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Spirit of Alaska Women at Fantastic Friday

Alaskan women have a lot of amazing stories to share.  As a descendant of Alaskan homesteaders myself, I can really appreciate the unique conditions and experiences that can be told by women who have spent a good amount of time in this great state, some even before it was a state.  A book about their stories became the topic of a recent Fantastic Friday event at the Wynn Nature Center on Skyline Dr.  Ladies from the Homer chapter of the Association for Family and Community Education, a former Cooperative Extension program, brought their new book filled with Alaskan tales to share with the public at this free event.  The storytelling women arrived in Alaska at various times between the 1950's and the 1970's and many had spent time living in the bush.  They told their own histories as well as read excerpts from the book on topics ranging from preparing salmon to the 1964 earthquake.  The stories were lively and well-told and through them the women exhibited why their newly published book was titled "Spirit of Alaska Women."  A special appearance was also made by long-time local, and namesake of the cabin at the Wynn Nauture Center, Daisy Lee Bitter.

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The book featured at Fantastic Friday and some handcrafts made by a few of the authors.

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The ladies of the Homer Association for Family and Community Education.

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Telling their stories about arriving in Alaska.

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Daisy Lee Bitter, a long-time Homer resident and Naturalist.

Guests at Fantastic Friday not only learned local history through storytelling, but also saw personal photos and memorabelia from the womens' experiences. The book, which was compiled and edited by the women of the Family and Community Education program, is for sale at the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies headquarters and the Wynn Nature Center.  It is a worthy and entertaining read for anyone who takes pride in being Alaskan and the proceeds support the activities of the volunteer women.

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Demonstration Alaskan-made dancing fans.

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Alaskan women showing their Alaskan spirit!

 
Spirit of Alaska Women at Fantastic Friday

Alaskan women have a lot of amazing stories to share.  As a descendant of Alaskan homesteaders myself, I can really appreciate the unique conditions and experiences that can be told by women who have spent a good amount of time in this great state, some even before it was a state.  A book about their stories became the topic of a recent Fantastic Friday event at the Wynn Nature Center on Skyline Dr.  Ladies from the Homer chapter of Alaska Community and Adult Education, a former Cooperative Extension program, brought their new book filled with Alaskan tales to share with the public at this free event.  The storytelling women arrived in Alaska at various times between the 1950's and the 1970's and many had spent time living in the bush.  They told their own histories as well as read excerpts from the book on topics ranging from preparing salmon to the 1964 earthquake.  The stories were lively and well-told and through them the women exhibited why their newly published book was titled "Spirit of Alaska Women."  A special appearance was also made by long-time local, and namesake of the cabin at the Wynn Nauture Center, Daisy Lee Bitter.

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The book featured at Fantastic Friday and some handcrafts made by a few of the authors.

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The ladies of the Homer Community and Adult Education program.

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Telling their stories about arriving in Alaska.

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Daisy Lee Bitter, a long-time Homer resident and Naturalist.

Guests at Fantastic Friday not only learned local history through storytelling, but also saw personal photos and memorabelia from the womens' experiences. The book, which was compiled and edited by the women of the Community and Adult Education program, is for sale at the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies headquarters and the Wynn Nature Center.  It is a worthy and entertaining read for anyone who takes pride in being Alaskan and the proceeds support the activities of the volunteer women.

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Demonstration Alaskan-made dancing fans.

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Alaskan women showing their Alaskan spirit!

 
30th Anniversary Block Party!

The Wynn Nature Center staff spent a lot of time kidding around at the 30th Anniversary Block Party last Saturday.  Naturalists Adriana, Ali, and Lindsey brought kid's activities to the shin-dig to celebrate thirty successful years of Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies outdoor education efforts.  Despite a very cool July temperature, blustery wind, and even some sprinkling rain we had a great time providing activities for kids and adults alike.  The party also included wine from Bear Creek Winery (with a  special Alaskan Coastal Studies label), delicious food from Two Sisters Bakery (and from party-goers), a judged pie contest, and some hoppin' music from Burnt Down House.  But, as one of the Naturalists running the kid's activity booth, I wager that the most creative fun was being had at the face-painting table!  Check out these pictures for proof!

 
Marine Debris Update - Montague Island 5/25

Chris Pallister, President of Gulf of Alaska Keeper, took a trip to Montague Island on Wednesday May 23rd with reporters from CBS.

Pictures posted below show a full net setup and also the lower wrack line full of styrofoam. The net is probably from an overturned boat, but we absolutely can't say if it is or is not from the tsunami. The Styrofoam is very fresh and was washing up in the water while they were on the beach. Much of the Styrofoam is obviously insulation from structures because you can see the indents of the structure it was attached to. These pictures are from the outside of Montague Island, and do not necessarily represent tsunami debris. The island is currently socked in with weather, and it will likely limit some of the acces to outer beaches.

