Dr. Kenrett Jefferson-Moore and Dr. Paula Faulkner attended two related events in January in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, Cambodia: the annual meeting of the Sustainable Intensification Innovation Lab and the First International Sustainable Agricultural Intensification and Nutrition Conference.
The North Carolina Agribusiness Council will meet 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Sept. 7 in the Edward B. Fort Interdisciplinary Research Center, Room 410.
Erica Upton Peterson, CEO and executive vice president of the N.C. Agribusiness Council, is a member of the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Advisory Board. The Advisory Board includes experts representing a spectrum of agricultural industries and organizations, government agencies, and financial and educational systems.
Formed in 1969, the N.C. Agribusiness Council seeks to advance agribusiness interests and programs, thereby increasing employment and expanding opportunity. Agribusiness contributes more than $84 billion to the state’s economy and employs 686,000 in North Carolina, according to the council’s website.
The CAES has spent much of the first quarter of 2017 recruiting more agricultural graduates from North Carolina community colleges to transfer their credits to the online 2+2 Agricultural Education Program offered at N.C. A&T. Led by Dr. Antoine Alston, associate dean for academic studies, the CAES has inked
agreements with Beaufort, Isothermal, Mitchell, South Piedmont, Wayne and Wilkes County community colleges in the past three months. The agreements with the six new community colleges are now included with articulation agreements for 14 other community colleges throughout the state.
Graduates of community colleges with agricultural related associate degrees will get two years of course credit when they’re ready to enroll in the CAES’s 4-year online agricultural education programs.
“The College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at A&T is very excited to partner with these institutions,” Alston says. “Providing access and educational opportunities to North Carolina residents is one of the primary strategic goals of our university and our college.”
The agricultural education degree program comprises two study tracks based on a student’s interest. The Agricultural Education (secondary education) track is designed for individuals who have an interest in becoming secondary agricultural educators in the public school system. The Agricultural Education (professional service) track is for individuals interested in government, agribusiness, international agriculture, and Cooperative Extension careers.
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.
“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.”
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.”
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.
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.
Dr. Kenrett Jefferson-Moore, a professor and agribusiness coordinator at N.C. A&T, has been appointed to the National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics Advisory Board by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. During her three-year term, Jefferson-Moore will advise the panel and the agriculture undersecretary on issues ranging from climate change to specialty crop production. The board is composed of 25 members, each representing a specific category relating to agriculture. Bringing the perspective of an 1890 land-grant college and university to the panel, and making it more aware of those colleges’ unique strengths and challenges, will be a great opportunity, Jefferson-Moore says: “I am honored to have been chosen, and I hope to represent the university well.”
DeShawn Blanding, a sophomore biological engineering major at N.C. A&T, has been elected Southern region vice president of the National FFA. His election makes him one of only six African Americans to achieve this distinction and the first from an HBCU.
Chastity Warren English, faculty advisor of A&T’s collegiate FFA chapter, says that Blanding has what it takes to succeed as a national officer.
“The Collegiate FFA Chapter at N.C. A&T is ecstatic about DeShawn’s new role,” Warren English says. “I am especially proud because I know he dedicated an abundance of time to making his dream become reality.
“He has such a humble spirit and a desire to learn. He is also a friendly young man, and open to working with diverse groups of people.”
Each year at the National FFA’s Convention and Expo, six students are selected by delegates to represent the organization as national officers. Delegates elect a president, a secretary and vice presidents representing regions of the country. In his new role, Blanding will take a sabbatical next year to travel the country. National officers commit to a year of service to the organization, visiting FFA chapters, hosting state and local conventions and meeting FFA members. Each officer will also meet with business and industry professionals, government and education officials, and will lead personal growth and leadership training conferences for FFA members throughout the country.
“It means so much to be able to be a minority voice and a leader on the team that has brought so much to me,” Blanding says, describing FFA as equal parts agriculture and leadership. “To be able to influence the 649,000 members of the organization is a great opportunity, and I’m fortunate to have it.’’
Blanding credits CAES faculty with developing his skills to take advantage of this position, by pushing him and others “outside your comfort zone” and preparing students for leadership roles.
