All posts by Laurie Gengenbach

Workshops show growers how to extend growing season

High tunnels can be used for season extension and natural resources conservation.
High tunnels can be used for season extension and natural resources conservation.

CAES faculty who work with vegetable growers will want to point them toward several upcoming workshops on high tunnel vegetable production that The Cooperative Extension Program has organized for different climatic regions across the state.

Geared toward producers selling into wholesale markets, as well as toward Extension agents who are assisting growers with wholesale market expansion, this full-day, hands-on workshop will offer a variety of tools to assist growers in maximizing the efficient use and profitability of high tunnels. Presenters from The Cooperative Extension Program and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will discuss various high-tunnel equipment vendors, as well as updates on regional marketing strategies and federal funding for high tunnel construction.

“Season extension is one way that farmers can access markets six weeks longer, and really capitalize on their vegetable production,” says Laura Lauffer, coordinator for local farms and foods for The Cooperative Extension Program.

Two sessions of “Season Extension with High Tunnels – Maximizing Use & Producing Profits” have been scheduled; both are 8:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.; cost is $25 and participants may register online through the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS):

  • Monday, Nov. 21 at the Ashe County Cooperative Extension Center, 134 Government Circle, Suite 202, Jefferson, N.C. 28640. Registration  deadline is Nov. 17.
  • Monday, Dec. 12 at the Sandhills Research Station, 2148 Windblow Road, Jackson Springs, N.C. 27281-9124. Registration deadline for that session is Dec. 7.

Both days will conclude with high-tunnel farm tours. The Ashe County workshop will include information about high tunnel features that are important for extended season growing in the southern Appalachian mountain region, while the Jackson Springs workshop, will provide information about high tunnel features that are important for the Sandhills region.

An additional three sessions have been scheduled for 2017: February 9 in Onslow County; March 27 at Lomax Farm in Cabarrus County, and March 30 at the North Carolina A&T State University Farm in Guilford County. Details and registration for these workshops will be posted at the CEFS website in December.

For more information about these workshops, or other initiatives from N.C. A&T in support of local farms and foods, contact Lauffer at The Cooperative Extension Program at (336) 285-4690 or (919) 444-1478, or emailing her at

Dairy food safety training scheduled Oct. 5

In keeping with the CAES’s Local Food & Health Initiative, The
160318-poerter-myrick-130ed2Cooperative Extension Program has organized a food safety training class for dairy producers 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5 in Coltrane Hall on the N.C. A&T campus. Cost is $40 which includes a workbook and training by Dr. Michele Pfannenstiel, CEO of Dirigo Food Safety a nationally recognized authority on dairy food safety. Registration deadline is Monday, Oct. 3.

This class for cheese makers and dairy producers will focus on the basics of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) and documented food safety planning, a topic of critical importance to anyone in the dairy industry.

“HACCP training allows farmers to assure a safe product to meet a growing consumer demand for locally produced artisanal cheeses and dairy products,” says Laura Lauffer, project coordinator of local farms and food for A&T’s Cooperative Extension Program.

Participants will learn how to write standard operating procedures (SOPs), write process-flow diagrams, describe their product accurately and understand value added dairy operations. At the end of the course, participants will earn a certificate in Food Safety for Value Added Dairy Production.

Farmers and others interested in artisanal dairy production should register online and click on “Artisanal, Safe and Efficient: The Way Forward for Dairy Producers”

CAES Homecoming Celebration scheduled

Alumni who preregister online will get a first class "boarding pass" to the buffet line.
Alumni who preregister online will get a first class “boarding pass” to the buffet line.

The Greatest Homecoming on Earth is approaching, and as always, the CAES will host the greatest welcome-back-alumni cookout on earth during its annual CAES Homecoming Celebration.

This year, the celebration will be 1 – 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28, on the lawn of B.C. Webb Hall.  On the program are fun games; great food by David Pittman, (class of ’97); dynamic entertainment by DJ, Courtney Lawrence, (class of 2009);  and the opportunity to reconnect with old friends, faculty and students. The CAES will also have a table for alumni to donate to the CAES and/or the department or program of their choice.

