Jack Hodnik of Haines has learned a lot over the past 36 years, and he gives credit to the state that served as his teacher through the title of his new book, “Lessons from Alaska.”

“I’ve waited to write until I became convinced time had digested my personal experiences enough to produce an understanding of their significance to me and the land I love,” Hodnik wrote in the introduction of his 210-page, self-published book that has been available since late September.

Hodnik, 63, traveled to Alaska in 1974, attracted by rugged wilderness. He was desperate to land a teaching job to stay, and a family connection helped him find a position in Fairbanks, where he faced weather much more brutal than in his former Minnesota home.

“Many people transplant here to avoid disagreeable situations back home,” Hodnik wrote. “But often, instead of mitigating their circumstance, the social isolation and a lack of preparedness focuses and sharpens the original causes.”

Hodnik settled in Haines nearly 20 years later. “Here, this is a piece of cake,” he said.

Hodnik said “Lessons from Alaska” is targeted to anyone who wants to go to Alaska and make a new life.

“I’ve been writing this book for 25 years, in my head – the concepts that I was focusing on and trying to clarify in my mind to make sure I had what I thought was a coherent understanding,” Hodnik said. “So, when I sat down and was literally writing it, was last December.”

He stuck to a schedule of writing from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and finished the book by June.

“When I realized that it was going to become a book, actually, then I got to thinking, ‘What about publishing?’” Hodnik said. “Not that, initially, that mattered at all. Making any money never was part of my motive.”

He browsed the Internet for some options and at first showed little interest in self-publishing, which he thought was “too vain.” Eventually, he found Xlibris to be “never pushy,” and looked into a self-publishing package from that business. He thought the proposed price was affordable.

“You know what that number was?” Hodnik asked. “It was almost exactly what our (Permanent Fund) dividend check was going to be.”

The agreement with Xlibris allowed “Lessons from Alaska” to be sold through sites such as Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble, plus the Babbling Book in Haines, where a paperback version sells for $20.

Hodnik said he is looking forward to receiving more feedback from the community.

“Here are the two reactions that I would find most heartening: ‘Jack, I read your book. Thank you for the insights. They were really helpful,’” Hodnik said. “No. 2, most important to me, ‘Jack, I read your book. You know what you’re talking about.’ From an Alaskan, ‘You know what you’re talking about.’ Those would be two compliments that I would really like to hear.”

Hodnik, though, said he is disappointed with some parts of the book.

“I give an acknowledgment in there to my cousin Bruce, who, when he caught wind of my writing a book, wanted to be my editor,” he said. “I told him – and I shouldn’t have, but I did – ‘Bruce, I was an English teacher. I’m sure I can handle the mechanical stuff. I want you to react to the content, that kind of editing.’ And he did. The book, as I say, is a better book because of his observations, but I should have been much more careful with the editing.”

The book is broken into nine chapters: “Boom and Bust,” “Rural Lifestyle,” “Influential People,” “Weather Or Not,” “The Alaska I Came to See,” “Yupik Culture As I Experienced It,” “Lessons From the Classroom: The Power of Myth,” “This Land is My Land; This Land is Your Land,” and “Where Money Goes to Hide.” The conclusion is titled, “Almost an Alaskan.”

“In every chapter, I was totally honest,” Hodnik said. “I didn’t fudge, at all.”

He said “Lessons from Alaska” includes a “no-holds-barred” analysis of public education, with a focus on his heightened expectations for Yupik students, who called him “Mr. H.”

Hodnik said he was nervous about a chapter that centered on Yupik culture.

“One must always be careful in discussing another’s culture, since it is tantamount to discussing another’s family,” he wrote.

Hodnik has remained close to some of his Yupik students, including one top scholar.

“I got a wedding invitation from her three years ago, and I surprised her by actually showing up,” Hodnik said.

“Lessons from Alaska” also describes Hodnik’s longtime love of hunting and his stated reverence for nature.

“When I go out into the wilderness, I am going to church,” he said. “If you ever see me at a streamside or in the forest, you’re going to notice how quiet I am, which I’m normally not in this society.”

Hodnik has been a taxidermist and said those efforts aim to “faithfully reproduce what God created.”

He likes a challenge and said, “I catch fish because they’re trying to be not caught, and I fool them.”

“Lessons from Alaska” was another challenge, and Hodnik said he was relieved when it was finished.

“It’s exactly like being responsible for producing a child, and I’ve produced a couple,” he said. “You’re proud and fascinated, but then there’s the second thought, ‘Now, this is going to go out to the public.’”