Blanding has been involved with the FFA since high school in South Carolina, where it was the first organization he joined. In high school, he was a chapter officer and the state vice president his senior year. “I didn’t have an ag background coming into this organization,” he says. “The FFA introduced me to ag and brought me out of my comfort zone. Now, I have a huge interest in ag – it has basically been my life for the past five years.”
Helping other students find their passions will be the most enjoyable aspect of his new office, adding that: “I can’t wait to help students who aren’t familiar with agriculture know about FFA.”
Warren English points out that Blanding’s election is also a milestone historically.
“At one time, we had an organization named the New Farmers of America (NFA), which began in 1935 as a national organization for African American farm youth to promote agricultural leadership, skills and character. In 1965, when the NFA merged with the National FFA, the organization consisted of 1,004 chapters in 12 states, and had more than 50,000 members.
“DeShawn being elected as a national officer, who attends a(n) HBCU, represents the 50,000 African American members who came before him.”
A meeting of the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development (BIFAD) at A&T brought attention to pressing global issues of poverty and hunger, as well as some advice for funding agencies from faculty members who regularly work in agricultural development overseas. The seven member board, which advises the United States Agency for International Development, includes Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr., and met on campus May 18-20.
A panel from SAES included Dr. Manuel Reyes, Dr. Osei Yeboah, and Dr. Anthony Yeboah, who all suggested that funding agencies find ways to translate research data into action on the ground.
Reyes buttressed an impassioned plea for conservation agriculture with photos of rain forest destruction from all over the globe, often the result of cash-poor nations engaging with multinational corporations to plant monocultures, such as pineapple, which are chemical dependent and can deplete soils. Conservation agriculture, on the hand, protects soil while providing income, he said, and advocated more investment in infrastructure to educate farmers.
“What we need to do is scale up, because we know it (conservation agriculture) works,” Reyes said.
Both Drs. Anthony and Osei Yeboah advocated for more funding for Extension personnel in developing nations, to insure that the research-based innovations are more widely adopted, and so that the host countries will have a sense of ownership over implementation.
“Extension will provide the means for ownership,” Dr. Anthony Yeboah said.
More about the BIFAD conference can be found here:
Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to register for the 2016 SAES Student Awards Celebration, (http://bit.ly/saesawards ). This year’s celebration is scheduled for 6 – 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 28 in the Academic Classroom Building Auditorium. Pass the Torch speakers will be Taylor Johnson, representing the Department of Agribusiness, Applied Economics and Agriscience Education; Kayla Castevens of the Department of Animal Sciences; Elizabeth Martino of the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, and Maddie Keefer of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Design. Academic department awards will be presented, and students who have earned various honors through the 2015-16 academic year will be recognized. Hors d’oeuvres will be served.
When most people hear the word “agriculture” they think farming; and while that activity is the bedrock and sustainer of all agricultural industries, farming represents just one aspect of the “A” in N.C. A&T. That’s why each year, the School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences hosts the Agricultural Literacy Fest during National FFA Week for middle and high school students. This year’s event drew approximately 300 students, representing 17 school from across North Carolina.
The program included an academic career fair, tours of the N.C. A&T University Farm, and a luncheon of North Carolina pork barbecue. Also featured were presentations by representatives from ROTC and the United States Department of Agriculture.
“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. It can prepare them for medical school, or a career in the fashion industry, or environmental science to name just a few. Many of our graduates have exciting professions, travelling the world or working for corporate America in major cities,” said Dr. Antoine Alston, associate dean for academic studies.
The School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences also prepares students for careers in agricultural economics, veterinary and animal sciences, biotechnology, biological engineering, family sciences and child development, food and nutritional sciences, sustainable land management, landscape architecture and urban horticulture, family finance, and more.
Attendance at the 2016 International Production & Processing Expo in Atlanta, Jan. 26-28, paid off for 16 SAES students who were offered summer internships or full time jobs during the event. The expo featured 38 agricultural industries seeking potential employees for internships and jobs. The SAES strives to connect students to future job opportunities through hosting career fairs on campus, and facilitating student participation in industry events such as this expo, which is known as the largest annual trade show for the poultry, meat and feed industries. The SAES had 21 student participants.
