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Agriculture laboratory to be named for Kerttula

Submitted by Marmian Grimes
Phone: 907-474-7902


Photo caption below.
Photo by Norm Harris
Palmer Research Laboratory, soon to be renamed in honor of Sen. Jay Kerttula.
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The Palmer Research Laboratory of the Alaska Agricultural & Forestry Experiment Station is to be renamed Kerttula Hall in honor of Sen. Jay Kerttula.

A dedication ceremony is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 29, at 4 p.m. at the laboratory in Palmer. Kerttula is Alaska's longest-serving legislator and a longtime advocate for agricultural research in Alaska. A lifelong interest in agriculture led him to push for the creation of the Alaska Division of Agriculture. He later pursued funding for an agricultural laboratory.

Kerttula came to the Matanuska Valley as a child in 1935; his family was one of the Matanuska Colony farming families. He was first elected to the Alaska House of Representatives in 1960 and served in the House and Senate for 34 years. He is the only legislator who has served as both Speaker of the House (1968-1970) and President of the Senate (1980-1984). The family farm gave Sen. Kerttula the inspiration and skills to establish his own successful farm. He and his wife, Joyce Campbell Kerttula, continue to make Palmer their home. The couple has two daughters, Beth and Anna.

Invited guests to the dedication ceremony include Gov. Sarah Palin, Sen. Jay Kerttula, Sen. Rick Halford, UA President Mark Hamilton, chancellors John Pugh, Brian Rogers and Fran Ulmer, UA Regent Kirk Wickersham, School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences Dean Carol Lewis and others. Associate dean Mike Sfraga will make introductions. The event is co-sponsored by the UAF Alumni Association Southcentral Chapter.

Said Kerttula, "I will always feel honored to have served Alaska and feel blessed to have made so many friends along the way."

The Palmer Research Laboratory was built in the early 1980s and has since served as a resource for researchers, farmers, dairy owners, ranchers, miners, the petroleum industry and educators. It has provided analyses of soil samples to guide farmers in fertilizing their crops and of forage samples to assist animal producers in their feed and nutrition regimens. In cooperation with the Alaska Division of Agriculture's Plant Materials Center, the lab analyzes seeds and plant materials for market. Work at the lab has helped research and production in agriculture and natural resources, including potato and vegetable production; hay, forage and grain production; beef and dairy cattle genetics and diets; and work on revegetation for the trans-Alaska pipeline, Prudhoe Bay oilfields and Alaska mines. The laboratory also supports new work in biofuels using Alaska woody and crop biomass and serves as a teaching laboratory for graduate and undergraduate students. It has become an essential element in research, education and outreach efforts by the experiment station and its parent department at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences. It supports farmers throughout Alaska, rural communities interested in food stability, urban and suburban gardeners and the growing community of small residential farm owners.

CONTACT: UAF School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences dean's office at 907-474-7083 or via e-mail at fysnras@uaf.edu.

NOTE TO EDITORS: Photos are available online at www.uaf.edu/news or from Nancy Tarnai at fynrpub@uaf.edu or 907-474-5042.