Wednesday, May 28, 2014

GBG opens mud hole to kids on Father's Day

The Georgeson Botanical Garden will host its second annual Mud Day in the Babula Children’s Garden on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 15 from 1 to 4 p.m.

Children love squishing their toes in the mud and they'll be able to do that on June 15.
Bring a sense of adventure, towels and clean clothes to wear after having fun in the mud. The Fairbanks Community Food Bank will collect donations of two cans of food or $2 per child.

For more information, contact Katie diCristina at 907-474-6921.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Field trip opens doors of natural resources management to UAF students

The 10-day natural resources management field trip takes UAF students beyond the textbook and delves into the grit, grime and glory of the world of Alaska' resources.

This year's trip, May 12-21, was no exception, taking 15 students on a whirlwind trip around the state to see the resources and meet the people who manage them.

Amelia Sikes gets ready to tour the GVEA power plant in Healy.
From Fairbanks to Seward and points between and beyond, the class seeks to extend learning beyond the classroom. "Some things you can't learn unless you see it and meet the people," said Dean and Director Stephen Sparrow.

The field trip was implemented in the 1980s and has been a required course for undergrads ever since. "We wanted our students to have a better understanding of resources in Alaska and how they are managed," Sparrow said. "They get to see everything from agriculture to fishing to mining and management of public lands. Speakers share about their jobs and issues and controversies in their fields."

Trip leader Associate Professor Peter Fix said the field trip gives students exposure to issues they get introduced to in the classroom. "It makes it real and provides tangible examples of current issues."

Students keep journals throughout their travels and at the end of the trip write an essay.

David Betchkal, soundscape engineer at Denali National Park, points out places on a park map.
Student Tom Cheney said, "This was the best class I ever had. I recommend it to everyone. I wouldn't change a thing."

Andrea Perezgao started the trip less than enthusiastic. "I didn't think I would like it," she said. "I wasn't feeling it. But it turned out so much better than I expected. I liked everything. Honestly, I didn't stop learning day and night for 10 days, not only about the environment but the people. I made a ton of friends."

Emma Rennard surveys the Nenana River.
Other than some fellow travelers who could have used deodorant, Perezgao had no complaints. "We learned to get along and communicate better and be open to other people's opinions," she said.

Amelia Sikes said the yaks in Delta Junction, the orcas observed at Seward and the animals she saw at the Alaska Sea Life Center were the most wonderful parts. "Climbing Mt. Marathon in Seward was so much fun," she said. "All of it was good and making friendships was really good.

"This whole trip opened my eyes to the reality of NRM. We learned it in class but seeing it and talking to people who do real stuff makes me feel like what I'm doing is important."

Students paused for a photo at Usibelli Coal  Mine.
NRM 290 places visited:
Harding Lake
Rika's Roadhouse,
Delta Clearwater River
Northern Lights Dairy
Green's Pellet Mill
Alaska Interior Game Ranch
Kaspari Farms
Clearwater River Flood Control Project
Matanuska Experiment Farm
Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
Kenai National Wildlife Refuge
Russian River Campground
Juneau Creek
Cooper Creek Campground
Quartz Creek Campground
Exig Glacier
Kenai Fjords Visitor Center
Kenai Fjords National Park boat tour
tour of Matanuska-Susitna area
BP, Anchorage
Alaska Chip Factory
Alaska Railroad
Valley of the Moon park
Bell's Nursery
Denali National Park
GVEA coal fired power plant, Healy
Usibelli Coal Mine

Amelia Sikes and Jessica Carter feed a yak at Kaspari Farms in Delta Junction.

(Thanks to everyone who took the time to meet with UAF students.)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

OneTree Alaska takes science to classrooms

Natural resources managers in training (aka third graders) worked with Research Assistant Professor Janice Dawe this week, concluding a school year of OneTree Alaska activities.

Throughout the school year, Dawe has visited Charmaree Cook's classroom at Badger Road Elementary School, teaching the importance of the birch tree, how to collect scientific data on trees and grow and plant them. In April the students tapped a birch tree in their school yard and on Monday worked with Dawe to cook it into syrup.