Three students received full time job offers from Tyson Foods Inc. They are animal science majors Shatise Miller and Jana Williams, and Amber Wortham, an animal industry major, who also received job offers from Cal-Maine and Sanderson Farms.
Most of the students attending received offers of paid summer internships, including Anthony Dillard, a sophomore in animal science, who received an offer to intern with Mountaineer.
Students and their majors who received offers of summer internships with Tyson Foods Inc. are: Christina Bradshaw, animal science; Caleb Bryson, animal science; Zavier Eure, animal science; Oriana Goldsmith, animal science (also received offer of an internship with Mountaineer); Chelsea Horton, animal science; Elizabeth Martino, food science; Johnathan Sales, agribusiness, (also received an offer to intern at Hendrix Genetics); Daisha Peele, animal science; Kevin Todd, animal science; Kiyha Toler, animal industry; Chelsea Wiggins, animal industry, and Taylor Williams, animal science.
Small farmers are the backbone of North Carolina’s agricultural sector, yet too many of them still don’t know how to connect to the many resources that USDA offers. Up to 44 percent lack information about programs that could help them strengthen their farm businesses, according to Dr. Osei Yeboah, interim director of the L.C. Cooper Jr. International Trade Center. To address the issues, he has developed a project that includes conferences and workshops to connect small farmers, ranchers and veterans across the state to USDA resources.
A two-day conference Yeboah organized in January drew 110 farmers to Raleigh to learn about the programs and outreach that the department provides, including loans and technical assistance. Dr. Valerie Giddings, the SAES’s interim associate dean for research, provided opening and closing remarks.
“It was an excellent conference and was very effective in bridging the information gap,” she said, noting that the conference included many practical “how tos” for farmers, including how to: treat the farm as a business; apply a value-added perspective to food production; establish a strong infrastructure; form hubs and co-ops for distribution of farm products; use assistive technology; give children interest in the farm business; seek grant funding to support business innovations, and more.
The conference featured directors from USDA’s many programs, including its Office of Advocacy and Outreach. Larry Hartsfield, N.C. A&T’s liaison for the USDA 1890 Program, a scholarship program for undergraduates, was also on the program, representing the Office of Advocacy and Outreach.
Yeboah has also facilitated a menu of learning modules on an array of topics, available to farmers’ organizations. Topics include: entrepreneurship; financial planning; direct marketing strategies; strategies for farming while disabled (AgrAbility); land-resource valuation; tax planning for farms, and for cooperatives; farm recordkeeping and accounting; organizing cooperatives; farm succession planning; product and market feasibility; farm innovation development; crop, soil and water needs; drip irrigation systems; soil analysis; specialty vegetables; value-added business planning; use of iPhone and Android in production agriculture, and more. For more information on how to start planning a workshop on these topics, contact Yeboah at email@example.com or 336-285-4727.
The conference and workshops are organized through Yeboah’s project, “Developing an Information Technology-Based Outreach Program to Strengthen the Linkage between Socially Disadvantaged Farmers, Ranchers, and Veterans and USDA Offices,” and is funded by USDA’s Office of Advocacy and Outreach.
Agritourism is a growing opportunity for North Carolina farmers, as evidenced by the hundreds of listings of farms that offer the opportunity for consumers to pick their own produce, cut their Christmas trees, meander through a corn maize or sip a taste of wine.
The North Carolina Agritourism Networking Association is in its 10th year of offering conferences for agritourism operators to share ideas.
Dr. Anthony Yeboah, chair of the Department of Agribusiness, Applied Economics and Agriscience Education, who has been researching the trend as a tool for small farmers to improve the viability of their farms, was an invited speaker at the association’s recent annual conference. He delivered preliminary findings of his study, “Small Farm Agritourism as a Tool for Community Development in North Carolina” to the 10th annual Agritourism Conference held in Winston-Salem January 14-15.
Yeboah’s study opens a window to the demographic of farmers who offer agritourism, and reveals opportunities for those who don’t. Of the 195 responses to a survey he conducted, 68.5 percent said they provide agritourism – more than twice as many who said they do not. Other results included that most of the agritourism farms were less than 10 acres, and close to half of these had acreage deemed unsuitable for crop production. Most respondents also reported they were located very near a paved highway.
