Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Registration opens for Sustainable Ag Conference

Hay is harvested at Hollembaek Farms near Delta Junction  in 2014.
Edwin Remsberg photo
Registration is open for the 14th annual Alaska Sustainable Agriculture Conference, which will take place in Anchorage Nov. 5-7.

More than 75 presentations will cover a wide range of agricultural topics, including livestock and rhodiola production, climate, vegetable variety trials, cut-flower production, honey bees, soil health, seaweed farming, integrated pest management, product distribution and marketing. Several agricultural agencies will also provide program updates.

The UAF Cooperative Extension Service hosts the annual conference in different locations in Alaska. The goal is to bring producers, researchers, agencies and others together to share information and to improve the agricultural industry. The conference will take place at the BP Energy Center at 1014 Energy Court, but some sessions will meet at the SpringHill Suites University Lake Hotel at 4050 University Lake Drive.

An all-day pre-conference workshop on Nov. 4 will focus on Alaska produce safety training to comply with new federal rules. The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation will offer the training.

Mel Sikes, coordinator of the Fairbanks Soil and Water Conservation District, will lead an all-day post-conference workshop Nov. 8 on the Alaska Agriculture in the Classroom program and resources.

The conference is sponsored by the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program. Participants may register by the day or for the entire conference. If individuals register by Oct. 28, the conference and workshop fee is $125 or the daily fee is $50. Fees increase after that date.

More information is available at http://bit.ly/AKsareconf or from conference coordinator Casey Matney, an agriculture and horticulture Extension agent in Soldotna. He can be reached at camatney@alaska.edu or 907-262-5824.

Presentations will come from many agricultural agencies,  organizations and producers. More than 20 SNRE faculty and staff will present at the conference.

SNRE presenters and their presentations are:
Fred Schlutt: Cooperative Extension Service Status and Update
Jodie Anderson, Matanuska Experiment Farm and Extension Center Update
Darren Snyder, Insights from the National SARE Our Farms Our Future Conference
Meriam Karlsson, Growing Under Lights
Julie Riley, Season Extension with Dormant and Late Seedlings: Spinach and Cilantro; Cilantro Variety Trials Using Wide-Row Techniques
Heidi Rader, Variety Trials: Grow and Tell App
Pat Holloway, Taking a Closer Look at Alaska Cut Flower Production
Sarah Lewis, Wild Kitchen Walks in Juneau; Getting Acquainted with Cottage Foods and the Possibilities
Milan Shipka, Feed Needs for Alaska Livestock
Lisa Lunn, Parasite Levels in Alaska Livestock
Art Nash and Mingchu Zhang, Get the Heat Out: Using Wood for Biochar
George Aguiar, Reindeer Husbandry
Art Nash: Growing Well, Off Grid: Considerations for Water Transfer, Heat and Light When You Can't Plug Into a 120 Outlet
Gino Graziano, Invasive Plants in the Field: New Resources for Insect, Plant Disease Recognition Apps/Pest Portal
Phil Kaspari, Do You Need to Be a Certified Applicator?
Heidi Rader and Casey Matney, Agriculture in Remote and Rural Alaska Communities
Steve Brown, Alaska Rhodiola Growers and Research
Kevin Fochs, Update on FFA in Alaska
Lee Hecimovich, Darren Snyder and Cassandra Rankin, Youth Programming Updates from Mat-Su, Southeast and Soldotna

ON THE WEB: http://bit.ly/AKsareconf

Monday, October 8, 2018

Forest Fest brings competitors out of the woodwork

Birling competitors face off in Ballaine Lake.

Experienced and newbie lumberjacks turned out Saturday for one of the warmest Farthest North Forest Sports Festivals on record — with no snow on the ground and a mostly ice-free Ballaine Lake.