A student uses a refractometer during a OneTree Alaska outreach activity.
"You guys chose a champion tree," Dawe said. The students chimed in, calling it the "Birch King" and the "King of All Trees."

Cook's class collected five gallons of sap from their tree. This week Dawe ran it through the OneTree Alaska reverse osmosis unit. She set up several jugs of sap for the students to taste, from nearly pure water to concentrated sap.

The entire class toasted with the sweeter drink. "It smells like butter," said one student. "It tastes like macaroni," said another. "It tastes like sweet tea," one girl wrote in her journal. Another wrote, "Clear sap tastes funny. Dark sap tastes terrible."

"Turning birch sap into syrup is a real delicate process," Dawe said. Pointing to the pure water, she said, "This is a valuable forest product."
Jan Dawe pours birch sap in a Badger Road Elementary classroom.

She taught the children how to use a hydrometer and a refractometer. "This is real science," Dawe said. After asking for hypothoses, she said, "In science you start with questions you don't know the answer to and form your ideas."

This is Cook's second year with OneTree Alaska. "Last year we studied the growth of trees; this year they are surprisingly interested in data collection, in scientific measurements and comparing, of making observations and predictions," Cook said.

"I've found it encouraging that they are doing a lot of writing. Some are reluctant writers on topics I give them but with this they are writing without knowing they're writing."

Charmaree Cook, left, uses a refractometer as Jan Dawe observes.
The students learned about photosynthesis and they know the parts of the birch tree inside and out, from the outer bark to the heartwood. "You are quite the team coming up with these answers," Dawe said.

She said this class has been exceptional at remembering what she teaches them. "For the next few years keep watching birch trees," she advised. "No matter what else is going on in your lives I hope you will all look at birch trees."

Summing up the year-long classroom educational aspects, Dawe said, "This is authentic.They are learning to become natural resources managers."
A student records his ideas in a journal.

Yum! Students enjoyed tasting the sap.

Arbor Day recognized at Georgeson Botanical Garden

Fairbanks has been abuzz over Arbor Day, and it hasn't been celebrated in just one day. For about three weeks, students and volunteers are planting trees in school yards, parks and at Creamer's Field. The events are hosted by the Fairbanks Arbor Day Committee.

Monday found tree lovers planting a Scotch Pine at the Georgeson Botanical Garden. The tree was purchased by Patricia Joyner and planted by Kimberley Maher, Naomi O'Neal, Jim Smith and Katie DiCristina in honor of the recently retired Grant Matheke, a 35-year employee of the garden. The garden is a program of the School of Natural Resources and Extension and the Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station.

Kimberley Maher observes as Naomi O'Neal and Jim Smith plant a Scotch pine at the Georgeson Botanical Garden on Alaska Arbor Day May 19.
There will be another planting Friday at 2:30 p.m. at the Fairbanks Senior Center, 1424 Moore St. To learn more about the Arbor Day Foundation in Alaska, visit here.

Further reading:
A new beginning to an old tradition takes root at Creamer's Field, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, May 20, 2014, by Tim Mowry

Fairbanks students plant trees for the planet, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, May 18, 2014, by Robin Wood

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Graduates earn diplomas

At today's UAF Commencement, 12 bachelor's, 10 master's and two doctoral degrees were granted to School of Natural Resources students.

