Educating Alaska Agriculture Professionals on Sustainable High Latitude Horticulture Production Practices

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2010: $50,002.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: Western
State: Alaska
Principal Investigator:
Jeff Smeenk
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Dr. Milan Shipka
University of Alaska Fairbanks

Annual Reports


  • Fruits: berries (other)
  • Vegetables: beans, beets, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, greens (leafy), onions, parsnips, peas (culinary), radishes (culinary), turnips, brussel sprouts


  • Crop Production: nutrient cycling, organic fertilizers
  • Education and Training: extension, networking, workshop
  • Natural Resources/Environment: carbon sequestration
  • Pest Management: mulching - plastic, row covers (for pests)
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems
  • Soil Management: organic matter, soil analysis, nutrient mineralization, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: social networks

    Proposal abstract:

    A workshop is planned to educate Alaska Agriculture Professionals of Season Extension Techniques and Optimizing Horticultural Production in Cold Soils. The workshop will be presented in Palmer, ALaska and repeated in Fairbanks, Alaska. Another aspect of the workshops will be to encourage social networks among professionals employed by various agencies. A support website will be developed to consolidate Alaska-appropriate horticultural literature.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The primary output of this project is the conference, which will provide much needed training regarding production in cold soils and season extension to professionals from NRCS, ARS, CES, AFES, SCS, and various other state and federal agencies. Both of these topics are important to agriculture in Alaska and applicable in all regions of the state. During the conference the participants will produce educational documents to be posted on the website, build professional relationships with colleagues from various agencies, and create a directory identifying participants’ contact information and areas of expertise. An additional output is the agricultural information website, which is a tool to support the information exchange and networking that the conference will initiate. The website will also act as a central repository for all agricultural-related information in the state, and provide access to older research that is not currently accessible. Finally, two instructional DVDs will be created based on the content from the conference workshops. These DVDs will provide a refresher for conference participants, and a foundation for professionals who come to the state after the conference has occurred. Ultimately, they will help to reinforce the base knowledge of professionals in the industry thereby promoting sustainable agricultural practices.

    In addition to the pre and post-tests during the workshops, formal evaluation will occur at three additional points. Three months following the conference, participants will be asked to participate in a formal evaluation to obtain feedback on the usefulness of the conference, how the participants have used the information covered at the conference, and to obtain suggestions as to how the website can be improved. The website suggestions will drive a revision of the website if needed. Six months following the conference, a second evaluation will be distributed which will focus on the effectiveness of the website revisions, how the professionals are using information from the conference in their work, how the information from the website has impacted their work, and a request for additional comments on the website. There will be a final revision of the website based on the comments received from this evaluation. The final evaluation will take place one year after the conference to determine how the information from the conference has impacted agricultural professionals and their work, how the website has affected the agricultural community as a whole, and what potential the website has to become something that the agricultural community can make their own and maintain beyond the funding of this grant.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.