Liang trio awarded best higher ed practices by the 2017 Small Business Institute

160817 Kathleen Liang 001ed3Dr. Kathleen Liang has, for the third time in four years, garnered top honors from the Small Business Institute (SBI) during its 2017 conference in San Diego last month. Liang, who is the W.K. Kellogg Endowed Chair in Sustainable Community-Based Food Systems in the CAES, teamed with  Guilford College colleagues, Drs. Marlene McCauley and Kyle Dell to win the SBI’s Best Practices Award for a collaboration project between the two campuses. The presentation that took home honors for the trio was: “Building a Collaborative Effort of Training and Education in Sustainable Food System for the 22nd Century through Urban Agriculture Programs.”

Liang’s expertise in  entrepreneurship and sustainable food systems programming  was sought by the Guilford College faculty for building their new sustainable food systems major. Specific strategies designed and proposed for the collaboration between the two Greensboro-based campuses include:

  • Sharing courses and projects to offer collaborative learning opportunities in sustainable agriculture, food systems, and entrepreneurship.
  • Encouraging faculty and students to participate in collaborative workshops and seminars.
  • Recruiting and training undergraduate students from A&T and Guilford College to work jointly on sustainable urban food system issues using Guilford College’s 3-acre farm through partnerships with campus dinning service, local restaurants, refugee resettlement programs, and new immigrant communities in Greensboro.

“The proposed collaboration will benefit N.C.
A&T faculty and students in learning about urban multi-functional agriculture development to support low-income, immigrant communities in the Greensboro area,” says Liang, who says she is honored by the award and in collaborating with Guilford faculty and students.

“The collaboration will also enhance the knowledge and skills in entrepreneurial strategies to support urban food systems for faculty and students at both A&T and Guilford College.”

The SBI Best Practices Award recognizes colleges and universities that develop “new entrepreneurial curriculum, new or innovative classroom delivery and superior outcomes from existing programs.” Liang also won top SBI awards in 2015 and 2014, while at the University of Vermont. She was noted for a Teens Reaching Youth (TRY) for Food Systems award in 2015, and in 2014 for her Dollar Enterprise collaborative entrepreneurial curriculum, which she has since been able to establish at A&T between the CAES, the College of Engineering and the College of Business.

Student cooking competition adds more spice to Small Farms Week

A live, Iron Chef-style cook-off between students in their mecca of munching, Williams Dining Hall, is featured as the closing event of a week set aside each March to celebrate agricultural  accomplishments in North Carolina. The cooking competition is also a fun way to involve students in Small Farms Week, N.C. A&T’s annual celebration of small-scale agriculture, held this year March 19-25. The cooking competition is from 4-6 p.m.  March 23.

“Even though agriculture is a foundation of our university, many of our students are not aware of, nor participate in, the variety of programs and resources in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences,” says Dr. Michelle Eley, community and economic development specialist for The Cooperative Extension Program. “For Small Farms Week, we wanted to do some things to engage students and make them aware of our depth and breadth.”

This year’s observance focuses on the ways North Carolina’s $84 billion agricultural industry can be made safer and more sustainable. Sponsored by The Cooperative Extension Program at A&T, the week will feature workshops, guest speakers and demonstrations. It will also highlight the fact that locally grown, sustainably managed foods are the best and healthiest choices.

“One clear way to make farming a sustainable enterprise is to have another generation that understands and values its importance, including eating fresh food,” Eley says.

Three teams of four students, each equipped with blender, microwave, griddle and a cornucopia of fresh, local foods from which to choose, will take up a prominent place in the dining room to make one entrée and one dessert.

The contest will be timed and judged by a panel of faculty and students based on originality, taste, presentation and something else: the use of a secret ingredient, to be revealed only at the start of the competition. The evening event is timed to capture students’ attention when they are at their hungriest and slide a little education about healthy eating across their tables.

