Summer Salutations!

dean-riegerI can’t believe it’s July already, and that next month I will celebrate my one-year anniversary as a Blue Hen! I am thankful for all of the experiences in this first year, and eager to launch into the upcoming academic year.

As we look back on the spring semester in the College of Agriculture & Natural Resources, there have been many wonderful stories of success. First and foremost are the stories of our talented class of 2013 graduates. In late May, we celebrated their accomplishments and future at our convocation and commencement exercises. We celebrated students like Melanie Allen, recipient of the Emalea Pusey Warner and Alexander J. Taylor Sr. award as the outstanding woman of the graduating class, as well as Jacquelyn Marchese and Michelle Windle, the recipients of the 2013 William J. Benton Graduate Student Awards.

While we are sad to see our graduates leave, we look with great excitement on the incoming class of 2017. One of our goals in the College is to raise undergraduate enrollment at least 15% by 2015 and with this incoming class we are well on our way to doing so. So far, we have logged commitments from over 180 new students for Fall 2013, about 11% more than Fall 2012, with 21 honors students compared to 19 last year – one of our highest enrollments in years.

With a larger population on campus comes the need for more dollars in support of students, faculty and programs. Fiscal year 2013 was a strong year for fundraising, and I am pleased to report that the college raised over $6.8 million dollars in gifts and pledges – eclipsing a college-wide goal of $4.8 million by over 40%. This total included two commitments of $1 million and a generous planned gift estimated at $2 million. This overwhelming display of generosity enables us to continue to provide scholarships (merit based and need based) for students, maintain our wonderful outdoor learning labs like the Botanic Gardens and the UD Farm, add resources to burgeoning projects like the UDairy Creamery, and attract and retain renowned faculty who are truly changing the landscape of agriculture and natural resources through their research and teaching. Faculty like Limin Kung, the S. Hallock du Pont Professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences, who is one of the leading experts on silage in the United States and has maintained close ties with 3 different Brazilian Universities for the past 10 years. Or like Don Sparks, the S. Hallock du Pont Chair in Soil and Environmental Chemistry at the University of Delaware, who has been appointed to a three-year term as chair of the U.S. National Committee for Soil Science (USNC/SS).

Our alumni are also day-to-day examples of the teaching and preparedness we offer at UD. In June, we were proud to congratulate W. Edwin Kee Jr. ’73 ’75M ’96M, Secretary of Agriculture for the state of Delaware, for his induction into the 2013 University of Delaware Alumni Association’s Alumni Wall of Fame.

As I hope you will read, the entire University is amidst a period of great growth. We are truly excited to share our progress and plans with you, and I hope you read this latest newsletter with great excitement and offer your feedback. Have a wonderful remainder of the summer.

Go Hens!

~Mark Rieger, Dean

Ice Cream Truck

ice-cream-truck-moo-mobileThanks to a partnership between CANR and the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, the UDairy Creamery will now be equipped with an ice cream truck, allowing for students from UD to get hands-on experience with a real-world business.

Keep an eye out for the Creamery Truck all next week at the State Fair!

Read more on UDaily.

Equine Science Gift

equineThis winter the College received a transformational gift from Stuart M. and Suzanne B. Grant of Greenville, Del., to develop and support an Equine Studies Program. The Grants’ support will create an equine studies minor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences that will be available to UD students.

Read more on UDaily.

Veterinary Graduates

vet-graduatesIn 2009, 14 students from the University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources were accepted into veterinary schools. This past year, 10 of those students finished up their studies at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine. Those students talked about how their time at CANR helped prepare them for a career in veterinary sciences.

Read more on UDaily.

Largest Crowd ever for Ag Day

ag-dayBeautiful weather, great entertainment and a variety of agricultural and environmental exhibits combined to make Ag Day 2013 the largest in history, with more than 8,000 visitors in attendance. Thank you so much for everyone who attended as well as all of those who helped with the planning and preparation of the event.

Click here to read more about Ag Day 2013.

Doug Tallamy Garden Club of America honor

doug-tallamyDoug Tallamy, chair of the University of Delaware’s  Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology, was recently awarded with the Garden Club of America’s Margaret Douglas Medal for notable service to the cause of conservation education.

Tallamy, a proponent of the use of native plants in gardening, received the medal during an award reception held in Philadelphia.

Read more on UDaily.

CANR at the Philadelphia Flower Show

flower-showCANR was well represented at the 2013 Philadelphia International Flower Show held in March. In addition to having an interdisciplinary class led by professor Jules Bruck present their design at the flower show, CANR graduate Sam Lemheney, who graduated in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in plant science, serves as the Director of the Philadelphia Flower Show.

Click here to read more about Lemheney and click here to read more about the interdisciplinary class’ display.

Thoughts From the Dean

Happy New Year fellow Blue Hens!

Mark Rieger, Dean
Mark Rieger, Dean

I  am thankful to enter a new year, be the new dean, and communicate with you in a new way. Indeed there are a lot of new and exciting things going on in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. I hope you will find this electronic newsletter – Food for Thought – worthwhile and informative. We intend to bring it to you several times per year to keep you up to date on our accomplishments, events, challenges and opportunities. Importantly, the electronic format allows you to provide feedback on various issues, or simply update us on new things in your life and work. We’d love to hear from you!

