Vance County couple are top small farmers in North Carolina

Greensboro – Vance County growers Louis and Magnolia Williams were named the 2015 North Carolina Small Farmers of the Year by The Cooperative Extension Program at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University during ceremonies Wednesday on the campus. The couple and their LouMag Enterprises were lauded for 41-years of farm production, including row crops of watermelon, sweet potatoes and other vegetables, as well as extending their growing season into fall by using high-tunnel hoop structures, selling at farmers markets, and for transplant production.

Louis and Magnolia Williams Jr. pictured with Dr. Fletcher Barber Jr.

The Williamses attributed part of their success to guidance from Vance County Cooperative Extension, whose staff nominated LouMag for the farming award.

“My husband and I both grew up on farms in Vance County,” Magnolia Williams said. “We have worked with the Vance County Cooperative Extension Office for over 30 years as we participate in various trainings to learn more about agriculture and increase our profit with our farm.”

Louis Williams thanked an audience of about 300 at the awards program and said it was a surprise to be chosen.
Small Farms Week recognizes the small-scale producers in North Carolina who generate $250,000 or less, annually, in agricultural gross sales. The Williamses were presented with gifts of a plaque, monogrammed jackets and $1,500 during a Small Farmers’ Appreciation Day program, which was the culmination of the 29th annual observance of Small Farms Week. Workshops, farm tours, demonstrations and panel discussions were also part of the series of events.

This year also marks the 125th anniversary of the Second Morrill Act, which established the system of 1890 land-grant institutions such as N.C. A&T State University, and 18 other historically black colleges and universities.


Celebration of Second Morrill Act’s 125th amping up

The SAES family will gather at the Revolution Mill Events Center (off Yanceyville, south of Cornwallis) at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 19, for a Recognition and Awards Luncheon that is part of a series of events and activities commemorating the 125 anniversary of the Second Morrill Act, which, in 1890, set the foundation for A&T and the other 18 land grants that are known as "the 1890s."

At the luncheon, the late Dr. Sidney H. Evans Sr. and the late Dr. Howard F. Robinson will be officially recognized as SAES Pioneers for contributions to the 1890 land-grant system. Evans chaired several academic departments and directed many programs during his 33 years at A&T. At his retirement in 1989, he was associate dean for agricultural research. Robinson became chair of the Department of Agricultural Economics in 1957 and also served as director of the Office of Research Administration and several other offices at A&T.

Also at the Luncheon, Dr. Daniel D. Godfrey and Dr. Arthur P. Bell are to be recognized as Legends who significantly moved research and Extension in the SAES forward to national prominence. Bell graduated from A&T with honors in 1948, joined the A&T faculty with a doctorate from Penn State in 1954 and was chair of the Department of Agricultural and Extension Education at his retirement in 1994. Godfrey was administrator of the A&T Cooperative Extension Program and he served as dean of the SAES from 1994 to 2001. He has been inducted into USDA’s Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Hall of Fame, and the George Washington Carver Public Service Hall of Fame at Tuskegee University.

A third pair of recognitions will go to Dr. Thelma J. Feaster and Dr. Willie L. Willis for their leadership in innovative advances in the food, agricultural, environmental and human sciences in the SAES. Feaster began a 40-year Extension career as an assistant Extension agent in southeastern North Carolina and went on the to serve as interim administrator for the Cooperative Extension Program at A&T. She contributed to such signature A&T Extension programs as "Project Eat Right: Add to Life" and "Partners-In-Learning." Willis was one of the few African American poultry scientists in the nation during his career at A&T (1984 to 2013). He brought in more than $2.5 million dollars in funding from both government and the private sector; has scores of presentations and peer-reviewed publications; and mentored 11 master’s students through completion of their theses.

Big support for small farms

tractor iconThe 2015 Small Farms Week kickoff will be Monday, March 23, in Yancey County, where the agenda includes tours of two award-winning small farms, a food distribution hub and an old landfill where methane and other gases are serving as a source of energy for craft business incubators. Activities at A&T get rolling that same day with a free and open-to-the-public screening of the documentary "Fresh" at 6 p.m. in the Godfrey Multipurpose Room at Coltrane Hall. "Fresh" introduces some of the major strategists, activists and farmers who are leading the transformation of agriculture from questionable production practices to sustainable alternatives.

Among the Small Farms Week workshops and presentations on March 24 are sessions devoted to Farm Schools, SAES integrated pest management research, and a 25-acre Edgecombe County community garden that has been the subject of stories in Time and Forbes.

The keynote speaker at the Small Farmers Appreciation Luncheon on March 25 will be Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, the director of the USDA Agricultural Research Service. The crowning finale at the Small Farmers Appreciation Luncheon will be the introduction of the 2015 Small Farmer of the Year.

Know some SAES students who proved their mettle in 2014-15?

