Thursday, February 15, 2018

Proposed plan would move degrees, reorganize SNRE

UAF Provost Susan Henrichs has announced plans to move the School of Natural Resource and Extension academic degree programs to the College of Natural Science and Mathematics.

Under the plan, SNRE academic faculty would form a department within the college. The school’s existing bachelor’s and master’s degrees in natural resource management and doctorate in natural resources and sustainability would continue to be offered through the College of Natural Science and Mathematics.

The change in the administration of the academic programs is part of a larger reorganization plan involving the School of Natural Resources and Extension, which includes the UAF Cooperative Extension Service and the Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station.

Under the proposed plan, the school would be eliminated and Extension and AFES would continue to operate independently, sharing a business office and communications support. Fred Schlutt, the vice provost for Extension and Outreach, would remain the senior administrator for both entities and Milan Shipka will continue as director of the station. SNRE faculty would have research appointments with the Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station.

In an email to SNRE faculty and staff on Tuesday, Henrichs said UAF Chancellor Dan White will request approval from the University of Alaska Board of Regents for the reorganization plan in June. Henrichs wants to make the changes by July 1, 2018, the beginning of the new fiscal year.

SNRE Academic Director Dave Valentine said students would see few changes as a result of the reorganization.

“They’ll have the same degrees and the same classrooms and we’ll be in the same offices,” he said. Most SNRE academic faculty and classrooms are located in the O’Neill Building and Arctic Health Research Building on West Ridge.

In a meeting with SNRE research and academic faculty last Friday, Henrichs said she believed that the degree programs would do better in a larger unit with more students and greater possibilities for academic and research collaborations, including the possibility for more cross-listed courses. She said the number of academic faculty have decreased from 18 to 11 and with budget constraints, the school has not been able to hire replacement faculty, making it more challenging to offer programs. While SNRE has strong degree programs, future funding reductions could make it difficult to maintain quality if the programs remain on their own in a separate school, she said.

In her email, Henrichs said there were significant matters yet to consider and resolve, and she will appoint academic faculty to a transition team.

The School of Natural Resources and Extension was created in February 2014, when the regents approved the merger of the former School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences, the Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station and the UAF Cooperative Extension Service. Extension and the station are mandated to file a joint federal plan of work and annual report.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

OneTree Alaska stages Valentine-themed fundraiser

OneTree Alaska has announced a Valentine’s Day special for people who wish to donate to the forest education outreach and research program.

Individuals who donate $100 to OneTree Alaska receive a
luminaria and a box of birch caramels.
Those who donate $100 will receive a red Valentine’ s box with a dozen birch caramels, one ice luminaria and the opportunity to become a “sap sergeant.”

OneTree is working with the University of Alaska Foundation to raise money for its program, which provides forest education to K-12 students and researches birch sap processing methods. The program had hoped to support its work by selling products made from 6,000 gallons of the birch sap staff and volunteers with a birch sap cooperative collected last spring. A freezer failure in October resulted in losing most of the sap concentrate. Dawe says she hopes to raise $100,000 by June to pay for the program’s seasonal birch sap crew, buy a freezer alarm and support the education program.

A variety of funding levels have been established. These include Friends of OneTree, $25; Adopt a Seedling, $50; Sap Sergeants, $100; Sapling Steward, $365; Deep Roots Donor, $500; and Community Science Champion, $1,000 or above. Depending on the level of contribution, donors receive caramels, luminaria, a limited-edition print by Kes Woodward, or recognition as an underwriter of saplings.

Anyone who wishes to donate may call OneTree Alaska at 474-5517 or use its website at The caramels and luminaria may be picked up at OneTree studio at Lola Tilly Commons from 4-6 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday and 10 a.m. to noon on Valentine’s Day.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

SNRE bachelor's degree to get new name

Beginning this fall, the natural resources management bachelor’s degree will have a new name: natural resources and environment.

UAF Provost Susan Henrichs recently approved the name change sought by the academic faculty of the School of Natural Resources and Extension. Academic Director Dave Valentine said the faculty felt that the new name better reflects what the degree is about. Many of the school’s classes relate to the environment, such as air and water quality, forests, wilderness and park management, and environmental decision making and ethics.

Valentine also feels the name change will help recruit students. UAF Admissions says it gets a number of students who want to study the environment and don’t necessarily think of natural resources management as environmental studies. “More student who are looking for us will find us,” he said.

The name change will not bring any changes to the curriculum. Students currently earning a bachelor’s degree and graduating in 2019 or later will have the option of graduating with a degree in natural resources management or in natural resources and environment. The name change will be reflected in the academic catalog posted this summer. SNRE is still waiting for approval for the same name change for its master’s degrees.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Former Extension director, longtime agent retires

Extension Economist Tony Nakazawa, who was affiliated with Alaska Extension over a 37-year period, retired at the end of December.

