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July 31, 2007

Development, county program staff earn awards

Development and county program staff for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences received several national awards during the National Agricultural and Alumni Development Association's Annual Conference in June at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The awards the group received, along with the events or projects recognized are:
· First place, Development Event Program: 2007 Making Magic Motorsports Expo
· Second place, Print Media 4-Color Newsletter: Swannanoa 4-H Center Fall Program Update
· Second place, Print Media Solicitation Materials: NC Family and Consumer Sciences Foundation brochure
· Third place, Print Media Solicitation Materials: NC Citizenship Focus: A Capital Experience

The association members represent all land-grant universities across the country, and there were more than 200 entries in the awards competition this year.

Posted by Natalie at 03:03 PM

July 27, 2007

USDA announces action plan to address bee colony disappearance

WASHINGTON, July 13, 2007 - U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics Gale Buchanan today announced that USDA researchers have finalized an action plan for dealing with colony collapse disorder (CCD) of honey bees. The plan can be read at www.ars.usda.gov/is/br/ccd/ccd_actionplan.pdf.

"There were enough honey bees to provide pollination for U.S. agriculture this year, but beekeepers could face a serious problem next year and beyond," Buchanan said. "This action plan provides a coordinated framework to ensure that all of the research that needs to be done is covered in order to get to the bottom of the CCD problem."

Read more

Posted by Natalie at 02:03 PM

July 26, 2007

CEFS draws Carlo Petrini for inaugural lecture

Carlo Petrini
Carlo Petrini makes a point during his lecture at McKimmon Center. (Becky Kirkland photo)

Building and supporting a local food system in North Carolina was the theme in May as the Center for Environmental Farming Systems hosted Carlo Petrini at its inaugural lecture on sustainable agriculture. Petrini is founder of Slow Food International, a movement that promotes local food systems and encourages relationships between growers, chefs and consumers.

Petrini, who lives in Italy, visited N.C. State University and the Triangle area as part of a six-stop tour of the United States. In addition to his speech at N.C. State, Petrini enjoyed a picnic dinner at the Chapel Hill Creamery and a reception with supporters prior to his speech. Both events featured locally produced foods prepared by Triangle chefs.

Petrini started Slow Food in the 1980s to protest efforts to bring a McDonald’s restaurant to Rome. Today Slow Food International has 80,000 members around the world, including 14,000 in the United States, dedicated to supporting local foods and local farmers. The organization defends food biodiversity, educates people about food and builds food communities.

Interest and awareness of local foods has grown in recent years. A recent Time magazine article advised, “Forget organic. Eat local.” Prize-winning author Barbara Kingsolver has written a new book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, chronicling her family’s effort to eat only locally produced food for one year. And the number of farmers’ markets in the U.S. has doubled since 1999.

Next May in San Francisco, Slow Food will kick off a year-long campaign, “Slow Food Nation” aimed at promoting local food systems. CEFS director Nancy Creamer, in her opening remarks at the lecture issued the challenge, “Over the next year, CEFS will ask, ‘What will it take to build a local food system in North Carolina?’”

Petrini, who speaks Italian, was translated by Slow Food U.S.A. director Erika Lesser. He brought the N.C. State audience of about 850 a message from his new book “Slow Food Nation” – that food should be good, clean and fair, raised in ways that are sustainable for the environment, local economies and communities.

Carlo Petrini with Dean Wynne
Dean Johnny Wynne, left, introduces Petrini at a pre-lecture reception, while Erika Lesser, center, translates. (Becky Kirkland photo)

Slow Food International has developed two universities dedicated to the science of gastronomy. Petrini explained his definition of “gastronomy” as more than just recipes.

“We must have a different concept of gastronomy,” Petrini said. He quoted 19th century author Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, whose book The Physiology of Taste asked the question, “What is gastronomy?”

“It’s everything that regards man and his nourishment,” Petrini said. “And so the list begins: agriculture, zoology, physics, chemistry, economics, history, anthropology, and … even … ‘political economy.’

“So as you can see, we are confronted by a complex and multidisciplinary science,” Petrini said. Students in Slow Food’s gastronomy programs study biology, anthropology, genetics, animal and plant production and “the noble science of nutrition.
They also learn how to cook,” Petrini said.

Today, gastronomists must also study ecology – a science that didn’t exist in Brillat-Savarin’s time, he said.

Petrini described a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization that found intensive agricultural production to be one of the greatest threats to the world’s environment. “So this shows us that gastronomy must also be ecology,” he said. “The choices that we make in what we eat will ultimately determine the ecosystem in which we live.”