Professor Meriam Karlsson prepares to escort students to the Commencement ceremonies at the Carlson Center May 11. From left (behind Dr. Karlsson), Michael Quinn, Kimberly Rowland,  Jonathan Keill, Jacob Hakala, Emily Garrett, Cole Burris.
Baccalaureate degrees
Cole D. Bures, B.S., Natural Resources Management: High Latitude Agriculture
Grant W. Cain, B.S., Geography, Geographic INformation Science and Technology
Kerri J. Crowder, B.A., Geography
Ryan P. Cunningham, B.S., Natural Resources Management: Plant, Animal and Soil Science
Jacob A. Hakala, B.S., Natural Resources Management: Forestry
Jennifer Lynn Lutze, B.S., Natural Resources Management
Michael A. Quinn, B.A., Geography
Rafael Rodriguez, B.S., Natural Resources Management; Humans and the Environment (magna cum laude)
Kimberly Ann Rowland, B.S., Geography: Environmental Studies
Jonathan Robert Smith, B.A., Geography
Dustin M. Thurman, B.A., Geography
AnneMarie Bridget White, B.S., Natural Resources Management: Forestry

Britta Schroeder earned her master's degree.
Master's Degrees
Garrett Lambert Altmann, M.S., Natural Resources Managment
Carson Alan Baugham, M.S., Natural Resources Management
Sunny Monique Castillo, M.S., Natural Resources Management
Emily R. Dickson, M.S., Natural Resources Management
Heidi L. Hatcher, M.S., Natural Resources Management

Brett Matthew Parks, M.S., International Environmental Principles and Policies, Interdisciplinary Program
Randy Louis Peterson, M.S., Forest Biometrics and Quantitative Analysis of Forested Ecosystems, Interdisciplinary Program
Britta J. Schroeder, M.S., Natural Resources Management
Nicole Y. Swenson, M.S., Natural Resources Management

Doctors of Philosophy
Cindy E. Fabbri, Ph.D., Natural Resources and Sustainability
B.A., Miami University, 1994, M. Ed., UAF, 2002
 Thesis: A Model for Sustainability science in Higher Education: Water Research, Science and Sustainability Literacy and Community Adaptive Capacity
 Major Professor: Dr. Elena Sparrow

Susan Loshbaugh receives her hood from Provost Susan Henrichs.
Susan Ferguson Loshbaugh, Ph.D,. Environmental History, Interdisciplinary Program
B.A., Carleton College, 1976, M.S., University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, 1981
Thesis: The History of Land Use on Alaska's Kenai River and its Implications for Sustaining Salmon
Major Professors: Dr. Susan Todd and Dr. Falk Huettmann

The Carlson Center was filled with graduates, faculty and friends and family.

Brent Culleton carries the SNRE banner onto the stage.
Bret Parks shakes hands with Chancellor Brian Rogers.
Chancellor Rogers congratulates Jacob Hakala.

Sparrow awarded for distinguished service

 SNRE Professor Elena Sparrow has been awarded the 2014 Emil Usibelli Distinguished Service Award.

Sparrow has worked at the University of Alaska Fairbanks since 1985, focusing on work to share science with elementary and secondary school students and K-12 teachers.
Elena Sparrow at UAF Commencement

Her work with the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment program works to engage students and teachers as citizen scientists. GLOBE is an international science and environmental education program in which students and teachers gather and analyze environmental data.

From classroom visits to community volunteerism to workshops for colleagues, both at UAF and throughout the international scientific community, Sparrow’s nominators consistently note the depth and breadth of her contributions to both science and education.
“Through her dedicated and effective methods of providing teachers with the information and tools needed to teach about the Alaskan environment, she has literally influenced tens of thousands of students,” said IARC Director Larry Hinzman. “She is an inspiration to all who meet her and she has absolutely made the world a better place through her dedicated efforts to educate students and the general public throughout the world.”
Multiple people wrote in support of Sparrow’s nomination for the award, several of them noting her strong influence on emerging young scientists through her work as a judge at school- and community-level science fairs.
One student, who is nearing the completion of her doctoral work at UAF, first met Sparrow in kindergarten as a participant and award winner at the Interior Alaska Science Fair.
“Dr. Elena Sparrow stood in front of the crowd to give the Alaska Women in Science awards. She called my name. I shook Dr. Sparrow’s hand and felt like a real scientist,” said Katie Villano Spellman. “I, too, hope to be a scientist who commits her career to building relationships between students, teachers and scientists and I look to Elena’s impressive public service as a model on how to do this with sincerity and passion.”
Sparrow holds a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from the University of the Philippines, a master’s degree in soil microbiology from Cornell University and a doctorate in agronomy-soil microbiology from Colorado State University.
 She receives a cash award of $10,000.