The morning competition started in the farm fields across from the Georgeson Botanical Garden with the axe-throwing, sawing, log rolling and pulp toss events. Activities shifted to Ballaine Lake around lunchtime for fire building and birling, which requires balancing on a plastic log floating in Ballaine Lake.
Belle of the Woods Ida Petersen and Bull of the Woods
Vic Anderson pose with their certificates.

The event draws competitors who come year after year and novices, including university students and alumni, curious community members and their friends.

Larsen Hess, a 2009 natural resources management graduate, showed up with his own double-bitted axe in a leather case and his wife, Arisa Sasaki.

“ I love it,” he said. “I grew up with loggers.”

His family has been logging in Oregon for four or five generations, he said. Larsen, an electrician, earned the “Bull of the Woods” title 10 years ago, while competing with his father. He proudly showed off his hand-forged axe, which was made in Sweden.

Anika Pinzner, a UAF graduate student from Germany who is studying snow pollution, appeared to be having a great time. She especially liked throwing axes. “This is the most Alaskan thing I’ve ever done,” she said.

This year’s top male and female competitors, the Bull of the Woods and Belle of the Woods, are relative newcomers to the event. Vic Anderson, who surveys forests for the state and U.S. Forest Service, was competing for the first time and this is the second competition for Ida Petersen, an environmental engineer at Fort Wainwright.

Anderson said while he has never competed, he does like spending time outdoors. The duo also competed on the winning team, the “Beleaguered Beavers,” along with teammates Victoria Smith and Jon Hutchinson, who both placed second overall.

Anika Pinzner lobs an axe at a target.
Most of the other team names reflect a woodsman theme, such as Old Growth, Dirty Woodspeople and Morning Wood. Old Growth was composed of mature competitors, including longtime competitors Pete Buist, his son Jason, Alice Orlich, and Pete Buist’s neighbors, Mark and Sheryl DeBoard, who were recruited to round out the team.

The fire-building event starts with a big chunk of log, which must be split and chopped into kindling and smaller pieces to start a fire. It has to get hot enough to boil water in a tin can. Competing in the Jack and Jill fire-building  event, Victoria Smith leaned in a little too close to the fire at one point to blow on it. “I didn’t need my eyebrows anyway,” she joked.

The event relies on volunteer help from former students, and current and former staff and faculty of the School of the Natural Resources and Extension and the student Resource Management Society. Chief organizer Dave Valentine thanks sponsors Northland Wood for their donation of lumber used in the competition and Fairbanks Stump Grinders for volunteering during the event.

Forest Fest winners include:

Belle of the Woods (overall female winner): Ida Petersen
Second: Victoria Smith
Third: Alice Orlich

Jon Hutchinson and Ida Petersen blow on their fire to get it going better.
Bull of the Woods (overall male winner): Vic Anderson
Second: Jon Hutchinson
Third: Pete Buist

Team Winner: Beleaguered Beavers with Vic Anderson, Ida Petersen, Victoria Smith and Jon Hutchinson

Axe Throw (female):  Alice Orlich

Axe Throw (male): Jon Hutchinson

Birling (female):  Channing Bolt

Birling (male): Vic Anderson

Bow Saw (female):  Ida Petersen

Bow Saw (male):  Jason Buist

Double Buck Saw (female):  Ida Petersen and Victoria Smith

Double Buck Saw (male):  Jason Buist and Pete Buist

Double Buck Saw (Jack & Jill): Vic Anderson and Victoria Smith
The winningest team, the Beleaguered Beavers, displays their certificates.
From left, are Vic Anderson, Victoria Smith, Jon Hutchinson and Ida Petersen.

Fire Building (two-person team): Jon Hutchinson and Ida Petersen

Pulp Toss: Old Growth, including Jason Buist, Pete Buist, Mark DeBoard, Alice Orlich, Michelle Boutin, Sheryl DeBoard and Barbara Michael

Log rolling (female):  Victoria Smith and Ida Petersen

Log rolling (male): Todd Vorlselt and Craig Brennan

Log rolling (Jack & Jill): Victoria Smith and Vic Anderson

Moving logs with a peavy proves challenging.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Farthest North Forest Fest set for Oct. 6 at UAF

A competitor at the 2017 Forest Fest works a bow saw.

