Friday, May 20, 2011

MapTEACH: Merging science and traditional knowledge to teach children about the land

Sam Barney and his Huslia students study erosion by using maps and air photos of the Koyukuk to create a model for erosion studies. (Previous MapTEACH workshop)

Life jackets? Check. First aid kits? Check? Mosquito repellent? Double check!

The MapTEACH camp on the river begins May 22 at Manley Hot Springs and will travel the waterways for five days. Participants will explore the local environment, learn to use GPS receivers, create unique maps with computers, work with elders, local experts and geologists to understand the environment and share mapping projects with students and teachers.

The capstone event follows years of workshops and trainings held with teachers and students of the Yukon-Koyukuk School District. This time, 15 middle school students and five teachers from Hughes, Allakaket, Huslia, Manley Hot Springs, Kaltag and Minto will be involved.

The group will split in two, with one section traveling from Manley Hot Springs to the Tanana River, studying geology, and the other going from New Minto to Old Minto learning place names and stories from the elders. The groups will then meet and swap routes for the return voyage.

Local river captains will pilot the campers along the way. Assistant Professor Patricia Heiser will teach about permafrost; MapTEACH Coordinator Sidney Stephens will instruct on place names and landmarks; DeAnne Pinney Stevens, geologist with the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Suveys, will emphasize erosion and deposition.

Susan Paskvan, the Yukon-Koyukuk School District’s Native language coordinator, has been instrumental in helping organize the trip, Stephens said. “The Y-K school district is a huge partner.”

Stephens said her goal is to create new ways to tell old stories. “The technology is a draw and is appealing but what the children know and their parents and grandparents know about the land is important too,” Stephens said. “We want both things to end up being valued.”

The overarching goal of MapTEACH is that students learn about the landscape from multiple perspectives, including geology, history and local knowledge, Stephens said.

While Stephens and MapTEACH have conducted numerous teacher workshops and classroom visits over the years, this is the first time teachers, elders and students will experience a field trip together. “This is the culmination of all our work,” Stephens said.

Campus sustainability has roots in SNRAS

Michele Hebert led a workshop at Staff Appreciation Day.

At UAF Staff Appreciation Day May 19, Michele Hebert, UAF Office of Sustainability director, credited SNRAS with pioneering the sustainability movement on campus, specifically Associate Professor Susan Todd and her students.

The fairly new office was put in place because students wanted the campus to become more sustainable. They voted to institute a $20 per semester fee to fund the program, bringing in $500,000 annually.

Recycling containers and bins have been placed around campus already and some new initiatives on the horizon include:

  • software that would shut down computers at night
  • solar panels on the Student Recreation Center
  • a filtration system for drinking water (Wood Center)
  • purchasing a glass pulverizer so glass could be used to make sand

The students are developing a "green certification" program, based on one at Arizona State University. Anyone willing to help should contact Hebert.

Students are setting up a campus-wide recycling committee and volunteers are needed there also.

For more information, read the sustainability newsletter.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Log cabin workshop kicks off in Palmer

This is the cabin built last year; the new one will have a different look due to the cottonwood logs.

Students are learning to build a log cabin at the Matanuska Experiment Farm this week and next. For a change, Assistant Professor Valerie Barber will use cottonwood for the 16x20 cabin. The building will stay at the farm and be used as a visitors' center near the soccer fields and golf area.

The class is taught by Robert Chambers, world-recognized authority for handcrafted log home construction. Chambers has been building log homes since 1983 and teaching log construction since 1988. He is the author of the textbook, The Log Construction Manual. Also instructing is Mike Pielorz of Husky Logwork, Wasilla.

Following the cabin course a four-day log roof truss class will be held.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How much land will burn this summer?

Fire predictions for this summer have been released by the Alaska Fire Science Consortium. The median forecast for the 2011 season is 1,522,000 acres.

As of May 14, 881 acres have burned. There is a 1 percent chance that less than 500,000 acres will burn. There is a 48 percent chance that between 500,000 and 1.5 million acres will burn and a 51 percent chance that more than 1.5 million acres will burn.

The research was conducted by SNAP, ACCAP and NOAA. The work is funded by the Alaska Wildland Fire Coordinating Group. For more information contact Sarah Trainor, AFSC principal investigator and SNRAS research assistant professor.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Congratulations graduates!

SNRAS graduates gathered under the guidance of Associate Professor Mingchu Zhang (at left) just prior to commencement on Sunday, May 15 at the Carlson Center.

