The Second Art in the Arctic took place on Saturday, March 4, 2017, 10-8:30, at Birch Hill Nordic Center in Fairbanks, Alaska. Enjoy photos from this fantastic outreach event, attended by over 200 people.
The numerous artists included Randall Compton, Kristen Hendricks, Iris Sutton, Frank Entsminger, Vladimir Zhikhartsev, Sandy Jamieson, Rita Butteri…and many other inspiring people!
Friends Members Jason Sodergren, Betty Siegel, and David Personius, with Adam Grimm, two-time winner of the Federal Duck Stamp Contest. Adam was our special guest artist for this year’s event.
David Personius created a 3-D version (drake only) of Adam’s 2014 winning design that was auctioned as a fundraiser for our Friends of Alaska Refuges.
The Art in the Arctic included a screening of The Million Dollar Duck, silent and live auctions benefiting the Friends, sale of collectible Duck Stamps and posters signed by Adam Grimm, and wine and cheese, donated by the National Wildlife Refuge Association. The event was sponsored by Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges, Ducks Unlimited, and Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, with support from the USFWS.
Kanuti’s Annual Winter Celebration, held recently in Allakaket, AK, was attended by over 60 people from Allakaket and Alatna and was once again a hit with kids and adults alike. This year, Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve helped support the effort. Marcy Okada, the Subsistence Coordinator for Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve and Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, and Maria Berger, the Lead Education Specialist (NPS) at the Fairbanks, Alaska Public Lands Information Center, attended the event and provided a well-received after-dinner presentation about Gates and NPS, and a craft table that was very popular with the youth.
Kanuti truly enjoyed partnering with NPS during this event, and very much appreciated the support NPS provided. The community seemed to greatly enjoy being able to learn so much in one stop. UAF representatives were also at the School during the evening event, providing excellent information about their programs and a table of information and free items. The community had a full night of fun! Of course, one of the most enjoyed parts of the evening, was the Taco dinner, provided by Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges and fully prepared by Friends Volunteer Sarah Matthews, who worked hard during the entire event to make sure everything we needed was taken care of – thank you Sarah for your hard work making a wonderful dinner for so many! And thank you to UAF for providing a great dessert! In the spirit of doing more with less, working together can fill in gaps while also strengthening ties. Kanuti looks forward to continuing to work with partners and the communities of Allakaket and Alatna in the future.
At first glance, an urban national wildlife refuge on the coast of California and a remote refuge in the interior of Alaska don’t seem to have much in common. Take a closer look and the connections are clear and important. The striking and regal canvasback is the largest diving duck in North America. It’s also the primary species that connects Yukon Flats Refuge in Alaska to San Pablo Bay Refuge in California – both physically and through each Refuge’s establishing legislation. In the 1950s and 60s, biologists banded thousands of ducks on what is now the Yukon Flats Refuge. Of these banded ducks, 313 canvasbacks were recovered – and 89 of those banded canvasbacks were returned from the San Francisco Bay area.
So when refuge staff at Yukon Flats sought to establish a “Sister Refuge” relationship with a Lower 48 Refuge – a relationship based on a shared resource – they followed the canvasbacks to San Pablo Bay Refuge in San Francisco’s North Bay. This pairing of refuges provides a tangible opportunity to educate residents in the Bay Area and the Yukon River Basin about how wildlife refuges function together as a national network of lands despite their apparent differences and the great distance that separates them.
Last week marked the official start to the Sister Refuge partnership between Yukon Flats and San Pablo Bay Refuges. Three Yukon Flats Refuge employees – Nathan Hawkaluk, deputy refuge manager; Heather Bartlett, wildlife refuge specialist; and Julie Mahler, refuge information technician – migrated to the canvasbacks’ wintering habitats in the North Bay of San Francisco. The goal of this visit was simple: to reach a new audience, and in doing so, get more people to recognize that Yukon Flats Refuge exists. Although a seemingly basic message, most people are unaware of this hidden and yet vitally important conservation gem in Alaska.
Nathan, Heather and Julie took the first step towards this simple goal by presenting to Bay Area classrooms; refuge staff and Friends group members; and attendees of the 21st Annual San Francisco Bay Flyway Festival. The focus of these presentations was to demonstrate how integral Yukon Flats Refuge is for feeding the waterfowl flyways as well as sustaining the residents who subsist on the refuge’s resources.
Julie, who has spent her entire life within the Yukon Flats basin, captivated audiences young and old with stories about raising her family while living off the abundant, but challenging, resources in the wilds of Alaska. Bay Area residents could only imagine the isolation and self-reliance that are the reality of living in such a remote place. A home without electricity, running water, a grocery store, or a gas station – not to mention the nearest neighbor a 3-day boat ride away! Julie brought examples of her homemade handicrafts to demonstrate her and her family’s reliance on the Yukon Flats resources: a hat made of lynx fur, boots sewn from caribou and moose hides, and mittens she lined with beaver fur.
