Most recently, she also became the program assistant for the Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, and she works with Research Director Milan Shipka and with Steven Seefeldt on event coordination and fundraising for the Georgeson Botanical Garden. And, she waters plants in the O’Neill Building!
A nominating letter for Cushing notes, “Deb has worked extensively to cover several jobs at once while we are without an academic program assistant. She has worked hard to learn many skills beyond what had been required previously, all in an effort to serve the faculty, staff and students of SNRE. Beyond that, Deb is well liked by her coworkers and is seen as an asset for accomplishing our jobs and as a friend to many of us in SNRE/AFES.”
Her work on the National Institute of Food and Agriculture Plan of Work and Annual Report, which is tied to SNRE federal funding, has been key. Several of the impact stories written by Cushing have been highlighted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She also has helped academic faculty with numerous logistics, including the NRM field trip this past spring.
Cushing grew up in St. Petersburg, Fla., and in Maryland, where her family moved when she was in high school. Her father is a Pentecostal minister and she says she was raised as a “preacher’s kid.” She received a bachelor’s degree in Biblical literature at Northwest College in Kirkland, Wash. She lived in Kotzebue for six years before working with the United Campus Ministries at UAF in a support and fund-raising role.
Cushing says she has stayed with the school for 20 years because she believes in its work, including research on important natural resource topics and in educating students in natural resources management, including agriculture and forestry.
Besides, she says, “I liked the people.”
Her interests include gardening, knitting, crocheting, spending time with three grandchildren, ages 8, 6 and nearly 1. Another favorite activity, she jokes, is writing murder mysteries in her mind, some of which involve former faculty.
Retired Dean Carol Lewis once gave her a sweatshirt that says, “Watch out or you’ll wind up in my novel.”