In early 1982, a group of 35 native plant enthusiasts met and discussed forming an Alaska Native Plant Society. By March, the Constitution and Bylaws were drawn up and spring meetings and summer field trips were planned. Verna Pratt served as the first President and Frank Pratt was editor of the newsletter, the Borealis. The early members chose Linnaea borealis, Twin Flower, as their emblem and had a sticker and sew-on-patches made. Invitations to join the group were extended to the public and the response was overwhelming.
Summer field trips were scheduled May through September, and sometimes during the long winter months as well. The largest group ever to attend a field trip was 35 people. In 1999, we joined with the U. S. Forest Service to provide public field trips for “Celebrating Wildflowers” week. Traditionally, this nationwide celebration is held in April, too early for our Northern Climate. AKNPS chose early June when Alaska’s flowers start blooming.
AKNPS held an Alaska Native Plant Art Contest for four years, 1982 through 1985, and had prints made from the winning entries. AKNPS members participate in National Garden Week in mid-April with a display of photos and live plant material. Members present programs on native plants to the general public and to school children and organize some advertised plant walks.
Whenever possible, efforts were made to rescue plants destined for destruction along roadways and in construction sites. These involved Scout Troops and students from the King Career Center, fostering education about conservation and preservation issues. AKNPS helped Scouts earn their Eagle Scout Awards through revegetation and signage projects along public tracts. Efforts are currently being made to help eradicate invasive weeds and to help make the public aware of this growing problem.
In 2014, Alaska Native Plant Society co-founder Verna Pratt was inducted into the Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame.