Alaska Plant Workshop Presenters

Dr. Gary Ferguson

Alaska Plants" Returning to Our Roots

Dr. Gary Ferguson is a facilitator, motivational speaker, and technical consultant to communities and agencies on how to deeply address contributing factors to health and wellness. He is Aleut/Unangan, originally from the Shumagin Islands community of Sand Point, Alaska. As a naturopathic provider, Dr. Ferguson has a passion for wellness-based, culturally-connected approaches to achieving community health. He has worked throughout the Alaska Tribal health system for the past 17 years addressing the social, economic, cultural, and environmental factors that contribute to the health and well-being of Alaska Native people. Dr. Ferguson’s past positions include providing clinical services to his home region at Eastern Aleutian Tribes and serving at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium as wellness and prevention director and senior director of community health services. He has a passion for indigenous ways of healing and while at ANTHC he helped begin the Store Outside Your Door Initiative, which includes the formation of the Alaskan Plants as Food and Medicine workshops.

Barbara Lepanon

Nettles and Devil’s Club

Barbara Lepanon is a Sutton resident who loves the outdoors, plants, flowers, and trees. She owned and operated the Sutton campground for 13 years. While running the campground she became interested in the local plant life and began to learn plant identification and usage. Barbara has attended several plant workshops — learning from local experts like Janice Schofield and Rosemary Gladstar. Over the years she has learned to make tinctures, syrups, salves, lotions, oils, and infusions. One of her goals this year is to focus on working with nettles and devil’s club.

Yaari Walker

Tribal Healer, Stinkweed

Yaari was born to Herman and Esther Tooli of St. Lawrence Island. Her paternal grandparents are Jimmie and Mabel Toolie and maternal grandparents are Donald and Laura Pungowiyi. Her clan is Aymaaramka-strong people and their sub-clan is Sanighmelnguq-people of the reindeer. Yaari’s husband is Marq Walker of High Point, North Carolina and together they have nine children. As a Tribal healer, she uses a traditional approach for mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health.

Jackie Alstrom

Spring Plants and Berries

Jackie Alstrom is a health educator, tobacco treatment specialist, and nationally certified medical assistant at the Benteh Nuutah Valley Native Primary Care Center Wellness Center. She is Yup’ik and grew up in Alakanuk, located on the Lower Yukon delta. Her parents are Arthur and Zita Chikigak and she has two older sisters and four younger brothers. Jackie’s maternal grandparents are Henry Phillip and the late Angela Sugar, and her paternal grandparents are the late Thomas Joseph Chikigak and Cecelia Amokan. Her passion is to holistically care for and connect with customer-owners while motivating and supporting their health journey. Jackie’s goals are to bring a culturally relevant approach to health education classes. She encourages people to meet healthy lifestyle goals while helping others overcome health challenges.