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Alaska Dispatch News

Pixie's Birth

The Musk Ox Farm in Palmer has come alive this spring with its latest birth on April 27. Pixie Stix was born at 4:34 p.m. and quickly started finding her feet, which took all of thirteen minutes, according to farm director Mark Austin.Musk oxen date back to the Ice Age and are more closely related to sheep and goats than oxen and once roamed the tundra alongside saber-toothed tigers and wooly mammoths. Modern-day musk oxen are believed to have migrated from Siberia to North America up to 200,000 years ago. The Musk Ox Farm’s aim is to preserve these creatures.
Alaska Dispatch News
It's spring in Alaska and breakup has begun. Filmmaker David Brannan captured the beauty of the Tanana River as ice floes are carried downstream and frozen ocean ice finally melts.Breakup takes weeks to unfold, but this year most of the ice on the Tanana River went out on April 26, according to Brannan. Green buds and flourishing tundra fauna are soon on their way.For more breakup information, visit Alaska River Forecast Center’s website.
Alaska Dispatch News
At remote Round Island, a part of the Walrus Islands State Game Sanctuary in Southwest Alaska, thousands of walruses crowd the beaches.The site is one of the few where those rare human visitors can see a walrus in the wild.But earlier this year, citing budget issues, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game proposed cutting a 39-year-old monitoring program at the island, which in turn would've cast doubt on the future of tourist visits there.Filmmaker Jonathan VanBallenberghe visited the island, documenting the walruses and other wild animals that that inhabit it, and adding a plea to viewers to help preserve access to the sanctuary.After this film was posted, a group of donors -- ranging from the Alaska SeaLife Center to the Annenberg Foundation -- stepped forward to fund the program for 2015.
Alaska Dispatch News
Alaska Department of Fish & Game information officer Riley Woodford was in Juneau the last week of March and happened upon a scrap of hide at a pullout near Montana Creek. Woodford says he walked down to the creek and when he returned saw siskins collecting hair and fur.He set his camera down and waited for the birds to return, which they did minutes later. Woodford says, “They didn’t care about the camera. A few juncos were collecting as well.”Pine siskins, part of the finch family, are brown and streaky with touches of yellow on the wings and tail. These nomadic birds are seen across Alaska and Canada and sometimes across the western mountains and northern parts of the Lower 48.Pine siskins protect their eggs from the cold by tightly insulating their nests. These pine siskins, in a video from Fish and Game, collect hair from a deer hide for a spring nest.
Alaska Dispatch News
The saying "the odds are good but the goods are odd" about Alaska bachelors may never have been so true as it is in this throwback promo for Alaska Men magazine. In the video, outdoorsy hunks sporting tight dad jeans, mustaches and mullets ride horses, paraglide, shoot guns and lift weights while pining away for their dream frontier women.Brought to you by the website Everything is Terrible.
Alaska Public Media

Matzo Balls and the $75 Challenge | INDIE ALASKA

Indie Alaska is an original video series produced by Alaska Public Media in partnership with PBS Digital Studios. The weekly series captures the diverse and colorful lifestyles of everyday Alaskans at work and at play. Together, these videos present a fresh and authentic look at living in Alaska.In this episode, we meet the crafty Natasha Price. From knit hats to family dinners, homemade is kind of her thing.One reason for Price's DIY attitude, she says, is because living in Alaska is expensive enough without going out to eat every night. So after realizing that her family's monthly grocery bill was topping $600, she went on a quest to feed her family on $75 a week -- not an easy task in a state where nearly all food is shipped thousands of miles before reaching consumers.
Tara Young