 

Planners are hoping the students will come to the cooking competition for the fun, but leave having heard the message that fresh, local, sustainable farm products are easy to incorporate into a lifestyle.  Even a collegiate one.

Just a few days are left to register for Small Farms Week activities: http://www.ncat.edu/caes/cooperative-extension/sfw-2017-form.html or for more informatio, nvisit:  http://www.ncat.edu/news/2017/02/small-farms-week-17.html

Yu’s peanut allergen research helps agricultural supporters in ‘Retaking the Field’

Peanut allergen research by CAES research scientist Dr. Jianme Yu is one of 11 featured stories highlighted in the recent release of the new report, Retaking the Field—Strengthening the Science of Farm and Food Production, produced by the Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation.

SAES research scientist Dr. Jianmei Yu's contributions that led to a patented procedure "that is significantly reducing or virtually eliminating two key allergens from peanuts without affecting the flavor."

The publication explores research projects funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) at each institution.

Publicists for Retaking the Field — the second in SoAR’s series — note that: “Scientists are solving some of the thorniest questions in food production despite the USDA’s limited research budget. Even as the research budget for all federal agencies has climbed, USDA’s share has nearly been cut in half.”

The story of Yu’s groundbreaking work on reducing allergens in roasted peanuts that has been  patented and is being readied for the commercial marketplace, is the only report in the series  featuring an 1890 institution.

“Researchers are solving some of the most important problems that farmers face,” said Thomas Grumbly, SoAR Foundation president. “Too often, their success hinges on whether they secure enough funding to keep the lab doors open. Too much top quality, high-impact research is unfunded and left on the cutting room floor.”

The SoAR Foundation leads a non-partisan coalition representing more than 6 million farming families, 100,000 scientists, hundreds of colleges and universities as well as consumers, veterinarians, and others. SoAR educates stakeholders about the importance of food and agricultural research to feed America and the world and advocates for full funding of USDA’s Agriculture Food and Research Initiative (AFRI). SoAR supports increased federal investments to encourage top scientists to create agricultural solutions that improve public health, strengthen national security, and enhance U.S. economic competitiveness.

To download the report, visit http://supportagresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/SoAR_Retaking_the_Field_Vol_2.pdf .   A limited number of hard-copy reports are also available in the Agricultural Research Division.

 

 

Industrial Hemp meeting attracts small farmers across the state

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Dr. Shirley Hymon-Parker, CAES interim dean, welcomes the audience to the forum.

More than 100 farmers, other growers and agricultural advocates attended the forum on industrial hemp
170227Hemp029ed2late last month hosted by the CAES at the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering in Greensboro. Members of the N.C. Industrial Hemp Commission, including Dr. Guochen Yang representing the CAES, were featured in a panel discussion on parameters of the  the program. The 2015 North Carolina General Assembly legalized industrial-hemp production and established a pilot program that will help small farmers generate income through production of the new crop. The law was updated in 2016 to establish a research program using the faculty expertise at N.C. A&T and N.C. State universities, the state’s two land-grant institutions.

Proceedings of the forum are captured here for viewers: https://vimeo.com/ckproductions…/review/206272352/d780a36663

 

 

 

Breakfast with champions: CAES Advisory Board hosts meeting

appicon_1024x1024When members of the CAES Advisory Board return to campus for their next meeting, they want to interact with faculty. The advisory panel is hosting a breakfast from 9- 9:45 a.m. Friday, April 28 in the C.H. Moore Research Station, room A-16. CAES members are encouraged to get to know the board, ask questions about the group’s purpose and work, and to find out how the Advisory Board is advancing the CAES’s mission.

Please RSVP to Michelle Capel at mdcapel@ncat.edu by Thursday, March 30.

 

Poster posit

Faculty and staff preparing for upcoming conferences and other events are reminded of guidelines for helping create quality academic posters. Please note that new poster templates with the CAES’s name change and the appropriate version of the A&T logo are available and should be used.

