• Sitka to host two-week Introduction to Ethnobotany course for college credit

EBOT 100 flyer 2014

Sitka will be the site of a two-week Introduction to Ethnobotany summer fieldwork course May 19-30 offered by the University of Alaska Fairbanks Kuskokwim Campus (Bethel).

The Ethnobotany Certificate Program operated by the UAF Kuskokwim Campus 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 and 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 associate’s and bachelor’s of
science degrees.

The Sitka-based 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 on the EBOT program website 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.

The three-credit class (biology credits) costs $600 for tuition, books and materials, but there are scholarships available for Alaska-based students enrolled in the EBOT certificate program. In addition to the class, there will be a three-day program stakeholder meeting that will end on May 31 with a local foods dinner.

Registration forms for the class and the ethnobotany program are linked below. For more information, contact Kuskokwim Campus Ethnobotany Program Coordinator Rose Meier, PhD, at 1-907-474-6935 (voice), 1-907-474-5952 (fax) or by email at rameier@alaska.edu.

• Kuskokwim Campus Introduction to Ethnobotany 100 (Sitka) course application 2014

• Kuskokwim Campus Ethnobotany Program Application 2014

• UAF College of Rural and Community Development Registration Form

• Kayaaní Commission accepting letters of interest for commissioners.

Devils-Club__SE-Alaska1

Sitka Tribe of Alaska‘s Kayaaní Commission is accepting letters of interest to fill two open commissioner seats — a three-year term tribal citizen seat, and a one-year term general membership seat.

The Kayaaní Commission works to preserve and protect plants and the traditional ways they are used. It is a commission of knowledgeable tribal citizens, elders and knowledgeable Sitka residents who care for the preservation of traditional ways, protection of native species and their uses. The commission then shares that knowledge so it is not lost. A few years ago, the Kayaaní Commission published The Kayaaní Commission Ethnobotany Field Guide to Selective Plants in Sitka, Alaska, which details some of the food and medicinal uses of a variety of local plants.

For the open commission seats, the term “tribal citizen” shall mean any individual enrolled at the Sitka Tribe of Alaska, and the term “general membership” of the Kayaani Commission shall mean all tribal citizens and residents of Sitka who have resided here for at least six months. Deadline is close of business on Friday, March 28.

Please mail or hand deliver letters of interest to the STA’s Resource Protection Department, 456 Katlian Street, Sitka, AK 99835, Attention: Heather Riggs, or email letters to heather.riggs@sitkatribe-nsn.gov. For more information, please contact Heather @ 747-7167.

• Celebrate Fish to State takes place on March 20 to support statewide Fish to Schools program

celebrate fish to state

SCSCohoPortionsForCookingSitka’s Fish to Schools program has been extremely successful the past three years, and now there’s a movement to make similar programs available statewide. Join us from 6:30-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 20, at Blatchley Middle School as we celebrate Fish to State.

This event will celebrate the success of the Sitka Fish to Schools program, which is coordinated by the Sitka Conservation Society and other partners. The event will include short presentations from Sitka School Board President Lon Garrison, Sitka Local Foods Network President Lisa Sadleir-Hart, and Sitka Conservation Society Community Sustainability Organizer Tracy Gagnon. Light refreshments will be available.

The Sitka Fish to Schools program came out of the 2010 Sitka Health Summit, when local residents chose as one of its community wellness projects to serve more local seafood in our schools. Since then the program has grown so that all students from Grades 2-12 in Sitka have a local seafood lunch option at least twice a month. This includes the Sitka School District schools, Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School, Blatchley Middle School, Sitka High School, and Pacific High School, plus other local schools, the state-run boarding school Mount Edgecumbe High School and the private K-8 The SEER School. The award-winning program has served as a model for a handful of other school districts in Alaska, and now there is a push to make it available statewide with a full curriculum and resource guide, plus financial support.

For more information, contact Ray Friedlander of the Sitka Conservation Society at 747-7509 or ray@sitkawild.org.