Faculty and staff whose work with SAES students in the current academic year brought them in contact with individuals who deserve special recognition for contributions to the personal and professional development of their peers have until March 20 to nominate their candidate for one of three Aggie Pride Student Awards that A&T’s Office of Student Activities will present at the 2015 GALA Awards ceremony on April 22. March 20 is also the nomination deadline for three other awards that will be presented at the GALA Awards ceremony: four awards for students who have distinguished themselves as volunteer tutors or peer mentors; four will be presented to students who have taken their passion for education outside of the classroom through internships; there will be an award for the student organization president of the year; and the university will announce the Dr. Dorothy J. Harris Exemplary Leadership Award. For all awards other than the three Aggie Pride Student Awards and the student organization president of the year award, nominees should have an overall GPA of at least 3.0 who is also a member of at least one student organization, and membership in at least one student organization.

March 20 is also the deadline for nominations for A&T’s top student organization for the 2014-15 academic year, and for the student organization that’s led the way in community service. Awards for a student organization advisor of the year and four awards for faculty and staff who have distinguished themselves in the 2014-15 academic year also will be announced April 22, and those too have a March 20 nomination deadline.

Founders Day Convocation to include presentation to former SAES dean

award iconThe A&T State University Founders’ Day Convocation this year will bring a former chair of A&T’s Department of Chemistry and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences who went on to become president of Delaware State back to campus. Dr. William B. DeLauder will deliver the keynote address on Thursday, March 19. DeLauder’s involvement with national and international agricultural policies has included service for the Commission of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities’ Food Systems Leadership Institute, and the Board for International Food and Agriculture Development.

Dr. Daniel D. Godfrey Sr., who graduated from A&T in 1962 and went on to become dean of the School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, will join former WFMY news anchor and five other A&T graduates as recipients of Alumni Achievement Awards that will be presented at Founders’ Day Convocation.

The March 19 Founders’ Day Convocation will be from 10 a.m. to noon in Harrison Auditorium. Faculty participation in the Founders’ Day processional is required. The processional line-up will begin to assemble at 9:30 a.m., and the processional itself will be on the march at 9:45 a.m.

NIH program directors coming to campus to offer grant guidance

research iconThe Division of Research and Economic Development has invited program directors with the National Science Foundation to offer guidance for "Grant Writing for the National Science Foundation’s Directorate of Biological Sciences," on Friday, April 10. Presenters will be Dr. Steven Ellis and Dr. Miriam Ashley-Ross, and the program is scheduled for 9 to 10:30 a.m. in Room 410 of the Fort IRC. The presentation will be particularly relevant for research faculty in plant and animal sciences, environmental biology, and molecular and cellular biosciences. The registration deadline is March 27.

Application deadline for summer program for high school students is March 31

calendar iconHigh school students who will be seniors next fall and whose academic rank is in the upper third of their class are invited to apply for the 2015 Institute for Future Agricultural Leaders (IFAL) at A&T June 21-26. The program includes tours of agribusinesses, government agencies and university laboratories, and visits to the N.C. General Assembly and the North Carolina Farm Bureau’s state offices. The IFAL program helps students get details on agricultural-related career choices and emerging educational technologies that will be major tools in their forthcoming college educations. Students selected for the IFAL program at A&T get an overview of SAES programs, degrees and research projects.

High school students applying for next summer’s IFAL must complete an application and return it to their local North Carolina Farm Bureau office by March 31. Applicants selected for an IFAL week at A&T will stay in campus dorms and eat in student dining halls for a taste of college life.

No rain, no gain

raindrop iconN.C. State University’s Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering is teaming up with Cooperative Extension to offer a two-day training program for Residential Rain Garden Certification April 23-24 at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham.

Rain gardens are man-made depressions in landscaping that collect water from downspouts and pavement, and then allow it to seep back into the earth without destructive erosion. The Rain Garden Certification training is designed for members of the Extension field staff with water quality or horticulture responsibilities as well as commercial and residential landscapers. There is an early bird discount now in effect that reduces the regular $175 tuition fee to $125.

Next batch of EQIP apps due March 20

soil iconAn organic initiative that is a key component of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) that provides funding to farmers has a March 20 application deadline for the second of three annual application windows. To qualify, farm operations must have produced at least $1,000 in agricultural products in two of the past five years. The funding program is administered by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the NRCS news release announcing the program notes "special emphasis opportunities … for organics, on farm energy improvements, Longleaf Pine, seasonal high tunnels, forestry and wildlife habitat." Interested applicants must work through their local NRCS field office to establish eligibility, and have conservation plans that identify natural resource management goals and connects them to farm bill objectives.

Leadership development opportunity for SAES first-year students

academics iconDr. Paula FaulknerA program established to help undergraduate students acquire leadership skills that mirror those of successful leaders in industry, government and educational institutions — the ELITE (Emerging Leaders Interactive Training Experience) program — has an April 3 application deadline. Current full-time, first-year students with a declared major in one of the SAES programs and GPAs of at least 2.5 are eligible to apply. Those accepted will receive an $800 stipend in return for participation in monthly leadership development activities that will include interactions with industry and community leaders, 1862 land-grant institutions, and service learning projects during their sophomore year in 2015-16. They will also be required to attend three-to-five day program in the summer of 2016. SAES students interested in making the April 3 deadline with an application for the 2015-16 academic year should contact Dr. Paula Faulkner. The program is jointly administered by Fort Valley State University and the SAES’s Department of Agribusiness, Applied Economics and Agriscience Education.

