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Terry Johnson has spent much of his life on boats. Whether he’s catching salmon, showing marine wildlife to tourists or penning dockside stories about Alaska’s fishing industry, the University of Alaska Fairbanks professor’s life for decades has revolved around the sea and coastlines.

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Across Alaska, berry harvests have begun in earnest — and, this year, some Alaskans will help track changes in their berry patches scientifically. The new National Science Foundation project aims not only to engage Alaskans in research on berry resources but also to find ways to make the findings more valuable to communities.

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On any given week, Leif Albertson might present programs on canning fish, improving indoor air quality or eradicating bed bugs. It’s all part of his job as the sole Cooperative Extension Service agent in Bethel. He is a health, home and family development agent, but he responds to diverse community requests and needs for educational programming in Southwest Alaska.

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I said goodbye to my final hiking partner today outside a van on the side of a gravel highway. For the remaining 40 miles in my summer hike along the path of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, it will be just Cora and me.

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