Ag. Communications strongly encourages the use of Microsoft PowerPoint to create posters for the large format printer at  C.H. Moore. For best results, start with one of the 36″X48″ templates in the “TEMPLATES” folder on Poster Share. (Directions for getting to the templates are the same as for depositing posters to be printed—below.)

The Ag. Comm. staff needs a minimum of three business days  notice to produce a poster.  Posters that do not make use of the required templates must be pre-approved by a department chair, Ag. Research administration or a unit head.

To get a poster into the Poster Share queue for the large format printer (from a computer with a Windows OS):

1. Left click “Start”

2.  Select “Run” (If “Run is not a menu option, press and hold the Windows Key + R)

3. Inside the command box that appears, type ” \\argyle\poster$

4. Save your poster in the directory “To be printed”

5. Once the poster is uploaded, notify Ag Communications that it’s ready for the printer by emailing  chill@ncat.edu

When the poster is ready for pickup, the designation “printed” will be added to the name of your work inside the “To be printed” folder. Posters may be picked up in the bin near B-17 at C.H. Moore.

Producing industrial hemp is focus of CAES growers’ meeting

The College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences is hosting an upcoming meeting to help small-scale farmers learn more about how to produce industrial hemp.  Scheduled for 1-3 p.m., Feb. 27 at the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, at 2907 E. Gate City Blvd. in Greensboro, the meeting will also focus on parameters of the law.

The 2015 North Carolina General Assembly legalized industrial-hemp production and established a pilot program that will help small farmers generate income through production of the new crop. The law was updated in 2016 to establish a research program using the faculty expertise at N.C. A&T and N.C. State University, the state’s two land-grant institutions160321SFW058ed2.

Organized by Dr. Valerie Giddings, the CAES associate dean for research, the meeting will feature information from CAES faculty and staff.

Hemp production in the United States has become a profitable, value-added crop with a number of uses including grain, dietary supplements, textiles, animal bedding, car parts, biofuel, environmentally safe paper and packaging material, and construction. The goal of the N.C. Industrial Hemp Commission is to help North Carolina become a leader in hemp production and processing, to stimulate the economy and to provide viable opportunities for small-scale farmers.

To reserve a meeting space, email aymccall@ncat.edu or call 336-285-4701.

 

Williams to advise U.S. Ag. Committee

Dr. Leonard Williams, director of the N.C. A&T Center for Post-Harvest Technologies (CEPHT), has been appointed to the USDA’s Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.

During his four-year term, Williams will advise the secretary and U.S. trade representatives on issues that affect both foreign and domestic policy, and production, in the area of processed foods. The panel is composed of 36 members. Williams’s term started Jan. 15.

“I’m excited,” Williams says. “This appointment gives the CAES and A&T a way to have a voice from an international perspective.”

CEPHT fosters interdisciplinary research after food has been harvested, including developing and testing functional foods, improving processes to extend the shelf life and control spoilage of foodborne pathogens, and evaluating and modeling consumer acceptance of food products, along with other aspects of food production technologies.

 

Farming bests football and stresses a safe food system as 31st Small Farms Week arises

Registration is open for the 31st annual Small Farms Week, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University’s tribute to small–scale agriculture, which kicks off March 19 with a timely theme: growing a safe, sustainable food system.

Sptractor_icononsored by The Cooperative Extension Program at North Carolina A&T , Small Farms Week will be celebrated March 19-25 with workshops, tours, guest speakers, farming demonstrations and other events. This year’s observance focuses on the many ways North Carolina’s $84 billion agricultural industry can be made safer and more sustainable, including new techniques in season extension, pest management, pasturized livestock production, urban horticulture, pesticide and growth-hormone-free growing, and more.

The observance begins March 20 in Sampson County, home of the 2016 Small Farmers of the Year. Events continue March 21-23 on the A&T campus with a student cooking competition, educational workshops and the presentation of the 2017 Small Farmer of the Year award.

