Nature lectures kick off again this fall at UAS

Gain insights into nature this fall as Wildlife Wednesday’s kicks off again at the University of Alaska Southeast.


The monthly series follows the trend set last year as local professionals share insights into everything from what caused recent flooding on the Mendenhall River, to storytelling photographs highlighting moments in the wild.

The series will kick off at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 7, in the Glacier View Room at the University of Alaska Southeast with a lecture titled “The Mendenhall Flood! What Happened, Why, and What’s Next.”

Eran Hood, UAS associated professor of environmental science, will team up with Aaron Jacobs and Tom Mattice to talk about the flood event that sent water levels in the valley rising and some from their homes this July.

Jacobs works in the weather division with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Mattice is the City and Borough of Juneau emergency programs manager.

At the time of the event, a glacial basin — Suicide Basin — on top of the Mendenhall Glacier had filled with water and burst, releasing its contents into Mendenhall Lake. Officials said they didn’t know exactly how much water emptied from the basin, but the basin size itself was about the size of 130 football fields. It was, however, enough water to send the Mendenhall River to flood stage, an event that rarely happens in the Mendenhall Valley.

October’s lecture will feature a reading by UAS Assistant Professor of English Ernestine Hayes. Hayes will share new and recent work.

At the age of 50, Hayes, who is part Tlingit, enrolled at UAS as a freshman, and was accepted into the two-year paralegal program at the school. After two years of school, Hayes switched into the Bachelor of Liberal Arts program and later graduated from the University of Alaska Anchorage, became an author and later an assistant professor. A notable book by Hayes is titled “Blonde Indian,” which chronicles her journey back to Alaska from California and details the obstacles she was faced with and overcame.

Photojournalist Michael Penn, who has photographed moments in Alaska for 20 years, will lead November’s lecture. He has worked as a photojournalist in Juneau for 16 years.

Penn said his slideshow and lecture, which has yet to have an official title, will focus on the importance of nature pictures in the news and why.

“They’re just as important as other pictures in the newspaper,” he said. “That’s why we choose to live here.”

Penn earned a Pulitzer Prize in 1987 as part of a newspaper team while working for the Anchorage Daily News. The prize was awarded for a public service series they did titled “People in Peril.”

The Wildlife Wednesday’s series is an informal lecture series sponsored by the Alaska Wildlife Alliance. Refreshments and beverages will be provided. The event is free and open to the public. For more on the organization, go online to


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