Through the stories of Julie’s personal experiences and connections with the land, as well as the information about Yukon Flats Refuge presented by Nathan and Heather, Bay Area residents gained a better understanding about this treasured place in the heart of Alaska. These stories revealed and confirmed that even today in modern America, wild and unaltered landscapes still remain for the American public to enjoy. This is the legacy of the Yukon Flats today – and tomorrow.
Please join us on Tuesday, February 21, for the Friends membership meeting. Call in a few minutes before 5pm: (866) 556-2149, code :8169747#
Our presenter will be Greg Siekaniec, FWS Alaska Regional Director, who will provide us with a Regional Update, followed by a Q&A session.
*Members are invited to call in or attend in person at Alaska Maritime. Many refuges are offering the opportunity to attend via teleconferencing, including Anchorage and Yukon Flats- check with the Refuge near you.
The Voices of the Wilderness artist residency is a unique opportunity. It is modeled after traditional residencies in the national parks…with a twist. Instead of staying at a remote wilderness cabin, our participating artists are paired with a wilderness specialist and actively engaged in stewardship projects, such as research, monitoring, and education. The idea is to give artists a sense of the stewardship behind America’s public lands, fostering an artistic exploration of these natural and cultural treasures. The hoped-for result is artwork that communicates something of the meaning of these lands. (photo: Chugach & Tongass National Forests, Western Arctic National Parklands)
Residencies open to: Art professionals in all media – visual (two and three dimensional, photographers, sculptors,painters), audio (musicians, singers, composers), film (video/filmmakers), and writers (poets, fiction, essays, storytellers).
Residency period: Residency dates vary, but typically they are hosted June through September, lasting 7-9 days.
Sponsored by the US Forest Service, National Park Service & US Fish & Wildlife Service
In the summer of 2017, artists will be invited to participate in our residencies, each opportunity completely different. The purpose is to share with the community artwork that conveys the inspirational and other values of wilderness.
Each artist will be provided the same safety training as other volunteers (may include aviation and boat safety, kayak safety, use of radios and satellite phones, review of Job Hazard Analyses, etc.). The hosting federal agency will provide transportation to and from the field, camping and field gear, and in many cases, food as well.
Travel to and from Alaska is the artist’s responsibility. Participants should plan to arrive in Alaska at least one full day prior to a residency to ensure enough time for safety training. Return travel should be planned for a couple days after a residency, as weather sometimes delays the return from the field. Artists are also responsible for their personal gear, including art supplies
As an artist-in-residence, you will experience the wilderness like few others. Traveling alongside a ranger, you might kayak the calm fiords and camp on glacier-carved shores. There will be plenty of time to sit back in your camp chair and absorb the crackling ice bergs and roaring waterfalls. From the water, you might see a bear foraging among intertidal mussels, or seals hauled-out on the ice. On remote beaches, your steps will mingle with the tracks of wolves, bears, birds, maybe even a mink. The wilderness soundscape will embrace you with the screeches of eagles or the songs of whales. Along the way, you’ll get a peek at what it’s like to care for the land by sharing time with a ranger
As a volunteer, each artist will assist with some basic ranger duties, which may include boarding a tour boat to provide education, participating in research projects, such as seal counts or climate change studies, walking a beach to remove litter, or other generally light duties. However, an emphasis for the artist will be experiencing the wilderness and exploring how to communicate its inspirational qualities through their artwork.
Congratulations toKristen Gilbert on her new assignment- Kristen was offered and has accepted a position at USFWS Headquarters in Washington, DC. She is the new Chief for the Branch of Communications in Visitor Services. Kristen will take both field and regional experience to this position which is a huge asset.
Kristen is known for her regional work in AK as the Youth, Volunteers, Outreach, Urban, Friends Coordinator, Financial Assistance Warrior, and Techno Geek. Prior to coming to Alaska, she worked at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, the San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuge complex in southern Colorado and at the National Elk Refuge in Jackson, WY. Kristen has been recognized nationally for her leadership roles in digital communication and outreach and has been a member and/or filled a leadership position on several national teams. She has also been a key leader for the NWRS Communications Strategy and Branding Strategy.
Kristen, your leadership and guidance to the Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges has been invaluable. You will be extremely missed. Though you have moved onward, you are a Friend Forever!
Welcome Helen Strackeljahn, thenew Youth, Volunteers, Urban, Friends Coordinator forAlaska U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, tentative start date of January 19, 2017.
Helen comes to us from the NPS and is presently an education specialist at the Anchorage Alaska Public Lands Information Center (AAPLIC). Currently, Helen manages the education, outreach and Volunteer in the Parks program and has written and received numerous grants for youth programs in the State. A few of her recent achievements include forming a partnership with the 21st Century Afterschool Programs which helped the NPS offer conservation education programs at Title 1 schools in Anchorage, developing an MOU with the King Career Center which offered overnight and day camp learning experiences for Anchorage youth, introducing high schoolers to volunteerism, YCC, and SCA programs, as well as managing and training hundreds volunteers and interns. Prior to her AAPLIC assignment, Helen worked at Carlsbad Caverns NP, Glacier Bay NP, Everglades NP and Big Cypress National Preserve.
We look forward to working closely with Helen, on all things Refuge!
