Utah State University and two European mathematicians. Together they applied new analytical methods to evaluate the effects of removing particular households, crews, social connections or resources from the communities’ subsistence systems.

The results of this research were published last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The analysis found that “the principal challenge to the robustness of such communities is the loss of key households and the erosion of cultural ties linked to sharing and cooperative social relations rather than resource depletion.”

Jim Magdanz, who worked on the original research and is a co-author on the paper, said the results seem intuitively correct. “People matter and social relations matter.”

Anyone familiar with Alaska history can list the many shocks Alaska Native cultures have weathered, he said, including Yankee whaling, gold mining, oil development and population growth. “Yet subsistence harvests remain high, and sharing and cooperation continue to be hallmarks of Native life in Alaska,” Magdanz said.

Kofinas said the findings suggest the need for policymakers and others to support Native villages’ traditional practices of subsistence.

The lead authors are Jacopo Baggio of Utah State University and BurnSilver of Arizona State University. Co-authors include Kofinas of the School of Natural Resources and Extension and the Institute of Arctic Biology; Magdanz, a UAF doctoral student; and Alex Arenas and Manlio De Domenico of the Universitat Rovira I Virgili in Spain. The paper is available at

Friday, November 11, 2016

Jan Dawe and Mark Melham receive URSA Awards

Assistant professor Jan Dawe and SNRE graduate student Mark Melham will receive $7,500 URSA Mentoring Awards for the 2017 academic year.

Both were notified late last week. The mentoring awards are given to UAF faculty members, postdoctoral researchers and graduate students to provide undergraduate research learning opportunities.

Nicole Dunham pours birch sap during the collection
season this spring. Some students hired with URSA funds
 will work on birch processing methods.
UAF photo by Todd Paris 
Dawe, a research assistant professor, will recruit three to five students who will work on a variety of projects. This include comparing birch sap processing methods and looking at product quality, taste testing and the efficiencies of different evaporators. The students will also work on citizen science protocols for tracking phenology, growth and productivity in the T-field birch plot on North Campus and development of the STEAM Studio as an informal science center. The T-Field is part of the Fairbanks Experiment Farm.

Melham’s grant will support his project, “Dall Sheep Research in Gates of the Arctic.” Melham, who is working on a master’s degree in natural resources management, said the primary purpose of his research with Professor Dave Verbyla is to validate Landsat and NGA high-resolution satellite imagery in order to understand where shrubs are and how they’re expanding throughout the entire Dall sheep range. The Gates of the Arctic study is designed to ensure that remotely sensed data corresponds correctly to the physical location and percentage of tall shrub coverage.

One goal of the project is to obtain high-resolution field data on vegetative growth and quality in critical Dall sheep habitat along the John River. The URSA funds will support two undergraduates who will spend their summer floating the John River on repeated transects, visiting randomized points to perform vegetation composition surveys and collecting Dall sheep fecal samples. To prepare for the field season, the students will work with Melham during the spring and (hopefully) present the initial findings from the remote sensing portion of the project at the URSA Research Day.

Monday, October 31, 2016

State geologist and state forester to speak at UAF

State geologist Steve Masterman and state forester Chris Maisch will speak at the University of Alaska Fairbanks in November.

Steve Masterman
Both presentations, which are hosted by the student Resource Management Society, will be informal and open to the public.

Masterman, director of the Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys in Fairbanks, will talk at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 3 in the Wood Center ballroom. His topics will include geologic communications, volcanology and internships. Maisch, director of the Alaska Division of Forestry, will speak at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 9, also in the ballroom. Maisch will address wildland fire and forest management, current projects, and employment, internship and volunteer opportunities.

Chris Maisch
Resource Management Society president Trish Levasseur said the sessions will give students and the public an opportunity to learn more about the fields of geology and wildland fire and forest management and ask questions that could lead to future job prospects in those areas. Question-and-answer sessions will follow both speakers.

The society is a student club affiliated with the School of Natural Resources and Extension. Members will host a bake sale at both events. For more information, contact Levasseur at