Who will be the next Bull of the Woods and Belle of the Woods?

Come to the 21st annual Farthest North Sports Festival on Oct. 6 and find out, or better yet, compete.

Students and community members 18 and older are invited to try their hand at old-time logging sports, such as ax throwing, log rolling, bow saw and crosscut sawing, fire building and birling. Birling involves staying upright longer than your competitor on a floating log in the lake.

Balancing on the plastic birling "log" is a challenge.
The event at UAF is free and beginners are welcomed. People may compete as individuals, but are encouraged to form teams of four to six. At the end of the day, awards will be given to individuals, teams and the top male and female competitors. Observers are welcomed, but pets must be kept on a leash.

Students and faculty with the School of Natural Resources and Extension developed the competition as a way to commemorate old-time logging festivals — and to have a good time.

The Forest Fest begins at 10 a.m. at the Fairbanks Experiment Farm fields, across from the Georgeson Botanical Garden. At 1 p.m., the games move to Ballaine Lake. Refreshments will be available and donations are welcome.  A warming fire and some grilled food will be available at the lake.

Participants are advised to dress warmly and to bring a change of clothes if they want to try birling. For more information, contact Dave Valentine at dvalentine@alaska.edu or 907-474-7614.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Registration opens for Women in Agriculture Conference

Registration is open for the 2018 Women in Agriculture Conference. The one-day virtual gathering on Oct. 27 will take place at four Alaska locations this year — in Fairbanks, Delta Junction, Palmer and Soldotna.

The event will include 34 sites in Alaska, Montana, Oregon, Idaho and Washington. Speakers will address this year’s theme, “Pump up your Financial Fitness.”

The program will begin at 7:30 a.m. in Alaska. The featured speakers will be Robin Reid and LaVell Windsor, who will present “How does your cash flow,” and Sarah Beth Aubrey, whose keynote speech is titled “Attention Women: You are a Valuable Part of Agriculture.” She will talk about prioritizing and about new research that shows the value women bring to the farm.

Register at http://womeninag.wsu.edu/. The early bird fee until Oct. 14 is $30; registration will be $35 after that date. The conference fee includes the workshop, a light breakfast, lunch and conference materials.

Alaska locations will include:

 •  Fairbanks, University of Alaska Fairbanks Murie Building, Room 103-105

 •  Delta Junction, Delta Career Advancement Center, 1696 Clearwater Ave.

 •  Soldotna, Kenai River Center, 514 Funny River Road

 •  Palmer, Matanuska Experiment Farm and Extension Center, 1509 S. Georgeson Drive

SNRE will host the event in Fairbanks and the Matanuska Experiment Farm and Extension Center is co-hosting the event with Alaska Farmland Trust. The Kenai and Salcha-Delta Soil and Water Conservation Districts will host the event in Soldotna and Delta Junction.

This is the fourth year the conference has taken place in Alaska. See the story on the 2017 event. More than 50 women attended at three sites.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

SNRE students awarded scholarships for 2018-2019

Congratulations to undergraduate students with the School of Natural Resources and Extension who received scholarships for the coming year.

The scholarships range from $600 to $3,200.  A SNRE scholarship committee recommends students for the scholarships based on their criteria, and UAF notifies the students. The recipients are:

Grace Nelson: Mike Hoyt Society of American Foresters Scholarship. The scholarship is awarded to outstanding natural resources management students. The scholarship honors Mike Hoyt, a forester who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UAF and was widely respected in the forestry community.

Amber Fryze-Newsome: Walt Begalka Memorial Scholarship.  The scholarship is awarded to outstanding natural resources management students. The Society of American Foresters Dixon Entrance Chapter established the scholarship to assist forestry students.

