Monday, June 18, 2018

Birthday Bash and Mud Day to take place June 24

Revelers enjoy a past Mud Day event.
The Georgeson Botanical Garden will combine two popular garden traditions on June 24 with its Birthday Bash and Mud Day.

The event will go from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the garden. From 10 a.m. to noon, the public is invited to enjoy the garden, educational booths, kids’ activities, harp music and birthday cake to celebrate the 167th birthday of Charles Georgeson. The garden’s namesake was an agronomist who founded experiment stations in Alaska  and stayed to conduct research.

From noon to 2 p.m., kids of all ages are invited to romp in the mud pit in the Babula Children’s Garden. The garden hosted Mud Day for several years but the event has been on hiatus for the past two years. Towels and clean clothes to wear afterward are recommended. Participants will be able to rinse with water.

Mud Day participants enjoy the mud pit in 2014.
Educational booths will include information on beekeeping, herbs and peonies, and a potter will demonstrate clay pottery making. Activities will include face painting, origami, dragonfly crafts and other games. The Boreal Charter School, the Fairbanks Children’s Museum and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game are leading kids’ activities.

Admission is free but cans of food for the Fairbanks Community Food Bank are requested as a Georgeson birthday gift. The event is sponsored by the Georgeson Botanical Garden Society, the Georgeson Botanical Garden and the UAF School of Natural Resources and Extension.

The garden is located at the farthest west edge of the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus at the Fairbanks Experiment Farm, 117 W. Tanana Drive. For more information, contact Mathew Carrick at 907-474-7222 or email

Friday, June 8, 2018

Albertson to receive national health award

The National Environmental Health Association will recognize Bethel Cooperative Extension agent Leif Albertson for his work educating the public and agency professionals about the health risks associated with the use of lead rifle ammunition.

Leif Albertson
Albertson will receive the Joe Beck Educational Contribution Award on June 27 at the association’s annual conference in Anaheim, California. Albertson has developed educational materials and given presentations on the lead exposure risks associated with eating large game animals.

“In recent years, we’ve come to understand that lead is toxic at much lower levels than we previously understood,” he said. “This has raised questions about the human health risks of lead rifle ammunition.” 

Lead exposure has been linked to cognitive and developmental delays in children and other health problems. Tests done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that eating venison and other game meat can raise the amount of lead in human bodies by 50 percent.

Albertson noted that because remote Alaskans consume enormous amounts of game meat, they are at particular risk from lead rifle ammunition. Albertson has advocated the use of copper rifle ammunition as a substitutue for traditional lead-core ammunition.

A news release from the association said, “The committee was so impressed by Mr. Albertson's innovative recognition of a lead exposure hazard that was unique to Alaska's population and the educational response to mitigate the hazard … His educational focus impacted hunters, meat consumers, public health professionals and the medical community's lead assessment process.”

The National Environmental Health Association is a professional society for environmental health professionals. Albertson has a master’s degree in public health policy and management from the Harvard School of Public Health. He is the incoming president of the Alaska Environmental Health Association and a past president of the Alaska Public Health Association. He is a health, home and family development agent for the UAF Cooperative Extension Service.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Research Highlight: Developing a red meat industry

Erin Carr examines reindeer carcasses in the mobile processing unit in Savoonga,
where the reindeer program was working on field slaughter protocols.

The Reindeer Research Program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks has looked at the best combinations of feed and forage, range management and how the reindeer diet and slaughter methods affect the quality of meat.

Program manager Greg Finstad said that reindeer research over the past 35 years has focused on helping develop a local red meat industry.

“It’s producer-driven research,” he said.

Finstad believes that reindeer production could help address Alaska’s food insecurity and provide an economic boost to tribal entities that sell the meat.

Read more about Finstad's research in a Spring 2018 Agroborealis Research Highlight. Agroborealis is the research publication of the Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station and the School of Natural Resources and Extension. Downloadable Highlights are published online twice yearly at

Links to the stories will be emailed when they are posted on this site. If you’d like to be added to the email list, please subscribe here.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Music in the Garden begins Thursday at UAF

Members of Headbolt include Jeff Siniscalchi, guitar; Jonathan Rosenberg, drums;
Suzanne Richards, guitar; and T.J. O'Donnel, bass. KUAC photo by Lori Neufeld

The Music in the Garden series begins Thursday with the blues, roots, country and even punk sounds of the Fairbanks band, The Headbolt Heaters. A dozen Fairbanks-area bands and musical ensembles will perform Thursday evenings throughout the summer at the UAF Georgeson Botanical Garden.

