Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Music in the Garden series continues at Georgeson

The Red Hackle Pipe Band, which started off this year's Music in the Garden
series, performs at Georgeson Botanical Garden. Photo by Charles Mason

A dozen Fairbanks-area bands and musical ensembles will perform Thursday evenings throughout this summer at the Georgeson Botanical Garden.

The 2017 Music in the Garden series concerts will be at 7 p.m. through Aug. 10. The series began May 25 with the Fairbanks Red Hackle Pipe Band and the Headbolt Heaters perform this week.

Concertgoers are encouraged to bring a blanket and picnic but are asked to leave pets at home. Parking will be available on West Ridge. A short walking path to the garden, which is located at the Fairbanks Experiment Farm, begins at the overlook. Concerts are free, but the garden will accept donations.

The schedule includes:
May 25 — Fairbanks Red Hackle Pipe Band
June 1 — Headbolt Heaters
June 8 — O Tallulah
June 15 — Marc Brown and the Blues Crew
June 22 — Rock Bottom Stompers
June 29 — Cold Steel Drums
July 6 — Emily Anderson
July 13 — Dry Cabin String Band
July 20 — Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival Celtic Ensemble
July 27 — Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival Brazilian Ensemble
Aug. 3 — Fairbanks Community Jazz Band
Aug. 10 — ET Barnette String Band

Music in the Garden is sponsored by UAF Summer Sessions and Lifelong Learning, with support from Alaska Coffee Roasting Co., Sound Reinforcement Specialists, Georgeson Botanical Garden and the School of Natural Resources and Extension, and KUAC. For more information, visit www.uaf.edu/summer/events or call 907-474-7021.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Class of 2017: UAF graduates SNRE students

Twenty-five students with the School of Natural Resources and Extension completed their studies during the past year and many of them were recognized during the UAF commencement on Saturday.

Dave Valentine congratulates Kelly Schmitz.
During the past year, students received two doctorates, 13 bachelor’s degrees and 10 master’s degrees.

Miho Morimoto was hooded during last year’s commencement but she completed her doctorate in Natural Resources and Sustainability during the summer of 2017. Miho Morimoto’s dissertation is titled, “Past, Current and Future Forest Harvest and Regeneration Management in Interior Alaska Boreal Forest: Adaptation Under Rapid Climate Change.” Her major advisor was Emeritus Professor Glenn Juday. Her dissertation looks at how regeneration has worked on harvested forestlands and how regeneration might be affected by warmer, drier temperatures. It offers adaptive management suggestions.

Jon Skinner, who was hooded on Saturday, received his interdisciplinary doctorate in Polar Geography and Strategic Studies. His  major advisor was Professor Lawson Brigham. Skinner's thesis is titled “Russian Capacity to Develop its Offshore Hydrocarbon Resources in the Kara Sea: Arctic and Global Implications.” The Kara Sea represents the largest unexploited oil and gas potential remaining for Russia. 

Other degree recipients included:

Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources Management
From left, Zoe Marshall, Lin Barron, Samantha Knutson and Kelly
Schmitz pose before graduation.
Lin Barron
Chad Bear
David Dwyer Jr.
Brandy Flores
Cascade Galasso-Irish
Emily Garrett
Zoe Marshall
Eric Mattek
Kelly Schmitz
Jennifer Sybert
Kirsten Williams

Bachelor of Arts
Samantha Knutson, Rural Subsistence Farming and Management: Interdisciplinary Program

Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences
Brandon Elkins, Conservation Leadership
From left, master's candidates Olivia Lunsford and
 Alice Orlich get ready to walk. Orlich's other credentials
include Belle of the Woods.

Master of Science in Natural Resources Management
Christin Anderson

Shannon Busby
John Krapek
Lauren Lynch
Jacobus Noordeloos
Ronald Strom
Laura Starr

Master’s in Natural Resources Management
Sarah Liben
Tricia Kent
Suzanne McCarthy

Olivia Lunsford and Alice Orlich, who will earn their master's degrees this summer, also participated in the ceremony.

Faculty, from left, include Emeritus Extension Professor Natalie Thomas,
 and Professors Josh Greenberg, Mingchu Zhang, Milan Shipka and
 Meriam Karlsson.
Professor John Yarie, who continued teaching forestry classes for the school despite retiring in 2016, was honored at commencement for receiving emeritus status and for his teaching, research and public service, which began in 1978. Yarie was honored for teaching forestry and nature resource management courses, for his research on boreal forest ecology and productivity and for his public service roles as director of the Forest Soils laboratory, department chair and chair of the regional section of the Society of American Foresters.

Ph.D recipient Jon Skinner is hooded on Saturday by Doug Reynolds
 and Provost Susan Henrichs.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

NRM 290 field trip and road tour to head out on Monday

Students on the 2016 NRM 290 field trip pose near Exit Glacier.
Photos by Jennifer Sybert

Associate Professor Pete Fix and 11 students enrolled in NRM 290 will leave May 8 for the 10-day natural resources tour and road trip.

Students study soil samples at the Matanuska
 Experiment Farm.
They will get to see Alaska resources and meet the people who manage them as part of the two-credit class, Resource Management Issues at High Latitudes. Students get to hear from and talk with various individuals in the natural resources field, including farmers, foresters, land managers, educators, Extension agents and biologists.