Congratulations to SNRAS students who graduated May 15 in Fairbanks.

Baccalaureate degrees:
Adrian Baier, B.A. Geography, B.S. Geography, Environmental Studies
Taylor Beard, B.S. Natural Resources Management: Plant, Animal and soil Sciences. Golden Key Honor Society, cum laude
Brittany Billingsley, B.A. Geography, cum laude
Jace Bures, B.S. Natural Resources Management: Plant, Animal and Soil Sciences
Charles Caster, B.S. Natural Resources Management, magna cum laude
Daniel Coleman, B.S. Natural Resources Management: Forest Sciences
Lorna Curran, B.S. Geography: Landscape Analysis and Climate Change Studies
Sheila Dailey, B.S. Geography
Sabrena Gneiting, B.S. Natural Resources Management: Plant, Animal and Soil Sciences
Brianna Graves, B.S. Natural Resources Management
Daniel Hazen, B.S. Geography: Landscape Analysis and Climate Change Studies
Qunitan Hecimovich, B.S. Natural Resources Management: Plant, Animal and Soil Sciences
Heidi Isernhagen, B.A. Geography
James Mills, B.A. Geography
Jill Mullen, B.A. Geography
Ryan Peterson, B.A. Geography
Cody Priest, B.S. Geography: GIS and Technology
Amy Rath, B.S. Geography: Landscape Analysis and Climate Change Studies
Ray Sabo, B.S. Natural Resources Management
Nina Schwinghammer, B.S. Geography: Landscape Analysis and Climate Change Studies
William Sigman, B.A. Outdoor Recreation Management, interdisciplinary program, cum laude
Molly Timm, B.A. Geography
James Ward, B.S. Natural Resources Management: Plant, Animal and Soil Sciences
Vincent Waters, B.S. Natural Resources Management
Alesha Weiland, B.S. Geography: Environmental Studies, cum laude
Kirsten Woodard, B.S. Natural Resources Management: Plant, Animal and Soil Sciences, magna cum laude

Master's Degrees
Tina Buxbaum, M.S. Natural Resources Management
Jackson Fox, M.S. Natural Resources Management
Marie Heidemann, Master's in Natural Resources Management and Geography
David Hite Jr., Master's in Natural Resources Management and Geography
Thomas Malone, M.S. Natural Resources Management
Rehanon Pampell, M.S. Natural Resources Management

Shannon Pearce

Taylor Beard and Jace Bures

Lorna Curran
James Ward

SNRAS Dean & AFES Director Carol Lewis, Professor Milan Shipka, Professor Dave Verbyla, Professor Glenn Juday

SNRAS/CES team goes a mile (or three) for Heart Walk

The SNRAS/CES Heart Walk Team raised $3,235 for the American Heart Association in a fundraising walk Saturday, May 14. Heart Walk Chair Dawniel Dupee thanks all the walkers and donors for helping make this a huge success.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Arbor Day: a good time to plant a tree

From left volunteers Jacqulyn Smith, John Alden and Whitney Junker plant a tree in honor of Arbor Day.

Arbor Day was celebrated at UAF May 13 with the planting of a chokecherry (Prunus virginiana) tree near the Lola Tilly Commons.

The Resource Management Society, a student club focused on natural resources management, purchased the tree and volunteers planted it. Arbor Day has been celebrated in Alaska since 1966. It is held later here than other states due to the climate.

Doctoral Candidate Kimberley Maher explained at the gathering that Arbor Day originated in Nebraska when Julius Sterling Morton decided the prairie would greatly benefit from the planting of trees. Morton is known as the "father of Arbor Day."

Using his background in agriculture and his journalism career, Morton expounded the use of new farming technologies. When Nebraska gained statehood in 1867 he was appointed to the State Board of Agriculture, where he proposed a special day to encourage tree planting. A prize would be offered to the person who planted the most trees. On the first Arbor Day, April 10, 1872, over 1 million trees were planted in Nebraska.

In 1970 Arbor Day became a national event, celebrated across the country with not only tree plantings, but pageants, displays and talks on the value of trees. An important aspect of Arbor Day is the opportunity to educate the public about the ecological and economic value of trees.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

SNRAS staffer looks forward to non-retirement after 40 years in Forest Soils Lab

Lola Oliver at work in the Forest Soils Lab.

Over the past 40 years, Lola Oliver has seen many changes, but one thing has remained the same, her place of employment, UAF.

As supervisor of the Forest Soils Lab, Oliver tests soil and plant samples, processes them, prepares them for chemical or physical analysis, stores them and manages data.

