Friday, December 15, 2017

SNRE says goodbye to four faculty members

The School of Natural Resources and Extension will say goodbye to four longtime faculty members at the end of this month.

They include Roxie Dinstel, the associate director of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service and the SNRE interim executive officer; Gary Kofinas, a professor of resource policy and management; State 4-H Program Leader Deb Jones; and Kari van Delden, the Extension agent in Nome.

Roxie Dinstel
Roxie Dinstel demonstrates hot water bath canning. This
photo was taken a few years ago.
Roxie Dinstel’s career with the Cooperative Extension Service began in Abilene, Texas, 41 years ago, shortly after she graduated from college with degrees in home economics and business. She worked for Extensions in Oklahoma, Montana and, for the past 22 years, Alaska. Dinstel  was the district home economist in Fairbanks until four years ago, when she became the associate director for Extension. She has also been filling in as the school’s executive officer since March.

Dinstel’s retirement plans include a 1,700-acre ranch in the southeast corner of Montana, which is within 10 miles of where her husband, Dan, grew up. They hope to raise cattle and dryland hay on the property, which is near Ridge, Montana. It’s a life she knows, since she grew up on a ranch and she and Dan have already raised cattle in Montana and Texas.

“It’s a family failing,” she joked. If all goes well with the purchase, the Dinstels will take over the ranch in April.

Dinstel said she has enjoyed Extension because it involved working with people and helping them solve problems. It is satisfying to know you really helped someone and met a need, she said. Her passions have included teaching food preservation, family and home economics and working with food businesses.

“What other career can you have that they pay you to keep learning?” she asks.

In addition to earning a master’s degree at Texas Woman’s University, she completed all the coursework for a doctorate at UAF. Her many recognitions include a Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents and the Distinguished Service and Continuing Excellence Awards from the National Extension Association for Family and Consumer Services.

Gary Kofinas
Professor Gary Kofinas will retire from his tenured faculty position with the university at the end of the month, but he plans to continue his research through the Institute of Arctic Biology.

Gary Kofinas poses with "wünderhound Gwinzee" at Teton Pass.
Kofinas has had a split appointment with the school and IAB since 2002, but his connections with the school extend to 1989 when he taught a Summer Sessions class, a six-week field “controversial issues” course on the question of oil vs. wilderness in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The school was then known as the School of Agriculture and Land Resources Management.

A professor of resource policy and management, Kofinas has specialized in the resilience and sustainability of indigenous rural communities.

Kofinas served as director of the Resilience and Adaptation Program (RAP), a graduate program in sustainability science, from 2007 to 2010, and he coordinated the program for five years before that. He taught graduate-level natural resources management classes that were cross-listed with biology, anthropology and economics, including Local-to-Global Sustainability, Integrated Assessment and Adaptive Management, Resilience Graduate Seminar and Resilience Internship.

Kofinas received an interdisciplinary doctorate in resource management science from the University of British Columbia in 1998. His dissertation focused on community involvement in the Canadian co-management of the Porcupine caribou herd. That research involved living in rural indigenous communities of northern Canada for about a year.

Before and after receiving his doctorate, he worked as a research associate for the Institute of Arctic Biology for five years. He also worked as a research assistant professor for the Institute of Social and Economic Research at UAA. Kofinas received several awards, including the Secretary of the Interior’s Partnerships in Conservation Award for his project on the study of sharing networks to assess the vulnerability of local communities to oil and gas development in Arctic Alaska.

Kofinas now lives in Wilson, Wyoming, at the foot of the Tetons, in a home he has owned since 1988. Post retirement, he says he will work with his current graduate students, launch a scenarios project for the Teton Region and “continue his search for the perfect powder turn.”

Deb Jones
Deb Jones says she has come full circle from her start as a 4-H volunteer in Alaska to adventures with the University of New Hampshire, Virginia Tech, Utah State University, and then back to Alaska. She served as county agent, Extension specialist, state program leader and department chair.

Deb Jones with Alaska Sen. Mike Dunleavy at a breakfast
hosted by the 4-H Youth in Governance program.
Jones came to UAF in 2009 as the state 4-H program leader. Before that, she worked as a 4-H youth development specialist at Utah State University for eight years and as a 4-H agent for Virginia Cooperative Extension for eight years. She earned a doctorate at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Special areas of interest have included youth development in different cultures, afterschool and military programs, 4-H family and consumer sciences programming, and the role of spirituality in youth programs. She received the Distinguished Service and Meritorious Service Awards from the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents.

Jones says the best part of 4-H is going anywhere in the country and doing what you love, and staying in touch with Extension family. She said one of the highlights of her service in Alaska has been relationship building with partner agencies and organizations whereby each partner benefits in cost sharing to support local staffing for youth and their families. “This is something particularly important as we stay strong during these uncertain economic times,” she said.

She recently was recognized for 25 years of service with 4-H and is now exploring something new.

Kari van Delden
After 13 years as the sole Extension agent in Nome and 24 years in the community, Kari van Delden is headed to Washington state to be closer to family.

Kari van Delden
Van Delden, who has a background in childhood development, moved to Nome to direct an infant learning program for Norton Sound Health Corp. The job required more than 200 village visits to serve families with special needs children. “I just really fell in love with the region,” she says.

As a health, home and family development agent, she has offered a variety of programs, including sessions on nutrition, childhood obesity prevention, cooking, food preservation and the importance of vitamin D in the North.

Van Delden has worked closely with community groups to determine what to offer. She has trained daycare providers and provided diversity and racial equity training to many agency employees and community members. She worked with representatives from Kawerak, Inc. and a social justice task force to develop the Historic Trauma and Decolonization workshop. The training encourages participants to discuss the effects of racism, historical trauma and colonization.

“The workshop focuses on self awareness and healing,” she said.

After Van Delden and Pangaga Pungowiyi , the wellness director for Kawerak Inc., presented the training to Norton Sound Health Corp. administrators, they decided to offer it to all employees. It was also presented to community members in St. Michael and to many groups in Anchorage. She has also co-taught and trained instructors for Knowing Who You Are workshop, a racial equity workshop that was developed for people who work in the child welfare system, and Green Dot violence prevention trainings.

Van Delden received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Extension Association for Family and Consumer Sciences this past October.

Kari’s husband, Andre, retired as a high school math teacher last year. Their home will be in Concrete, Washington, a small town an hour east of Bellingham. Kari says she knows she will miss Nome terribly and plans to return to see friends.

Longtime Extension employee Kathi Tweet will continue to coordinate programming at the Nome office.

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