NIFA Update - Feb. 16, 2022

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Editor: Lori Tyler Gula                                                                            February 16, 2022

Making a Difference

A Century of Farming: Black Farmers Partner with VSU to Help Family Operation Thrive screenshot

A Century of Farming: Black Farmers Partner with VSU to Help Family Operation Thrive

Virginia State University has worked with Virginia Cooperative Extension to generate ideas on how to improve the profitability of Black farmers. Although small-scale farms operated by producers of all races have fallen into bankruptcy, Black producers have lost the most land and businesses due to decades of discrimination and debt.

News from NIFA

Dr. Shannon Horrillo

NIFA Welcomes New Director for Division of Youth and 4-H

We welcome Dr. Shannon Horrillo, new director for NIFA’s Division of Youth and 4-H, in the Institute of Youth, Family and Community.

Dr. Horrillo brings to this position visionary expertise in leadership, administration, organizational development, program development, 4-H and positive youth development, and evaluation.

Prior to joining NIFA, she served as the interim Director of Extension and Associate Dean for Engagement in the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) and Associate Director of Extension at UNR. There, she provided leadership for research and educational programs pertaining to agriculture, community development, health and nutrition, horticulture, 4-H, personal and family development, and natural resources. Dr. Horrillo increased partnerships, multistate research and Extension activities, extramural funding, and enhanced programming to serve the needs of Nevada communities. She also developed recommendations on policies and procedures and developed and maintained an accountability system to effectively communicate program impacts to stakeholders.

Prior to joining UNR in August 2019, Dr. Horrillo served 11 years with University of California Cooperative Extension. She began her career as a county-based 4-H Youth Development Advisor, and then assumed the role of Associate Director of 4-H and, subsequently, Director of 4-H. As director, she provided insightful leadership and increased revenue and extramural funding that resulted in significant growth of 4-H – doubling enrollment over a five-year period and increasing engagement of Latino youths and families in 4-H. She developed new programs related to agriculture, natural resources, and college and career readiness.

Dr. Horrillo has authored 23 peer-reviewed publications and has secured over $15.4 million in extramural funding to support Extension programs. She has won numerous awards recognizing exceptional programming and service to Extension. Dr. Horrillo received her bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and doctorate from the University of California, Davis in the areas of child and human development.

NIFA Hall of Fame image.

NIFA Seeks Hall of Fame and Partnership Award Nominees 

Inductees into the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Hall of Fame have worked, coordinated or supported activities exemplifying NIFA’s excellence in any combination of research, education and Extension approaches on local, regional, national or international levels. Inductees have also demonstrated a measurable and positive impact on the lives of citizens and NIFA's mission to invest in and advance agricultural research, education and Extension to solve societal challenges. Nominations will be evaluated based on three weighted areas: measurable impact on NIFA; synergy of research, education and/or Extension; and endorsements/letters of support. Nominations must consist of a completed nomination form and up to three endorsements/letters of support. To learn more, visit the NIFA Hall of Fame Awards website.

NIFA also invites all Land-grant Universities, cooperating institutions and organizations supported by NIFA to submit nominations for the 2022 NIFA Partnership Awards Program. Nominations can be submitted for individuals or teams of up to 20 members. Complete details, instructions and the form are found on the NIFA Partnership Award webpage.

Winning nominations will be recognized at the NIFA Day of Appreciation in either June or July. Nominations must be e-mailed to Kelly Sprute no later than April 1. Please include "Award Nomination Submission" in the email subject line.

NIFA Hall of Fame image.

National Family and Consumer Sciences Educator Day graphic, courtesy of NIFA.

Celebrate National Family & Consumer Sciences Educator Day

Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) educators are making a difference all over the United States with programs that target people of all ages. Here are merely a handful of examples of the impact that FCS education is having in communities nationwide. For more information, read this NIFA blog.

National Family and Consumer Sciences Educator Day graphic, courtesy of NIFA.

Women and Girls in Science graphic, courtesy of NIFA.

NIFA Celebrates Women and Girls in Science

Every day, NIFA is proud to support the strong science leaders of today and tomorrow. Here are a few examples of NIFA-funded projects led by women and information about how NIFA supports future leaders.

Women and Girls in Science graphic, courtesy of NIFA.

Celebrating Valentine’s Day graphic, courtesy of NIFA.

NIFA Celebrates Valentine’s Day

This Valentine’s Day, NIFA recognizing the research supporting families and relationships conducted by our Land-grant University partners.

Celebrating Valentine’s Day graphic, courtesy of NIFA.

Celebrate National Pizza Day graphic, courtesy of NIFA.

Celebrating National Pizza Day

From the crust to the toppings and everything in between, check out how NIFA-funded research at Land-grant Universities plays a role in producing this popular dish.

Celebrate National Pizza Day graphic, courtesy of NIFA

News from USDA

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service twitter icon

APHIS Announces Final Strategic Framework for Enhancing Surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 and other Emerging Diseases Under the American Rescue Plan

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has announced the final Strategic Framework outlining how the Agency will advance surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 and other emerging zoonotic diseases as directed by President Biden’s American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act. Early detection and response to pathogens with zoonotic potential while still in animals is essential in limiting or preventing human outbreaks. Additionally, the Agency has launched a new website to help stakeholders and the public stay up to date on the Agency’s broad array of ongoing One Health initiatives as well as SARS-CoV-2 surveillance projects and other activities funded by the $300 million provided by the ARP.

