When the leaves start turning and students start cracking open the textbooks, the campus starts getting geared up for what has become a tradition at Kenai Peninsula College. The KPC Student Union, along with a full slate of student volunteers, will defend its title as Soldotna Lions Club Vera Howarth Memorial Bed Race champions. The group hopes to capture the event grand prize for the third consecutive year. Mark your calendars and plan to attend the Soldotna Lions Club-sponsored fund-raiser at 4 p.m. Saturday on Park Street in Soldotna, near the senior center. This fund-raiser is dubbed "Dollars for Scholars," and the proceeds are directed to the Soldotna Lions scholarship fund.
There are a lot of secret preparations going on behind the scenes that will make the KPC bed a sight to behold. All that can be divulged at this time is that special thanks go, in advance, to Dave Stang from the maintenance department and to KPC student T.C. Dyer for their expertise in "bed aerodynamics."
Seafood class offered
KPC and the Kenai Peninsula Borough's Office of Community and Economic Development Division (CEDD), in collaboration with Cook Inlet Salmon Brand Inc. (CISB), are bringing a three-week intensive seafood processor business development training program to the central peninsula Monday through Oct. 15.
The program and curriculum were developed in cooperation by Prince William Sound Community College (PWSCC) in Valdez, University of Alaska Fairbanks Marine Advisory Program, University of Alaska Anchorage Small Business Development Center, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and the Valdez Fisheries Development Association. The funding for this course is based on a grant secured by PWSCC from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The grant, titled "Safe handling and marketing of native foods," is one primarily designed to fund pilot projects. So far, the $179,000 grant has funded the same course held during four different sessions, twice in Valdez and twice in Cordova. According to PWSCC, the upcoming class on the peninsula will exhaust the original grant money.
The course is designed to provide commercial fishers with the level of instruction and training necessary to become certified to direct market seafood products. The course, being provided at no cost to the attendees, will provide training in how to harvest, process and add value to the fish they catch.
"We learned of the program last December and felt it would be something Kenai Wild would be interested in partnering with us," said KPC Director Gary J. Turner. "The course should be a real help to our commercial fishers so they can provide a value-added quality product to a market that is flooded by bland farm-raised fish," Turner said. "This is one way to get more top quality fish into the market."
Jack Brown, CEDD director, and Sylvia G. Beaudoin, executive director of Cook Inlet Salmon Brand Inc., worked with Turner to iron out the logistical details of offering the class and getting the word out to commercial fishers. The class is being offered in late September through early October to be more convenient for the commercial fishers to attend.
"This is a great opportunity for our local harvesters to learn about quality processing and how to market their catch," Beaudoin said. "Some of the subjects that will be taught include hazard analysis, quality control, secondary processing, business development and storage. It's a wonderful program with the best of the best instructors; all are experts in their fields."
Needing a fish processing line for part of the instruction, Beaudoin approached Paul Dale, of Snug Harbor Seafoods, to see if his facility would be available. Dale is allowing the class to use his equipment to include the processing line, smoker, filleting equipment and fish to demonstrate quality processing.
The 130-hour course is a certificate program through PWSCC. Graduates will receive six college credits and a Hazard Analysis and Critical Point Certificate of Completion (HACCP). The HACCP is the first step in allowing the commercial fisher the opportunity to direct market their products to individual or corporate consumers.
According to Turner, the program filled up rapidly on a first-come, first-served basis, and 37 people have confirmed they will attend the program. Most of the participants around 95 percent are commercial salmon fishers who hold limited entry permits. Other attendees either have held limited entry permits or work in the salmon processing industry. Because class space was limited and the offering was so popular, it was required that students commit that they were able to attend every day of the 15-day program.
According to the PWSCC Training Department, efforts are under way to identify a process that will allow the continuation of this valuable program. Discussions are ongoing with the UAF Marine Advisory program to perhaps modify the delivery of the course into one-week sessions and develop fees or tuition that would finance the continuation of the comprehensive training.
For more information regarding the Cook Inlet Salmon Brand Kenai Wild program, contact Sylvia Beaudoin at 262-6355.
This column is provided by Suzie Kendrick, community relations coordinator at Kenai Peninsula College.
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