NIFA Update, Nov. 16

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The NIFA Update is a weekly compendium of news and information that may be of interest to Land-Grant and non-Land-Grant Universities, NIFA stakeholders, and other subscribers. Editor: Judy Rude

                                                                                                                                                                    Nov. 16, 2016

Success Story

Alaska Airlines Lands First Commercial Flight Using Biofuel

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines made history Monday flying the first commercial flight using alternative jet fuel made from forest residuals -- the limbs and branches that remain after managed forests are harvested.

The flight is the culmination of a five-year, $40 million research and education project supported by NIFA, and led by Washington State University and the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA). Launched in 2011, NARA has advanced research into biofuels and biochemicals, fostered the Northwest regional biofuel industry and helped educate tomorrow’s workforce on renewable energy.

Believed to be the world's first alternative jet fuel produced from wood, the blended fuel meets international standards, allowing it to be used safely for the commercial flight. The flight departed from Sea-Tac Airport at 8:20 a.m. and landed at Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C. and was met by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack at 4:10 p.m.

You can read more about the success story on NIFA's website.

“Engagement and Success of Land-Grant Universities and Colleges - Respecting Sovereignty, Serving the People and the Land”

On Sept. 22-23, 2016, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture hosted a meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyo., for 1994 and 1862 land-grant university (LGU) representatives. The meeting, themed “Engagement and Success of Land-Grant Universities and Colleges - Respecting Sovereignty, Serving the People and the Land,” was held for the purpose of having a candid and productive conversation between the 1994s and 1862s, to discuss ways to strengthen their relationship, and chart a course for a more collaborative and productive future.

According to the attendees, the meeting was positive, mutually respectful, and productive. A major outcome of the meeting was a list of six action items to be championed by various attendees. These action items include:

1. Pursue stable capacity funding for the 1994 institutions, which is similar to the Hatch/Smith Lever funding utilized by the 1862s and the Evans-Allen/1890 Extension funding utilized by the 1890s. 1994 LGU Champion: Steve Yanni, Bay Mills Community College; 1862 LGU Champions: Barry Dunn, South Dakota State; Fred Schlutt, Alaska-Fairbanks

2. Instill a more positive tribal orientation in NIFA. 1862 LGU Champion: Jeff Bader, Montana State; 1994 LGU Champion: To Be Announced

3. Pilot a Land-Grant University Multi/Pan-Jurisdictional Platform that provides a unique regional/multistate governance structure that provides an equal voice for all member land-grant universities. 1862 LGU Champion: Tom Coon, Oklahoma State; 1994 LGU Champion: Gary Halvorson, Sitting Bull

4. Given the comparatively quick turnover of 1994 University Presidents, provide training and mentorship early in their tenure regarding the land-grant university mission.  1994 LGU Champion: Charlene Carr, Institute of American Indian Arts; 1862 LGU Champion: Bev Durgan, Minnesota

5. Develop more opportunities for 1994s and 1862s to gather, plan, and coordinate. This could take the form of a partnership conference at the multistate or multi-institutional level.  1862 LGU Champion: Chris Boerboom, North Dakota State; 1994 LGU Champion: Amanda Sialofi, Illisagvik

6. Develop clearinghouse positions and/or duties at the regional or state level to encourage linkages between the 1994s and 1862 positions. 1994 LGU Champion: Brian Kowalkowski, College of the Menominee Nation; 1862 LGU Champion: Chuck Hibberd, Nebraska

A more detailed report of the meeting can be found here.

Rnady Johnson

New NIFA Division Director for Global Climate Change

Dr. George "Randy" Johnson has joined NIFA as the division director for Global Climate Change in the Institute of Bioenergy, Climate, and Environment. He was a lead developer and the first national lead of the USDA Climate Hubs before coming to NIFA. Johnson was the national program leader of genetics and climate change research for Forest Service's Research and Development. He was formerly a research geneticist at the Pacific Northwest Research Station and adjunct professor of forestry and forest genetics at Oregon State University. He was also a research geneticist at the U.S. National Arboretum (ARS), acting deputy director of the Pacific Southwest Research Station, and director of the New Zealand Radiata Pine Breeding Cooperative. Johnson received his Ph.D. in forest genetics from North Carolina State University. Johnson can be reached on 202-763-9036.


Rural America at a Glance Report

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack released Rural America at a Glance, 2016 Edition, an annual report by USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS).This report highlights the most recent indicators of social and economic conditions in rural areas, focusing on the U.S. rural economy, including employment, population, poverty, and income trends. Key economic indicators continue to show that rural America is rebounding. Rural unemployment continued to decline in 2015, dropping below 6 percent for the first time since 2007, and rural poverty rates have fallen. Median household incomes in rural areas increased by 3.4 percent in 2015, and rural populations have stabilized and are beginning to grow. Child food insecurity nationwide is at an all-time low.