Artist in Residence Highlights 2018


US Forest Service Shield.Kootznoowoo Wilderness
Tongass National Forest
US Forest Service

MEGAN SMITH | Multi-media artist from Girdwood, AK



US Forest Service Shield.Misty Fjords National Monument
Tongass National Forest
US Forest Service

MEGAN PERRA | Silk screener from Portland, OR



US Forest Service Shield.Nellie Juan-College Fiord Wilderness Study Area
Chugach National Forest
US Forest Service

RANDY TRAYNOR | Photographer from Tallahassee, FL

Randy Traynor photographing during his time at Nellie Juan-College Fiord Wilderness. Randy donated a 36” x 12” panorama of Nellie-Juan Glacier. Randy donated a 24” x 16” image of the early morning sunrise.“For 16 days in June, I spent time in the Chugach National Forest and Nellie-Juan College Fiord Wilderness Study Area.  The experience was a photographer’s dream!  Camping near a glacier, kayaking by icebergs, hiking to remote sections of Prince William Sound and seeing wildlife in their natural habitat was priceless.  I also learned so much about the fragile ecosystem of PWS when I sat in on sessions during the week-long teacher training workshop at Derickson Spit. My second planned trip to join a trail crew at Harrison Lagoon Cabin was canceled due to weather – however that didn’t stop me.  A couple of USFS Rangers invited me to join them on hikes and gave me great advice on where I could still get incredible pictures of the wilderness area.  A special treat was tagging along with the USFS rangers and seeing the glaciers of PWS up close on two different cruises!”


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Community Extension: Two magazines serving the entire Florida Panhandle ran a feature spread on Randy’s residency in Alaska, highlighting information about the ecosystem of Prince William Sound and showcasing his photographs in a 15-page story.  Randy also gave a public presentation at his gallery in Tallahassee, Florida.

Artist Donation:  Randy donated a 36” x 12” panorama of Nellie-Juan Glacier and a 24” x 16” image of the early morning sunrise at his campsite at Derickson Spit, both printed on metallic paper and mounted on masonite.  He also is sharing all of his digital photos with the USFS for educational and promotional purposes.

Stewardship Projects:

  • Participated in the “Teach the Teachers” Expedition, a partnership between the
    US Forest Service, Alaska Geographic and the University of Alaska.
  • Documented “a day in the life” on 3 separate days with USFS Rangers as they
    led informative hikes and gave detailed information about the area and many
    glaciers on boat tours.

Artist website:

Nellie Juan-College Fiord glacier and reflections.



JAMEY BRADBURY | Fiction Writer from Anchorage, AK

Jamey Bradbury sits next to the shore. “This all-women crew—myself and four Forest Service employees—set forth from Sitka to Rakof Island in the Baranof Wilderness for a planned seven-day trip. The plan was to make our base camp on Rakof, then paddle to predetermined sites to survey their use. The joke among our crew was that, since I’m a fiction writer who is drawn to the horror genre, they hoped they wouldn’t give me too much inspiration! Well, the first thing we found when we landed on our island was the bones of a long-dead marine animal of some kind—and I immediately knew this trip would serve up plenty of inspiration. What wasn’t scary was the breathtaking scenery all around us as we kayaked for the next several days and discovered otters, seals, starfish colonies, Sitka deer, and a bear skull. The weather, unfortunately, got spooky enough that we had to call an early end to our adventure, so I spent my last couple days wrestling with old tents and tangled P-line as I helped inventory and reorganize the Forest Service’s gear cage.”


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Community Extension: Jamey taught a series of weekly creative writing classes for the women at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center.  The topics spanned from how stories are structured to genres of writing to characterization; several classes incorporated the photos she took during her residency for use as inspiration for the students’ own stories. She also conducted a unit on “wilderness as inspiration” and “stories set in the wild,” which covered ideas like man vs. nature plots and using natural settings for fictional worlds; there, she used her own art project as an example for the students to analyze and draw from.

Artist Donation:  Jamey donated a series of one to two line stories, one of which was incorporated into a 8x12” photo collage (using Photoshop) based on photos taken from the field. Portions of the “collage” were laser-etched into plexiglass and layered over the photo, then framed in laser-cut wood and lit by an LED light fixed into the frame that will work with the layers to create a “ghostly” effect.

Stewardship Projects:

  • Surveying and identifying pre-mapped campsites.
  • Examining sites for improper use/illegal structures.
  • Inventorying and organizing Forest Service gear locker.