The capstone event of the week is a lunchtime talk on March 23 by former NFL star Jason Brown, now a small farmer in Franklin County. Brown made headlines when he left professional football, bought a 1,000-acre farm in Louisburg and learned to work it with the help of Franklin County Cooperative Extension,  neighboring farmers and the Internet. For the past four years, he has grown large crops of sweet potatoes and cucumbers for the purpose of donating the entire harvest to charitable organizations, helping to provide hunger relief in central North Carolina.

Individual counties are also hosting activities for the week. Those counties include, Ashe, Currituck, Duplin, Forsyth, Guilford, Madison, Martin, Mitchell, Robeson, Rowan, Scotland, Stanly, Stokes, Vance and Yancey.

To register for events, please visit: http://bit.ly/2017sfw

 

 

 

 

Ag Literacy Day

Agriculture isn’t just for farmers any more. That’s the message Dr. Antoine Alston, CAES associate dean for academics, wants the high school students who are coming to N.C. A&T for the 13th Winter Agricultural Literacy Fest this month to understand.

“Young people are often amazed to learn that an agricultural degree can fit their career goals, even if they don’t plan to go into farming,” Alston said.

Southern Vance High School freshman Shiquale Jefferson (right) looks at the difference of tilled soil vs non-till soil during Agricultural Literacy Fest.
Students examine the differences between tilled and non-tilled soil during a previous Ag  Literacy Fest.

In the CAES, it can prepare them for careers in medicine, environmental science, biotechnology, landscape architecture and more.

Each year, the CAES hosts the festival for middle and high school students during National FFA Week. This year, approximately 300 students from 20 high schools across North Carolina plan to attend. The festival is 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Feb. 23 in the Alumni-Foundation Event Center.

This year’s events will include an academic career fair, a tour of the University Farm, presentations from representatives of the agricultural industry, ROTC and university admissions, and a lunch of North Carolina pork barbecue. The Got to Be N.C. Big Cart, a giant shopping cart promoting North Carolina foods, will be available outside for pictures with students.

In addition to being educational, the event is an effective recruiting tool for the CAES, according to Alston.

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CAES students demonstrate food-and-nutrition science to high school students during a previous Ag Literacy Fest.

“The students will learn what the CAES can do for them, and then, they can decide to attend N.C. A&T after high school graduation,” he said. “Given the importance of the food, agricultural, and environmental sciences, it is imperative that we identify the next generation of agricultural leaders in order to ensure a sustainable global society.”

New book by CEPHT researchers updates a familiar technique

A new book on chromatography, co-authored by Dr. Leonard Williams, director of the N.C. A&T Center for Excellence in Post-Harvest Technologies (CEPHT), has just published.

Written specifically with students in mind, “Theory and Practice of Chromatographic Techniques” brings fresh understanding to a century-old procedure. Chromatography is a laboratory method for separating and identifying the elements of a compound by passing it through another medium. First developed in 1900, it is broadly used in pharmaceutical research, but also in such disciplines as food science, forensics, biotechnology and chemistry.

The book is a collaboration between Williams, Dr. Yogini Jaiswal, a post-doctoral researcher working with Williams at CEPHT; and Dr. Sanjay Bari of North Maharahstra University in India. It will be available in paperback and online from PharmaMed Press/BSP Books.

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Despite its familiarity to science students and researchers, the chromatography technique can use fresh explanation, Williams says.

“The basic fundamentals of chromatography don’t change, but the technology does,” Williams says. “We wanted to give students a better understanding of the theory and the practical methods, and make it easier for them to understand the new technologies.”

The subject is particularly important to students in countries where technology may lag behind the U.S. Jaiswal, one of the book’s co-authors, earned her degrees from universities in India.

“Dr. Jaiswal played an integral part in writing this book,” Williams said. “She knows the need firsthand, and I was glad to give her the autonomy to write it.”

