User Forum Notes for 7-28-2020

Attendees: Leanne R, Donie BH, Mike A, Ian K, Amanda Y, Dennis W, Mashuri W, Chad D, Joe F, Pat S, Shelby S, Cezanna S, Kela V, Seth B, Sarah M, Rachel M, Faye E, Bodie D, Isabel E, Lexy S, Faustine B, Ruby A

Updates around camp based on 2019 users forums: 

Pending action items remaining from 2019: 

General requests/comments

Big thanks to Chad for being so helpful, much appreciated

Thank you to Gina for being the sole cook during the closure

TFS enables critical data collection during the winter season. The ability to stay open in the winter is crucial to our project success (Nancy Parker, USNA)

Another great trip to Toolik. It is extremely important that the station is open and available for all seasons. Especially winter to spring and fall seasons! Thank you! (Tom Douglas)

Please note that the winter signature for chemistry of soils/surface water is extremely important and very unique. There are few places in the works that facilitate studying this integral and understudied time of the year!! Thank you. (Amanda Barker)

Toolik serves as a superlative base for fall geophysical research. This season is understudied and the facilities here ameliorate the harsh field conditions allowing for important and unique environmental studies. Thank you.

TFS was critical to my permaforst microbiome work where we are studying shoulder seasons. The staff are incredible and we could not have collected our samples without this critical resource. Keeping it open over winter strengthens an understanding of the changing climate. Thank you! (Robyn Barbato)

Please have Toolik swag available for users for sale! Same quality as staff would really be appreciated.  It would not be hard to bulk buy a selection of sweatshirts to sell to Toolik guests but I think there might be some rules from UAF about not being able to sell our own items.  Something to look into.  For example, they might require us to put the UAF logo on the items available to the public. -Stevie

More acid storage and have a consistent policy that is communicated to all staff (EMT and Managers) so everyone is receiving the same info.  We sent one new corrosives cabinet to camp this year.  How many more would there be room for?  How many more would be considered enough storage? -Stevie

Thanks Stevie and Skye for the logistics help and the great support during the closure! 

Some mirrors in the rooms please

Can packrafts be offered for check out? 

Need boot scrushers at labs door/entrances, and EMT shack!

Would it be possible for Toolik or CPS to offer option for traveling researchers to stay one night at hotel with transportation before deploying to Toolik; similar to the quarantine procedure enabled this year (Ian Kuplar). Note: Rachel will bring up with Marin and we will discuss in August Facility Meeting.  This sounds like it was more of a question to CPS but I will give my two cents.  Skye can correct me if I am wrong;  In order for us to book a hotel room for someone at this time, they MUST be setup in concur.  This would add a huge workload on our end of getting concur profiles created, creating trip requests, booking, and managing trip expense reports.  I also don’t know how we would go about billing them,but h it could potentially be added into our lodging invoices somehow. -Stevie 

Anime playing on TV in the Dining Hall!

In helping a researcher that had a question about lab space needs I could not find on the web site where to direct them. They had already made a reservation. I checked Lab Space assignment but there was not any link to a request of needs (Jim Laundre, online comment submitted via website) New website and request support form was discussed and shared with the forum participants and should address this issue and others. 

Thanks to the whole TFS staff for getting the station up and running and for making it possible to do science this summer! You guys are incredible and I am so grateful for the opportunity to be at Toolik despite everything going on in the world right now! (online comment)

I would like to thank the Toolik staff for all the support during this unprecedented summer. The remote access protocols were indispensable this summer (Jeremy May, online comment)

I go to Toolik to support other people's research, rather than heading my own projects -- I always really enjoy being there, and have been consistently impressed with how the station functions. I really hope I'll be able to get back there next year, and that everyone has been staying safe from virus (online comment, Cassie Conley)

If invited next year, I would sleep in my small RV rather than in the housing, but would still like to have access to showers and the cafeteria. I hope this will be possible? (online comment, Bill?)

Happy to see the COVID-19 health measures being taken around camp! Shows that TFS prioritizes our safety above anything else (online comment)

I suggest figuring out a way to create an easier environment to speak up about not wanting to drive alone up the haul road. The culture makes it hard to speak up about not wanting to do a dangerous drive alone with little to no training. This is especially hard for new hires who might perceive their answer to being comfortable driving alone up the haul road will influence whether they are hired or not. Obviously Covid-19 has created unique circumstances, but driving with someone with experience should be an easy option, not one that creates complications or anxiety for those that are asking. Address at the next user forum - this comment submitted online was submitted after the July forum, but it’s definitely a good one! I suggested this to Faustine, it could be useful to have this as part of the MyToolik profile.  “Are you willing to drive one of our vehicles on the haul road?”, “Yes, for the whole trip if needed”, “Yes, shared with other drivers”, or “No”?  This would allow us to sort users and staff appropriately into vehicles with comfortable drivers. -Stevie

Common use equipment/procurement: N/A


More pork belly (please!)

Would love to have sauteed veggies at breakfast - such as mushrooms, onions, zuchinni, or bell peppers as a suggestion. The more vegetables offered at meals the better. Thank you! I really value how hard all the cooks work and all the variation that is already offered (online comment)

If possible, can we bring monster bars back to the dining hall? Studies have shown that they boost team morale and productivity.. Thanks!! (online comment)

I'd like to see Toolik adopt a "meatless Monday". By not cooking meat 1 day a week, we could reduce our carbon consumption quite a bit! If there are people who'd like to add meat on these days, they can use the leftover fridge. I think taking active efforts in reducing carbon consumption is important for a field station that supports environmental research. There are over ½ of the current population that is signed up as vegetarian, but a majority of them normally are meat eaters. However, not all meat eaters want to eat meat everyday, and a lot of people we host at the station care about what they eat and the quality of the food they eat. It’s difficult to only procure healthy and organic options in an industrial setting like Toolik cooking for over 100 people in normal times, but we think it is important to do things a little differently and look at alternative products that would make the food healthier and more sustainable as a whole. Maybe look in procuring locally, like Delta Meats for example? How can we change that? Find ways to accommodate preferences and diets, support AK businesses, etc. Who makes the change that we want to see? Toolik should take the opportunity to make these decisions and enable the changes that are needed to adapt to the current demand. I have heard good things about delta meat, it might involve buying more coolers but I don’t think it would be impossible to do at least a few supplementary orders of local meat. -Stevie 

Daily soups would be amazing! Preferably vegan or vegetarian so everyone can have some

Healthier snack options, unsweetened almond milk, dried fruits (unseetened, unsulfured), nuts, etc.

Healthier snacks please! Love the food otherwise, thank you.

Can we have more organic options available? Milk, fruits, etc.

Need to be more consistent with food availability during the winter months, and have some leftovers/sandwiches options. This is something we should definitely better address and discuss for winter months, given that the models are different, despite the same user day rate. Chad/Faustine discussed more after forum, and it would be extremely helpful to offer options to users ahead of time, to help plan for food that would be needed when a group visits and the assistant managers need to cook for users. Also need to discuss expectations for staff members, as everyone is expected to cook for themselves. Should encourage team approach and community building when there is no users.