Alumni can show up without reserving in advance — but those who do so online will be privileged with a first-class “boarding pass” for seating, and for the buffet line.  Alumni can find the online registration form by visiting the CAES homepage, and clicking on “Alumni.”

This year, the CAES cookout revolves around the theme, “The CAES Footprint.”

“The event will be an opportunity for faculty and staff to share the many ways CAES makes strides, steps up to challenges, and keeps pace with 21st century change, thus leaving a positive imprint across North Carolina through relevant research, Cooperative Extension outreach, and academic programs that serve industry and society,” says Dr. Antoine Alston, associate dean for academic studies, and chair of the CAES homecoming committee.

Showcase of Excellence a success

Brenda Searcy, a CAES administrative support associate and a master's student majoring in Agricultural Education, shows her poster describing her study abroad experience in Belize.
Brenda Searcy, a CAES administrative support associate and a master’s student majoring in Agricultural Education, shows her poster describing her study abroad experience in Belize.

A record 75 CAES students presented an enormous array of their summer academic experiences during the annual Showcase of Excellence, Sept. 7 in B.C. Webb Hall. The student experiences spanned the gamut of agricultural fields, and included corporate internships, study abroad, and independent research projects at N.C. A&T and other universities or government agencies.

After conversing with students and viewing posters that described key experiences and lessons learned, university and CAES administrators congratulated participants on their achievements, in a concluding ceremony.

“To take knowledge from the classroom and utilize it in a meaningful way … that’s what education is all about,” said A&T Provost Joe B. Whitehead.

Dr. Antoine Alston, CAES associate dean for academic studies praised students’ efforts, urging them to pursue a life that is “more about substance than show,” and to seek advanced degrees and lifelong learning.

“You represent the best of the best,” said Alston, who is the Showcase coordinator.

Each student received a certificate, and several received awards. Award recipients, in three categories were:

  • Graduate Research Poster — First place: Yvette Robbins, a master’s student in Integrated Animal Health Systems, for research at the National Institutes of Health; second place: Rohit Ranabhat, Ph.D. candidate in Energy and Environmental Systems, for research in the CAES’s Food and Nutritional Sciences Program; two third-place winners: Sarah Adjei-Fremah, Ph.D. candidate in Energy and Environmental Systems, for research in the CAES’s Department of Animal Sciences, and Si Zhu, Ph.D. candidate in Energy and Environmental Systems, for research conducted at the CAES’s Center for Excellence in Post-Harvest Technologies.
  • Undergraduate Research Poster – First place: Malaycia Goldsmith, an Animal Science major, for research in Multicultural Academic Opportunities at Virginia Tech; also winning 1st was Jasmine Hall, a Child Development and Family Studies major, for research in the CAES’s Department of Family and Consumer Sciences; second place: Sabrina Victorin, an Animal Science major, for research at Iowa State University.
  • Best Study Abroad/Internship Poster – First place: Kayla Harris, an Agricultural Education major, for an internship with the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service; second place: Jacoby Shipman, a Biological Engineering major, for an internship with Boston Scientific; third place: Karina Relatado, a Biological Engineering major, for an internship with Abbot Laboratories.
A record 75 students participated in the 2016 CAES Showcase of Excellence
A record 75 students participated in the 2016 CAES Showcase of Excellence

Seminar on campus entrepreneurship scheduled

Dr. Kathleen Liang, the W.K. Kellogg Endowed Professor in Sustainable Community-Based Food Systems for the College of 160817 Kathleen Liang 001ed3Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (CAES), will deliver a seminar describing an entrepreneurship curriculum for college campuses. Liang will present “Dollar Enterprise – Creating an Integrated Experiential Learning Opportunity for Entrepreneurship Education,” 2 – 3 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13 in Room 262, Carver Hall.

The seminar was coordinated through the CAES’s Department of Agribusiness, Applied Economics and Agriscience Education. Dollar Enterprise, a highly ranked entrepreneurship curriculum, motivates learners to directly apply entrepreneurship theories to plan and operate small ventures on college campuses. Dollar Enterprise strives to create the maximum impact on generating products, services and learning, by using $1 seed money, per person, with a combination of local sourcing and recycle, reuse, renew, and up-cycle concepts. It allows budding entrepreneurs to gain knowledge, skills, and practical experience simultaneously about entrepreneurial transformation, new venture creation, and community engagement. Liang has prior experience with developing an entrepreneurship curriculum, from her prior position as professor at the University of Vermont.