Artist website:


US Forest Service Shield.Tracy Arm-Ford’s Terror Wilderness
Tongass National Forest
US Forest Service

CARA STODDARD | Writer from Seattle, WA

Reflection of the land in the sea


US Forest Service Shield.Tebenkof Bay Wilderness
Tongass National Forest
US Forest Service

SHARON BIRZER | Natural science illustrator/painter from Seattle, WA


US Fish and Wildlife Service Shield.Arctic Wilderness
Artic National Wildlife Refuge
US Fish & Wildlife Service

BRIDGET LYONS | Writer from Flagstaff, AZ

Bridget Lyons on the beach at the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. “I spent a week with migratory bird researchers boating around one of the most remote bodies of water – northern Alaska’s Beaufort Sea – in search of common eiders. When we found these nesting waterfowl, we banded them, measured them, and collected data about their eggs and choices of nest sites, all in the service of trying to better understand how changing climatic and sea conditions might affect this iconic Arctic species.  Conditions were cold, wet, windy, and buggy, and I was clad in an enormous and cumbersome orange Mustang suit (a full-body life preserver) for much of the time. However, I saw the Brooks Range in the midnight sun, flew through iceberg-dotted seas in a Zodiac, held adorable baby ducklings, and experienced the remoteness of the far north.  I was also inspired by the dedication required by scientists and agency staff to track down, learn about, and help the creatures of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.”


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Community Extension: 

  • Bridget gave a one-hour talk (combination of reading, audio file, and
    slide show) on the campus of Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.
    Students and professors in the Creative Writing, English, Ecology, and
    Biology Departments attended, as well as interested members of the public.  

Artist Donation:  Bridget wrote an essay and took photos for the USFWS blog:

Stewardship Projects:

  • Surveying for common eider nests and collecting data on occupied and
    abandoned nesting sites.

Artist website:


US Fish and Wildlife Service Shield.Selawik Wilderness    
Selawik National Wildlife Refuge
US Fish & Wildlife Service

NICOLE GAGNER | Painter/Illustrator from Bismark, ND



US Fish and Wildlife Service Shield.Togiak Wilderness
Togiak National Wildlife Refuge and Wilderness
US Fish & Wildlife Service

LISA KITCHENS | Theatre artistry from Brooklyn, NY

Lisa Kitchen standing at Togiak Wildlife Refuge. Lisa created a play for young audiences which was shared widely with students in New York City. “Working with the team at Togiak Wildlife Refuge and the community of Dillingham was an incredibly rich experience. The hospitality and the generosity of every person I encountered during my residency was extraordinary. While one of the big trips on the schedule had to be postponed due to weather, the folks at the Refuge provided me with plenty of other amazing opportunities. Not only did I get to experience the beauty and diversity of the Nushagak Bay region, I also got to know a community. I worked with local elementary school students at Yupik Culture Camp; I attended Salmon Camp with middle-school students on the remote shores of Lake Aleknagik; I taught a vast range of students at the Dillingham Library; and I attended multiple hikes (and delicious meals) with community members. These experiences revealed to me the intricacies and interconnectedness the community has with the environment. I am so grateful for my time spent working with Togiak Wildlife Refuge—the experiences continue to permeate and resonate in my own life and my own sense of connection to the earth and my community.”


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Community Extension: 

  • Taught a workshop at a Salmon Camp on Lake Alegnagik, AK.
  • Taught two theatre workshops at the Dillingham Library for students ranging
    from ages 5 to 17 years old.
  • Taught a storytelling workshop at Culture Camp in Dillingham.
  • Participated in a Friday Funday with HUD Housing in Dillingham, where she
    lead games for children living in the area.
  • Lisa created a play, The Edge of the Earth, for young audiences which was
    shared widely with students in New York City.  

Artist Donation:  Lisa created a play for young audiences which was shared widely with students in New York City.  The production was inspired by her time at Togiak, and explores the importance of wilderness in our lives and the world.  She sent the Refuge the script for the play inspired by her time there, and also contributed original shadow puppet designs that are used in the play.

Stewardship Projects:

  • Lisa attended a Salmon Camp on Lake Alegnagik, AK, a camp for grade school
    students in the area to learn about salmon and subsistence fishing.  
  • Lisa attended a Culture Camp in Dillingham, a school camp celebrating Yupik

Artist website:


BEN THRASH  | Painter from Douglasville, GA

Benjamin Thrash smiles while holding his freshly caught pike. “I am a prospective art education teacher, so I felt perfectly suited for this specific residency. I went on a week-long rafting trip with six high schoolers, two park rangers, and a radio journalist. We first camped on the Pongokepuk Lake for two nights where we took in the views and learned how to row. I also took the opportunity to teach the students a little bit about plein air drawing while we had good weather on the lake. The following three nights we spent rowing down the Pongokepuk River, helping collect bear hair from along the banks, eating wild berries, and fishing for salmon, trout, and pike. I spent most of time taking pictures and soaking in the beauty of this remote wilderness.”


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Community Extension: 

  • Benjamin worked with middle schoolers extensively during his residency, ranging from developed lessons that engaged students in hands-on art projects, to sharing residency experiences through discussions and slideshows.  

Artist Donation:  Benjamin developed a 6 ¼” x 9” hand-bound book filled with twelve pages of drawings inspired by his trip.  He also donated a 9” x 12” watercolor landscape.

Stewardship Projects:

  • Assisted with bear hair sampling to research bear diets.
  • Assisted with thermometer implanting on riverbeds.

Artist website:



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