Wildlife and Wood is KUAC’s December Featured Sponsor
Ken Whitten and Mary Zalar, owners of Wildlife and Wood, use nature’s gifts to create beautiful items representing Alaska’s forests.
Ken learned woodturning in high school in California. He moved to Alaska in 1971 and earned a master’s degree at UAF, then had a 24-year career with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. He finally bought a lathe and returned to his passion for turning wood into bowls, vases and covered boxes.
“I always liked working with my hands,” Ken said. “I enjoy using my lathe to make beautiful bowls from the wood we collect.” Mary is an integral part of the business but said her goal is to not have their home overtaken by the wooden bowls. “We want to share the natural beauty of the wood and engage with the public so they have items to enjoy,” she said. They especially treasure creating heirloom bowls from heritage trees that have been meaningful to the owner.
In ordinary times, Ken and Mary have a booth at the Tanana Valley Farmers Market but due to the pandemic they have been operating online only.
The wildlife aspect of Wildlife and Wood involves Ken’s nature photography as well as organizing nature safaris to Tanzania and Kenya.
Ken was KUAC’s poster artist in 2012 with the popular “Berry Toss” photograph of a Bohemian Waxwing eating a crabapple. Ken and Mary love watching KUAC TV and listening to KUAC FM. “We have been faithful to KUAC since 1971,” Ken said. “As corporate supporters we see this as our way of giving back to the station.”
“KUAC is our station in life,” Mary said.