Research publication: Tahergorabi

Dr. Reza Tahergorabi in the Department of Family and ConsumerReza Tahergorabi Sciences has published a study of a functional food product that
incorporates oat bran fiber into surimi, a popular processed seafood product, often marketed as imitation crab legs. “Physicochemical properties of Alaska pollock (Theragra chalcogramma) surimi gels with oat bran,” was published in volume 66 of LWT – Food Science and Technology, an academic journal.

Natural resources student to participate in national congress

Aaron Cinque, a senior majoring in Agricultural and Environmental Systems with a concentration on Sustainable Land Management, has been selected to participate in the third National Student Congress on Public Land Policy for Land Management. The conference is sponsored by the Public Lands Foundation (PLF) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Las Cruces District.  The event is scheduled for September 8-11 in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Cinque, whose faculty mentor is Dr. Charles Raczkowski, a professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Design, will join 20 other students who will engage with policy makers, current and former federal land managers and academicians to discuss public land policy in the face of a changing environment.

“I’ve been interning with Sandhills Area Land Trust, a community-based conservation organization in southeastern North Carolina, this summer,” Cinque said.  “After completing my degree at A&T State University, I plan to pursue a career in land conservation and native ecosystem rehabilitation.”

Small Farms Field Day scheduled June 30

Collard connoisseurs rejoice. Researchers at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University are demonstrating environmentally friendly methods to reduce bugs on the greens, during the 15th annual Small Farms Field Day. The annual showcase of agricultural technology and techniques is scheduled from 8:15 a.m. to noon, Thursday, June 30 at the University Farm, 3136 McConnell Road in Greensboro.

Sponsored by The Cooperative Extension Program at N.C. A&T, the event shows farmers and gardeners how to increase food productivity, maximize income and promote environmental stewardship. The general public is encouraged to attend the free, rain-or-shine event, as well.

With the collards tour, researchers have planted a decoy crop to attract pests and divert them away from the main crop of Georgia Southern collard. Considered trap cropping, the technique uses Integrated Pest Management and results in reduced pesticides on both the greens and the greater environment.

This year’s Field Day also offers tours of:

  • Cover crops for organic high tunnels
  • Organic heirloom tomatoes, with improved selection
  • Black cohosh and goldenseal in high tunnels
  • Healthy goats raised without antibiotics or drugs
  • Broiler houses, and which energy source is best for them

Demonstrations and poster discussions will feature information on making healthy yogurt at home, food safety, flour made from grape pomace, and agromedicine and health screenings.

For more information or to register call 336.285.4661or email

Landscape Architecture student receives national honor


David Duperault, a recent graduate of the Landscape Architecture Program,  has been named a 2016 University Olmstead Scholar finalist by the Washington-based Landscape Architecture Foundation.

The Olmstead Awards are recognized as among the premier national student awards in the field of landscape architecture, according to Anna Reaves, assistant professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Design , who nominated Duperault for the award.

The program recognizes and supports students with exceptional leadership potential who are using ideas, influence, communication, services and leadership to advance sustainable planning and design and to foster human and societal benefits. Duperault was selected from among 32 undergraduates and 45 graduates who were nominated by faculty across the nation, and was one of six finalists who received $1,000 each in recognition of the honor.

Duperault’s project while a student included working with the Center for Community Engaged Design at UNC-Greensboro to design a moveable farmer’s market for a local neighborhood. He was also one of the SAES’s Undergraduate Research Scholars, completing an independent research survey of homeowners’ preferences for native replacement of invasive plants.

As a non-traditional student, Duperault already had significant experience on his resume, including service as project and construction manager for Habitat for Humanity in Greensboro. Like most SAES students, he had a job offer by the time he graduated.

Duperault is working as landscape designer for Borum, Wade and Associates P.A., a Greensboro engineering and surveying firm.