Cooperative Extension & CEFS hosting workshops for farmers

CAES faculty members who work with farmers may want to inform them of two upcoming workshops in Charlotte and Raleigh, given by FreshPoint produce distributors and sponsored by N.C. Cooperative Extension and the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) – N.C. Growing Together.

FreshPoint is offering an information session and tour of their Raleigh and Charlotte warehouses. Growers will have the chance to meet buyers, learn more about the company, tour the facility and learn about FreshPoint’s “Unusual but Usable” program, which buys and markets seconds. Participants should have GAP certification or the willingness to obtain it; $1 million in general liability insurance; and the ability to transport products to FreshPoint warehouses, or a location near a FreshPoint truck route for possible backhauling.

  • The first workshop will be held from 10:30 a.m. to noon, Feb. 21 at 203 Trans Air Drive, Morrisville, near Raleigh. The session is limited to 15 participants. Registration is online at https://goo.gl/forms/1AOrMBDh8XbluLVT2.
  • The second workshop will be held from 10:30 a.m. to noon, Feb. 23 at 2121-A Distribution Center Drive, Charlotte. This session is also limited to 15 participants. Registration is online at https://goo.gl/forms/S5xNkwubhVNF376x2.

For more information, contact Laura Lauffer, program coordinator, Local Farms and Food, The Cooperative Extension Program at A&T and N.C. Growing Together project, at 336- 285-4690 or ldlauffe@ncat.edu .

 

 

CAES faculty member helps company with breakthrough truffle harvest

Mycorrhiza Biotech, a Burlington company with ties to N.C.  A&T, has achieved a breakthrough harvest in truffles, the hard-to-grow, mushroom-like, underground, edible fungus associated with upscale restaurants and gourmet cooking, in only two years.151105Truffles006ed2 copy

CEO Nancy Rosborough credits her partnership with A&T – especially the Mushroom Biology and Fungal Biotechnology laboratory, led by Dr. Omon Isikhuemhen – and the N.C. Biotechnology Center, as being instrumental in the company’s success.

“If not for their support, we would have closed our doors years ago,” says Rosborough, whose company, Mycorrhiza, takes its name from the mutually beneficial relationship between the fungus from which the truffle grows, and the root system of the tree on which it depends.

“This company is running on the science we did together,” Isikhuemhen says, noting the inoculated seedlings his lab provided the company several years ago. “We did the lab research, then moved to the field, and now, we have truffles.”

With the recent harvest, the company has become the first to gather expensive white truffles from the roots of loblolly pine trees, and in such a short time; truffles usually take four to six years to mature. Both the truffle and the tree repressent a significant step forward in the development of what Rosborough and Isikhuemhen say could become an important cash crop for North Carolina. The truffle’s high market price – more than $500 per pound, compared with historically-lucrative tobacco’s $2.70 per pound – makes it worth cultivating, while loblolly pines are the most commercially important tree in the southeast and the second most common tree in the nation.

“Truffles only need an acre or two,” Rosborough says. “If there are 500 trees on an acre, a grower only needs to use some of them for truffles to make more money than he or she could by timber-harvesting the entire acre – and the grower still has the trees.”

As lucrative as they can be, truffles have struggled to catch on as a commodity crop because of the difficulty growing them. Soil and water conditions, and the condition of the tree host, must be managed. 151105Truffles014ed2 copyCertain climate conditions must be present: truffles like hot summers and cold winters. Since they grow underground, determining the size of the harvest – and whether it is present at all – can be difficult.  Research is ongoing to overcome some of these difficulties, Isikhuemhen said.

 

 

 

 

 

Crisis and risk in agriculture provide lessons for CAES students

Product recalls, foodborne-illness outbreaks, and potentially sensitive subjects such as sustainability, animal welfare and industry-worker’s rights are among the subjects covered in a new class this semester, offered by the CAES in collaboration with industry giant Tyson Foods.

