Ethnobotany Certificate Program

The Ethnobotany Certificate Program is the first such program in this state and only one of a handful that are currently being offered in the entire United States. Ethnobotany is integral to life in Alaska because it recognizes cultural knowledge and deepens our connection with the expansive and exceptional natural world at our doorstep.

Students enrolled in the EBOT program will learn: basic plant biology & floral ecology of Alaska, economic applications of Ethnobotany, basic applied chemistry of plants, research methods for local specific projects, as well as traditional and new uses of Alaska native plants. These skills will prepare Alaska Native students for employment in wildlife and cultural management agencies, education, and other rural-based jobs, as well as further college milestones such as the Associates and Bachelor’s of
Science degrees.

 The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is hiring a botany technician 

photo courtesy of Madhav Pai

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge will hire a Biological Technician to work with the staff Botanist on botany and vegetation projects. This is a term appointment, which is a year-round position with a duration of between 13 months and four years, depending on continued funding. Pay is at either the GS-6 or GS-7 level, depending on experience. This will be a great job for someone with experience doing botany technician work who is ready for a year-round job and more responsibility. Our office is in Fairbanks, Alaska, and in the summer we do field work in the refuge, located in the Alaskan Arctic.

This job has been posted on March 18, 2015, and will be open for applications until March 31, 2015. For more information and to apply on-line use this link to the web site:

Alaskan Plants as Food & Medicine Summit

The 4th Annual Alaskan Plants as Food and Medicine Symposium will take place June 21st-24th, 2015 on the APU campus located in Anchorage. We strive for a statewide reach, and encourage participation from a diverse range of community roles: traditional healers, medical providers, public health educators and researchers, instructors, culture/language bearers, elders and youth, tribal leaders, traditional hunter/gatherers, policy makers, and lands management officials.

APFM Goals:

  • Bring together stakeholders to promote ethical harvesting, processing, and perpetuation of plant knowledge among Alaska’s peoples.
  • Educate on proper harvesting, processing, storage, use, preparation, and distribution of Alaskan plant products.
  • Reinforce ethical considerations of traditional plant knowledge; Addressing Intellectual property rights, when and who to share with.
  • Assist in the self-sufficiency and sustainability of the plants as food and medicine movement in Alaska.
  • Affect policy for the benefit of Alaskans around renewable resources, and protecting the environment.
  • Addressing climate change and the adaptation, changes to harvesting of Alaskan plants

Categories to submit an abstract for: Plenary Presenter, Breakout Session Presenter, Sharing Time Presenter, and Youth Leadership Track.

To submit an abstract follow the link to (by April 1, 2015).

Look for updates and more information at

Registration information and forms at

If you have any questions please email us at

We look forward to a great gathering. See you there! 

Food as Medicine Summit

April 7 – 9, 2015: Learn & get inspired with 16 experts, authors & longtime practitioners sharing about wild food & fermentation, nourished eating, natural healing & more! Join this first time online gathering of world renowned experts, best selling authors, and beloved teachers as they share their journeys and wisdom around using Food As Medicine.

Kayla Scheibl, Ethnobotany exchange student in Hawaii

Kayla is an exchange student at Kauai Community College, in Lihue, HI.

Kayla Scheibl in Hawaii I am grateful to have begun my studies on the island of Kaua'i with the wonderfully complex natural history of Hawai'i. Learning about some of the basics of the geologic history, topography, and climate has helped orient myself within these beautiful islands. Now I am focused on learning more about how the people and plants came to the islands and how they have adapted to their new environments. The class field days have been especially helpful in exemplifying everything I have learned, including the dramatic and sometimes concerning changes humans and introduced species have had on the islands over time.

I have also had the opportunity to listen to kumus (teachers) and other cultural practitioners about the current and historical uses of local plants. Being given the opportunity to participate in service learning, such as gathering and processing lauhala (Pandanus tectoris) for a fundraising project to fund Hawaiian culture education, has been especially rewarding. I have helped plant endemic and endangered plants on campus. To aid my overall understanding of everything I have learned, I have utilized the following wonderful books: Hawaiian Mythology by Martha Beckwith, Hawaiian Heritage Plants by Angela Kepler, and Kaua'i: Ancient Place Names and Their Stories by Fredrick Wichman.


lauhala prepped for weaving - a plant they use to make cordage and weave into baskets, mats, etc.

8th Western Alaska Interdisciplinary Science Conference and Forum (2015)

Networks: from nature to society

April 15-17, 2015  Bethel, AK

Hosted by the Kuskokwim campus of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the 2015 Western Alaska Interdisciplinary Science Conference will bring together researchers, Elders, educators, students, community leaders, and community members; to share concerns and insights about issues relevant to rural Alaska. This conference is a platform for reporting on and discussing regional research efforts as well as traditional knowledge, providing an interdisciplinary approach to inquiry and discussion.

Participants will explore connections between humans and the environment—to begin to better understand the unique networks that exist within and around communities in rural Alaska. We invite those who have an interest in any aspect of life in rural Alaska to join in this gathering, because we value each perspective that attendees bring as an integral part of the network. We are all coming to realize that we are stronger and better able to move into the future when we cast a wider net—sharing across disciplines/generations/geographic location/cultures.

Visit 8th Western Alaska Interdisciplinary Science Conference and Forum (2015) for more information on the conference.

Draft Yukon-Kuskokwim plant guide:

Check out our new guide to traditional uses of plants for food, medicine and other purposes in our region. We thank the 31 elders from 13 local villages who shared their knowledge and everyone who helped put together this book. This book is still a draft and we are putting it up as web-based document only for a year. We are asking for comments from the public about how we can improve this book.

If there is anything we need to correct or anything you think we should add please email editor Kevin Jernigan at

A Guide to the Ethnobotany of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Region (PDF)

Certificate in Ethnobotany (PDF)

EBOT program brochure (PDF) The brochure describes the Ethnobotany program and how to enroll in the program.

 Ethnobotany 100 Field Course Pre-class Botany Module

The class EBOT 100, “Introduction to Ethnobotany,” will discuss the relationships between people and plants in the Sitka region as well as other parts of Alaska and the rest of the world. People relate to plants in many ways, for example, by eating them, using them as medicine, naming them and telling stories about them. To give you an idea of the types of things we'll discuss, we have included a few sample pages from our ethnobotany program's upcoming book on the ethnobotany of the Yukon-Kuskokwim region, in Western Alaska. This will give you a feeling for how people of a different region relate to a few species you may also have in your area. Please read the descriptions below of fireweed, Labrador tea and cloud berry. Then you can take a short quiz to see what you learned, and what you already know about plants and the study of how people use them.

Anyone interested in the program is welcome to take the quiz too!

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