Tony Nakazawa
Nakazawa served many roles with Extension in Alaska, including as its interim director and director from 1997 to 2007.

His first job with Extension, in 1980, was as a "local government coordinator" in Anchorage. His job was to help communities that wanted to incorporate as second-class cities. From there, his interest in rural and community development and Alaska’s political process grew.

Nakazawa taught numerous noncredit community development classes to communities and tribal groups. Subjects included the use of computers, business planning, grants writing and government process. He also taught graduate and undergraduate classes in rural development management strategies at UAF, most recently with the College of Rural and Community Development.

He credits a two-year stint as a patrol officer in Santa Barbara, California, for helping him continue with his graduate studies in the early 1970s. He says working the evening or night shifts allowed him to earn a master’s degree in urban economics during the day. He would go on to earn a master’s and doctorate in agricultural and resource economics from the University of California Berkeley.

Tony gives a presentation in a library.
Nakazawa worked as an economic development specialist for the Ketchikan Gateway Borough and as an Extension specialist for the University of Hawaii before coming to work for Cooperate Extension in Alaska in 1980. He served as the community development program coordinator and as the acting program leader for Extension programs in home economics, energy and community development.

During a 1988 sabbatical, Nakazawa reviewed Japan’s Extension system and taught in the University of Petroleum’s MBA program in Shandong, China. He took a leave of absence from 1992-1995 to serve as director of the Alaska Division of Community and Rural Development under Governor Wally Hickel.

When he returned to Extension, he measured community impacts and worked on regional tourism and community and rural economic development. In recent years, he became more interested in government workings and co-authored several chapters in “Alaska Politics and Public Policy,” a textbook published by the University of Alaska Press in 2016. He also served as the Alaska faculty coordinator for the States’ 4-H International Exchange Programs exchange with Japan.

Former Extension directors, from left, Jim Matthews, Hollis Hall and Art
Buswell pose with Tony Nakazawa.
Nakazawa and his wife, Lynette, plan to stay in Alaska. He expects to continue his interests with economic and community development and his work with the state’s AlaskaHost customer service program training for employees of the hospitality and tourism industry and with a group that focuses on the emerging topic of “geotourism,” which is place-based community development.

“I’ll continue to be a resource for the communities I work with,” he said.

Nakazawa is a sansei, or third-generation, Japanese-American. His parents’ families came from Japan, and he grew up working on his family’s farm in Tolleson, Arizona.  Nakazawa, who is a seventh-degree blackbelt in karate, will also continue to instruct karate classes as he can and will remain involved with Alaska’s Asian community.

Nakazawa has seen many ups and downs with the university budgets, and he believes in the long-term mission of Extension and its work with the public.

“Extension’s presence in communities across the state is so vital,” he said.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Two SNRE students receive URSA Project Awards

Natural resources management students Kimberly Diamond and Trevor Schoening will receive 2018 Spring Project Awards from URSA, the Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Activity program.

The program awards up to $2,500 to students planning to conduct research or pursue creative projects during the spring semester. Twenty UAF students will receive awards this spring.

According to URSA, Diamond will recruit volunteers who drive and bicycle to campus. The volunteers will be asked to monitor environmental, economic and social costs of their daily commute. This data will be used to compare the commuting methods and inform community decision-making.

Schoening said he hopes to get a better understanding of where food production is taking place around Alaska. He plans to use the directory provided on the Alaska Grown website to find farmers markets and will ask for a list of vendors to contact for production information. Schoening said he hopes to get data regarding where produce is grown, the types of produce grown and roughly how much (in pounds) is being produced annually by each grower. He will use GIS to create regional spatial maps for different regions of Alaska. Schoening said his project is admittedly pretty ambitious but he hopes to hire other undergraduates to contact farmers markets and producers.

Diamond is a senior and Schoening a junior with the School of Natural Resources and Extension.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Agroborealis Research Highlights published

Read about the research conducted by Professors Meriam Karlsson and Dave Verbyla in the newest Agroborealis Research Highlights. One highlight describes greenhouse research by Karlsson — her work with bell pepper production, her analysis of the nutritional value of Alaska-grown vegetables versus those grown outside Alaska, and her studies of how different combinations of LED lights affect production.

A second highlight focuses on Dave Verbyla's remote sensing studies of changing Dall sheep habitat in Alaska, the Northwest Territories, northern British Columbia and the Yukon Territory. His research is part of a four-year study funded by NASA, which will consider how vegetation and snow conditions are changing in alpine ecosystems and how those changes may affect Dall sheep.

Agroborealis is the research publication of the Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station and the School of Natural Resources and Extension. The publication, which was founded in 1969, became available in a new format this spring. Downloadable Highlights are published online twice yearly at

Agroborealis Research Highlights published this spring looked at efforts to develop an early maturing spring wheat and research on how well forest regeneration efforts worked on boreal forestlands in the Interior that were harvested between 1975 and 2004.

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.

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.