Great (and congratulations!) Ms. Scott

academics iconDiscussion MeetJasmine Scott, (2nd from left) a junior majoring in agricultural education, came away from the 2015 N.C. Farm Bureau Collegiate Discussion Meet the first Saturday in November with first place honors. Scott prevailed in a competition simulates a committee meeting on hot-button issues of broad-ranging importance to production agriculture. In the six student finals, Scott competed against pairs of undergraduate students from N.C. State and the University of Mount Olive, and another SAES agricultural education major, Justin Walker.

Joining Scott and Walker as SAES semifinalists were Olivia Brown, also an agricultural education major, and Zanard Choice, who is majoring in landscape architecture.

Scott received a trophy and $1,000 as the Collegiate Discussion Meet winner, and she will represent the State of North Carolina in the American Farm Bureau’s national Collegiate Discussion Meet competition at the organization’s Young Farmer and Rancher Conference in Nashville in mid-February of 2015. Walker received $250 for making it to the finals.

The five Collegiate Discussion Meet topics for recent state and forthcoming national competitions are management of public lands, producer liability for food-borne illnesses, farm bill crop insurance provisions, younger members’ potential assistance for growing Farm Bureau organizations memberships, and national policies balancing food insecurity with safety and environmental concerns.

NIFA director sees what SAES has to offer

Dr. Sonny Ramaswamyinfo iconDr. Sonny Ramaswamy, director of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) paid a visit to A&T on Nov. 19 to discuss the future of agriculture with faculty and students. Ramaswamy’s day in Greensboro began with overviews of the SAES’s strategic visions from Dean Bill Randle; associate dean for Cooperative Extension, Dr. Fletcher Barber Jr.; the associate dean for the Agricultural Research Program, Dr. Shirley Hymon-Parker; and Dr. Leonard Williams, interim director for the Center for Excellence in Post Harvest Technology. There was a mid-morning forum for SAES students to put questions and concerns to Dr. Ramaswamy at Coltrane Hall, and the NIFA director closed out the morning with a presentation open to all A&T faculty, staff and students with a discussion of “Setting the table for a hotter, flatter, more crowded earth.”

Ramaswamy’s afternoon agenda started with at Carver Hall, where he dropped in on a class in session and then toured Dr. Jianmei Yu’s lab that was the incubator for the hypoallergenic peanut process recently sold to a Canadian firm, Dr. Omon Isikhuemhen mushroom biotechnology lab and Dr. Louis Jackai’s work research into new facets of Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Ramaswamy concluded his SAES tour with stops at the new food preparation lab in Benbow Hall, followed by quick looks at University Farm’s new Dairy Unit and a pasture used for research into free-range pork production.

When President Barack Obama announced in the spring of 2012 that Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy would be appointed the next director of National Institute of Food and Agriculture, his choice to head up USDA’s primary extramural funding agency for research and Extension was one that brought broad-based administrative experience at three of the country’s leading land-grant institution’s to NIFA. Ramaswamy’s land-grant background includes heading up the Department of Entomology at Kansas State University, where he was instrumental in establishing Kansas State’s Insect Zoo that has become a popular educational attraction for elementary school students. Ramaswamy has also directed the agricultural research program at Purdue and served as the associate dean of Purdue’s College of Agriculture. Immediately prior to his appointment to head NIFA, he served as dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences at Oregon State, and as director of the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station.

FDA coming here to hear ye

tractor iconDr. William RandleThe SAES will host a listening session for farmers with questions and concerns about rules proposed under the federal Food Safety Modernization Act on Nov. 20 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Godfrey Multipurpose Room at Coltrane Hall. The session will be coordinated by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Dr. Bill Randle, the SAES dean, will be welcoming farmers and other visitors to Coltrane and offer a few introductory remarks. The program will then be turned over to a panel of subject matter experts from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, who will be able to respond to most questions regarding the projected impacts of the Food Safety Modernization Act on produce safety and preventive controls for animal food.

Agroforestry survey gets Journal of Extension’s attention

documents iconThe three authors for an article presenting an "Assessment of the Adoption of Agroforestry Technologies by Limited-Resource Farmers in North Carolina" in the October issue of the Journal of Extension are Dr. Paula E. Faulkner of the Department of Agribusiness, Applied Economics, and Agriscience Education, Dr. Joshua Idassi, The Cooperative Extension Program at A&T’s natural resources management specialist, and Bismark Owooh, who was a graduate research assistant at the time the article was composed. The study surveyed farmers with limited financial resources concerning perceived barriers to adding agroforestry to their production mixes, and labor and capital barriers that stand as barriers to agroforestry enterprises on smaller farms.

Tunneled visions

tractor iconThe Cooperative Extension Program at A&T and the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) have two field days devoted to organic vegetable and strawberry production in high tunnels scheduled for early December. The first of the field days will be at CEFS facilities near Goldsboro on Tuesday, Dec. 2, and the second at the University Farm on Tuesday, Dec. 9.

