State Reports

State Summary 2017 — Alaska

State Contact

Ms. Melissa Sikes
Alaska Agriculture in the Classroom
590 University Ave Suite 2
Fairbanks, AK 99709
P: 907-479-1213 x105

Classroom Resources

24 lessons on indoor gardening were developed and updated for the Indoor Gardening workshop in October and were reviewed by the workshop participants. They are being updated based on teacher/instructor review and comments and will be available on the AKAITC webpage during the spring of 2018. These lessons include: 1.Journaling 2.Plant Parts - Roots 3.Plant Parts- Leaves 4.Plant Parts - Stems 5.Plant Parts - Flowers 6.Do You Know the Parts of Plants 7 Composting and Food Waste 8.Leaf Factory 9.Seed Science 10.Seed Planting 101 11. Indoor Gardening with Soil 12. Indoor Gardening Lighting Systems 13. Garden Soil Lesson 14. Making Potting Soil 15. Salad Container Greenhouse 16. Intro to Hydroponics 17. Chena Hot Springs Grow Tower 18. Hydroponic Grow Media 19. Nutrient Film Technique Hydroponics 20. Floating Platform Hydroponics 21. Aquaponics Systems 22. Aquaponics Fish Care 23. Hydroponics Marketing

12 new lessons were created by teachers who attended the 2017 summer workshops.They will be available on the AKAITC in spring of 2018.

Major Program Accomplishments or Outputs

Alaska AITC wrote and was awarded a $15,000 Fire Up Grant to develop an Alaska Indoor Gardening Curriculum for encouraging classroom growing projects throughout Alaska. A workshop was held in October 2017 in Anchorage assembling a 12 person team of agriculture educators from around the state. The educators who were at this workshop were presented with the many lessons that were developed. Each member of the team committed to presenting a workshop on the education materials in their own communities.

Alaska AITC wrote and received a 5,700 grant from the AK Farm Bureau to assist with workshops and the Indoor Gardening project.

Sharon Lockwood and Melissa Sikes prepared and presented a for credit 4-day workshop at the University of Alaska Fairbanks through the Summer Sessions program in the first full week of June 2017. Nine teachers participated in the 4 day Fairbanks workshop and they gave us very positive evaluations. Darren Snyder, UAF Cooperative Extension Agent, and Melissa Sikes presented a for credit 3-day workshop for 5 teachers and they gave us very positive evaluations

Alaska AITC went to the Villages of Anaktuvuk Pass and Ruby to assist them with their agriculture projects.

Outreach displays were set up at the Statewide 21st Century Afterschool Program Conference in November 2017, the Tanana Valley State Fair and the Chena Hot Springs Energy Fair both in August 2017, the Tribal Alliance of Conservation Districts conference in October 2017, and the Fairbanks Farm Bureau Chapter meetings. At the 3rd Bi-Annual Food Festival and Conference presented by the Alaska Food Policy Council and the Interior Alaska Food Network, a display about Alaska Ag in the Classroom was set up for the 2 day event.

AK AITC assisted with the coordination of a 4 hour Taste of Golden Heart Grown event at the Tanana Valley State Fair in August of 2017. Golden Heart Grown is the new label developed to help promote local farmers and producers in the interior of Alaska.

Major Program Impacts or Outcomes

100% of teachers who attended the workshop in June and August of 2017 stated that they would use and integrate agriculture lessons into their curriculum

Developing the team for the Fire-up Grant and holding the workshop in October 2017 has greatly increased the ability of AKAITC to spread information about our program throughout the state. Distributing the indoor gardening lessons to the various agriculture education agencies that participated in the October Workshop has increased their usage many-fold.

Having more lesson plans available on the website that have been accessed and downloaded by many teachers throughout the state has impacted how much AITC is being used in Alaska.

Awareness that the AITC program exists and can provide resources and materials has increased.


Mel Sikes has a Bachelors of Science degree from Unity College in Maine. She has been an environmental and natural resource educator since 1988 She has worked for many organizations including but not limited to the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, the Calgary Zoo, and the Northern Alaska Environmental Center. She has developed many programs that have trained many teachers on using interdisciplinary hands-on activities to help students to connect with their world. She has developed many activities and lesson plans to help this process. She has been with FSWCD since the fall of 2010 and her duties include planning and instructing environmental education themed after school program for elementary and middle school students. Instructing Project Wild/Project Learning Tree/Project WET educator workshops. Project manager with the Green Infrastructure program working with property owners on managing stormwater runoff. She has worked with the AKAITC program since FSWCD was chosen as the coordinator in August of 2013.