Other recipients were Joseph Thompson for teaching and Roger Ruess for research.

Thompson, an associate professor of philosophy and humanities in the College of Liberal Arts, received the teaching award. Ruess, a professor of biology at the UAF Institute of Arctic Biology and College of Natural Science and Mathematics, received the research award. Sparrow, a research professor and education outreach director at the International Arctic Research Center, received the service award.

 Thompson joined the university in 1999 and has taught a wide range of undergraduate courses, from introductory philosophy to core humanities classes to advanced senior thesis, according to a UAF news release.

College of Liberal Arts Dean Todd Sherman called him a student favorite, as well as “a hard-working and successful teacher who challenges his students to think critically and to be able to communicate their ideas through the spoken and written word.”

Ruess joined the faculty at UAF in 1989, after postdoctoral and faculty positions at Syracuse University and two years as a postdoctoral fellow with the National Science Foundation.
Ruess is an ecologist whose research has focused on the boreal forest. For the past three years, he has served as principal investigator for the Bonanza Creek Long Term Ecological Research Program, which involves approximately 20 researchers from UAF and other institutions.

Each year, a committee that includes members from the faculty, the student body and a member of the UA Foundation Board of Trustees evaluates the nominees.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Teachers have opportunity to use agriculture in the classroom

An Ag in the Classroom Workshop will be offered this summer, giving teachers the opportunity to incorporate lessons about agriculture into their classrooms.
The workshop will take place June 3-6 at UAF. The course is titled  "Enhancing Agricultural Literacy for Regular Education, Gifted and Special Education Teachers."
Incorporating agriculture into the classroom is easy and fun! Here students learn where in Alaska agriculture products are grown or raised. (UAF photo by Deb Segla)
SNRE faculty and staff helping with the workshop include Professor Milan Shipka, Interim Dean and Director Steve Sparrow,  Jennifer Robinette of the Reindeer Research Program, Assistant Research Professor Jan Rowell, Research Technician Bob Van Veldhuizen and Extension Agent Steve Seefeldt. Instructors are Marilyn Krause, science teacher at Ryan Middle School, and Melissa Sikes, Fairbanks Soil and Water Conservation District natural resource education specialist.

This will be an introduction to resources available through the Alaska Ag in the Classroom program. Participants will learn interdisciplinary methods, including science technology, engineering and math, to teach principles of agriculture.
There will be field trips to farms, school and community gardens and Chena Hot Springs Resort.
The cost is $190. UAF credit is available. The cost is the same but for two credits there is more work after the course is finished. Sign up with the Education Department to get continuing education credits, CRN 52234  ED F595-F02 for one credit, or  CRN 52236  ED F595-F03  for two credits. Attendees may also sign up with the School of Natural Resources and Extension, CRN 52231  NRM F595-F01  for one credit, or CRN 52233  NRM F595-F02 for  two credits.
Register online with UAF Summer Sessions or call 907-474-7021.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Third and final geography candidate to present May 7-8

Philip Bonnaventure, the third candidate for physical geography professor, earned his P.hD. in in geography at the University of Ottawa, and is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at Queen's University.

He will present a research seminar  Wednesday, May 7 from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in Murie 104 (auditorium). The topic is "Modeling the Spatial Extent of Permafrost Change in High Latitude Environments."
Philip Bonnaventure

His teaching seminar is Thursday, May 8 from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. in Murie 104 (auditorium). It will be an introduction to physical geography.

Individual meetings with Dr. Bonnaventure may be scheduled here

Further reading:

"Making a better climate map, Yukon News, May 22, 2013, by Josh Kerr

SNRE honors Gasbarro for outstanding volunteerism

Tony Gasbarro was honored May 2 as SNRE's outstanding volunteer.

"We wouldn't have our Peace Corps programs without Tony," said Steve Sparrow, interim SNRE dean and interim AFES director.