Both workshops will begin at 3 p.m. and wind up at 5 p.m., and although there is no registration fee, both workshops will be limited to 40 participants. To reserve a spot in either program, follow the Fall Field Day Registration or contact John Beck, 336-256-2218.

The workshop will present research on planting dates and variety recommendations for high tunnels in central and eastern North Carolina. Organic production and marketing information will also be covered. The high tunnel demonstrations for the programs will have a variety of fruits and vegetables that can be grown using season extension techniques, including tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, lettuce, spinach, pac choi and strawberries.

SAES research into fungal biofuel enhancement published in scientific journal

Dr. Omon IsikhuemhenDr. Omon Isikhuemhen, an SAES research scientist specializing in mushroom biology and biotechnology, has had a paper published by the journal Advances in Biological Chemistry that presents an overview of recent research into potential for using white-rot fungi as a pretreatment for breaking down the oilseed plant canola, a crop of growing importance as biomass for biofuel. The conversion of plant cellulose into fermentable sugars is a major expense in biofuel production, and one of the study’s findings was that white rot fungi used for "biomass utilization … improves the economics of canola production, as well as contributing to the reduction of wastes and pollution from canola production." Rounding out the research team were Nona Mikiashvilli, an SAES research associate, Dr. Elijah Ohimain of the Biological Sciences Department at Niger Delta University and Dr. Zachary Senwo, the director of Biological & Environmental Sciences Research at Alabama A&M.

Two reminders for researchers

beaker iconThe Agricultural Research Program (ARP) is coordinating a training session Tuesday, Nov. 25 at 11 a.m. covering REEport, the NIFA reporting portal for submitting progress, termination and financial reports that must be filed early in 2015. (REEport has replaced the old CRIS AD-419 Financial Report.) All SAES researchers and NIFA grant recipients with Cooperative Extension and other branches of the SAES are invited to attend. The session will be held in A-16 of the CH. Moore Agricultural Research Station.

ARP support for SAES research scientists’ equipment needs has added a new procedural safeguard to help ensure that acquisitions do not over burden the gas, water, electricity and other utilities available at SAES buildings. High-dollar equipment purchases that could tax the capacity of current utilities must be vetted by A&T’s Office of Facilities prior to final approval for the acquisition from the ARP administrative team. Equipment pre-acquisition authorization forms are now available on the SAES website for the convenience of principal investigators and project directors in need of them. Completed forms should be directed to Bill Barlow or Chuck Dixon in the Office of Facilities for review. Once forms are complete and have authorization from A&T’s Office of Facilities, copies should then be forwarded to Dr. Shirley Hymon-Parker, the associate dean for the ARP, and to Benjamin Forbes, the ARP’s program coordinator, for review and approval.

Chance to veg out in early December

vegetable iconThe annual Southeast Vegetable and Fruit Expo is set for the Kingston Plantation Embassy Suites near Myrtle Beach Dec. 2 and 3 .The vegetable production workshop lineup this year includes butternut squash, blue pumpkins, broccoli, cole crops, kale, leafy greens, peppers, tomatoes, tuber crops, and new watermelon cultivars. There will also be programs regarding governmental policies affecting farmers and new production technologies. The registration fee is $110 for farmers and the general public, and $50 for university and Extension educators.

Seed money applications due by fifth of December

Applications are due by Dec. 5 for the National Gardening Association’s 2015 Youth Garden Grants. The awards program will distribute 20 prizes totaling $500 in gift certificates, tools and supplies to schools or other organizations that have plans for educational gardens that will provide opportunities for youth to learn how to nurture and care for other living things while also learning how to care for themselves. To be eligible, the school or youth development organization must plan to have a garden that will involve at least 15 children between the ages of 3 and 18. The 20 educational gardens deemed prize-worthy will be those that tie together relationships among environmental, nutritional, and hunger issues. The $500 gift certificates will be redeemable at the Gardening with Kids online store. The top 10 educational garden plans submitted for the contest will get materials for a raised bed garden.

Proposals due Dec. 1 for online learning symposium set for Dallas in April ’15

The organizers of the 8th Annual Emerging Technologies for Online Learning International Symposium (formerly Sloan Consortium) — which will be in Dallas April 22-24, 2015 — have set Dec. 1 as the cutoff date for proposals for symposium presentations. The five program tracks for the symposium are: (I) Organization, Leadership and Challenges for Innovation; (II) Learning Environments and Frameworks; (III) Open and Collaborative Education; (IV) Evidence-Based Learning and Assessment;(V) Technology Test Kitchen; and (VI) Effective Teaching and Learning Pedagogy.