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The Nerds of the North robotics team has a saying: “'Nerd' is a four-letter word with a six-figure salary." Alaska's only FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team, number 568, is in its 15th year.FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was started by Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway and the portable insulin pump, back in 1992. Dimond High School Engineering Academy teacher Wade Roach says that Kamen thought “one of the big problems was that our young people didn’t worship scientists and technicians; they were excited about athletes and movie stars.” So Kamen came up with the idea of a sports-type competition that used engineering skills. FRC was born.Over the years FRC grew and other levels of the robotics club were established: FIRST Lego League (FLL) for younger students and FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) for middle schoolers, with FRC being the pinnacle of competition. The event is a spectacle, with a basketball court-sized playing field and giant robots. The teams compete but also work together to gain points, in something FIRST calls "Co-Opertition." Each year FIRST picks a different theme for its competition and the teams get 6 weeks to build their robots before they compete. This year's theme is Recycling Rush, where robots stack containers and collect trash (pool noodles) to gain points for recycling.Team 568 is comprised of students from Dimond, Bartlett and East high schools. It’s a chance for young people to gain skills in engineering, programing and building, but it also lets them work on their social skills. Part of the FIRST ethos is "Gracious Professionalism"; students are encouraged to share their ideas, be outgoing, and compete with respect and grace. The skills they gain not only prepare them for their future professions but for life.Electrical engineer for 568 Fred Chun talked about helping a student at Dimond High School with her electric wheelchair recently. “Her control box was broken so a friend and I went over to help her. We couldn’t have done that three years ago; we would have been confused.” But with the electrical skills he learned through the engineering program at Dimond he had the knowledge to fix her wheelchair. “It felt pretty nice too.”Team 568 is competing in the FIRST World Championships in St. Louis April 22-25. “The scope of the competition is an order of magnitude larger than anything we have experienced," says Roach. "The entire Edward-Jones Dome is filled with robots. Eight fields of 70+ teams each. Massive pit areas. It is incredible!!!”Watch this video on Vimeo and YouTube, and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more of our videos. Contact Tara Young at tara(at)alaskadispatch.com.
Tara Young

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BETHEL -- A city council member beckoned kids to a Native American hip-hop workshop, and then to one on belly dancing. People waited in line 45 minutes to buy $10 cups of Eskimo ice cream, or akutaq, with tundra berries, halibut and Crisco. On stage, one group of Bethel dancers reached deep to perform, only a year after their leader was killed in a house fire.The cultural explosion that is Bethel’s Cama-i Dance Festival is drawing thousands this weekend for dance and song, Native foods and family, dramatic regalia and live performances by a Yup’ik YouTube sensation.Read more: Bethel's Cama-i Dance Festival melds past and present, performers and audience
Loren Holmes

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The idea of friendly competition isn’t just something Native Youth Olympians talk about. It’s all they talk about.“It’s weird how competing against someone else will bring you together, but it really does,” explained Madeline Ko, who won the two-foot high kick during Friday’s competition at the Alaska Airlines Center.As is custom at the annual cultural and Native games competition, which concludes Saturday, athletes seemingly spent more time making friends with opposing teams and urging on fellow competitors than they did worrying about their own performances. In the final event of Friday’s competition, two-foot high kick participants invariably gathered in small groups of athletes from different teams, discussing strategy or giving last-minute hints to their opponents.The unusual collaboration between athletes is part of what makes the event special, explained Tim Blum, communications director for Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC), which organizes the games with the help of more than 50 corporate sponsors and partners.“They really help each other out,” Blum said.Read more: Friendly competition the essence of NYO
Ron Wilmot

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The historic Motherlode Lodge in Hatcher Pass was engulfed in flames Friday evening, and firefighters were letting the building burn because it was outside any fire service area. The Motherlode is "probably a total loss," said Norm McDonald, fire management officer for the Alaska Division of Forestry in Palmer. Two forestry engines responded, but only to make sure no surrounding areas burned. There's still enough snow in the area that fire spreading to nearby grass or trees wasn't an issue, McDonald said. Forestry crews were concentrating on traffic control Friday night as they watched flames consume the beloved local institution, home to events like weekly jazz nights and weddings. "There's a lot of memories in that place," he said. Read more: Motherlode Lodge in Hatcher Pass burns
Marc Lester

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With just days left in the 2015 session of the Alaska Legislature, lawmakers are busy discussing and voting on dozens of bills. Four legislators from the Alaska House of Representatives explain bills that they’ve sponsored.
Tara Young

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The 30th Arctic Man Ski and Sno-Go Classic was called off Saturday after a second day of poor conditions forced organizers to nix the annual race in the Hoodoo Mountains.The event, which began Friday, combines skiing (or snowboarding) with snowmachine racing over a 5.5-mile course. The race starts with a skier or snowboarder racing downhill to link up with a tow rope attached to a snowmachine, which then tows the racer to the top of a second hill. From there the racer skis to a finish line at the bottom.According to founder Howard Thies, Arctic Man campgrounds in the Hoodoo Mountains at Summit Lake becomes the third-largest city in Alaska overnight. The event has grown in the past 30 years from 100 attendees to approximately 15,000. The grounds are overrun by RVs, snowmachines, and bonfires. Arctic Man artist Sandy Jamieson likens sno-going adrenaline junkies to the motorcycle crowd: "The people are pretty rough looking, and a lot of them are working people that this is their thing. "But there's no one here who wouldn't stop to help anyone else."Read more: Arctic Man canceled due to stormWatch this video on YouTube, and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more great videos. Contact Tara Young at tara(at)alaskadispatch.com.

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