[Patty and Nan] are experts on Alaska and living in Alaska. You could take your own trip to Alaska for the Iditarod and see some of the other sights, but you would not get access to the same people with the same depth of experience.
We’ve long felt that the Education Center provides an important service to youth, in many cases providing opportunities for kids who would otherwise not be able to experience and learn about this very special area. We know that such experiences can be life altering.
Denali Education Center is thrilled to be supporting a new bird research program in Denali National Park called Critical Connections. In partnership with the Murie Science and Learning Center and the National Park Service, we will be working with park scientists Carol McIntyre, Ph.D., Laura Phillips, and Jason Reppert and renown bird scientists to place ultra-light geolocators on migratory songbirds. Pulitzer Prize nominated author, birding expert, and friend of Denali Education Center, Scott Weidensaul; Iain Stenhouse, Ph.D., Senior Science Director for the Biodiversity Research Institute; photographer, naturalist, and bird bander George C. Gress; and DEC staff member Jill Boelsma will join the park scientists in an effort to capture and tag two species that migrate to Alaska each summer to breed. In the past month, park scientists have been obtaining and mapping location information for Swainson’s thrush and gray-cheeked thrush – the target species of the study.
The program hopes to gain insight into the movements of and challenges facing these species by tracking them from their breeding grounds here in Alaska to their wintering grounds as far away as South America and back again. The plan is to recapture the same birds next summer, remove the locators, then download and analyze the data. This is possible as these species are known to have “nest fidelity” meaning that they return to a similar location every year to breed. The geolocators are state of the art technology. Their small size should not encumber these fascinating migrants.
Denali Education Center has a long history of supporting park science. Over the past 10 years, Denali Education Center has awarded $150,000 to researchers in Denali Park through the Discover Denali Research Fellowship program. We are supporting this effort both monetarily and by providing in-kind support to the scientists in the field. We are looking forward to hosting lectures at our facility from these experts regarding this ongoing research program.
We invite you to follow us on Facebook and keep an eye on our news page for progress reports, pictures and further information.
Read more about Critical Connections on the Denali National Park website.
Longtime Denali and Healy resident Don Mellecker passed away on April 8. He was kind, generous and considered the best friend of many. Don was always willing to give his time, energy and laughter. His passing leaves a hole in the community – he is greatly missed!
Don asked that any memorial donations be given in his name to the Scott Menke Memorial Fund. We are honored by his request. To make a contribution in Don’s name:
- Write a check to Denali Education Center and write “in memory of Don Mellecker” in the memo line. All funds will be put in the Scott Menke Memorial Fund. Send to: P.O. Box 212, Denali Park, AK 99755
- Contribute online…if you do so, we request that you send an e-mail to email@example.com indicating that your online contribution is in memory of Don.
Don loved to bike, wind surf, snow machine, play poker and spend time with friends. He was one of the first Denali Borough Assembly members and the general contractor who built the McKinley Park Community Center. He had worked throughout the borough including the Usibelli Coal Mine, Skyline Lodge and as a tour bus driver in Denali National Park. A full obituary ran in the Fairbanks Daily Newsminer on April 14.
Scott Menke was a treasured and inspiring young member of Healy who encouraged the creation of Denali Backcountry Adventures. The Scott Menke Memorial Fund was created to honor Scott’s memory. Funds raised benefit all of our youth programs and are channeled toward direct costs such as gear replacement, food, supplies and campground fees. In addition, the fund benefits local students and embodies the incomparable spirit Scott shared with us.
Denali Borough residents will be given preference, and non-residents will be placed on a waiting list. By close of business Wednesday, April 15, any non-local residents on the wait list will be added as space allows. Any remaining spaces will be assigned first-come, first-serve. Space may be reserved by check in the mail commitment (preferred) or credit card.
Ever wonder what it would be like to live in a cabin without running water, or travel 130 miles to the nearest grocery store? Are you curious about life in Interior Alaska during the eight long months of winter?
Life in Denali will answer all your questions as local residents share their personal stories and photos of remote Interior Alaska life.
Hear about surviving winter darkness, layering for extreme temperatures, living with wildlife, outhouse etiquette and other everyday adventures in the far north. You will feel part of this special community after getting an insider’s glimpse into why people settle, and stay, in remote Alaska!
