NIFA Update - Oct. 14, 2020

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Editor: Kelly Sprute                                                                                    October 14, 2020

Making a Difference

Tom Hairgrove, checks on cattle at the Texas A&M Beef Center. Photo courtesy of Texas A&M AgriLife by Maggie Berger.

Tom Hairgrove, DVM, checks on cattle at the Texas A&M Beef Center, utilizing a tablet to store data. Photo courtesy of Texas A&M AgriLife by Maggie Berger.

Veterinarian Network and Mentoring Program Launching in Texas, New Mexico   

A group of Texas A&M AgriLife faculty are establishing a rural veterinarian network to provide education and assistance to make rural veterinary practices sustainable. Many rural large animal practices are operated by older vets, and younger veterinary professionals are going into pet care because it’s more lucrative, said Tom Hairgrove, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service cattle veterinary specialist in the Texas A&M University Department of Animal Science. That could lead to a reduction of rural large animal practices.

This project aims to shift focus from treatment to prevention – using a comprehensive herd health practices approach that can help prevent metabolic diseases, respiratory and reproductive diseases. By doing so, the practitioner becomes a greater asset to producers.

Hairgrove will lead the “Improving the Sustainability of Rural Veterinarians Through Mentoring, Targeted Education, Telemedicine and Monitoring of Disease Syndromes” project, funded by a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’ Veterinary Services Grant Program grant. For more information, read the Texas A&M University article.


Kate Fink

NIFA Welcomes New Congressional and Stakeholder Affairs Officer

Kate Fink joins NIFA as the Congressional and Stakeholder Affairs Officer.  Fink joins us from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but has spent considerable time with USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service. She has also worked in the House of Representatives as Legislative Director for two different members. Fink has over 20 years of Federal experience, of which 12 years have been spent working with Congress. In her roles, she has focused on customer service, communication, and legislative strategy to ensure that both the agency and Congress are getting what they need, while focusing on building stronger relationships to move the mission forward. Fink earned her Master's Degree in Public Policy from Georgetown University and her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science/Public Administration from the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point.

APLU Virtual Annual Meeting graphic

2020 APLU Annual Meeting Registration Now Open

For the first time in its 133-year history, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) Annual Meeting will be held virtually Nov. 9-11, 2020. This year’s theme is Resilience & Equity. According to APLU President Peter McPherson, the APLU Annual Meeting is still here to provide higher education leaders with an opportunity to strengthen our community with opportunities to share best practices and strategies while making lasting connections with colleagues from across North America. Click Here for the Cooperative Extension Section’s Guide to APLU/FANR Events which includes links to register for the APLU Annual meeting.  

News for You

UGA faculty holds a virtual professional development training session. Photo courtesy of UGA.

University of Georgia Professors Develop Ag Education Program for Teachers  

In collaboration with James Anderson, an associate professor in UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Paula Mellom and her team in the University of Georgia’s Mary Frances Early College of Education helped develop and deliver a training session for 17 agricultural education and science teachers from the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences and the Harold S. Vincent High School in Milwaukee. At the end of July, Anderson approached Mellom and her team about planning and implementing an online professional development workshop on culturally responsive pedagogy for the teachers in his project, which is part of a four-year, $300,000 grant awarded by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Anderson’s project will train 36 secondary educators to develop 180 culturally responsive agriculture and life sciences lessons to help make urban agriculture curricula more meaningful and relevant to students. For more information, read the UGA article.

UGA faculty helped agriculture educators during a two-day virtual professional development session. Photo courtesy of UGA.

Terry Bates looks at efficient vineyard technology to assess field conditions. Photo courtesy of Dan Bell.

New Grant Fuels Better Nutrient Management in Vineyards  

The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture has awarded a $676,000 grant to a pair of Cornell University researchers aiming to use high resolution sensors to help vineyard growers identify nutrient deficiencies. The researchers, Terry Bates, senior research associate at the Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Laboratory, and Justine Vanden Heuvel, professor of horticulture, are both from the Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Vanden Heuvel will develop a measurement mechanism that combines both ground-based sampling and satellite imaging to quantify where nutrient deficiencies are. One of the benefits to this monitoring approach is its accessibility and affordability to grape operations of all sizes. Bates has already been studying vineyard health through the Efficient Vineyard Project, and he will use this knowledge to develop nutrient sensors. For more information, read the Cornell University article.

Terry Bates assess field conditions. Photo courtesy of Dan Bell.

Wild E. Cat loves the Jersey cows at the UNH Organic Dairy Research Farm.

University of New Hampshire Scientists Receive Grant to Support Organic Dairy Industry 

Researchers with University of New Hampshire (UNH) College of Life Sciences and Agriculture have received a near $2 million grant to help organic dairies remain profitable in the face of ongoing dairy market changes. Led by scientists with the New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station, the research will develop new science-based management techniques to boost productivity and economic efficiency and, in turn, support the continued supply of New England organic dairy products locally and regionally. 

The $1,977,078 grant is among 20 recent awards by the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture to support the Organic Research and Extension Initiative. The 2020 grants, totaling more than $17 million, will fund research, education, and extension projects to improve yields, quality, and profitability for producers and processors who have adopted organic standards. For more information, read the UNH article.

Wild E. Cat loves the Jersey cows. Photo courtesy of UNH.

Award Announcements

NIFA Invests $4.8 Million to Support Tribal Students

NIFA recently awarded 20 New Beginning for Tribal Students grants. NIFA’s New Beginning for Tribal Students program makes competitive grants to land-grant colleges and universities to provide identifiable support specifically targeted for Tribal students. A land-grant college or university that receives this grant shall use funds for, but not limited to, recruiting; tuition and related fees; experiential learning; student services, including tutoring; counseling; academic advising; and other student services that would increase the retention and graduation rate of Tribal students enrolled at the land-grant college or university.

NIFA Invests $3.8 Million in Rural Health and Safety Education Grants

NIFA recently awarded 10 Rural Health and Safety Education grants. NIFA’s RHSE program projects are community-based outreach education programs, such as those conducted through human science extension outreach, that provide individuals and families with: information as to the value of good health at any age; information to increase individual or family’s motivation to take more responsibility for their own health; information regarding rural environmental health issues that directly impact human health; information about and access to health promotion and educational activities; and training for volunteers and health services providers concerning health promotion and health care services for individuals and families in cooperation with state, local, and community partners. Prevention and/or reduction of opioid misuse and abuse, per Congressional guidance, is a major focus of this program. A limited number of projects also focused on helping prevent spread of SARS-CoV-2 and in mitigating infection and transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in rural areas.

Tweet of the Week

NIFA tweets AgrAbility supports to farmers & ranchers with disabilities.