Results are still being compiled and Yeboah and his research team will use them to develop an outreach program to educate small and minority farmers about agritourism as an alternative farm enterprise.
Two agricultural education majors, Kamal Bell of Durham, a graduate student, and Justin Walker of Yanceyville, a junior have been awarded National Black Farmers Association scholarships from the FCA Foundation, the charitable arm of automobile manufacturer FCA US LLC.
Bell, a lateral-entry teacher at Lowe’s Grove Magnet Middle School in Durham, received his bachelor’s in Animal Science Industry, also from A&T’s School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. He said he intends to apply his education toward attaining a teaching license and becoming an agricultural entrepreneur. To start his venture, Bell is finalizing the purchase of land, while he continues to teach biotechnology, animals and anatomy at the middle school.
Walker, who at 23 is already a successful farmer and agricultural entrepreneur, is bucking that trend. His family has retained its Caswell County farmland for several generations, and Walker now is the sole manager, after the 2012 death of his grandfather, John O. “Pete” Walker. With experience growing tobacco, corn and soybeans, Walker is now turning his focus to conventional and organic vegetables. In addition to his college classes, this fall and winter will see him rebuilding a storm-damaged hydroponic greenhouse on his farm, and continuing to refine his mobile farmers-market venture, which he started last spring. That start-up was made possible by a Rural Advancement Foundation International grant, which funded an enclosed trailer. Walker, who accepts SNAP payments, often sets up his mobile market in communities that lack convenient access to fresh vegetables. Walker was also recognized in 2014, for placing second in the annual statewide Collegiate Discussion Meet, sponsored by the North Carolina Farm Bureau. (See http://www.ag.ncat.edu/wp/index.php/news-releases/aggie-comes-away-from-n-c-farm-bureau-competition-with-honors/ )
Bell and Walker were among 19 recipients from across the nation who were selected based upon several criteria, including academic performance, career goals and objectives, demonstrated leadership, and participation in agricultural and community activities. The scholarship was established to encourage more African Americans to pursue the many opportunities that exist in today’s agricultural professions, including food production.
“The plight of the black farmers and the loss of black-owned farms, have been major issues for well over a 100 years,” said John Boyd, Jr., president of the National Black Farmers Association. “In 1910, nearly 1 million black farm families owned over 15 million acres of land. Today, less than 45,000 black farm families own 3 million acres. The NBFA Scholarship program will begin to address black land loss.”
Information about how to apply for the 2016 National Black Farmers Association scholarship program will be available in early May at https://scholarsapply.org/blackfarmersassociation/.
Scholarships Support Development of a New Generation of African American Farmers
November 2, 2015 , Auburn Hills, Mich. – The FCA Foundation, the charitable arm of FCA US LLC, and the National Black Farmers Association (NBFA) today awarded more than $87,000 in scholarships to support the development of a new generation of African American farmers. Established in May 2015, the National Black Farmers Association Scholarship Program funded by the FCA Foundation awarded 19 scholarships to college students who are pursuing agriculture-related study. The FCA Foundation also announced it would fund up to $100,000 for a second year of the NBFA Scholarship program.
“Empowering young people with access to knowledge is transformational,” said Lesley Slavitt, Head of Civic Engagement – External Affairs, FCA US LLC. “Supporting entry to higher education will ensure that these future leaders galvanize the tools, skills and passion necessary to make meaningful change in the world and provide access to food security for generations.”