Jessica Landry: Society of American Foresters/Richard W. and Margery Tindall Scholarship. The scholarship is awarded to outstanding natural resources management students at UAF. The society established this scholarship to honor Richard Tindall and to assist forestry students. Margery Tindall’s name was later added to the scholarship.

Trevor Schoening: Paul and Flora Greimann Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship is awarded to outstanding juniors and seniors with the School of Natural Resources and Extension but agriculture students are preferred.  Greimann was a businessman and former state senator who operated a bus between Fairbanks and the university for 22 years, beginning in 1931.

Trevor Schoening: Richard E. Lee Scholarship.  The scholarship is awarded to outstanding engineering or natural resources management students. A bequest from Richard E. Lee established the scholarship for mining engineering or environmental science upperclassmen who have graduated from Alaska high schools.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

New director starts job at Matanuska Experiment Farm

Jodie Anderson
Jodie Anderson is the new director of the Matanuska Experiment Farm and Extension Center near Palmer.

Anderson started her new job Aug. 20. As director, she will provide leadership for the academic, research and Cooperative Extension Service outreach programs based at the facility, which is part of  the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Anderson has a varied background in agriculture and natural resources. Most recently, she served as program coordinator for the Division of Agriculture’s Farm to School Program and worked with farmers, nonprofit organizations and others to bring local food to schools and public food service distributors. Anderson has also worked as a soil scientist, researched potato viruses, and taught high school and college biology, and gardening and composting classes.  As a doctoral student with the School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences (now SNRE), she studied fish waste as an option for composting and soil building.

 “I’m sort of a jack-of-all-trades,” she said.

The university’s Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station encompasses the experiment farms in Palmer and in Fairbanks. Experiment Station Director Milan Shipka said that he is happy to have someone with strong experience in a variety of areas, who knows the community, the university and the Palmer center.

“She has some very good ideas that will help develop the Matanuska Experiment Farm,” he said.

Anderson said she looks forward to working with the community and hopes to strengthen agricultural and natural resources research by partnering with other agencies.

Anderson grew up in Michigan and North Carolina, but she has lived in Palmer since 2003. In her spare time, she and her husband run a catering business and she likes to barbecue and grill, fish, hike and do other outdoor activities.

She says she has made it her personal mission to improve Alaska barbecue standards “one pork shoulder at a time.” She was part of a team of four, including her husband and two friends, who won the Alaska Seafood Showdown last week at the Alaska State Fair by grilling Asian-inspired steamed clams, cod and marinated shrimp with Alaska-grown vegetables. Anderson may be reached at jmanderson@alaska.edu or 907-746-9466.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

SNRE hosts Hokkaido University students again

The Hokkaido group and Miho Morimoto celebrate after hiking Angel Rocks.

For the third year, School of Natural Resources and Extension hosted the 10-day Alaska Natural Resources Sustainability Field Seminar, which ended last Friday.

Participants included two professors and six students from Hokkaido University. Postdoctoral researcher Miho Morimoto led most of the tour, with help from SNRE Academic Director Dave Valentine.
Glenn Juday talks to the exchange group about research at the Bonanza Creek
Experimental Forest.

The seminar combined lectures by scientists and field tours. Subjects included wildlife management, cold climate housing and energy, forest regeneration, the aurora, sustainability, the pipeline, permafrost, the changing boreal forest, agriculture, birch syrup, forest management and fisheries.

The Japanese contingent toured the Bonanza Creek Experimental Forest, the Permafrost Tunnel near Fox, forestry research plots at UAF, the gold dredge at Chatanika, the University of Alaska Museum of the North and Poker Flat Research Range, and the group rode a shuttle bus into Denali National Park. SNRE lecturers included Valentine, Milan Shipka, Mingchu Zhang, Glenn Juday and Jan Dawe. Valentine said the Japanese professors say the smaller group this year is due to a schedule conflict. The visiting faculty were upbeat about the program and want to return again, he said. They are committed to marketing it in the future.