This 50-minute program takes place in the beautiful Charles Sheldon Center, a building constructed by the community with over 4,000 volunteer service hours.
Advanced reservations recommended. Call us at (907) 683-2597.
Many Denali-area hotel front desk and concierge staff will reserve a seat for you!
Denali Winterfest is an annual celebration of season, place and community. Hosted by the National Park Service and the Denali Borough, this annual weekend festival is chock-full of outdoor activities, educational sessions, dog mushing and, of course, ice carving. Denali Education Center has been honored to host the kickoff event on Friday night at the McKinley Park Community Center since the festival’s inception. We have hosted speakers, pot lucks, dessert-lucks, square dance bands and heaps of community camaraderie.
Homebrew and Appetizer Competition with live music from the Iceworms!
This year, with a unique new twist, we invite you to bring the best of your brew and tasty treats to the 15th Annual Denali Winterfest Kickoff event on Friday, February 27.
Join friends and neighbors at the McKinley Park Community Center to sample homebrews of all styles and flavors and appetizers that will warm your winter soul.
Libations, food and festivities begin at 6:00 p.m.
To enter a beer, mead, cider or appetizer, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 683-2597. We need the following information:
1. Your name
2. Homebrew variety or appetizer name
3. Where the recipe comes from
4. Key ingredients
5. What’s special or unique about your entry
Entries must arrive at the McKinley Park Community Center no later than 6:15 p.m.
Brewers: please provide one large-format bottle (or equivalent) for judging and more for sharing, as your supply (and generosity) will allow.
Appetizer Chefs: please provide a minimum of 12 servings (can be bite-sized) for judging and more for sharing, at your discretion.
Judging begins at 6:30 p.m. Brew and Appetizer entrants will be encouraged to share tidbits about your finished product with event attendees: where the recipe comes from, what’s special or unique about it, your secret to success, etc.
ALL are welcome to attend! Please bring an appetizer or dessert to share…it won’t be judged (unless you want it to be)! We will provide coffee, tea and yummy snacks.
Don’t forget your dancing shoes…the Iceworms will perform starting at 6:30 and throughout the evening.
For more information, and a full Winterfest weekend schedule, visit Denali National Park’s website: http://www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/winterfest.htm
It has been wonderful to share this realistic photographic rendering of our cabins provided to us by Bettisworth North Architecture in Anchorage. We thank Mark Kimerer and Jonny Hayes for their time and expertise in creating the rendering.
In August 2014, Denali Education Center secured a bank loan to make needed improvements to our guest cabins. Rock-n-Roll Construction, based in Healy, AK, has taken on the work of completely remodeling the interior of the cabins. Improvements include a private bath for each room, new flooring and painted sheetrock to replace the wood paneling on the walls. In addition, an enclosed front porch has been built on each cabin, allowing guests more space to spread out, as well as providing a place to convene and commune at the end of a long day exploring Denali.
We are grateful to Bettisworth North for giving us a glimpse into the future and allowing us to share it with our community and program participants!
To see progress photos of the renovations, visit our Flickr page.
Applications are now available for the Scott Menke Summit Scholarship!
The Scott Menke Summit Scholarship is awarded annually to Denali Borough graduating seniors seeking a secondary education. Scholarship award amounts are: $2500, $1500 and $1000. Scholarships are decided based upon character, peer review and academic standing. Applications are due Friday, April 10, 2015.
The Scott Menke Summit Scholarship program was created from the Scott Menke Memorial Fund to honor the memory of a treasured Healy youth whose life was too brief. Scott was considerate of others, loved and respected his family, was an enthusiastic athlete, a natural peer leader and a vibrant young man with a robust love of life. Scott avidly participated in the Denali Education Center’s Denali Discovery Camp and championed the creation of Denali Backcountry Adventures for high school aged students.
Denali Education Center and the Menke family created the Scott Menke Memorial Fund to honor his memory and benefit the students of Denali Borough School District. The funds raised support the youth programs of Denali Education Center. Working together, we inspire future generations to embody the incomparable spirit Scott shared with us.
The Scott Menke Summit Scholarship strives to encourage these qualities in the students of Denali Borough School District by awarding moneys in Scott’s name to worthy students.