“I love the work,” Oliver said. “It changes constantly. Science marches on.”

Oliver did not expect to stay in one position for four decades. “I never had a life plan,” she said. “I’ve just fallen into things.”

Born in Texas, Oliver moved around the Midwest with her family before settling in Washington. After attending Wenatchee Valley College for two years she applied at UAF and headed north, her first time to go away from home.

Oliver earned a dual degree in biology and English and went on to study mycology and biology in graduate school. She took a graduate student position in 1969 in the Forest Soils Lab, not realizing she would be working in the lab for years to come.

By 1971 Oliver had become the lab supervisor. “I didn’t even want a 9 to 5 job but it was convenient,” she said. “The job is challenging and there is always something new going on.” Co-workers proved another plus. “I like the people,” she said. “The graduate students and technicians are bright people. I’ve learned things from almost all of them.”

Keeping up with new instruments has been the most daunting part of her job, but Oliver just soldiers on. “The instruments change and the manuals are not helpful at all; you just have to teach yourself,” she said. Sometimes it took years to master an instrument, but she persevered until she did.

Oliver enjoys the hands-on aspects of the lab and the fact that she gets to do field work in the spring and fall, collecting samples from the Tanana River, Bonanza Creek Long Term Ecological Research area and the Caribou-Poker Flats area.

Her supervisor, Professor John Yarie, said, “She is a very effective lab manager from the standpoint of both personnel, lab techniques and equipment. She has done an excellent job of maintaining a record of publications that were written within the lab and maintaining files related to data sets that were collected by folks in the lab. She is also very effective in dealing with problems that arise in other sections of campus and with instrument manufactures. She is a very self sustaining and independent person.”

Research Professional Tim Quintal said Oliver has played an integral part in helping to guide the research of the lab directors and principal investigators associated with the lab. Over the years, Oliver has been involved with all aspects of that research, including helping with and writing grant proposals, administering funds, supervising technicians, performing lab work and helping with field work.

Oliver has been instrumental in building the capabilities of the lab over the years, Quintal said. In particular, she was responsible for the acquisition of a IR Mass-Spec and, most recently, a Cavity-Ringdown-Spectrometer, both of which are used for isotopic analyses, a capability that is essential for environmental research. “In addition to everything else, she immediately took on the task of being the primary operator of the Mass-Spec - a daunting undertaking in itself,” Quintal said.

“On a more personal note, she is a great co-worker,” Quintal said. “She and I get along very well and help each other out a lot. I can't imagine the Forest Soils Lab without her.”

Oliver has been working on a doctorate in geology and expects to finish by this fall or winter. She has been studying permafrost, but not with a new job in mind. “It’s just for fun,” she said. “The university has a lot to offer and I’m taking them up on it.”

When she isn’t working or studying, Oliver enjoys working on her house (which she built herself), dipnetting, walking her dog, gardening and anything to do with horses. She also loves traveling, having traversed to Tanzania, Egypt, India, Australia, Ghana and Mongolia. She particularly likes going on trips that follow solar eclipses.

As for what the future holds, Oliver has no plans to retire. Her philosophy is that people should live every day as if they might die tomorrow.

Oliver will be honored at Staff Appreciation Day May 19 at 3:15 p.m. in the Davis Concert Hall.

Food systems course: a typology of organic agriculture

For my Comparative Farming and Sustainable Food Systems class, we were given an assignment in which we were to either a) examine USDA organic certification, or b) create a typology of organic agriculture. I chose the latter.

Organic agriculture comes in many stripes and emphases. There's agroecological farming, agroforestry and forest gardening (slightly different), biodynamics, permaculture, certified organic (several countries and international certifications), Natural Farming, Nayakrishi, wildculturing. Some of these don't have to be strictly organic (that "strictly" really being a broad range). So, what is organic agriculture, exactly? Here's the Wikipedia definition, which basically captures it:
Organic farming is the form of agriculture that relies on techniques such as crop rotation, green manure, compost and biological pest control to maintain soil productivity and control pests on a farm. Organic farming excludes or strictly limits the use of manufactured fertilizers, pesticides (which include herbicides, insecticides and fungicides), plant growth regulators such as hormones, livestock antibiotics, food additives, and genetically modified organisms.
Wikipedia also quotes the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, which goes further than the techniques and technologies required or limited by organic agriculture, to include the human element:
Organic agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved.
The thing that is nice about this second definition is that it gets to one aspect of organic agriculture that is very important in many of its genres: the ethics of growing organic.

The essential point is that not all organic farming is the same; not all farmers who grow organic use the same methods. Organic agriculture can vary by quite a bit; for example, organic agriculture is not necessarily sustainable agriculture. Organic agriculture need not necessarily integrate crop and livestock production; some organic farmers do one or the other but not both.

Agroecology, or the science and application of ecological principles to the production of food, fuel, fiber, and pharmaceuticals, is not exactly a type of organic agriculture. Wikipedia describes several different approaches: ecosystems agroecology, agronomic ecology, ecological political economy, agro-population ecology, integrated assessment of multifunctional agricultural systems (the landscape and agriculture as part of a wider, integrated set of social institutions), and holon agroecology (an apparently huge topic in itself, the ecology of contexts).

According to the Agroecology Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, agroecology is, among other things, "beneficent agriculture.'

The University of California-Berkeley calls it "a scientific discipline that uses ecological theory to study, design, manage and evaluate agricultural systems that are productive but also resource conserving." This is essentially the same description given by UC Santa Cruz' Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems.

ATTRA has a bunch of information on USDA certified organic and what that all means, with pages on livestock, pests, crops, regulation & history, marketing, fertilizer and soils. Farm Direct has a bunch of US links on organic farming; has tons of info by country, statistics of all sorts, and news. And the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations also has a bunch of information on organic agriculture. The FAO describes organic agriculture as:
a holistic production management system that avoids use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and genetically modified organisms, minimizes pollution of air, soil and water, and optimizes the health and productivity of interdependent communities of plants, animals and people. The non-use of external agriculture inputs which results in natural resources degradation (e.g. soil nutrient mining) does not qualify as "organic". On the other hand, farming systems which do not use external inputs but actively follow organic agriculture principles of health and care are considered organic, even if the agro-ecosystem is not certified organic.
An article in CounterPunch by Heather Gray and K. Rashid Nuri called "How Organic Agriculture Can Feed the World" talks about this, and the persistent idea that currently exists—but is changing—that "Green Revolution," industrial techniques (and attitudes, although that's usually unspoken) in agriculture are all that can stave off mass starvation. The Worldwatch Institute also discusses these stereotypes of industrial vs. organic agriculture, in an article titled "Can Organic Farming Feed Us All?" These articles touch on both technique and attitudes, but not so much on what David Korten calls the Great Turning, or a philosophical, spiritual, and cultural revolution in attitude that he (and others) believe is essential for survival.

Sustainable Table has a nice distinction between sustainable and organic agriculture:
Organic farming generally falls within the accepted definition of sustainable agriculture. However, it is important to distinguish between the two, since organic products can be (unsustainably) produced on large industrial farms, and farms that are not certified organic can produce food using methods that will sustain the farm's productivity for generations. Some organic dairy farms, for example, raise cows in large confinement facilities but are able to meet the bare minimum requirements for organic certification, while a non-organic certified small farm could use organic guidelines and be self-sufficient by recycling all the farm's waste to meet its fertility needs.
What intrigues me most, however, are the organic farming systems that focus on sustainability, ethics, and fundamental shifts in world view.

Here's a few of them:


I've written about this type of agriculture elsewhere. It's sort of the Gaia approach: in biodynamics, the farm is treated as a single, unified organism. Wikipedia again proves a good source for succinctly describing what differentiates this type of agriculture from other organic approaches:
Regarded by some as the first modern ecological farming system and one of the most sustainable, biodynamic farming has much in common with other organic approaches, such as emphasizing the use of manures and composts and excluding of the use of artificial chemicals on soil and plants. Methods unique to the biodynamic approach include the use of fermented herbal and mineral preparations as compost additives and field sprays and the use of an astronomical sowing and planting calendar. Biodynamics originated out of the work of Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy.
The local example of a biodynamic farm is Wild Rose Farm, owned by Eric Mayo and Susan Kerndt. My comment to Eric about it was that it seemed like a method of staying in touch with the Earth and its rhythms. Of particular note to me is the use of astronomical conditions, such as phases of the moon or planetary or stellar positions as guides to timing of planting, etc. One must be aware of the world and the skies to plant or harvest on such a schedule. ATTRA has a detailed description of the method on its website, and of course the Demeter Association, which certifies biodynamic farms through its various national chapters, does also.


