Introduction: Heather Bogardus

Hello, my name is Heather and I currently live in North Pole, Alaska. I am a graduate of UAF, including a certificate in Ethnobotany, and teacher at North Pole High School. I grew up in rural Northwest Montana where my family lived close to the land, foraging and growing plants for food and medicine. I moved to Alaska in 2002 and have spent most of my time between North Pole and Kodiak Island. Besides a love of growing and foraging plants in my personal life, I integrate Alaska Flora into my classroom as often as possible. I began introducing my students to plants through agriculture and ethnobotany classes during the nine years I taught in rural Kodiak Island villages, and am looking forward to bringing a love of plants, culture, and sustainability to a new group of students this upcoming school year.

My favorite plant has always been fireweed. I am inspired by its resilience, and its ability to grow and flourish in areas that have been disturbed or greatly impacted by humans or natural disasters. I love that we can utilize it as a natural calendar, to count down the progression of summer into fall. I love that all of the parts of fireweed can be utilized. I have enjoyed sautéed fireweed shoots, fireweed jelly and syrup, and fresh flowers on top of a salad. I have made tea from the leaves and salve from the roots. I have made cordage from dried fireweed stems in the winter. I have listened to stories of Alutiiq elders weaving the fluff with mountain goat hair to make blankets. This plant provides so much to us and has such a vital role within an ecosystem, how could it not be a favorite?

One comment

  1. Welcome Heather,
    yes, I agree fireweed is such a beautiful plant, and has so many uses. It can be a showstopper after recent fires, or just a bystander to the other flowers in the Interior, or even against a building coming up as an adventive plant were a little soil accumulates. This painting of Chamerion angustifolium can be found at Portland’s old postal building by © Mona Caron.

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