USDA graphic symbol

In Major Step to Implement American Rescue Plan, USDA Announces Membership of Newly Formed Equity Commission

USDA has announced the members of the newly established Equity Commission and its Subcommittee on Agriculture. The commission will hold its first public meeting on Feb. 28. As authorized and funded by the ARP, the launch of the independent commission delivers on President Biden’s commitment to create an independent equity commission and provide it with the necessary resources to support its mission to address historical discrimination at USDA. The commission’s launch follows the one-year anniversary of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government.

Impact of NIFA-Funded Research and Outreach

Amanda Kowalewski

Kowalewski Focuses on Building Strong, Resilient Communities

University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension Educator Amanda Kowalewski helps rural towns in northeast Nebraska come together to create and complete community-driven improvement projects. As a Rural Prosperity Nebraska extension educator, she knows it’s not her job to fix communities, but to learn how to help locals where they most want it.

Amanda Kowalewski writes down residents’ ideas about community development during an Entrepreneurial Community Activation Process meeting, courtesy of Rural Prosperity Nebraska.

Gumbo with a low-glycemic rice variety developed by LSU AgCenter scientists.

LSU AgCenter Low-Glycemic Rice Shows Promise for Diabetics

For people interested in keeping their blood sugar levels in check, they now have a new tool thanks to rice developed at the Louisiana State University (LSU) AgCenter Rice Research Station in Crowley. AgCenter area nutrition agent Mandy Armentor said Frontière is a low-glycemic rice variety developed by LSU AgCenter scientists that went to market under the Parish Rice label late in 2021.

Gumbo prepared with Frontière, a low-glycemic rice variety developed by LSU AgCenter scientists that is being sold across the state under the Parish Rice brand, courtesy of  Mandy Armentor/LSU AgCenter.

Purdue University assistant professor Laura Ingwell works in a high tunnel.  Photo by Tom Campbell.

Extending the Season, Improving Food Security

Purdue University researchers are looking at how pest problems differ in rural and urban high tunnels throughout the seasons. This $3.7 million NIFA-funded project will explore integrated pest management to improve food security.

Purdue University assistant professor Laura Ingwell works in a high tunnel. Ingwell leads a $3.7 million project to explore integrated pest management in high tunnels to improve food security. Photo by Tom Campbell.

Important Dates

Award Announcements

NIFA Invests $7.8M in AFRI Novel Foods and Innovative Manufacturing Technologies

NIFA has invested $7.8 million in Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) funds for 17 Novel Foods and Innovative Manufacturing Technologies grants. This AFRI program, within the Division of Food Safety, focuses on advancing food manufacturing competitiveness to ensure a more sustainable, resilient and healthy food supply to consumers. It also seeks to develop novel foods and food ingredients and improve their quality, safety, and nutrition.

NIFA Invests $5.7M in AFRI Rural and Economic Development Programs

NIFA has invested $5.7 million in AFRI funds for eight Rural and Economic Development projects that focus mainly on entrepreneurs, small businesses and other local level employers and services who are important sources of employment, and/or on other issues “beyond the farm gate.” The intent of the program area priority is to improve the understanding of the factors and conditions that enhance economic opportunities for food, agricultural and rural businesses through tools and methods from the various social sciences.

NIFA Invests $5.4M in Nanotechnology for Agriculture and Food Systems

NIFA has awarded nine Nanotechnology for Agriculture and Food Systems grants totaling $5.4 million to support nanotechnology-enabled solutions that improve agricultural and food production, food and nutrition security, sustainability, food safety, high value-added products, and agricultural water. This Agriculture and Food Research Initiative program embraces a wide range of research opportunities facing agriculture and food systems to advance nanoscale science, engineering, and technology for addressing critical societal challenges.

Funding Opportunity

Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) graphic logo

Graduate Student Research Grant Program

Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Partnership and Graduate Student Research Grant Program funds applied research, demonstration and education projects conducted by anyone who works with farmers. Projects must directly partner with a farmer or farmers. Online submission system opens March 1. Proposal deadline: April 12. For more information, read the Partnership Grant program announcement.

NIFA In the News

Image courtesy of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Study Finds Omicron Spike Hit Deer Too

When New York City’s COVID-19 rates spiked last December due to the emerging omicron variant, humans weren't the only mammals affected. The highly infectious variant also hit the white-tailed deer population on Staten Island, the most suburban of the city's five boroughs, according to a study led by Penn State University scientists and supported by NIFA. Learn more from ABC News.

Image courtesy of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Tweet of the Week

Tweet of Texas A&M University research

A Texas A&M University research team is working with two amino acids, arginine and methionine, and the metabolite creatine in pigs is making great strides to improve the overall litter weight and health of individual babies.

Facebook Post of the Week

Facebook post - Virginia Tech researchers have discovered a bacterium that causes Lyme disease

With support from NIFA, Virginia Tech researchers have discovered a unique property in the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, making it a potential target for treating and diagnosing Lyme disease. Over the past two decades, the United States has experienced a dramatic increase in both the number of reported cases and the geographic distribution of Lyme disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease in the United States and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. About 300,000 people each year are diagnosed with Lyme disease.