Toolik User Forum, August 5, 2017.

Attending: Seth Beaudreault, Chad Diesinger, Faye Ethridge, Ned Fetcher, Peter Ray, Steven Unger, Ed Rastetter, Donie Bret-Harte

Notes by Donie Bret-Harte

This user forum was not attended by many people. 

The suggestion box was opened to start the forum. 

1)      Two very nice notes were received from K-12 teachers Becca Wren and Celeste Cruz, who were here with John Moore’s group:

  1. Toolik Staff: I had no idea what to expect when I came to TFS, but you all have gone above and beyond my expectations in every way! I’ve told the other teachers I’m with that this place runs like a well-oiled machine.  Thank you for hosting the teachers and for being so hospitable… Toolik is like a little oasis in the middle of the Arctic.  Much love, Becca Wren, Ft. Collins, CO
  2. Dear Toolik Staff, Thank you so much for your hospitality, friendliness and everything you’ve done for me and our group for the past two weeks.  The food was delish, the grounds clean and safe. I’d be more than happy to come back again! (and that comes from a girl who thinks that a 3-star hotel is camping!) Thank you, thank you! – Celeste Cruz, East Falmouth, MA

2)      “Thank you so much for hosting us.  Toolik is a dream place, comprised of wonderful people, scenery, and food.  We are so thankful to have stayed – NEON”

3)      A screened-in porch would be great (two comments)

4)      If you used wooden sticks for the coffee, instead of plastic, you could burn them.  Less plastic waste!

5)      “Quote Board” (it is not clear what this meant)

6)      Dean’s beans coffee is not good.  It is disappointing after years of excellent coffee. Please revert to the previous, superior coffee

7)      A few other food comments were received: 1) non-chocolate cookies, please?  Also, the non-chocolate desserts are amazing  (The cooks will consider these requests, at their discretion.)

The comment about the coffee engendered some discussion.  Seth explained that Dean’s Beans is bird-friendly coffee, and much better for the environment.  The kitchen has been using a medium roast, but we used to buy a dark roast from the Alaska Coffee Roasting Company.  Seth thought that the difference in roasts might account for the complaint.  We agreed to try the dark roast from Dean’s Beans going forward.

Ned commented that TFS did a great job with the high population in July.  Everything ran smoothly and easily.

We discussed the “leavings” from plucks.  Chad asked the scientists not to put the organic material into the trash, if it is just separated and not contaminated with chemicals.  There is no point in burning it or sending it south, when it can just return to nature here.  Ned wondered where to put it.  Chad suggested to dump the material into the settling ponds behind ATCOs 1-4, where it can become part of the organic matter.  It is easy to access them from the road beyond the resource pile on the way to Cold Storage.  Extra wood can be taken to the bonfire pit.


Chad mentioned that Iain Miller (EMT) had commented that he was frustrated that not many people atteneded the bear safety training.  Other than Melissa, all of the participants were staff.  This problem has occurred before, and we have tried various different schedules to address it, but the problem recurs.

Steven Unger commented that a piece of wood is necessary to easily use the jack in the science trucks, if you are trying to change a tire.  The van that is used for transport to Deadhorse doesn’t have one.  (This was rectified after the meeting.)

Ned commented that it would be great if TFS could provide the Dr. Bronners’ soap already diluted in a bottle, so that it is easier to rinse off.  Also, the water circulating system in the sauna needs more repair (again). 

Ed Rastetter commented that everything seems to be running smoothly.  He said that Gus Shaver was happy. 

The meeting adjourned.