They will hear about natural resource issues and get to see operations and sites first-hand, such as Bryce Wrigley’s farm and flour mill in Delta Junction, an oilfield in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, impacts of the spruce bark beetle on forestlands, and an Alaska potato chip factory in Anchorage.

Stops are planned at Harding Lake, Delta Clearwater, Delta Junction, Glennallen, Anchorage, the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center near Portage, the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Seward, the Matanuska Experiment Farm in Palmer, Denali National Park and the coal plant near Healy.

A few of the subjects students will hear about will include hydrology, fisheries management, agriculture, construction of the trans-Alaska pipeline, economic development, oil and gas development, refuge management and environmental education. They’ll also hear about renewable energy, forest and fire management, environmental studies, recreation management and offshore energy management.

Fix said the tour is valuable to students. “They see things they would not see in the classroom,” he said.

They also get to learn more about natural resources management careers and the diversity of agencies and their management plans, he said.

Students utilize a snow resource near Hatcher Pass.
Along the route, they will stay at churches, the Matanuska Experiment Farm and cabins at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. Associate Professor Norm Harris will join the group for most of the tour.  The group will also be accompanied by a UAF graduate student driving a supply vehicle.

The class, which began in the 1980s, is required for natural resources management students. Students must keep journals and write a paper.

Chris Smith, a junior who participated in last year’s tour, said, “I loved the trip. It’s really helped me in my upper-level classes.”

When certain topics come up in his classes, Smith said he thinks of examples he’s seen on the tour. He especially enjoyed visiting Denali National Park and hearing different perspectives about its management and the areas around it. For instance, the state eliminated a no-kill wolf buffer zone near the northeast side of the park in 2010, and representatives from the park want to reinstate the buffer, which they believed increased opportunities to see wolves in the park.

“You get to see the different types of management plans,” he said.
Thanks to photo support from 2016 participant Jennifer Sybert.

The 2016 group waits on the beach near Kenai and observes a tanker.

Interior farmers learn microscale farming techniques

Visiting farmer Joel Salatin, left, visits with Calypso Farm founders Tom Zimmer and Susan Willsrud. Salatin's first stop during the three-city tour of Alaska was in Fairbanks on May 2. Nancy Tarnai photo

By Nancy Tarnai
“Scalability is a big deal,” Virginia farmer Joel Salatin told 60 people who attended an Alaska Design Forum agriculture workshop Tuesday at Calypso Farm and Ecology Center.

Salatin, who calls himself “a libertarian environmentalist capitalist lunatic farmer,” was on his first of three stops in Alaska.

“We are so lucky to have you here,” Calypso founder Susan Willsrud said. Attendees gathered for a potluck meal and then listened to Salatin’s advice on raising chickens, goats and sheep. Guests came from as far away as Palmer and Kenai.

Exploring the economics of farming, Salatin said, “As soon as you start using anything other than human power to move things, things start to happen.” He encouraged farmers to study how their time is spent. “A farm is more than a business,” he said. “But it is also a business. We get caught up in the altruism of it. All farm procedures have a sweet spot and tip-over points.”

Salatin likes to operate his farm (Polyfacefarms.com) as simply as possible, staying clear of procedures that would require government paperwork. “I try to stay outside the system,” he said.

With 4,000 chickens, his farm produces 200 dozen eggs per day. Salatin is prolific in chicken psychology and colorfully shared ways to manage egg production, with placement of nests and even lighting being key. Make sure nesting boxes are in the morning shade and place them higher so the bird has to leap in to lay eggs. “You want funky material in the nest box,” he said. “Not edible alfalfa. Put moldy hay or moldy straw or wood shavings.”

He doesn’t recommend having free range chickens on less than 50 acres and he’s a huge fan of deep-bedded composting. “There is nothing cleaner or more healthful than having animals on rapidly decomposing bedding,” Salatin said, adding that 95 percent of bugs are good and only 5 percent are bad. Dirt yards without deep bedding are terrible for the animals and ecology.

Americans should get rid of their cats, dogs, gerbils and TV and on that same carbon footprint put a couple of chickens on composting bedding that is at least a foot deep, he said. At Polyface, old, healthy, productive hens are bred to produce chickens that are larger and eggs with strong shells. “Forget about color and plumage and hairy feet and select for good offspring,” Salatin said.

Recommending the book, Rodale’s ”Complete Book of Composting,” Salatin said, “There’s a magic that happens when you link plants and animals.”

Tackling such sacred cows as Whole Foods, land-grant universities and the space program, Salatin said, “We’d be a healthier culture if no one from the government told us what to eat.”

Nicky Eiseman loved the practical advice she got from the talk. “I learned basic animal husbandry,” she said.

Kimberly Maxwell said, “I can’t wait to get home and deep bed my chicken coop. That really resonated with me. If we keep talking farmers learn from each other.”

Kimberly Jensen said she learned that scalability is key. Her husband Brian Jensen said, “I’m excited about chickens and composting.”

Ben Shaw said during the workshop he realized Alaska is 25 years behind the Lower 48 in agriculture. “That’s a good thing; it’s exciting,” he said. “Our competition is 2,000 miles away. It just takes people believing they can do it and starting it.”
Guest contributor Nancy Tarnai is freelance writer who worked for School of Natural Resources and Extension from 2008 to 2015 as its public information officer. She can be reached at njtarnai@gmail.com.