 
Fantastic Friday with Alpenglow

Susan Houlihan, owner of Alpenglow, came up to the Wynn Nature Center to demonstrate how to make her signature Cottonwood Balm for a recent Fantastic Friday event.  Her business started as a personal project to develop natural skin care products she could feel good about using.  She made some of her creations into gifts for friends who immediately requested more.  Word spread and she was soon perfecting her formulas of natural botanicals and creating a line of products she could market.  Former Park Rangers, Susan and her husband moved to Homer, Alaska, and are now raising a family and running the Alpenglow business.  The kids even help in the harvesting of local wild plants to be used in Alpenglow products.

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A jar of almond oil with cottonwood buds and calendula flowers.

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Calendula flowers from Susan's garden.

The Cottonwood Balm Susan demonstrated started out as a jar packed with sticky cottonwood leaf buds she collected in the spring, combined with dried calendula flowers and almond oil.  She usually cooks this concoction over low heat for a while to infuse the oil, but this jar she "cooked" on a sunny windowsill for a couple months.  

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Almond oil infusion put through a strainer.

She carefully poured a bit of the infused oil through a strainer, measured out a bit of beeswax, and melted the two ingredients together in a double boiler.  

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 Just enough beeswax added to make the balm (about 15% by weight).

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 Pouring the hot liquid into containers before it sets up.

Before cooling, Susan poured the hot liquid into tiny containers that quickly solidified into this aromatic balm.  Cottonwood is said to be beneficial for healing a variety of skin ailments such as mosquito bites, cracked fingertips, or blisters.  The smell is fresh and springy.  The end product is a real treat for your skin and your peace of mind.  Susan's skin care line can be found online, or at the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies main office, or at the Wynn Nature Center.  Thanks to Susan for coming up the hill to show us how to make this terrific balm!

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Beautiful AND beneficial!

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Wildflowers at the Wynn

The flowers are finally in bloom up on the hill above Homer.  The Wynn Nature Center abounds with a variety of habitats for wildflower viewing.  If you're looking to discover tiny woodland blossoms like Pink Pyrola or our unique Heartleafed Twayblade Orchid, now's the time!  You can also venture up to the Wynn to see the showy Nootka Lupine, Chocolate Lily, or Wild Geranium that are just entering their prime blooming period.  Cooler weather at our higher elevation means that plants are a bit slower to mature and so you can extend your flower viewing season by visiting the Wynn.

 
Trip to Peterson Bay

My name is Rachel Paleg and I am from Silver Spring, Maryland. I will be entering my senior year this fall at Albert Einstein High School. I am interning this summer at the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies, which has been an incredible adventure. Last Friday, I had the extraordinary opportunity of embarking on a day tour to Peterson’s Bay. We went on a hike to Moose Head Point, where we saw many types of birds, otters, and a diverse range of plant life. Our naturalist, Joanna, knew so much about the bay and made it a really fun and engaging hike. I absolutely loved the trail.

 
At the Saturday Market

This is Lindsey Shelley from the Wynn Nature Center.  A couple weeks ago I got the chance to take some program materials to the Children's Garden at the Saturday Farmer's Market.  I had a great time making leaf necklaces with kids, sharing my enthusiasm for observing nature, and challenging visitors to reach inside my "Touch n Feel" boxes and guess what was inside.  I had some very observant kids who really knew how to use their senses to figure out the mystery objects.  Thank you to all those who came by to visit on that rainy day and participate in the activities!  Below are a few photos from my station.

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Science and crafts at the Children's Garden at the Farmer's Market.

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Observation is a skill enhanced by magnification!

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I brought the Carl E. Wynn Nature Center to the Saturday Market.

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These girls made very colorful leaf necklaces.

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Could you have identified the objects in these boxes by touch alone?

I also wanted everyone to know that we'll have two more Naturalists coming down from the Wynn to set up a Saturday market table during the next two weeks.  Each week will have different activities, so be sure to stop by.  Summer kids programs will be coming to a close in just a couple weeks at the Wynn Nature Center now that we are into August.  Only the Knee-high Naturalists story hour on Friday's will continue into the Fall.  Check out this website under Summer Youth Programs to see what we have to offer.  Hope to see you up at the Wynn before the leaves turn colors!

 
Wynn Nature Center Programs

This is Lindsey Shelley, Naturalist Intern, reporting from the Wynn Nature Center!

Our summer programs for kids and families are fully up and running at the Wynn and we have already seen a bunch of great people up here!  This year we have several terrific Naturalist Educators leading a variety of weekly activities, rain or shine!  Check out the website for a complete listing of these programs, or come on up to the Wynn at mile 1.5 East Skyline Drive to find out first hand.  Activities range from kids outdoor education and wilderness survival to local plant identification and local edible potlucks!  Check out our website under Youth Programs and the Events Calendar for more information.  You can also friend us on Facebook to keep up with everything going on with the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies throughout Homer.

 
 

Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies, 708 Smokey Bay Way, PO BOX 2225, Homer, AK 99603, (907) 235-6667