Tony Gasbarro, right, was delighted to accept an award for outstanding volunteer efforts. It was presented by SNRE Interim Dean and AFES Interim Director Steve Sparrow.
Gasbarro served 23 years as a forestry professor with the UAF Cooperative Extension Service and SNRAS.

He first served as a PC Volunteer in 1962, the year he graduated from Colorado State University. His assignment was the Dominican Republic, where he trained foresters in fire control, timber sales preparation, logging road location and forest measurements.

In 1996, Gasbarro served in the PC again, this time in El Salvador. He's been returning ever since, helping raise funds for community development and education for Salvadorans. In 2003, Gasbarro received the Lillian Carter Award in recognition of this Peace Corps work.

Ten years ago, Gasbarro helped start the Master's International Program at UAF and more recently the Paul G. Coverdell Fellows program. He has worked tirelessly to grow the programs for SNRE, working with Associate Professor Susan Todd. The two programs have grown so much that there is always a waiting list of students wanting to get involved.

Professor Lawrence Duffy said of Gasbarro: "The value of his 40 years relationship with UAF is also apparent to all the faculty members with whom he has interacted. He exemplifies UAF's culture of service to state and nation."

"Tony is one of the most dedicated, passionate individuals I know," said Erin Kelly, UAF's first MIP graduate. "He genuinely cares about the well being of others and does all that he can to help improve the quality of life of all those he encounters. Tony has touched countless lives through his volunteer work in El Salvador and as a professor at UAF. He is an inspiration for so many people. Seeing his numerous acts of compassion has empowered me to always challenge myself, to strive to be a better person and to serve those in need."

"Tony has made a difference in all of our lives," said Oline Lowe, West Valley High School Spanish teacher. "Last summer we were having coffee and a young lady saw Tony and approached him with a big smile. She told him that she was so inspired by his presentation at her high school Spanish class that after she graduated she went to volunteer at an orphanage for the summer and said it was life changing and that she had Tony to thank for inspiring her."

Tony Gasbarro visited Erin Kelly in El Salvador.
UAF alumnas Mary Matthews wrote, "Tony's work and commitment to leaving this world a better place has impacted hundreds of people. He has inspired students in over 400 presentations at schools, universities and community and church groups. He brings the lives of poor children in tropical Central American into the consciousness of kids who wear parkas at recess. And the kids are inspired. Tony envisioned an organizational structure providing continuity and maximum local control. He collaborates with Project Salvador to aid the people of El Salvador in their own system of social justice."

Professor Emeritus Carol E. Lewis (retired SNRAS dean and AFES director) said, "When Tony Gasbarro retired he could have sat back and relaxed. Instead he chose to make a positive difference in a country that desperately needed assistance, to continue educating students and to establish a new program that aligns Peace Corps Volunteers with UAF so that they can earn a master's degree.

"Throughout the years that I have known Tony I have found him to be an excellent representative of our university, our community and our nation."

Susan Todd expressed appreciation for Gasbarro's volunteer efforts and said the PC program enriches UAF. “Our students and faculty say it is the best thing that has happened to our school," she said "It’s a commitment to the betterment of society and not just what’s in it for me.”
“The Peace Corps involvement makes this a stronger university,” Gasbarro said. “It keeps us connected to the rest of the world and makes us not quite so provincial.”

Friday, May 2, 2014

Lynch prepares for Peace Corps service in Togo

Master's International Program graduate student Lauren Lynch will soon depart for Peace Corps service in Togo, a country in West Africa, but first she is going on a whirlwind tour of Alaska.

