The month of April brings a college tradition to the University and Newark communities — Ag Day. This 41-year tradition outstrips all but very few of us in terms of number of years of service. This year’s theme is “sustainAGbility,” which reflects one of our fundamental values, as defined in our strategic plan. “Feeding the world while protecting the planet,” as we say in the college, is truly one of the grand challenges of the 21st century. We certainly hope that everyone who attends Ag Day 2016 will leave with an enhanced understanding of how CANR rises to meet this challenge. Many of the traditional displays and activities will be in place, along with some new ones, so I hope to see all of you between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 30. And don’t forget about food, live music, arts and crafts, ice cream and audience participation activities.
Thanks in advance to the dozens of people involved in planning, executing and volunteering for Ag Day: the steering committee; students who serve on the planning committee; student ambassadors; AGR and SA members who volunteer; faculty, staff and Extension agents who work displays and events (including those who play the music!); the farm crew who bring the animals and hay bales; the Master Gardeners and plant sale volunteers; and many more. I also express thanks to Grace Wisser, who recently joined our staff to coordinate events; she has done yeoman’s work in tackling logistics and other details. It takes a college-wide effort to bring this fantastic day together!
Promptly after Ag Day, I will say arrivederci to campus for two weeks, as I head to Italy for a brief lectureship. I will be at the University of Palermo in Sicily, teaching a course in tree physiology with one of my former students, now an associate professor of horticulture. In academia, it’s a “bucket list” thing to reunite with a former Ph.D. student and engage in academic pursuits, so I am really looking forward to this! Embarking on a plan to offer part of their curriculum in English, the university has invited U.S.-based scholars to visit for a brief period and teach. I only hope that I can learn alcune parole dell’italiano from them in return. We’ll see — bet on them, not me.
Spring is always a busy time on campus, and here are few highlights to share with you this month.
UDairy Creamery’s fifth birthday
This may be hard to believe, but the UDairy Creamery is five years old this year. While the planning began before 2011, the Creamery opened its doors five years ago and has been successful beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. More than 250 students have worked or interned there, producing more than 1 million servings of ice cream in five short years. The Creamery has become one of the most visible symbols of the college, and it speaks volumes about entrepreneurship and application of knowledge as a fundamental value in our curricula. I frequently say that a better educated student is the real product of the Creamery, and the ice cream is the by-product (though that sometimes gets me in hot water with the management!). After Ag Day ends, we will celebrate the Creamery’s birthday at 6 p.m. in the Trabant University Center. I hope you can join us to celebrate this milestone.
Pre-vet program success
We have always known that our undergraduate pre-vet major places students in professional school at a rate well above the national average, but this year our graduating students set a new bar: 27 out of 28 students from the pre-vet program who applied have been accepted to either veterinary school or medical school next fall! That acceptance rate exceeds 95 percent, compared to the national average of about 40 percent. I am so proud of our students and the faculty and staff who guided them through the demanding curriculum. This may be the highest acceptance rate in the country, and it certainly reflects the quality of the program we have in the Animal and Food Sciences Department. Best of luck to all of these smart, hardworking Blue Hens!
Congratulations to recent award recipients
Recently, our faculty, students and staff received a number of awards. Here’s a sampling:
The inaugural Excellence in Extension Award goes to Richard Taylor, an Extension specialist in agronomy, soil fertility and crop management at UD for more than 31 years. During his tenure, Richard conducted applied research and Extension programs on major field crops, alternative crops, cover crops and cropping systems. More recently, he expanded into the areas of nutrient and turf grass management. He has been a key member of the IPM team in field and forage crop areas as well as no-till and soybean systems. Richard will retire in the next fiscal year, so we’re glad that he will be honored for his hard work at convocation before beginning a new chapter in life.
The Excellence in Staff Support Award goes to Richard Morris, who manages the dairy operation on the Newark farm. Richard meets and mentors many of the animal science students in the college, offering excellent hands-on opportunities for students who wish to work with large animals. He also provides leadership for the AGR fraternity, whose young men reflect well on the college. Richard will receive his award on stage at convocation this year, when his son will walk in graduation. May 27 will be a great day for the Morris family, who has done so much for the college.
Maria Pippidis, New Castle County director and Extension educator, received the Jeanne M. Priester Award at the National Health Outreach Conference for her work. Maria partnered with Maryland colleagues, developing a literacy education program that helps individuals make the best health insurance choices for their families, with training offered in 32 states.
Joanne Whalen, Extension specialist, is the recipient of the 2016 Ratledge Family Award, which recognizes the contributions of University of Delaware faculty, staff and students who exemplify excellence in public service to the citizens of our state.
Nancy Gregory, Extension agent, received an individual award at the National Plant Diagnostic Network (NPDN) meeting. She served as chair of the National Database PAC from 2010–2013. Nancy also led and directed the effort in pursuing funding from the Farm Bill for the One Standard Fungi Name Project.
Christy Mannering was honored at the Women of Promise Celebration, an annual event that promotes positive mentoring relationships among women faculty and students. Christy, who is pursuing a master’s in Public Administration, keeps the college looking great on the website and in digital media.
Remembering Bill Brown
Reflecting on the many talents and accomplishments in the CANR family brings to mind Bill Brown, our Extension poultry agent in Sussex County, who died in an accident on his farm on April 14. Bill was one of the best Extension agents in the Mid-Atlantic region, and he worked tirelessly on issues related to poultry production, Delaware’s #1 agricultural industry. In recent days, many have shared their memories of this extraordinary individual. The following is a fitting quote from his colleagues on the Delmarva Land & Litter Challenge Committee with whom Bill worked in recent months:
Bill was a good listener who sought to understand the viewpoints and concerns of others before advancing his own opinions. He was very generous with his time and was passionate in the quest for win-win outcomes for agriculture and the environment. Bill was an active poultry grower, the poultry Extension specialist with the University of Delaware, and a leader in his community and church. Bill was not just a colleague; he was also our friend. His presence and contributions around the Delmarva Land & Litter Challenge leadership table will be sorely missed. We offer our most sincere condolences to Bill’s wife, Mary Lou, and the rest of his family.
You can view a brief tribute video of Bill at the following link: https://youtu.be/SwmmWgvgn-I
Please keep Bill’s family in your thoughts and prayers at this difficult time. In lieu of flowers, Bill’s family has asked for contributions to a scholarship in his name. Please send contributions to the University of Delaware, Gifts Processing, 83 E. Main St., 3rd Fl., Newark, DE 19716. Make checks payable to “University of Delaware” and include on the memo line “Scholarship in memory of William R. Brown III.”
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Before the next blog post in June, we will send off another class of agriculture and natural resource leaders to change the world. Please join us on May 27 at 4 p.m. in the Bob Carpenter Center for the 2016 CANR Convocation.