Thursday, July 14, 2016

SNRE Profile: John Yarie to retire Aug. 31

After 38 years with the University of Alaska Fairbanks, John Yarie will begin a phased retirement on Aug. 31.

The SNRE silviculture professor plans to continue working half time for nine months, to further his research and teach one forestry class a semester. Yarie also has several papers he’d like to write on the results of his forest research, and he is part of a team that is applying for a National Science Foundation grant to study the carbon dynamics and regrowth of forested areas that have burned more than once in the past 50 years. The grant will require fieldwork during the summer of 2018.

When that’s over, he’s definitely retiring, he said.

Yarie, who grew up in a Cleveland suburb, said he was a typical undergraduate, changing his mind and colleges multiple times before settling on forestry as a major. Other possibilities included math and PE instruction. He ended up earning a doctorate, he said, because the job market was dismal each time he earned another degree.

After submitting his dissertation to his University of British Columbia committee for review, he went on a six-week road trip to Alaska in 1977. He had worked a summer in a Thorne Bay logging camp as a college student, and he wanted to see more of the state and check out the job market.

UAF had no openings for research foresters, but as a result of talking with several folks on campus (Keith Van Cleve and Ted Dyrness), Yarie was offered a research position to work cooperatively with the U.S. Forest Service inventory and analysis folks in the Porcupine region. Following the inventory work, he received funding from the Department of Energy to research woody crops like poplars and willows in the Palmer, Bonanza Creek and Caribou/Poker Creek areas. By 1983, he had become an assistant professor of forest ecology and silviculture at UAF. Silviculture is the science of managing forests for desired outcomes.

John Yarie cooks hamburgers for the SNRE back-to-school barbecue.
Over the years, he has taught undergraduate classes in natural resources measurements, forest ecology and silviculture. He became the first instructor for the school’s GIS class, in 1992, and he worked with the university and Legislature to buy the necessary equipment for a lab and to hire a GIS expert (Dave Verbyla). He has also taught the graduate seminar and graduate courses in research methods and forest ecosystem sciences.

Yarie has enjoyed teaching but his primary focus has been research, particularly studying the effects of changing environmental conditions on forest ecosystems and successional processes following forest fires. He has worked on several long-term projects. A 25-year project that ended recently looked at the effect of drought on forests, using rain exclusion platforms and removing snowpack in the spring.

He is also studying the decomposition of all types of wood in several plots to determine how carbon is released. He recently completed the first 20 years of what is planned as a 100-year study.

Yarie has had a leadership role in the school and served as department head for the former Forest Sciences Department for a dozen years. He has also been an enthusiastic participant in the annual lumberjack competition, the SNRE Forest Fest. His specialty is being the timekeeper for the log-rolling competition.

Retirement plans include woodworking projects and travel to places he has wanted to go, including Chile’s Easter Island. Yarie also expects to spend more time on the slopes of Western downhill ski resorts and with his daughters, who live in Portland, Oregon, and Virginia.

He is the thankful for his time at UAF. “I think I have had a really enjoyable career surrounded by good colleagues,” he said, including Keith Van Cleve, Glenn Juday and John Fox, who have already retired.

No comments: