News and announcements

UAF undergraduate student Michelle Ramirez (left) explaining her poster to Tara Borland (right) with U.S. National Science Foundation’s Estab­lished Program to Stim­u­late Com­pet­i­tive Research (EPSCoR) during WAISC 2024. Photo by Dave Partee/Alaska Sea Grant.
Conference addresses rapid change in Western Alaska

The 16th Western Alaska Interdisciplinary Science Conference was held in Nome this month, hosted by Alaska Sea Grant and the University of Alaska Fairbanks Northwest Campus. The four-day conference brought together more than 130 scientists, specialists and community members to focus on the theme “Western Alaska in transition.”

"As the ocean and climate of Western Alaska continues to warm, the impacts are like dominos, one falling into the next,” explained Gay Sheffield, Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program agent for the Bering Strait region and co-chair of the conference. “WAISC is an opportunity to bring people and researchers from many disciplines to share their expertise and learn together as Western Alaska continues to comprehensively transition into a new future.”

Every year, WAISC provides a forum for bringing urban and rural Alaskans together to a regional hub community to share knowledge and science across disciplinary and cultural boundaries.

“For institutional experts to meet and learn from local and Indigenous experts is critical for informed decisions to be made regarding ballooning development and effects on the Bering Strait region of Alaska,” said Barb Amarok, the director of UAF Northwest Campus.


HLRM F160 Meat Production course from March 27th-April 2, 2024
Reindeer meat production class in Nome

Jackie Hrabok led a 35-hour two-credit reindeer meat production class in Nome, HLRM F160 Reindeer Meat Production on March 27-April 2.

The class consisted of 15 hours of lessons in meat chemistry, slaughterhouse design, and commercial USDA regulations for harvesting. These lessons were put to use in 17 hours of hands-on butchering, grinding meat, and making burgers and reindeer jerky. 

Students made 122 portions of vacuum-packed reindeer jerky and distributed them at the WAISC Western Alaska Interdisciplinary Science Conference in Nome. A USDA Indigenous Meat Production grant of the Drumbeats Alaska Consortium High Latitude Range Management program sponsored student travel, equipment, supplies and material, and meat studio classroom renovations. 

Jackie said it was the first time she had taught this class in English. Previous classes were in Finnish at the European Union-sanctioned slaughterhouse in Toivoniemi, Finland.

"Teamwork among Mother Earth, herders, Bering Air, colleagues, an emotional support dog, Amazon Prime shipping, and No. 1 students supported this goodness, not to mention the generous USDA funding," she said.

HLRM F160 Reindeer Meat Production on March 27-April 2


UAF Nanook bear, right-facing, blue
Congratulations to the following UAF students from our region who've been named to the Fall 2023 Chancellor's List and the Fall 2023 Dean's List! 

Chancellor's List (students earning a 3.9 grade point average or higher)
Tracy Saccheus (Elim)
Jenae Matson (Nome)
Harrison Moore (Nome)
Asaaluk Nichols (Nome)
Alazae Waghiyi (Savoonga)
Esther Iyatunguk (Shishmaref)
Dean's List (students earning a grade point average between 3.5 and 3.89)
Karis Evans (Nome)
Kylie Evans (Nome)
Lizzie Hahn (Nome)
Clara Hansen (Nome)
Parker Kenick (Nome)
Ellie Martinson (Nome)
Emily Pomrenke (Nome)
Sarah Wade (Nome)
Roderick Huntington (Unalakleet)
Ravenne Storms (Unalakleet)

Marilyn Koezuna-Irelan teaching how to make an atigi.
UAF Northwest Campus offers one of a kind arts course

By Ava White

While all University of Alaska (UA) institutions offer unique traditional Alaska Native courses on languages and arts, the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ (UAF) Northwest Campus (NWC) offers an atigi, or a traditional King Island parka making course.  

Among the three UA colleges, UAF, University of Alaska Southeast (UAS), and University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA), UAF stands as the only university in the United States to offer a class in traditional parka crafting.


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Feeding the Last Frontier (part 3): A Reindeer Called Rhonda

Sun and Soil is regretful to report that in the past few months, we've gained no solid evidence that reindeer can fly. However, we have gained a good deal of evidence that they have the potential to play a great role in increasing food security in Alaska! This week we take a trip to Nome to talk with Bonnie Scheele (owner of Midnite Sun Reindeer Ranch and 4th generation reindeer herder) and Jackie Hrabok (Assistant Professor of the High Latitude Range Management Program at UAF and reindeer expert) about these smart and sustainable animals. We discuss the history of reindeer in the state, Sami reindeer herding in Finland, the specifics of reindeer herding, the upcoming farm bill, and what needs to happen in order for Alaskan reindeer herding to reach its full potential.

Feeding the Last Frontier is a six part series on food security in Alaska. We talk to the key players in the state's food system, discuss the system's strengths and weaknesses, and ask—can the last frontier feed itself?


Jackie Hrabok, left, with Ed Kiokun, Nunivak Island Mekoryuk; and Terry Don, CEO of Nunivak Island — Mekoryuk.
Sapmi Boazu: A visit to the Sami Reindeer Husbandry Range of Finland

Jackie Hrabok, UAF's Northwest Campus assistant professor of High Latitude Range Management, hosted and led an international cultural exchange for the Alaska Reindeer Directors. Delegates were from Mekoryuk on Nunivak Island, the Kawerak Reindeer Herders Association and the Kawerak Environmental Department.