Her classroom studies end May 9 and on May 12 Lynch will begin 10 days of traveling with the Natural Resources Management 290 field trip, serving as the expediter. Students will visit Harding Lake. a dairy, a pellet mill, bison and yak ranches, fish hatcheries, glaciers, Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Eagle River Nature Center, Alaska Chip Factory, Denali National Park and Usibelli Coal Mine. They will see the Kenai Fjords National Park by boat. "I'm so excited to go on this trip," Lynch said.
Lauren Lynch

Lynch, who hails from Ipswich, Massachusetts, earned a degree in natural resources management and biology at Amherst College. She knew she wanted to earn her master's degree while serving in the Peace Corps and when she studied the schools with MIP programs and found the University of Alaska Fairbanks everything fell into place. Being awarded a MIP fellowship sealed the deal.

Lynch knew she wanted to study natural resources management and she thought the Peace Corps would help her learn about working with people and how to make sure that her research is relevant to people. "The Peace Corps is a good opportunity to make sure what I do is useful in some way."

"I love UAF," she said. "The classes are really good and Susan (Todd) and Tony (Gasbarro) are really good. It's a really nice group of people here. I like the grad student community and everyone in this department." During her 10 months in Fairbanks, Lynch has enjoyed skiing on the UAF trails, doing Capoeira and hiking.

Students at Pearl Creek Elementary School made this collage of haiku poems about birch trees for Lauren Lynch.
While taking the natural resources management graduate seminar in the fall, Lynch was encouraged to volunteer as a service learner in the nearby public schools. She has been at Pearl Creek and Watershed schools, helping elementary students plant trees, keep scientific journals, collect seeds and tap for birch sap this spring. "I was very impressed that the kids knew what to do," she said of a recent tapping event in the forest at Pearl Creek.

Upon learning her assignment would be Togo, Lauren had to do a quick Google search. She learned it is next to Ghana and is a tropical, sub-Saharan nation. French is the official language.

Lynch's area of research is sacred groves, areas of forests managed by communities for religious and social reasons. "First I want to get to know my community and integrate," she said. "And make sure the projects I do are what people want, are initiated by the community and can be sustainable."

From reading about Togo Lynch learned that many areas are deforested. "That's one reason it's particularly important to understand sacred groves, where they often have better protection than official parks. It says something about the community management or the religious aspects."

Lynch is interested in forests, but her heart is drawn to birds and other wildlife so she'll be noting them in Togo too.

"I really want to get at the human element," she summed up.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

UAF study examines how Fairbanksans view recreation

What is the optimal way Fairbanksans wish to enjoy their recreation time?
Begin Interior Alaska Recreation Survey

Skijoring is a popular recreational activity in interior Alaska.
Bryant Wright, a SNRE graduate student, and Associate Professor Peter Fix are tackling this question with a new survey. They have a request:

In order to help provide the best opportunities for the recreation we desire, local land and recreation managers need to hear and understand our preferences. The University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Natural Resources and Extension has partnered with the Bureau of Land Management, Eastern Interior Field Office to examine how Fairbanks area residents as a whole hope to benefit from recreation in interior Alaska. This research differs from previous studies in the following ways:
•    We are interested in recreation on all land in and near the Fairbanks North Star Borough, not just one site.
•    You can describe what you want to do for recreation, not just what you usually do based on existing opportunities.
•    We have coordinated with many agencies (FNSB Parks and Recreation Department, Alaska DNR State Parks, U.S. Army Fort Wainwright) to ensure we address a breadth of relevant issues and have a wide distribution of results.
We will administer a comprehensive online survey from May 1 to June 30 to gather information about local demand for recreation. Hopefully this community-based approach can facilitate more cooperative and effective planning in order to better provide the benefits we desire from our public places.

"The survey is a fun way to describe your outdoor recreation trips, routines and goals," said Wright. "Its success relies on lots of honest information that accurately represents our community."

Survey participants will be eligible to win $30 gift certificates to Beaver Sports or Frontier Outfitters. Twenty certificates will be granted.

Contact Peter Fix or Bryant Wright for more information.

Begin the survey here.

Matheke, instrumental to botanical garden, retires

After 35 years, Grant Matheke has put away his rake, hammer and shovel at the Georgeson Botanical Garden.

