Monday, November 23, 2009

Alaska Farm Bureau lauds SNRAS researcher

Radishes are just one crop Jeff Werner grows at the Fairbanks Experiment Farm.

The Alaska Farm Bureau selected SNRAS Research Professional Jeff Werner as the 2009 recipient of the Ag Appreciation Award. The award is presented annually to someone who makes continuous contributions to Alaska’s agricultural community. In addition to his horticultural work for UAF, Werner serves as the state FFA advisor and partners with local businesses to provide jobs for youth and extend UAF research to the community.

Werner said he is fortunate to serve Alaska as the FFA advisor. “I had such great experiences as a young person in FFA,” he said. He works with middle and high school students as well as members of the UAF collegiate chapter of FFA.

Werner began partnering with Chena Hot Springs Resort six years ago when owner Bernie Karl requested help. “His generosity and enthusiasm have driven the success of the project that has provided an example of year-round large scale greenhouse production for Alaska,” Werner said. The cooperation with Pike’s Waterfront Lodge greenhouse originated as an opportunity to employ young people in the Fairbanks area, and has evolved to become an additional research site for small scale short season community greenhouse production.

Throughout his tenure with FFA and agriculture in Alaska, Werner said he has enjoyed working with farmers, producers, agency people, and young people of Alaska. “I hope that the work that I have been involved with, and will continue to be involved with, is beneficial to the people of the Alaska,” he said.

As an advocate of Alaska’s agriculture Werner said he “will continue to strive to make a difference in the lives of Alaskans through service at the university, the FFA, and as a friend.” He said he owes thanks to everyone who has been a part of his career, including the pioneers of Alaska’s agriculture who employed his parents, such as Max Sherrod, Paul Dinkens, and Bud Barnhardt, and to his UAF instructors Jim Drew, Jay McKendrick, Fred Husby, and Meriam Karlsson.

Werner could not be present to accept the award at the Farm Bureau annual meeting in Anchorage Nov. 13. He was in Japan at an international greenhouse lighting conference, presenting the research from Chena Hot Springs, and looking forward to returning with more information to benefit Alaska’s greenhouse industries.

Werner’s family moved from Michigan in the late 1960s, settling in the Palmer area, raising nine children and working primarily in sawmills.

As a student at Palmer High School, Werner was active in FFA and was a member of the Alaska Farmers and Stockgrowers Association. He spent much of his time helping others harvesting hay, digging potatoes, and milking cows. He also raised his own beef and pigs and started and operated a landscape management business. Mowing lawns became a new pastime, and flowers became a passion. FFA was a big part of his high school career. He served as a state officer for the Alaska FFA from 1983 to 1985, and has attended most of the ag symposiums since 1983.

Werner graduated from UAF in 1993 with a degree in natural resources management with an emphasis in plant science and fisheries. In 1996 he was employed with the Cooperative Extension Service working in water quality. In 1997, he became a SNRAS research professional and has spent the past twelve years working with Professor Meriam Karlsson in controlled environment, greenhouse crop, and commercial field crop opportunities, discovering new and innovative techniques for crop production.

Related posts:

Who says you can't grow corn in Alaska? SNRAS Science & News, July 30, 2009

Growing opportunity: UAF hydroponics and the FFA at Pike's Waterfront Lodge, SNRAS Science & News, June 10, 2009

Fair garden showcases SNRAS research, SNRAS Science & News, June 12, 2009

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