The 2018 Music in the Garden concerts will be at 7 p.m. each Thursday from May 24 to Aug. 9.

Concert-goers 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 summer concert schedule also includes:
May 31 — Fairbanks Red Hackle Pipe Band
June 7 — Cold Steel Drums
June 14 — O Tallulah
June 21 — Rock Bottom Stompers
June 28 — Emily Anderson
July 5 — Marc Brown
July 12 — Dry Cabin String Band
July 19 — Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival American roots ensemble
July 26 — Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival vocal jazz ensemble
Aug. 2 — Fairbanks Community Jazz Band
Aug. 9 — ET Barnette String Band

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Class of 2018: UAF commencement honors graduates

SNRE's graduating seniors pose before the ceremony. Photo by Nina Olivier

During the UAF graduation on May 5, students with  the School of Natural Resources and Extension received 15 bachelor’s degrees, eight master’s degrees and two doctorates.

Berill Blair and Alyssa Rodrigues received Ph.D.'s in Natural Resources and Sustainability.

Blair’s dissertation is titled, “Toward Arctic Transitions and Sustainability Modeling Risks and Resilience Across Scales of Governance.” Perceptions of risks to sustainability were studied among Arctic Alaska stakeholder groups. The dissertation concludes with recommendations for optimizing complex decision making under uncertainty. Professors Gary Kofinas of SNRE and Amy Lovecraft of the Political Science Department served as major professors. Blair is working as a postdoctoral researcher at the Wageningen University in The Netherlands.

Ph.D. recipient Alyssa Rodrigues is hooded during the UAF ceremony.
UAF photo by J.R. Ancheta
Rodrigues’ dissertation looks at effect of wildland firefighting on subsistence harvests. It is titled “Up in Smoke: Exploring the Changing Relationship Between Wildland Firefighting and Subsistence Harvest.” Rodrigues concludes that climate change may impact participation in fall subsistence hunting, but that rural communities will be able to participate in firefighting and fall hunting in most cases. Joseph Little of the School of Management is her major professor. Rodrigues is the development director for the Alaska Division of Economic Development.

Other degree recipients included:

Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources Management
Hannah Christian
Kimberly Diamond
Brandy Flores
Dawson Foster
Cheyenne Greenside
Jessica Herzog
Luke Johnson
Trisha Levasseur
Dennis Lucey
Sagen Maddalena
Cynthia Nelson
David Rhodes
Richard Rummler
Amelia Sikes
Christopher Smith

Master of Science in Natural Resources Management
Tara Callear
Ryan Wilson

Master of Natural Resources Management
George Aguiar
Teresa Anderson, Natural Resources Management and Geography
Samantha Harris
Nina Olivier
Stefan Tangen
Nicole Warner, Natural Resources Management and Geography

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Research Highlight: Pete Fix leads recreation research

Survey assistant Rachel Garcia, right, helps a visitor to the White Mountains National
Recreation Area complete a visitor survey.

SNRE Associate Professor Pete Fix and two other recreation researchers developed a cost-effective approach that will be used nationally to evaluate visitor experiences on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

Since 2014, BLM has required incorporating what is called "outcomes focused management" into land use planning. As part of a a five-year project based at UAF, Fix and the other researchers developed  a standard template for conducting recreation studies that focuses on the positive outcomes from recreational experiences.

Read more about Fix's research in a Spring 2018 Agroborealis Research Highlight. Agroborealis is the research publication of the Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station and the School of Natural Resources and Extension. Downloadable Highlights are published online twice yearly at

Links to the stories will be emailed when they are posted on this site. If you’d like to be added to the email list, please subscribe here.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Storytelling, diverse views inspire ScienceTapes project

By Lindsey Heaney
What stuck with Jessie Young-Robertson after attending a large international science conference didn’t have anything to do with the scientific data presented.