According to the Permaculture Institute, this is more than an agricultural method:
Permaculture is an ecological design system for sustainability in all aspects of human endeavor. It teaches us how build natural homes, grow our own food, restore diminished landscapes and ecosystems, catch rainwater, build communities and much more.
Permaculture is a portmanteau word, originating from permanent agriculture/culture. It takes an agroecological approach to food. An interesting feature of permaculture is the design element: the design of a system is approached both from a methodological and a structural viewpoint.

Methodology: The method used to design a permaculture system involves the following aspects in sequence: observation, boundaries, resources, evaluation, design, implementation and maintenance. Site observation, often for a full year, allows the designer to consider the seasonal changes and existing interrelationships of a given site as well as its physical characteristics. Boundaries include both physical limits and social ones. Resources include human and cultural ones (money, for example) as well as natural ones. Evaluation of these allows for preparation for the design, implementaion, and maintenance of the (in this case) agricultural system.

Structure: The patterns of the physical elements of a permaculture system echo naturally occuring ones. For example, I have two herb beds in my back yard which, I discovered in researching this article, reflect principles of permaculture design. The beds are in the shape of spirals, with a high peak in the center of the roughly circular bed that slopes downward in a spiral form, resulting in a single, roughly round bed with small microclimates: high and dry to lower, cooler, and damper soil. Different herbs grow better in different spots along this spiral structure, according to whether they prefer warmer or cooler soil, quicker drainage or slower-draining, shadier spots. Permaculture's physical structure is also viewed in terms of layers, as in a forest: the canopy, low tree layer, shrub layer, herbaceous plant layer, rhizosphere (root crops), the soil surface (cover crops), the vertical layer (climbing plants that grow through the various other layers), and the mycosphere or subsurface/surface layer of fungi.

Another element of permaculture is both structural and methodological: zones of intensity of human involvement and/or manipulation. These range from zone 0, the most intimately involved with human beings (our homes) to zone 5, utter wilderness, or no human intervention. Interestingly, this seems to exclude humanity as part of the system—as though we cannot be part of wilderness (zones 00, the human self, and 6, the wider world, are included in some reckonings of permaculture).

ATTRA also has a thorough description of permaculture, and calls it "unique among alternative farming systems (e.g., organic, sustainable, eco-agriculture, biodynamic) in that it works with a set of ethics that suggest we think and act responsibly in relation to each other and the earth." It describes these ethical principles as including a life ethic that recognizes the intrinsic worth of every living thing, and calls for care of the earth, caring for people, and setting limits to population growth and consumption. I disagree that permaculture is unique in this aspect; other farming systems also have an explicit ethical component.

Alaska has a few permaculture groups and blogs: Alaska Permaculture Community, the Alaska Permaculture Guild, and the Alaskan Eco Escape Educational Center (see also the Facebook page).

Nature or Natural Farming

This is the shizen nōhō that professor Gerlach refers to in the syllabus for the class. Also known as do-nothing farming, from the permaculturist's point of view, it is a type of permaculture. Developed by Masanobu Fukuoka and Mokichi Okada, it uses five guiding principles (as described on Wikipedia):

• human cultivation of soil, plowing or tilling are unnecessary, as is the use of powered machines
• prepared fertilizers are unnecessary, as is the process of preparing compost
• weeding, either by cultivation or by herbicides, is unnecessary
• applications of pesticides or herbicides are unnecessary
• pruning of fruit trees is unnecessary

Fukuoka popularized shizen nōhō in his book, The One-Straw Revolution, translated into English with the help of his disciple, Larry Korn.

Nayakrishi Andolon

Nayakrishi Andolon translates as New Agriculture Movement, and according to Wikipedia "is an agricultural movement in Bangladesh that opposes the use of Western pesticides and genetically altered seeds." It is a philosophy of agriculture that sees human beings as an intrinsic part of the natural world. It is about happiness:
[Nayakrishi Andolon] is the movement of the farming communities to cultivate happy relations of life and environment and new ways to build up communities. It is a way to creatively relate with Nature or "Praliriti" as is called in bangla language.

But Nayakrishi does not assume Nature or "Praliriti" as an external object outside the living human beings, or do not believe that a sharp margin can be drawn between human beings and external world without falling into illusions and contradictions. We are all Nature as well, and Nature or "Praliriti" exists through us.
The organization UBINIG has more information on the approach.
In bangla the word krishi, means the act of cultivation, but not in the conventional sense as we understand cultivation now, which is as an act to produce consumer needs for the human beings using earth as merely means of production. The word 'krishi is rather cultivation of the relation between human beings and nature that transforms both and functions as an integral whole, as the single organism. In this relation human beings are not the supreme agent possessing, commanding and controlling the object of production, i.e.,nature. The nature also transforms the human beings. It is an act of reciprocal nurturing. There is no outside and inside of human existence, since we are both thinking beings and nature.