 

• Sitka Maritime Heritage Society annual meeting features stories of harvesting and sharing foods from our local waters and shores

annual meet 2014 web

Local food will be the focus when the Sitka Maritime Heritage Society holds its annual meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 25, at the Sheet’ká Kwáan Naa Kahídi. The meeting’s program topic is Harvesting and Sharing Foods from our Waters and Shores: Stories of Sitka’s Oldest Family Tradition. There will be mingling and refreshments starting at 6:30 p.m., with the program running from 7-9 p.m.

The meeting’s format, as in past years, is to have a panel of individuals with stories and experiences to share about the topic. In the second half of the program, the floor will be opened up to stories from the audience. The panel host and moderator will be longtime troller Eric Jordan.

According to the Sitka Maritime Heritage Society’s website:

Being able to get our food for our families from the ocean and shores is a big reason for living here. In fact, for many of us, it’s a big reason to live, period: the collective effort with friends and family, teaching and learning, the satisfaction of a productive day on the water (never dull!), the deep contentment of having food put up to feed our children and elders. As in past annual meetings, we are expecting a lot of laughter, and a lot of learning about our fellow Sitkans, this place we live in, family and history. Oh, and cookies.

For more information about the annual meeting, go to the group’s website, send email to sitkamaritime@gmail.com, or contact new executive director Carole Gibb at 747-3448.

 

• Sitka School District touts more state investment into local foods for school lunch programs

SCSCohoPortionsForCooking

During its Feb. 4 meeting, the Sitka School Board put its weight behind an effort to increase funding for locally sourced food in schools across the state.

In a resolution to the legislature, the board cited the success of Sitka’s Fish to Schools program as justification for extending a similar statewide program beyond one year. Nutritional Alaskan Food for Schools (NAFS) was introduced by Rep. Bill Stoltze (R-Anchorage) in 2012, and piloted last year. This year the governor has included funding of $3 million dollars for the program — but only for one year. All schools in Alaska will receive funding from the program, based on student population. The Sitka School District and state-run Mount Edgecumbe High School received $39,000 from the program last year, which mostly went for seafood purchases (Mount Edgecumbe did buy some potatoes from Gustavus, and Pacific High School bought some vegetables from St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm).

In late January, Tracy Gagnon, who coordinates the Fish to Schools program for the Sitka Conservation Society, submitted the following letter to the editor to the Daily Sitka Sentinel outlining the reasons to support the program.

Nutritional Alaskan Foods for Schools

Dear Editor,

Sitka is one of the first communities in Alaska to push for local foods in schools through the Fish to Schools program; now it’s time to go state-wide. The Governor has included in his FY15 budget state funding to reimburse school districts for their purchases of Alaskan grown or caught foods through the Nutritional Alaskan Foods for Schools program (NAFS). This makes it possible for schools to serve local, nutritious foods to their students, sourcing from farmers, fishermen, and processors in or around their communities. NAFS improves Alaska’s food security and helps us create a more sustainable local food system.

Representative Stoltze proposed NAFS in 2011, and more than 100 vendors and 48 school districts benefited from this legislation in the 2012-2013 school year. Nearly 90 percent of those 48 school districts purchased local seafood.

Every year food producers and school food service providers wait anxiously every spring for NAFS to pass. And usually it’s too late for farmers to meet the extra demand because they’ve already planted their crops and food service has already purchased other foods. Making this funding permanent would provide both food service and food producers the consistency necessary for advanced planning and coordination of harvest to ensure supply meets demand.

The Sitka Conservation Society thanks both the leadership of Representative Stoltze and Governor Parnell for including NAFS in his proposed budget. We urge Alaska Legislators to support the permanent funding of a program that increases Alaska’s food security, catalyzes Alaska’s food production, supports local communities, and improves the health of our students.

Tracy Gagnon
Community Sustainability Organizer
Sitka Conservation Society