Matheke remembers the exact day he started working as a research technician: March 19, 1979. He grew up in East Orange, New Jersey, outside of New York City and earned a B.A. in biology and chemistry at Middlebury College in Vermont and a master’s in biological oceanography at UAF.
Grant Matheke at the Georgeson Botanical Garden

While serving in the U.S. Navy from 1966 to 1970, Matheke was stationed in Virginia, Florida, the Mediterranean and Cuba. He came to Alaska to escape the crowded East Coast and was happy to take the job at the GBG. “I knew a little bit because I had gardened as a kid,” Matheke said. His mother’s gardener raised prize-winning dahlias and Matheke would hang around him to listen to his horticulture stories.

At first, Matheke worked with controlled environments, raising tomatoes and cucumbers hydroponically. He also researched cut roses and using waste heat to keep greenhouses warm. He helped establish a greenhouse at Fort Wainwright for growing warm season crops.

His legacy is seen everywhere at the GBG, as Matheke helped design and build the garden, handling the landscape construction and experimental design for vegetables and peonies. He planned and installed an automated sprinkler system and built all but two of the garden structures. Data analysis was another big area of his job. “The statistics course I had to take came in handy,” he said.

Matheke loved the variety his job offered. “I liked being outdoors in the summer. It was kind of neat to do something here and be the first ones to do it. Throughout the years the challenge has been funding. “We built this garden as money became available,” he said. “So some things got built pretty slowly.

“The thing I felt best about was watching the garden develop and feeling like I was a part of that,” he said. “It was rewarding to do research that helped the garden and small scale farmers. It was a great job. I’d keep doing it if I wasn’t getting old. I just can’t do it justice any more.”

For Matheke, GBG wasn’t just a workplace; it holds a special magic. “I’d see people coming to the garden in the evening, a couple you could tell had had a spat and after half an hour they’d walk out holding hands. Gardens are uplifting spaces.”

He liked the unique aspect of conducting research right where visitors were walking by. “There’s a lot of science in horticulture and art too. It’s a little bit like medicine.

“It was nice to use your mind a little bit to solve problems. We’d see what questions came up and what we could learn. We’d end up with way more questions than when we started.”

Working with students was one of the best things about his career. “We had some great ones,” Matheke said. He tried to instill in them that at the end of each day they should look at what they had accomplished.

At home, Matheke grows fruits and perennials. He and his wife Libby Silberling plan to visit their place in Maine more often and leave Alaska in the winter to sail in warm locations. The couple has four daughters and three grandchildren.

Matheke will spend more time camping and canoeing in retirement.

“I hope to see the garden grow as a valuable resource for the community,” he said. He has one more project to finish at the GBG and plans to ride his bike there this summer to work as a volunteer.

His supervisor, Professor Pat Holloway, said, “Grant is one of the best ambassadors for UAF through his work at science fairs, school workshops and consultation with many, many local growers. You can find Grant’s name practically on every rock, bench, flower bed and dandelion in the entire garden.
Grant Matheke will spend more time relaxing in his retirement.

“Grant has a very good work ethic, and he leads by example in everything he does,” Holloway said. “He has trained hundreds of college and high school students and community volunteers with infinite patience and respect. Grant had the ability to handle an insane summer work schedule with the uncountable crush of summer visitors, and then picture a person juggling two coffee cups and bellowing an operatic tune while racing through the garden to attack the next project.”

Geography hosts second candidate

The Geography Department continues its candidate presentations and interviews next week for a faculty position in physical geography. Christopher Maio will give a research seminar Monday, May 5 from 2:15 to 3:15 p.m. in the Murie Building 104 (auditorium). The title is "Development of Sediment Derived Paleo-Proxy Records to Elucidate Coastal Change: A 4000-Year Record of Past Storm Events, Cape Cod, Massachusetts.”

Christopher Maio
His teaching seminar will be Tuesday, May 6 from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in Murie Building 104. The teaching topic is "Coastal Geomorphology."

Maio earned his doctorate in environmental science at the University of Massaschusetts-Boston and is currently a visiting researcher at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Schedule meetings with Maio here.