|$2,500 Scholarship Recipients|
|Kamal Bell, Durham, NC||North Carolina A&T State University||Agricultural Education|
|Anthony Bryant, Bronx, NY||Southwest Institute of Healing Arts||Urban Farming|
|Edra Fisher, Havana, IL||Lincoln Land Community College||Agriculture|
|$5,000 Scholarship Recipients|
|Demetrius Arnold, Marianna, AR||University Arkansas||Agricultural Technology|
|Victoria Bradley, Memphis, TN||Middle Tennessee State University||Agribusiness|
|Cameron Bradshaw, Jetmore, KS||Kansas State University||Agribusiness|
|Michael Coleman, Raymond, MS||Alcorn State University||Animal Science|
|Mykeldren Davis, Memphis, TN||Alcorn State University||Animal Science|
|Aaron Gauff, Zachary, LA||Lindenwood University||Accounting|
|Gabrielle Galvan, Granada Hills, CA||California Polytechnic State University||Animal Science|
|Danelle Solomon, Nashville, TN||Tennessee State University||Agriculture|
|Caria Hawkins, Glen Saint Mary, FL||Columbia Southern University||Environmental Management|
|Charisma Heath, Austell, GA||Fort Valley State University||Veterinary Science|
|Zaid Hightower, Cleveland, OH||Ohio State University||Psychology/Agriculture|
|Kahmron Hymes, Crossett, AR||University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff||Animal Science|
|John McKenzie, Kennesaw, GA||Tuskegee University||Nutrition Biology|
|Kristen Stigger, Memphis, TN||Tennessee State University||Agriculture Soil Science|
|Aaron Stripling, Austin, TX||Prairie View A&M University||Agriculture|
|Justin Walker, Elon, NC||North Carolina A&T State University||Agricultural Education|
Scholarship recipients were selected based upon several criteria, including academic performance, demonstrated leadership and participation in agricultural and community activities, and career goals and objectives.
“The plight of the black farmers and the loss of Black-owned farms, have been a major issue for well over a 100 years,” said John Boyd, Jr., President of the National Black Farmers Association. “In 1910, nearly 1 million Black Farm families owned over 15 million acres of land. Today, less than 45,000 black farm families own 3 million acres. The NBFA Scholarship program will begin to address black land loss.”
Information about how to apply for the 2016 NBFA scholarship program will be available in early May athttps://scholarsapply.org/blackfarmersassociation/.
About the National Black Farmers Association
The National Black Farmers Association is a non-profit organization representing African American farmers and their families in the United States. As an association, it serves tens of thousands of members nationwide. NBFA’s education and advocacy efforts have been focused on civil rights, land retention, access to public and private loans, education and agricultural training, and rural economic development for black and other small farmers.
About the FCA Foundation
Since 1953, the FCA Foundation, the charitable arm of FCA US LLC, has invested more $500 million in charitable organizations and initiatives that help empower people, and build strong, viable communities. The FCA Foundation invests in programs that generate meaningful and measurable societal impacts in the following areas:
- Education – programs that inspire young minds, particularly in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM);
- Military – programs that support financial and basic needs of military service members, veterans and their families;
- Multicultural/Diversity – programs that promote inclusion and opportunity for diverse populations; and
- Youth Development – programs that help young people develop the skills and leadership qualities to succeed in school, at work, and in life.
Additionally, FCA US seeks opportunities to support communities through its Motor Citizens® volunteer program. This innovative program enables FCA US salaried employees to use 18 hours of paid time each year to be an Engine for Change by investing their time and talents in community service projects.
Fifty-two SAES students delivered poster presentations describing what they did on their summer vacations, during the 4th annual Showcase of Excellence at B.C. Webb Hall Sept. 9. Unlike vacations of many students, the summer experiences SAES students described were mostly work and little play. Students worked in industry offices, government agencies, or university laboratories, conducting research or learning business practices. Others studied abroad, or participated in Cooperative Extension internships. Most programs in the SAES require students to complete an internship or some other form of experiential learning that complements their majors.
“The hands-on experience proves to be an invaluable asset to students, whether they are preparing for their first job interview, or their applications to graduate school, and that is why we stress the importance of these internships,” said Dr. Antoine Alston, associate dean for academic studies, and coordinator of the Showcase.
A Farm Safety Workshop was conducted in the Godfrey Room at Coltrane Hall on the campus of North Carolina A&T State University
Each summer the Department of Agribusiness, Applied Economics and Agriscience Education hosts the Institute for Future Agriculture Leaders (IFAL) – a week-long program for high school students interested in agriculture. The 2015 IFAL at A&T – the 28th – will be June 21-26. All the rising high school seniors accepted for the program are in the in the upper third of their classes.