Education Specialist Allyssa Morris and Friends of Alaska Refuges Volunteer Jeff Walters visited the Allakaket school in mid-December where they presented programs to pre-k to 12th grade classrooms about mustelids, which are mammals that belong to the weasel family. Students learned about behavior, diet, and movement patterns of weasels such as the wolverine, marten, ermine, and river otter. Students also played games that allowed them to behave like a weasel and use their sense of smell to find food caches hidden around the classroom.
by Leah Eskelin, Park Ranger (all photos by USFWS)
Celebrating 75 years of conservation at Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Refuge staff hosted an evening celebration on Friday, December 16th at the new Refuge Visitor Center in Soldotna. Sponsored by the Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges, National Wildlife Refuge Association, Alaska Geographic and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Retirees Association, the party showcased the Refuge’s diverse landscapes through artwork by volunteer photographers Tom Collopy and Mary Frische, family activities and a centerpiece cake that, well, took the cake.
Seventy-five years ago, on the heels of the attack on Pearl Harbor that led the United States into World War II, the President signed the document that created the Kenai National Moose Range. Later, in 1980, the passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) would change its name to Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, and broaden its purpose. A grassroots effort to protect wildlife being over harvested on the Kenai Peninsula resulted in this federal action, and without it the landscapes that are so beloved by residents and visitors alike would have been lost long ago. With this protection, wildlife habitats, recreational opportunities and the integrity of salmon-rearing streams that are the linchpin of much of the local fishery have survived the decades, and will endure beyond our years here.
More than 200 guests attended this event, where they dressed as their favorite Kenai animal in the photo booth, “became” moose, the Refuge’s signature wildlife, by designing moose headbands and decorated reusable canvas tote bags. It was a great celebration and one that would have been impossible without the support of the Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges. Refuge staff send their thanks to each member of the Friends organization, for this and other efforts to spread the word about these majestic public lands across the state.
Are you an artist that supports wildlife conservation? Do you specialize in art that was inspired by Alaska wildlife and the habitats where they live? If so, we encourage you to apply to showcase your work at the 2nd annual Art in the Arctic Art Show on March 4, 2017 at Birch Hill Nordic Center in Fairbanks, Alaska. This event is hosted by the Friends of Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuges (Friends) volunteer organization. All proceeds from this show will be used to help fulfill the Friends mission of “promoting the stewardship of Alaska’s unique National Wildlife Refuges through education, support, and advocacy.”
The Art in the ArcticArt Show is a juried exhibition and sale of traditional and contemporary art and fine craft. Artists are selected on the basis of originality, artistic concept, and quality of their work. All work submitted must feature compositions or objects that highlight 1) wildlife, including fish, birds, mammals, insects, reptiles, and/or marine life; 2) natural landscapes or habitats; and/or 3) people living off the land. Acceptable media categories include paintings, sculpture, limited edition prints, jewelry, photography, metal work, bone carving, woodcut, basket, bead, fiber arts, pottery, glass, mixed media, etc. Deadline for electronic applications is January 15, 2017. Hard-copy applicationsmust be postmarked by January 10, 2017. For more information or to apply visit: Art in the Arctic Art Show Information (Photo: Friends Volunteers Betty Siegel and Jeff Walters greet attendees at the 1st Annual Art in the Arctic Art Show)
by Allyssa Morris, Environmental Education Specialist (USFWS)
National Wildlife Refuge Week reminds Americans how nature enriches our lives and adds to the beauty of our country. This special week highlights the National Wildlife Refuge System – the network of lands and waters that protect wildlife and their habitats. This year Arctic, Kanuti, and Yukon Flats Refuges celebrated that connection with the natural world by hosting two events in Fairbanks with the help of the Friends of Alaska Refuges.
Archery Night was held at the Morris Thompson Center on October 11, 2016. The event was geared for youth ages 9+ years old. Trained Service staff and volunteers taught youth proper techniques and skills in an outdoor setting. Inside the main lobby there was an array of activities such as owl pellet dissections, pelts and skulls, and the opportunity to make a nature-inspired rubber stamp card. Visitors were also able to warm up with a cup of hot cocoa. Friends of Alaska Refuges member Dave greeted visitors at the entrance and member Joseph grilled hotdogs. It was a brisk and cold evening full of activities and smiling faces.
The second event was Refuge Day at the Fairbanks Children’s Museum. This event was geared for youth ages toddler to 8 years old. Attendees were able to make a squishy sensory fish pouch, play an animal matching game and even receive a blue goose removable tattoo. The highlight of the event was meeting Puddles the Blue Goose, who received many hugs throughout the event. Friends member Jeff handed out juice boxes and cookies and Friends member Sarah led a craft on making blue goose clothespin magnets. This was a fun day to learn and celebrate the refuges!
Friends Member Dave Personius greets visitors at the Morris Thompson Center at Archery Night
The Cotter Family dissects owl pellets and learns about food chains with Botanist Janet Jorgenson
Betty Morris, age 2, demonstrates how big a polar bear can be
Refuge Day at the Children’s Museum: Puddles with Children’s Museum Staff; Friends members Jeff Walters and Sarah Mathews hand out cookies and juice to attendees.