Meet Our Team
Katherine Ringsmuth, PhD, Tundra Vision: Public History Consultants, Project Director and Lead Historian
Dr. Ringsmuth received her doctorate at Washington State University with concentrations in American, environmental and public history. She teaches U.S. Alaska and World history at the University of Alaska Anchorage and is sole proprietor of Tundra Vision, a public history consulting business that focuses on history exhibits and curation, Section 106 application, and education support. Dr. Ringsmuth has written five books for the National Park Service, including two on canneries: Beacon of the Forgotten Shore: Snug Harbor Cannery, 1919-1980 and Buried Dreams: the Rise and Fall of a Clam Cannery on the Katmai Coast. Her recent book, Alaska’s Skyboys: Cowboy Pilots and the Myth of the Last Frontier (2015), was published through the University of Washington Press. Dr. Ringsmuth has authored multiple National Register nominations, including the Kukak Cannery Historical Archeological District nomination that was listed in the National Register in 2003 and is only one of two canneries listed in the National Register. She has curated several history exhibitions, including Home Field Advantage: Baseball in the Far North, which appeared at the Anchorage Museum during summer 2015, and has experience managing grants. She served as project director of the Alaska Humanities Forum/Anchorage Centennial Community Grant which supported the completion of the project, From Tents to Towers: A Century of Maps of Alaska’s Largest City. The 10-panel project is currently on display at the Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage, Alaska. Dr. Ringsmuth is the former president of the Alaska Historical Society. She works with the Alaska School District to provide Alaska Studies teachers with fresh content, and partners with local libraries to bring history-focused events to the general public.
Besides professional experience, Dr. Ringsmuth brings a personal association to the project. Upriver from the Naknek is Katmai National Park and Preserve, where Ringsmuth worked as an Interpretive Park Ranger and honed a keen interest in the region ecological, geological and cultural history. Her Katmai experience, however was part of much deeper connection to the Naknek River. Ringsmuth’s father, Gary Johnson, started as the bookkeeper at the NN Cannery at South Naknek in 1975, and worked his way up to superintendent, a position he held from 1979 to 1997. His tenure marked the last of a long reign of Alaska Packers Association superintendents. Ringsmuth, herself, spent her childhood years befriending local kids and exploring the landscape. She labored for many years as a cannery worker to earn money for college. She gained invaluable life experience interacting with people from numerous backgrounds in workplaces that include the Mess Hall, the Egg House, the Laundry, and the Slime Line and intimately understands this project from an academic and first hand perspective.
Bob King, King Salmon Associates, Project Historian
Bob King provides historical and communications expertise and brings local insight to the project. King served as news director at the Dillingham radio station KDLG for 17 years and has written on Bristol Bay and fisheries history in Alaska History and other publications. He worked for Governor Tony Knowles’s administration as communication director and served as Senator Mark Begich’s fisheries aid in Washington D.C.
Anne Pollnow, Sea Level Consulting, Project Curator
Anne Elise Pollnow is the sole owner of Sea Level Consulting (SLC), a cultural resource firm based in Sitka, Alaska. Since 2008, Sea Level Consulting has provided services required for the identification, evaluation, and treatment of cultural resources for compliance with federal, state, and local regulations. Anne and SLC specializes in Southeast Alaska history and archaeology. Services include archaeological and historic surveys, anthropological studies, determination of eligibility and affect reports, cultural resource plans and agreements, monitoring, recovery excavation, and consultation with local tribes. SLC has also assisted and led Alaskan communities through the processes of preservation planning, establishing historic districts, and developing heritage tourism industry strategies.
Anne’s professional work includes the discovery and recordation of prehistoric sites as early as 9000 years before present, documenting Gold Rush era mining sites, World War II historic survey and research reports, and anthropological investigations. Prior to her 18+ years in Alaska, she lived in Washington State, practicing archaeology throughout the Pacific Northwest under renowned archaeologists from Washington State University, her alma-mater. Anne’s education and work experience have built a credible knowledge base and great appreciation for Pacific Northwest Coast Archaeology.
Anne has always been committed to assisting communities, small nonprofit corporations, and native organizations with their preservation goals, often in a volunteer capacity. She has written, been awarded, and managed historic preservation fund grants to assist in the rehabilitation of historic buildings and preservation planning throughout Alaska. In 2007, Anne began serving on the City and Borough of Sitka’s Historic Preservation Commission, four years as chair. As current president and 11-year board member of the Alaska Association for Historic Preservation, Anne leads the Association’s programming which includes the Ten Most Endangered Historic Properties Grant Program and the Preservation Conservation Easement Program. In 2017, Anne was appointed as an Advisor to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, representing all of Alaska.
Anne and her companions live in a small beach house in Sitka regularly partaking in subsistence hunting, fishing, and gardening. She not only enjoys preserving historic properties but also local wild and homegrown food. She worked for many years in the fishing industry as a deckhand on seine and longline operations, worked in processing plants including for sea cucumbers, and assisted in the establishment of a major Seafood Corporation. This work especially helped her finance graduate school endeavors. Anne has a loyal four-legged canine partner of 12 years, a fluffy collie/shepherd mix named Iris, that accompanies her on work field trips and frequent visits with elders and seniors. Her passion is gathering and documenting stories and evidence from our past for future reflection and enhancement of our shared social well-being.
LaRece Egli, LaRece Constructions, Project Media Expert
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LaRece Egli is a resident of Naknek and artist with a focus on harnessing digital media to activate the experience of her work. LaRece brings critical connections to the project in terms of both technical experience and local participation. LaRece will oversee tech support and multimedia needs and administer the oral history/interview component for both the nomination and the exhibits.
Sharon Thompson, Steelbird Production, Digital Storytelling Workshop Lead
Bristol Bay resident Sharon Thompson is sole proprietor of Steelbird Productions, a boutique film company in Naknek, Alaska. She has created commercials, documentaries, crowdfunding videos, and advocacy pieces as well as filmed many oral histories. With a Bachelor of Arts degree in both English and Theater and a Certificate in Feature Film Writing, Sharon strives for meaningful storytelling. Self-taught in shooting and editing, she endeavors to capture ever better imagery, evolving with the latest technology. She now shoots in 4K with DJI’s gimbal-stabilized handheld Osmo and the Inspire 1 Quadcopter, both equipped with Zenmuse X5 cameras. Her arsenal includes lavalier mics and a Lowell lighting kit and she edits her work in Final Cut Pro X. Sharon has provided both logistical support and footage of the area to broadcast filmmakers. Her work has been featured and credited in Dan Rather Reports Episode 723 “Red Gold.” She provided video clips to BBC Radio website promoting their story “The Battle of King Salmon.” She recently provided footage to CNN’s program “The Wonder List” which visited Bristol Bay this summer. She has often sent coverage of local events to news stations such as KTUU in Anchorage. Steelbird Productions has boots on the ground in Bristol Bay, always camera-ready, resourceful, and willing to collaborate.
Andrew Abyo, Artist
Andrew Abyo will bring his artistic vision and local connections to Bristol Bay to create a model of the NN Cannery from 1979, which will serve as a centerpiece to the Mug Up museum exhibit.