Erin McKinstry, Alaska Public Media - Anchorage

Erin McKinstry, Alaska Public Media - Anchorage
Erin McKinstry is Alaska Public Media's 2018 summer intern. She has an M.A. from the University of Missouri's School of Journalism and a B.A. from Knox College. She's reported stories for The Trace, The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, Harvest Public Media, the IRE Radio Podcast, KBIA and The Columbia Missourian.

Across Alaska, crime is up. That's according to data released today by the Department of Public Safety comparing 2017 to 2016. In its Uniform Crime Report, the department said that statewide, crime rose by 6 percent last year. Listen now

One way to make money in a slow economy is to fill a gap in the market. But a local spice blend company is doing more than building bank accounts--it's also connecting people with Native dishes in a new way. Kunniak's Spices pairs flavors like lemon, garlic and ghost pepper with Alaska Native dishes like Maktak.

When it gets hot in Anchorage, some people cool off with a swim or a float down the city's creeks and streams. But is that safe? DEC data show that for almost all of the city's creeks and streams levels of fecal coliform bacteria are higher than the safety standards for drinking, swimming or even secondary activities like rafting and kayaking. Listen now

Three visitors to Katmai National Park could face charges after approaching brown bears feeding on salmon Thursday evening. Listen now

Marijuana and hemp are technically the same plant: cannabis sativa. So it's surprising that as Alaska’s recreational marijuana industry has bloomed, growing hemp remains illegal. But that could change by 2019. Listen now

A new Alaska law aims to increase transparency about medical costs and expand access to behavioral health services. Listen now

This week we're hearing from Tom Huddleston in Copper Center. Huddleston owns and operates the Copper Center lodge, which has been in his family for 70 years since they bought it from the Mt. Edgecumbe school. Listen now

A packed house filled Cook Inlet Tribal Council’s new Ernie Turner Center for the ribbon cutting ceremony. The traditional winter homes of the Dena’ina people inspired the design for the open, two-story space, which sits on a six-acre lot. But the services there will be available to both Alaska Natives and other Alaskans. Listen now

Pink refuse bins have made an appearance in Anchorage this summer, but they're not for trash. They're part of Solid Waste Services' curbside pick-up program for compost. Listen now

Voting may seem simple enough. You head to your precinct, fill out your ballot and feed it through a machine, but the scenarios election workers face at the polls can get a lot more complicated. Alaska Public Media headed to a poll worker training in Anchorage to learn the ins and outs of voting in Alaska ahead of the August primary. Listen now

Around one in eight Alaskans have wondered at some point in the last year where their next meal will come from, according to the USDA. In some parts of rural Alaska, rates of food insecurity are as high as 27 percent. Senator Lisa Murkowski added a grant program to the Senate farm bill that aims, in its own small way, to help. Listen now

The U.S. is set to reach two million solar panel installations by the end of this year. It took 30 years to reach the first million and just two to add a million more. That’s partly because solar panels have gotten a lot cheaper and more efficient in the last few years. Solarize Anchorage is working to bring that trend to Alaska. Listen now

The National Park Service could once again allow controversial techniques like bear baiting on certain public lands. They announced Wednesday that they're extending the public comment period partly because of high public interest in the proposed change. Listen now

The organizer of a kid's bike race in Anchorage Saturday wants to raise awareness for the importance of healthy lungs.

For years the federal government has been grappling with who owns tips and whether employers can tell servers what to do with them. To clarify, the Alaska Department of Labor implemented a new regulation last month that prohibits restaurant owners from requiring servers to give tips to back-of-house staff like cooks and dishwashers. Listen now

Spruce beetles may be native to Alaska, but they can still devastate a spruce forest. Over the last two years, an outbreak concentrated in southcentral Alaska’s Susitna River drainage and northwest Kenai Peninsula has affected more than 500,000 acres of forest.

Garden executive director Mike Monterusso says the Garden aims to do two main things: to operate as a museum that preserves, labels and catalogs plants and to teach the public about plants and their connection to them. Listen now

David Norris and Jessica Yeaton won the men’s and the women’s races today at Seward’s 91st Mt. Marathon Race. The course has been touted as one of the most difficult races in the world. Runners brave heat, slippery slopes, falling rocks and a 3,022-foot elevation gain. And it’s not just adults in their prime.

Sometimes all it takes is a cotton swab to save someone's life. For a little over 30 years, the National Marrow Donor Program through the Be the Match registry, has been collecting cheek swabs from potential donors. But the registry still lacks diversity and numbers and many of the patients who require a transplant, never receive it. Listen now

Climate change may have spurred the first humans to move into interior Alaska. A new University of Alaska-Fairbanks study, released on Tuesday, found that around 15,000 years ago, the Bering Land Bridge became much wetter and warmer. That coincides with when people began to leave it. Listen now