NIFA Update April 17

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Editor: Kelly Sprute                                                                                           April 17, 2019

Making a Difference provides a tool for beekeepers, gardeners, growers and land managers. Image courtesy of Pixabay. provides a tool for beekeepers, gardeners, growers and land managers. Image courtesy of Pixabay.

New Online Tool to Support Bees

A new online tool and community, called Beescape, enables beekeepers, or anyone interested in bees, to understand the specific stressors to which the bees in their managed hives, home gardens, or farms are exposed, according to researchers at Penn State. “Pollinators, particularly bees, play a vital role in supporting ecosystems in agricultural, urban, and natural landscapes,” said Christina Grozinger, distinguished professor of entomology and director of the Center for Pollinator Research in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences. “Nearly 90 percent of flowering plant species use pollinators to set seed and fruit, which animals and humans rely on for food.”

Grozinger noted that bees travel large distances, several kilometers from their hives in the case of honey bees, to find food for their babies. But it has been nearly impossible for a beekeeper, or anyone interested in understanding what the bees in their backyards or farms are experiencing, to know what stressors their bees might encounter during their trips. was designed to answer these questions and more. Read the full Penn State press release.

The research was supported by funding from NIFA and the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research, and the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center.


Robert (Bob) Green

NIFA Welcomes New Director of PARS

Robert (Bob) Green joins NIFA as the Director of Planning, Accountability and Reporting Staff (PARS). Prior to joining NIFA, Green held various positions in strategic planning, international business development, emergency management, training, workforce planning, health and safety, and reporting for two other USDA agencies: the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and Foreign Agricultural Service.  He was also the chief operating office for the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund, as well as the international business development director for United Technologies Corporation, Pratt & Whitney, and Hamilton Sundstrand. Green holds a master’s degree in environmental policy and management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a Master’s of Business Administration in finance and entrepreneurship from Babson College, and a Bachelor’s Degree in environmental engineering from Harvard College

Tara Weaver-Missick

NIFA Welcomes New Director of Communications

Tara Weaver-Missick joins NIFA as the Director of Communications. Weaver-Missick worked at Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in the Office of Communications. She was responsible for public affairs, media relations, editorial services, photography, graphic design, web content management, marketing and social media. Prior to that, Weaver-Missik was head of marketing in ARS’s Office of Technology Transfer. 

Missick began her federal career with the USDA's Human Nutrition Information Service working in the Office of the Administrator and the Office of Government and Public Affairs. Tara has a B.S. in Communications/Journalism and a M.S. in Management/Public Relations. Stop by room 1160 to say hello to Tara Weaver-Missik and welcome her to NIFA. 

Helen Chipman, NIFA’s National Program Leader for Food and Nutrition Education.

EFNEP Program Recognized for 50 Years of Service

The Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) congratulate, thank, and recognize all involved in the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) for their commitment and impact they have had on families in the United States for the last 50 years. Helen Chipman, NIFA’s National Program Leader for Food and Nutrition Education, represented EFNEP colleagues nationwide in receiving the resolution from ECOP.

USDA Message

USDA graphic symbol

USDA Update on Farm Bill Implementation Progress

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the implementation status of the 2018 Farm Bill. President Trump signed this Farm Bill into law on December 20, 2018 and the USDA promptly began implementation of key programs. USDA held several listening sessions with stakeholders and the public, specific to each agency’s respective mission areas.

“At USDA we are implementing the 2018 Farm Bill as quickly as possible. We know the programs that are renewed and updated in this farm bill are critical to farmers, ranchers, and producers as they plan for the future,” said Secretary Sonny Perdue. Read the full press release.


Webinar graphic from YouTube.

Supplemental and Alternative Crops

NIFA will hold a Supplemental and Alternative Crops (SAC) Fiscal Year 2019 informational webinar May 2, from 2 to 3 p.m. EDT. No need to register, just follow the SAC webinar link to join. Call-in number 1-888-844-9904, access code 308 412 5. Contact NIFA National Program leader, Ann Marie Thro for more information.

RFA Grant Announcements

Agriculture and Food Research Initiative - Education and Workforce Development

AFRI’s Education and Workforce Development (EWD) focuses on developing the next generation of research, education, and extension professionals in the food and agricultural sciences. In FY 2019, EWD invites applications in five areas: professional development for agricultural literacy; training of undergraduate students in research and extension; fellowships for predoctoral candidates; fellowships for postdoctoral scholars, and a brand new program for agricultural workforce training. Read the full EWD request for applications.

National Food and Agricultural Sciences Teaching Extension and Research Awards

The National Foood and Agricultural Sciences Teaching Extension and Research Awards (TERA) recognizes and promotes excellence in teaching, extension, and research in the food and agricultural sciences at a college or university.  Read the full TERA request for applications.

Veterinary Services Grant Program

The Veterinary Services Grant Program (VSGP) supports education and extension activities and practice enhancement initiatives that enable veterinarians, veterinary students, veterinary technicians, and veterinary technician students to gain specialized skills. The program also provides practices with additional resources (e.g., equipment, personnel) needed to more effectively mitigate veterinary service shortages in the United States. Read the full VSGP request for applications.

New Technologies for Ag Extension

The New Technologies for Ag Extension (NTAE) Competitive Grants Program provides funding for a cooperative agreement to “Enhancing Electronic Extension (E3)" a national web-based information and education delivery system. E3 engages land-grant institutions and the Cooperative Extension Service to provide objective, research-based scientific information to serve the needs of the public seeking real-time information to guide decisions. Read the full NTAE request for applications.

Rural Health and Safety Education Competitive Grants Program

The Rural Health and Safety Education Competitive Grants Program (RHSE) provides community-based, outreach education programs, that provide individuals and families better health information regarding rural environmental health issues directly impacting their communities. RHSE also provides training for volunteers and health services providers concerning health promotion and health care services. Read the full RHSE request for applications.

Supplemental and Alternative Crops

The Supplemental and Alternative Crops (SAC) Competitive Grants Program supports the development of canola as a viable supplemental and alternative crop in the United States. SAC program goals are to significantly increase crop production and/or acreage by developing and testing of superior germplasm, improving methods of planting, cultivation, and harvesting, and transferring new knowledge to producers via the cooperative extension system. Read the full SAC request for applications.