Young-Robertson, a researcher with the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Natural Resources and Extension, was hoping to be inspired. She wanted to connect to the larger world of science through the experiences of researchers, but something was missing.
ScienceTapes facilitators, including project creators Bob Bolton and
Jessie-Young-Robertson, front row, left, pose for a photo.
 Photo courtesy of Bob Bolton

“I sat through talk after talk thinking I just want someone to tell me a story,” said Young-Robertson. “That’s when I started looking into StoryCorps.”

StoryCorps is a nonprofit organization that records and preserves stories from people of all backgrounds. Young-Robertson reached out to her Alaska Climate Adaptation Science Center colleague Bob Bolton, and their conversation started a year-long partnership with StoryCorps and the creation of a story-based program of their own.

“StoryCorps gave us the tools and building blocks that we needed. I felt incredibly inspired by listening to our first volunteers record their stories and I knew we were onto something amazing,” said Young-Robertson. “Now we’re looking to move forward with ScienceTapes.”

ScienceTapes was created to provide a space to share Alaska’s science and place-based stories with a goal of building bridges between people, communities, agencies and scientists. Using the StoryCorps model, each story comes from a conversation between people with different perspectives.

To collect the ScienceTapes stories, Young-Robertson and Bolton chose 12 facilitators from various agencies with different perspectives on science, ranging from a tribal liaison to science communicators and educators.

“As of now, our facilitators have recorded more than 45 stories, which are archived with the Library of Congress,” said Young-Robertson. “About 10 of them have been fully edited down.”

One of the project’s immediate aims is to enhance connections between scientists and the people in communities where the research happens. Young-Robertson said it starts with sharing knowledge, but it doesn’t end there. “Researchers need to understand the lens through which rural communities see us and then use that information to strengthen those relationships.”

The stories also offer content that enhances Alaskans’ capacity to make well-informed decisions about science-based issues. Each conversation is unique with the storyteller offering insight through their personal experiences and knowledge.

Bob Bolton, who helped create UAF's Science Tapes project, plays an interview for
visitors during a meeting at the University of Alaska Museum of the North.
Lindsey Heaney photo 
One example came from a conversation between Young-Robertson and her then-student Abraham Endalamaw, who wanted to talk about his journey from Ethiopia to Alaska. As they remembered Endalamaw’s graduation day, Young-Robertson recalled that she had not recognized the significance of him wearing his national flag.

“Before I came here I was working as an activist organizing people to speak out,” Endalamaw said. “If I were in Ethiopia right now, I would be in jail or probably, I would be killed. When I had my country flag on, I am safe but I cannot be as happy as I want to be that day because I would really like to see my country free.”

They also discussed his experiences during graduate school at UAF. Young-Robertson described trying to get Endalamaw to speak louder for his thesis defense by having him read a newspaper to her from across a room.

“It’s partly cultural, we are not encouraged to speak louder (in Ethiopia), but I also want to be heard,” said Endalamaw.

Another story emerged from a conversation between Megan Hillgartner and Sorina Seeley, who came to UAF as fellows from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies to finish their degree in international environmental policy.

They recalled their struggle to connect with a liaison to a community important to their research.

“We wanted her to trust us right away based on what we thought were principles of trust,” Seeley said. “But we didn't listen to her story.”

After they regrouped and went back with a different approach, Seeley said that changed. “We just listened. We didn't have any questions. We didn't have any ideas. That space for communication grew back.”

With the ScienceTapes project, the team is looking to expand the reach of their stories by collaborating with rural and urban radio stations. The stories will soon be featured on KUAC’s Northern Soundings, and there are plans to develop an app for mobile users to access stories right at their fingertips.

The stories will also be available for people to explore in person at the University of Alaska Museum of the North. Live recording opportunities and storytelling activities will be available at the museum’s family day event on April 21.

As the team moves forward with their work, they hope that these stories continue to provide a source of inspiration and empowerment.

“I see ScienceTapes as a beacon for people to come and listen,” said Young-Robertson. “And as a beacon for people to be heard.”

To participate in ScienceTapes, email with "recording a story" in the subject line.
Heaney is the science communication lead for the International Arctic Research Center, Scenarios Network for Alaska and Arctic Planning (SNAP), the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy (ACCAP) and the Alaska Climate Adaptation Science Center.