“Risk and Crisis Communication Issues Management in the Agricultural Industry” meets 4-7 p.m. Wednesdays in Carver Hall, and was designed by Dr. Antoine Alston with input from Tyson and colleagues from the University of Florida’s agriculture program. The purpose is to teach students to recognize a variety of current issues within the industry, and provide them with strategies for effectively managing communications in times of trouble.

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Dr. Antoine Alston responds to questions in the risk management and crisis communications class, which has instructional support from Tyson Foods Inc.

“This course is unique in that industry and academia are coming together to provide real-world training on the challenges facing modern agriculture,” said Alston, CAES associate dean for academics. “We appreciate the support from Tyson Foods to make this class a reality.”

The class’s subject matter will be presented by videoconference each week from Tyson officials and Dr. Jaron Jones, an A&T alumnus now on faculty at the University of Florida. Students will be required to develop social-media campaigns, speeches, videos and issues-briefing guides aimed at analyzing the issue presented.

The course came about from a desire expressed by Tyson Foods’s former CEO, Donnie Smith, on a visit to the CAES last year. During his visit, he said that he had always wanted to partner with an agricultural university to offer a risk and crisis communications class to students.

“The threads of this class were in others we were teaching, and we pulled it all together,”  Alston said. “We wanted the students to be able to help the public separate myth from fact, since agriculture is an industry where there are so many concerns today about the origin of food and fiber.”

Chelsea Wiggins, a senior animal-science industry major, responds to an issue.

The course will be evaluated at the end of the semester. If all goes well, the course be offered again with Tyson still involved, and may be promoted as a national model for collaboration with an industry partner. The course’s ultimate impact will be the training it provides future agricultural professionals in how to inform and influence decisions about difficult situations, Alston said.

“We’re proud to support A&T and these future leaders of agriculture,” said Krista Cupp, senior manager of communications for Tyson Foods. “These students understand agriculture better than anyone, so it’s really about teaching them to communicate effectively to the average consumer about where their food comes from.”

Mozambican Fellows at A&T to study child-lunch programs

Five agricultural professionals from Mozambique, southeastern Africa, will visit the CAES next week to learn about the U.S. system of school-lunch programs. Their two-week stay in the U.S. is funded with a $79,000 grant to the CAES from the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service Cochran Fellowship Program.

Faculty and staff from the CAES and the rest of campus are invited to a reception for the Mozambican Fellows from 10 to 11 a.m. Thursday, at C.H. Moore, room A-16.  The visit is coordinated by CAES faculty members, Dr. Paula Faulkner, principal investigator on the grant, along with co-principal investigators  Drs. Salam Ibrahim and Meeshay Williams-Wheeler.

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Faulkner
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Ibrahim

 

 

 

 

Williams-Wheeler

 

Cochran Fellows are provided short-term stays, usually of two to three weeks, to train at universities, government agencies and private companies to help develop their countries’ agricultural-based systems.  They seek to enhance their skills and technical knowledge related to agricultural trade, agribusiness development, management, policy and marketing. Ultimately, the goal is to help strengthen trade between eligible countries and the United States.

During their A&T-based stay, the Mozambican Fellows will attend classes, lectures and food-science laboratories on campus, but they’ll also take field trips to such locations as public school cafeterias, school gardens, food processing plants and cultural sites.

“We want to provide the fellows with an understanding of how the United States government formulates and implements the National School Lunch Program, and what the agricultural sector is doing to increase school nutrition practices,” Faulkner says. “We want to help Mozambique with their food- and-market systems, with the long-term goal of expanding trade between their country and ours through food-assistance networks.”

Since its start in 1984, the Cochran Program has provided training for more than 16,300 fellows from more than 120 countries that are either considered middle income, or with emerging markets and emerging democracies.

New development director joins CAES

170119Lewter001ed2The CAES welcomes its new development director, Justin Lewter, who joined the college in mid-December. Lewter’s focus includes partnering with alumni, faculty, staff and the community to raise resources and capital for the CAES. His office is in Webb Hall.

