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Welcome to UAF-OLLI! > Events & Activities > Winter Lectures

Winter Lectures   

FREE and open to the public—registration is not required. Invite a potential new member!

The first Fridays of December, January and February

3:00 - 4:30 pm

Join us via Zoom to participate; contact the office for the link. If we are able to add an in-person attendance option, we’ll let you know in our newsletters closer to the date of the lecture. 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these presentations are those of the speakers and do not reflect the views or positions of any entities they represent.

December 2, 2022

"Trying to Make Sense of Alaska Politics"

by Dermot Cole

Alaskan politics, like our vast state itself, runs to extremes. Alaskans, and our politics, encompass contradictions: we like to think of ourselves as self-reliant and scornful of big government, yet we rank among the top states for per capita federal spending, and the federal government controls a large portion of our land. We’ll look at a few topics in Alaskan politics and try to make sense of them. Dermot will summarize the 2022 election results in Alaska and offer his views on what lies ahead in Juneau and Washington, D.C. for Alaska.

Dermot Cole has worked as a newspaper reporter, columnist, and author in Alaska for more than 4 decades. He wrote a daily column for 21 years at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, then wrote for the Alaska Dispatch and Alaska Dispatch News from 2013-2017. He created a blog, “Reporting from Alaska,” funded by donations from readers. He has worked as an independent journalist ever since, focusing on political analysis and commentary.


January 6, 2023

My Rookie Iditarod Experience

by Bridgett Watkins

All Alaskans know that running the Iditarod is a big undertaking, requiring a huge commitment of time, energy, hard work, and money just to get to the starting line – and so many things can happen to even the best-prepared teams in the thousand miles between Willow and Nome. Bridgett Watkins’s 2022 rookie Iditarod adventure included some unusual twists. She and her team had a terrifying run-in with a hangry moose on a training run just weeks before the start, which left several dogs seriously injured. She and her team still made it to the race. A fierce storm on the coast ended her race tantalizingly short of the finish. Hers is a story of adventure, persistence, courage, hope, support of family, and dedication to her dogs.

Bridgett Watkins comes from a mushing family, with father Allen Moore and step-mom Aily Zirkle. She got her first sled dog at age five and competed in sprint races throughout her childhood. Mushing was put on hold while she earned a nursing degree, married, had two sons, and pursued a career as an emergency room nurse. In 2018 she started her own kennel, Kennel On A Hill, in Salcha and started raising and training her team with the goal of competing in the Iditarod.


February 3, 2023

Pollinators and Other Insects in Alaska's Gardens

by Derek Sikes 

Learn about the diverse many-legged animals that often visit gardens in Alaska, both the beneficial pollinators and predators. This talk will include a brief overview of the ecological importance of insects and recent studies showing insect population declines as well as threats to pollinators and what people can do to help them.

As Curator of Insects for the University of Alaska Museum and Professor of Entomology in the Department of Biology and Wildlife at University of Alaska Fairbanks, Derek Sikes has been working since 2006 to improve the Alaska state insect collection, teach entomology to UAF students and the public, and expand knowledge of Alaska's most numerous animals. Derek specializes in molecular and morphological based phylogenetics, taxonomy, and faunistics of nonmarine Alaskan arthropods, principally Coleoptera (beetles).


(907) 474-6607

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
University of Alaska Fairbanks
PO Box 758100
Fairbanks, AK 99775-8100