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Get a glimpse into the Pleistocene period

Posted: March 26, 2012 - 7:53am

There will be a free presentation called "Mammoths of the Kenai Peninsula" from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on March 31 in rooms 108-109 at the Kenai River Campus Ward building.

Dick Reger, a well known Alaskan geologist, and Janet Klein, an expert in anthropology and history of the Kenai Peninsula and author of book titled "Kachemak Bay Communities, Their Histories, Their Mysteries" will discuss solving the puzzle of local geologic glacial history and will talk details of life during the Pleistocene.

AmeriCorps position offers great opportunity
There is an opening for a full-time family literacy coordinator/AmeriCorps member in the KRC Learning Center. The position begins this month and continues through March 2013. There a stipend of approximately $1,000 per month plus medical benefits and an award of $5,350 for financing higher education or paying student loans upon completion the assignment. The position requires a total of 1700 hours of service. 

Duties include, but are not limited to, assisting the project director, training and monitoring volunteer tutors and assisting with community outreach.

"We have enjoyed having Americorp members as part of our Learning Center staff for the last 15 years," said Learning Center Programs Manager Diane Taylor.

"It seems to launch the person into other work where they continue to be engaged to give back to the community. The experience becomes a part of who they are and their efforts invariably help make the world a better place."

Application packets are available at the KRC Learning Center. For more information, call 262-0328.

KRC biology professor contributes to Scientific American magazine blog
Remember the mystery of last fall's strange orange goo that washed up on the beach at the village of Kivalina? It ended up being identified as a plant-parasitic fungus known as rust, which is harmless to humans and marine life. There was a remaining question however: what plant was the source of the fungal disease that produced the huge bloom of spores that rested on the surface of the water?

The subject was recently taken up by award-winning science journalist Jennifer Frazier in Scientific American's online magazine. She reported that the USDA Forest Service and the Canadian Forest Service made the identification of the plant parasite as Spruce-Labrador Tea Needle Rust , Chrysomyxa ledicola, a parasite of both spruce trees and a rhododendron   -- a flowering woody shrub common to lower vegetation in conifer forests the world over -- called Labrador Tea.

KRC Biology Professor David Wartinbee also noticed orange goo on a lake surface last summer about 600 miles southeast of Kivalina while exploring the Twin Lakes area in his float plane. He noticed that along with the orange film on the water, the needles on nearby spruce trees were clearly poxed with something.

In the name of furthering science, Wartinbee e-mailed Frazier with his observations and photographs of the occurrence. Turns out that his reporting of the phenomenon ended up reinforcing Frazier's other data and he was quoted and his photographs appeared in her recent article on the subject.            

This column is provided by Suzie Kendrick, Advancement Programs Manager at Kenai Peninsula College.

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