Early bird registration discount for Extension’s health conference ends April 1

The cutoff for early bird registration discounts for the National Health Outreach Conference is April 1.  Formerly the Priester Health Extension Conference, the gathering in Atlanta May 6-8will bring together Extension educators and a wide variety of professionals working to improve health and wellness for individuals, families and communities. One primary emphasis at this year’s conference will be collaborative and innovative approaches to advancing health equity and reducing health disparities. There will be workshops, seminars, and research and poster presentations and addressing environmental and agricultural health, health and insurance literacy, chronic disease prevention, and other health policy issues with current relevance. Among featured speakers are an author who previously been invited to speak at Harvard and Stanford; a health communication specialist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and a presidential advisor.

The discount conference registration before the April 1 cutoff is $425; a rate that then bumps up to $525 afterwards.

Dr. Sekai TurnerDr. Sekai Turner, A&T Cooperative Extension’s 4-H Youth Development specialist and also a member of the conference program committee, is issuing a reminder  that "Our room block for the conference is filling up fast." Turner has received word that registrations are already in from nearly every state, and she is expecting representation from state and local public health departments, several non-profit research and outreach organizations, hospitals, elementary and secondary school outreach programs.

Scholarship opportunities for dairy students

he National Dairy Shrine (NDS) makes April 15 the application deadline for an annual scholarship program awarding more than $40,000 to students at U.S. colleges and universities majoring in agricultural fields relevant to the human resource needs of dairy industries. The National Dairy Shrine’s support for higher education includes scholarships of $2,500 and $1,000 for high school seniors who will begin work on a major in dairy or animal science with a communications emphasis next fall; a $1,500 scholarship and five-to-eight $1,000 scholarships for sophomores and juniors majoring in animal sciences, ag. economics or ag. education who are planning to pursue careers in marketing dairy products; a $1,000 grant for a current freshman with a major related to dairy or animal sciences and an interest in working in the dairy industry in the future; and seven $1,500 scholarships for students now completing their first, second or third year at a college or university who have been involved in showing dairy cattle.

Advanced grammar for those who’ll be persuaded, presently

• Oregon State University’s online guide to editorial style has an entry indicating a significant distinction between "advance" and "advanced" in academia. The guidance from Corvallis is that "when used as adjectives advance means ‘ahead of time’ and advanced means ‘beyond others.’ Thus ‘advance tuition deposit,’ but ’advanced standing.’" Another editorial advisory from Oregon State with shore-to-shore wisdom is that "First-year student and first-year students are preferred [over freshman, freshmen]." The OSU style manual also has a reminder about errors we’ll be seeing quite frequently as graduation approaches: some students will be receiving a "bachelor’s degree" and others a "master’s degree." Oregon State’s reminder is that "these are lowercase and possessives, not plural. Use an apostrophe in bachelor’s degree, a master’s, etc., but there is no apostrophe in bachelor of arts or master of science."
• The Vanderbilt University Style Guide has a two-sentence mnemonic for the distinction between the noun (or adjective) "backup" and the verbal "back up." The advice from Vandy is that "Users should back up their files at the end of each day. The backup files may come in handy, so keep backups in a convenient location."
• The style guide provided by the Office of Public Affairs and Communications at Notre Dame is staunch that the words "convince" and "persuade" aren’t interchangeable. It says, "A person is convinced about something, but is persuaded to do something. ‘Carla is convinced that her teacher doesn’t like her. Ray’s friends persuaded him to go dancing.’"
• The University of Texas at Austin’s Writer’s Style Guide includes presently/currently in its "Tricky Words" listing  because: "Many writers use these terms as if they were synonymous. But ‘presently’ means in a little while, soon. ‘Currently’ means now. In most cases you can do just fine without using ‘currently.’ For example, "we are currently revising the plan" works better when simply stated, "we are revising the plan."
• A website that gleaned "Top 20 Tips From Newspaper Style Guides" passes along an excerpt from early-20th-century style sheets that cautions writers: "Don’t confound ‘amateur’ with ‘novice.’ An amateur may be the equal of the professional in experience and skill; a novice is a beginner."
• The Daily Writing Tips blog has an entry with a pair of sentences that sheds light on the distinction between continuous ("duration without interruption") and continual ("duration that continues over a long period of time"). The blog’s examples are:  The continuous humming of the fluorescent lights gave him a headache," and " The continual street repair disrupted traffic for nearly two years."
The Glossary of Cheese Terms at the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board’s website defines "pasteurized process cheese" as a "blend of fresh and aged, natural cheeses that have been shredded, mixed and heated"; "pasteurized process cheese food" as a "variation of pasteurized process cheese containing less fat and a higher moisture content"; and "pasteurized process cheese food spread" as pasteurized process cheese food with a stabilizer added to prevent ingredient separation.