The conference will draw intermediate users and newcomers to online learning as well as participants with extensive experience in the field. With novices and intermediate users in mind, proposals are invited for symposium presentations that focus on practical innovations, as well as presentations covering recent technological advances in the field. The 2014 symposium drew more than 700 on-site participants onsite from more than 500 institutions, 47 states and territories, and 23 countries

Journal issues call for submissions

info iconDr. Lynda BrownThe International Journal of Endocrinology has issued a call for submissions for a special issue of the publication that will be devoted to “Sex/Gender Differences in Metabolism and Behavior: Influence of Sex Chromosomes and Hormones.” Dr. Lynda Brown of the SAES’s Department of Family and Consumer Sciences is serving as one of the guest editors for the issue, which will focus on male and female variations in the progressions of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, eating disorders and other metabolic diseases, and some gastrointestinal and reproductive disorders and cancers.

Original research articles as well as review articles of basic and translational preclinical studies are invited. Papers submitted should contribute to better understandings of the genetic, behavioral, physiological, cellular, and molecular mechanisms underlying sex-based differences and effects of sex hormones in behavior and metabolism under physiological and pathological conditions. Among the potential topics guest editors have listed in the call for papers are the impact of hormonal changes at different life stages, central and peripheral actions of sex hormones in regulating multiple metabolic systems and behaviors, pathways used by sex hormones and their receptors on the structure and function of organ systems and behaviors, and new technologies for evaluation and measuring sex-based differences in the basic and translational preclinical research. The deadline for manuscript submissions is March 1, 2015. The publication date for the special issue is Aug. 1, 2015. An attentive review of the journal’s guidelines for authors in advance of manuscript preparation is recommended to contributors.

The lead guest editor for next August’s special edition of the International Journal of Endocrinology is Dr. Haifei Shi, an associate professor at Miami University. Joining the SAES’s Brown as guest editor is Dr. Roshanak Rahimianof the University of the Pacific’s Department of Physiology and Pharmacology.

Deadline Dec. 1 for organic certification reimbursements from N.C. Dept. of Ag.

Farmers who received organic certification (or recertification) between Oct. 1, 2013 and Sept. 30, 2014 may be eligible for reimbursements up to $750 from an N.C. Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services program that has received funding from USDA. The program provides 75 percent of certification costs (up to $750) for farmers with livestock, crops or processing enterprises that were contingent on organic certification in the 2013-2014 growing seasons. The application deadline is Dec. 1.

A day to be thankful for grammar guidance

The electronic toolbox for grammar instruction, "Grammar Gallery, " suggests that Thanksgiving is a wonderful opportunity to delve into the nuances of verb tenses because:
• "He is cutting the turkey" is an example of the use of the present progressive tense, which expresses "an action or condition that is continuing to occur."
• "He cooks on Thanksgiving" is an example of the simple present, the verb tense that expresses "a habitual action, a general truth, or an action/condition occurring in the present time."
• "He is going to serve the turkey to his family" exemplifies "the simple future, which refers an action or condition that is yet to occur."
• "He was cutting the turkey when the doorbell rang," is an example of "the past progressive, which is the proper verb tense for an action or condition that was ongoing in the past, especially when something else was happening."
• "He cooked the turkey for five hours" illustrates "simple past tense, an action or event that began and ended in the past."
• "He has prepared a delicious Thanksgiving dinner" is a perfect example of "the present perfect, the verb tense for "an action that has occurred up to and including the present time, a past action with current relevance, or an action that was recently completed."

The podcaster Grammar Girl finds that Thanksgiving inspires her in a different grammatical direction. She says, "I like to think of [Thanksgiving] as a happy Gerund Appreciation Day. What better time to appreciate the English gerund than on a day that has been singled out for giving thanks, and whose name is a gerund—Thanksgiving?"

Grammar Girl goes on to explain that "a gerund is a noun formed by taking a verb and adding the suffix ‘-ing.’ The gerund form of ‘give,’ for example, is ‘giving.’" She then offers examples of compound nouns that include gerunds (bomb-defusing, for one) along with the observation that often as not there’s a singular noun in the compound that isn’t logical since it’s referring to a plurality. Her explanation as to why is that "the rule for compound nouns in English: the noun that modifies the other noun is usually in the singular." But, "One exception that comes to mind is ‘Thanksgiving: We don’t call it ‘Thank-giving.’"

Another grammar-oriented blog, the Grammar Hammer, is inspired by Thanksgiving’s potential to illuminate the differences between affect and effect. The Hammer asks: "How does Thanksgiving effect you? Or does it affect you?"

The answer is that "Most of the time, use affect (with an A) as a verb, and use effect (with an E) as a noun." That means "Turkey can affect your ability to stay awake, especially when your Great Aunt Gertrude is making another one of her 20-minute toasts to our founding fathers." And since "Effect with an E is a noun with multiple definitions, but it basically means "as a result," then, "The cranberry sauce and gravy had no effect on the dryness of the turkey."."