We are embarking on a college-wide master planning process, evaluating our core strengths and looking for ways that we can have greater impact on agriculture and natural resource issues that face Delaware and the world. As part of the master plan, we intend to grow enrollment to meet the demand for agriculture and natural resource professionals; studies show that there are almost two jobs for every graduate in the agriculture and natural resource sectors of the economy. The good news is that applications for admission to the college are up 26% compared to last year, so we’re off to a great start! For more on this topic, read the “Enrollment Outlook” story below.

We will also be examining our research and extension priorities as we build the master plan. Gone are the days when our college can do a little of everything. We are working to identify areas of selective excellence and focus our efforts on the most relevant issues to our region, and working with our neighbors at Rutgers, Maryland, Delaware State University, and Penn State to build synergy and avoid redundancy. As an example, see the story on Extension’s response to Hurricane Sandy and learn how people turned to us for information on preparation and mitigation of damage from this disastrous event.

I hope you’ll enjoy the stories in this issue of Food for Thought and remain engaged with us as we plan for the future. I would be remiss if I didn’t remind you to put a few dates on your calendar. Delaware Ag Week is this week (Jan. 14-18), culminating in a Friends of Ag Breakfast highlighting the President of the National Chicken Council.  Our college’s annual Ag Day is scheduled for Saturday, April 27, and UD’s Alumni Weekend will be May 31-June 2. All of these events will be firsts for me, and I look forward to meeting you at one or more of them.

~Mark Rieger, Dean

You can view the actual email message by clicking here, or select from the content below.

Q&A with Denise Lasher, daughter of Dr. Hiram Lasher

The College of Agriculture & Natural Resources recently spoke with Denise Lasher (AG ‘77), daughter of Dr. Hiram Lasher—a generous benefactor to the University of Delaware and a pioneer in avian vaccine development, who passed away in October 2012 at the age of 92. The family of Dr. Lasher established the “Hiram Lasher Fellowship Award,” benefiting graduate students pursuing studies in poultry health at UD.  View the full interview with Denise here. 

New Director of Development

Daniel Sarkissian
Daniel Sarkissian, CANR Director of Development

CANR is pleased to welcome Daniel Sarkissian as our new Director of Development. Dan has been with the University for nearly 3 years and has done impressive work during his time with the College of Engineering as Associate Director of Development, showing great initiative in securing major gifts from individuals for the ISE Lab and scholarships. Dan can be reached at or (302) 831-4595.

Thurman Adams Jr. Agricultural Research Farm

This past spring, the UD Board of Trustees announced the renaming of CANR’s Agricultural Research Farm in Georgetown, DE for the late Senator Thurman Adams, in honor of his tireless efforts to secure funding and support for its facilities and programs.

View a video about Senator Adams and his contributions to UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources on the CANR YouTube channel or visit view the online photo album from the official dedication and sign unveiling in October 2012.

Alumni of Distinction

2012 CANR Distinguished Alumni
2012 CANR Distinguished Alumni

Seven CANR graduates were honored for their professional achievements at our annual Distinguished Alumni ceremony on Friday, Oct. 19.  Bruce Cobb (AG ’84), Carol Long (AG ’90), Daral Jackwood (AG ’78), and Mark Jackwood (AG ’78, MS ’82) were honored with Distinguished Alumni awards.  Jennifer McEntire (AG ’99) and Jennifer Walls (AG ’01) were named Distinguished Young Alumni.  In addition, the George M. Worrilow Award was presented to Ronald Ritter (AG ’75).

Read more about the accomplishments of these alumni.

Enrollment Outlook

Nationwide, agriculture and related industries produce about 54,000 new jobs annually; however, there are only about 29,000 graduates from colleges like ours to fill those positions.  That’s almost a 2:1 ratio of jobs to graduates–well paying jobs, as starting salaries for our graduates are above the median starting salary for college graduates.  This presents an opportunity for UD, where we can grow our enrollment and step up degree production to both help place students into jobs immediately upon graduation, and help the industries whose missions we support.

Read the USDA report.

Dr. Meyers Honored

Dr. Blake Meyers AAAS Fellow
Dr. Blake Meyers, AAAS Fellow

Blake Meyers, chair of the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences and the Edward F. and Elizabeth Goodman Rosenberg Professor of Plant and Soil Sciences, has been named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Designation as a fellow of AAAS is an honor bestowed upon members by their peers.  Meyers received the award in large part because of his contributions to bioinformatics and plant functional genomics of model and crop plants, especially in the area of small RNA biology.

Read more on UDaily.

Extension’s Web Presence and Hurricane Sandy

On October 5, Extension launched its new web presence.  In the first six weeks of the site’s existence, 32,516 people visited the site, resulting in 66,745 page views.  82.75% of these hits were from new visitors. The site’s news features and subsequent posting to social media connected constituents with resources during Hurricane Sandy about livestock preparations, food safety during and after power outages, salt water inundation in fields, landscape cleanup, and talking to children about natural disasters.

Visit the new Extension website or view the hurricane related posts.

Thoughts From the Dean