Andolon is movement -- movement at various levels: cultural, mobilisational, political and organisational. It is also a movement at the site of ideology, discourse and power. At the margins of imagination and determination Nayakrishi is also about promise of future. But most importantly Nayakrishi Andolon is the movement to change our destructive lifestyles, it is a lifestyle movement that is proper for human beings endowed with the capacity to act politically and spiritually against the destruction of conditions of life and livelihood. Nayakrishi is a movement to move from drstructive and preadatory stage of civilisation to creative and joyful lifestyles.
This is a level of ethics that moves into spirituality and an entire way of life, a long remove from the USDA National Organic Program certification of a technique applied on one part of a given farm.

Note: posts in this series are the personal reflections and observations of Deirdre Helfferich about the class.

Previous posts in this series:

Food systems course week six: soil, tillage, and more books
Food systems course week five: seven industrial agriculture myths
Food systems course week four: Food Inc.
Food systems course: week three
Food systems course: week two
Food systems course: week one
Food systems course: the booklist
New course: sustainable food systems

Cross posted at Ester Republic blog.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

UAF offers Peace Corps Fellows graduate study opportunities

The University of Alaska Fairbanks and the Peace Corps have teamed up to launch a new Fellows/USA program, a partnership which provides graduate school scholarships to returned Peace Corps volunteers. Selected fellows will be able to choose one of three master’s programs: natural resources management, rural development, and natural resources management and geography. SNRAS and the Department of Alaska Native Studies and Rural Development are the two participating entities at UAF.

“The Peace Corps is delighted to bring the University of Alaska into our Fellows/USA fold,” said Peace Corps director Aaron Williams. “UAF’s rigorous curriculum will allow students to hone their professional skills and will prepare them to take on leadership roles both at home and abroad.”

UAF Provost Susan Henrichs said, “The Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Fellows/USA Program will benefit the university by recruiting graduate students with a wealth of experiences to share with their fellow students and the university community. As part of their UAF program, the fellows will complete an internship that will benefit a high-need community, and that will augment UAF's service to the state.”

As the northernmost university in the United States, UAF will afford the fellows a unique opportunity to explore their academic interests in an arctic environment. Students will further bolster their professional skills with internships at Fairbanks nonprofits and government organizations. Fellows will receive a stipend of $13,500 for their first year of graduate school, as well as tuition for up to 10 graduate credits per semester.

Fellows/USA started in 1985 at Teachers College, Columbia University and has grown into a network of more than 60 graduate schools across the country. The program is specifically for students who have completed their tenure abroad with the Peace Corps. Fellows apply their Peace Corps experience to internships in underserved American communities.

The Peace Corps just recently changed the name of the Fellows/USA program to the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program. Coverdell was the director of the Peace Corps from 1989 to 1991.

Monday, May 2, 2011

May 3 is Alaska Agriculture Day

Alaska Agriculture Day will be recognized Tuesday (and throughout the week) in a variety of ways, from classroom activities to an egg cooking demonstration.

The event is designed to raise agricultural awareness of students and adults. Presenters will visit schools around the Interior to shine the spotlight on agriculture, with hands-on activities and age-appropriate story times. Over 65 classrooms in Fairbanks and the surrounding area will receive visits this week. Students will plant seed pots, visit farms and learn about soil and composting.

The Fairbanks Soil and Water Conservation District has coordinated and trained the presenters. "The response is overwhelmingly positive," said FSWCD Education Coordinator Tami Seekins. "Each year agriculture in the classroom continues to grow."

On Tuesday, the guest speaker at the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Carlson Center will be SNRAS Dean and AFES Director Carol Lewis. Her topic will be "the economics of Alaska agriculture." Local businessman Glenn Risse will also speak on his area of expertise, greenhouse production.

Local chef Chuck Lemke will host an "Egg-ceptional Cooking" workshop at the Fairbanks Community Food Bank on May 5. The class will highlight inspirational ways to cook with fresh, locally grown eggs. Pre-register by contacting Tami Seekins.

During the Fairbanks Convention and Visitors' Bureau Charity Walk on May 13, there will be an all-Alaska grown table at the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors' Center. Food for the walkers will include beef and potatoes from the Matanuska Experiment Farm, along with cheese, vegetables, bread, honey and jams, all made in Alaska.