No stranger to the HBCU experience, Justin graduated from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in history in 1993. After graduation, he taught in Brooklyn, N.Y.,  and moved to North Carolina in 1996. In Greensboro, Lewter worked 17 years with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), beginning here as a district executive and ending his tenure as the director of exploring for the Southern Region in Irving, Texas. In 2008, Justin published “Why Scouting Works for Black Boys,” a text designed to promote the value of scouting to the black community. His work with youth and the BSA, led to a Community Fellowship from the Foundation of the Carolinas and the Carolina Panthers to study at Queens University in Charlotte, where in 2011 he earned an MBA and coaching certification.

Lewter is married to Dr. Kim Sexton-Lewter and the couple have four children.

 

CAES professors teach Scouts about STEM

When more than 350 Boy Scouts, ages 11 to17, descended on N.C. A&T in December to learn about STEM disciplines – that’s science, technology, engineering and math – two CAES professors in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Design were on hand to help them learn.

Dr. Bill Randle helped a group of Scouts earn the horticulture badge on the main campus, and Dr. Charles Raczkowski took 20 Scouts to the University Farm to learn enough about soil and water conservation to earn a corresponding badge. Both sessions were held  Dec. 10 as part of the Scouts’ STEM Merit Badge College program.Charles Raczkowski 2011ed3 William Randle yellow 2011ed3

“They loved the hands-on,” Raczkowski said of the Scouts. “We took core (soil) samples and had them guess what the levels where. We talked about what soil’s issues were and how to manage those issues. They had to dig, feel, listen and speculate. We had them grab the soil and feel it.”

A lifelong Scout himself, Dr. Raczkowski was a logical person for the Scouts to contact when recruiting instructors for the STEM Merit Badge College, the fourth to be held at A&T. The Scout program enlists experts in a STEM field to volunteer to teach a variety of disciplines to the Scouts in a one-day intensive. Twenty badges were taught to the Scouts in December, on locations all across campus. Some of the other courses held at A&T included engineering, computer programming, architecture and video game design.

Ag vocational educators pay it forward to the CAES

Willie J. Randolph remembers how he pushed lawnmowers, bussed tables, washed dishes, and picked cotton and tobacco to raise money for tuition to complete his degree at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University 50 years ago.

Despite all that hustle, Randolph, class of 1968, was $500 short one year. Dr. A.P. Bell, one of Randolph’s professors, and the late Dr. Burleigh C. Webb, dean of A&T’s College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, helped him find the remainder of the tuition money through scholarships.

So two weeks ago, Randolph and a quartet of his fellow CAES alumni paid that generosity back … and forward. They awarded $25,555.91 to the CAES for student scholarships and possibly to start an endowment.

“I am what I am because of what A&T did for me,” says Randolph, a retired vocational agriculture teacher. “Because of A&T, I think we have made some influences and made some students have a better future.” 

Randolph, of Fayetteville, along with Willie J. Walls of Chadbourn, Marvin Rountree of Rocky Mount, Robert A. Fairley Sr. of Maxton, and Walter C. Jones of Tarboro, presented the check to Dr. Antoine Alston, CAES associate dean for academic studies. They asked that the award be specifically used to support the scholarship fund started by their friend, mentor and retired A&T professor  Bell, who was present for the announcement and the award.

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Retired CAES faculty member , Dr. A.P. Bell, tan jacket, displays the check from Willie J. Randolph (center), that retired vocational ag teachers and A&T alumni presented to Dr. Antoine Alston (far right). The $25,500 donation will support student scholarships.

“It makes me feel good that they recognize and appreciate it (the scholarship) and that they think so highly of me, A&T and the state of North Carolina,” Bell said. “I’m deeply appreciative.” Continue reading Ag vocational educators pay it forward to the CAES

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