• Sonja Koukel of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service writes about discovering treasures from the CES catalog

Dr. Sonja Koukel, PhD, of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service

Dr. Sonja Koukel, PhD, of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service

Discover Treasures from the UAF Cooperative Extension Service

By Dr. Sonja Koukel, PhD
Health, Home & Family Development Program
UAF Cooperative Extension Service, Juneau Office


When was the last time you visited the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service (UAF CES) website? Perhaps it’s been awhile, or perhaps you’ve never taken the time to surf the site and take stock of all the treasures available in hard copy, electronic media, and on the Internet.

Every year the CES Communications Department provides a “Publications & Media” catalog listing research-based publications in the major program areas: Agriculture & Horticulture; Community Resource & Economic Development; Energy Education & Housing; and Health, Home & Family Development. Some publications are free and may be downloaded from the website. Those with a small fee can be ordered using the online form (http://www.uaf.edu/ces/pubs/), calling the toll-free number (1-877-520-5211), or contacting the local district office.

Let’s take a look at the treasure trove of information available through the Health, Home & Family Development (HHFD) program. For instance, there are a number of publications listed in the “Food, Nutrition and Health” category. Here, you will find information on storing vegetables and fruits, freezing vegetables, making fruit leather, making jerky, facts on botulism, and a variety of recipes including sourdough, rhubarb, zucchini, and wild berries. Several vegetable fact sheets provide nutrition and health guidelines (such as vitamin, mineral, and fiber content), harvesting, storage, and preparation with sample recipes included. Selected vegetables include beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, squash, herbs, and chard. Bonus — all these fact sheets are free!

In my view, the most exciting new developments are the educational modules made possible through a USDA grant. Titled, “Preserving Alaska’s Bounty,” the web-based modules and DVDs were created and developed as a team effort involving HHFD faculty, program assistants, and the communications staff. The series focuses on home preservation of Alaska Native foods. Client feedback on the media, gathered from an online satisfaction survey, has been very positive.

The primary purpose for developing the modules was to provide research-based information for rural communities and areas that do not have extension faculty members on-site. The web modules are developed in a sequential manner so that each step is clearly defined and explained. There are hyperlinks within the modules that link the user to additional information. Topics are grouped into three main categories: Canning Basics, Canning Products & Methods (i.e., canning fish, meat, jams/jellies), and Meat Products & Methods (i.e., sausage, jerky). These modules are free. Locate them at (http://www.uaf.edu/ces/preservingalaskasbounty/index.html)

For those who learn best by watching demonstrations, the DVDs bring the extension experts into your home. Health, Home & Family Development program area faculty from all seven Alaska districts serve as the educators. To date, seven DVDs have been released on the following topics: Canning Basics, Canning Meat and Fish in Jars, Canning Meat and Fish in Cans, Pickling, Drying Foods, Sausage and Jerky, and the just-released, Jams and Jellies. More titles will be available in the very near future, these include: Root Cellars, Fireweed, Processing Reindeer (game meats), and Harvesting Alaska Seaweeds. The DVDs are available at a nominal fee of $5.

The Alaska Native foods preservation series is the culmination of a five-year process. It is a topic that figures into all the HHFD program areas: nutrition, food budgeting, eating locally, and energy conservation. Recently, the CES HHFD team received recognition for their work, “A Multimedia Approach to Preserving Alaska’s Bounty,” from the National Extension Honorary Society of Epsilon Sigma Phi.

In the new year, take a moment to visit the UAF Cooperative Extension Service website and discover all the treasures that await you. Contact: sdkoukel@alaska.edu or 907-796-6221.

Julie Cascio of UAF Cooperative Extension Service's Health, Home and Family Development program in the Palmer/Mat-Su district demonstrates how to dry apples

Julie Cascio of UAF Cooperative Extension Service's Health, Home and Family Development program in the Palmer/Mat-Su district demonstrates how to dry apples