USDA visits UAF as the university receives two federal grants

Published: Aug. 4, 2023 at 9:47 AM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Recently, the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) was a recipient of two federal grants from the Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Food and energy systems have been around since time immemorial. Although this might look different in today’s world it’s very much the same because it revolves around food.

With this big moment to celebrate, the Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics and USDA’s Chief Scientist Chavonda Jacobs-Young and her team visited the UAF campus to get a deeper look into the programs that are now funded. Both of these grants revolve around work in Indigenous food sovereignty and preparing the next generation of agriculture professionals in Alaska.

“It’s so important to be able to train the next generation of students who are going to be our leaders going forward to secure our food system, said Jacobs-Young. “Those students need to be diverse and the programs need to be equitable and that’s happening here. The integration of the ecological knowledge from our native communities I think is critically important. That we create a food system that is productive, absolutely profitable, and be sustainable, so that people who continue to work in the area farming can make a living and be great stewards of our environment,” continued Jacobs-Young.

The Under Secretary toured the gardens and visited with locals to celebrate the five-year $18 million grant awarded to the University of Alaska Fairbanks Institute of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Extension. An additional $1 million was awarded toward the “place-based solutions for Alaska Native Food and Energy Sovereignty Project for the institution’s five rural campuses.

These grants display the investment into UAF as Carrie Stevens, the UAF tribal governance associate professor and department chair explains that these grants impact the greater community as well. “As we bring in more programs to UAF that focus on the future of course it supports the larger Fairbanks community just by building UAF as an institution but also that real relationship between Fairbanks and all of the tribal Indigenous communities across the state that there can be learning between Fairbanks and those communities,” said Stevens.

Both of these programs hope to improve student recruitment and retention in food, agriculture and natural resource sciences.