Petrini urged consumers to become “co-producers” with farmers, becoming aware of where and how their food is raised.

“We in Italy get our tomatoes from China because they cost less. But it’s not true that they cost less because that airplane that flies (bringing the tomatoes to Italy) is consuming energy. And this is the enormous paradox of expending more energy than what we receive in return.

“And indeed food is not as good as it used to be. Those of you who are of my generation, you remember what peaches used to taste like – they didn’t taste like wood. And you remember the smell of a tomato…”

He described the “perfume” of fresh, local tomatoes being processed into sauce in courtyards of homes where he grew up in Italy – an aroma that is not found there today.

Petrini also urged the audience to support small-scale farmers by buying local. “We’re losing farmers. In 1950 in Italy, half of the workforce was in farming, and now we have only 4 percent. In the U.S., we’re at barely 2 percent (in agriculture),” he said.

“We have to give hope and inspiration to young people to stay on the land and to work on the land with dignity and with financial incentives, but also cultural and social recognition. Otherwise what future do we have?

“And so we need a huge campaign to return the rightful place of small-scale agriculture and to re-localize agriculture, and to elevate the value of farmers staying on the land because they will help us save the land. Local economies are what will save the world.”

Carlo Petrini
Petrini, center, tries his hand with the fiddle as he engages members of Kickin' Grass bluegrass band. (Eric Forehand photo)

The night before Petrini’s speech, about 400 people including chefs, farmers and picnic goers, enjoyed a sold-out dinner in Orange County, sponsored by N.C. Choices, a CEFS-sponsored program that promotes sustainable pork production; Slow Food Triangle, and South Eastern Efforts Developing Sustainable Places Inc. or SEEDS. The crowd dined on a variety of dishes created by the Triangle’s best chefs paired with local farmers and their products.

“The atmosphere was warm, relaxed and delicious,” said Jennifer Curtis of N.C. Choices. “Everyone remarked on how wonderful the food was at this event. Farmers and chefs were part of the party and celebration.”

Children enjoyed a tour featuring the creamery's animals -- dairy cows being milked, pigs being fed the whey (leftover from milk after making cheese), and the chickens – as well as a pea shelling contest and egg toss. Traditional music was provided by Chatham County’s own Kickin’ Grass. Those who attended hope the successful event will be repeated. Other picnic sponsors included Haw River Wine Man, A Southern Season, Weaver Street Market and the creamery itself.

CEFS supporters enjoyed the chance to meet Petrini before the speech and have him sign copies of his books at a reception held at N.C. State’s Joyner Visitor Center. Dean Johnny Wynne of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences introduced Petrini at the event.

-N. Hampton

Posted by Natalie at 02:30 PM

July 13, 2007

Parenting education program celebrates first graduate

Stephanie Jones
Stephanie Jones, left, first parent education graduate, is pictured with Karen DeBord. (Photo courtesy of Karen DeBord)

Just a year after it was officially approved and open to students, a joint parenting education program between N.C. State University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro awarded its first degree this spring. Stephanie Jones is the first graduate to earn a master of science degree in human development and family studies, with a concentration in family life and parent education, from both universities.

Jones began work on the degree requirements in fall 2003 when the first class was offered, before the degree was formally approved. A former parent educator with North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Brunswick County, she commuted three and four hours from her home to N.C. State and UNCG to complete the degree.

Faculty members in the program recognized Jones at the first graduate with a “Trailblazer Award” presented in April.

Jones is mother four daughters ages 15, 12, 10 and 2. Her youngest child was born after her first semester as a graduate student, and her mother helped Jones stay in school by driving mother and baby to classes while her daughter was an infant.

“We’ve all earned this degree,” Jones said of her family.

In addition to her duties as mother and graduate student, Jones served as a part-time teaching assistant for a human development and family studies class at N.C. State. She also has worked with Dr. Karen DeBord, professor and child development specialist in the Department of 4-H Youth Development and Family and Consumer Sciences on a grant-sponsored program aimed at youth school success and workforce preparedness among youth in Wake and Brunswick counties.

Jones says she has a passion for parenting education and sharing her experiences and knowledge with others. “I do the best I can with my family and I like to use the knowledge I’ve gained to help other families,” she said.

In its first year, the joint master’s degree program enrolled 14 students. Students take courses at both N.C. State and UNCG, and their degree is awarded by both institutions. Though the program has not been widely marketed, DeBord said she receives about eight to 10 email inquiries about the program each month.

“Students are looking for this type of degree,” she said. “There’s nothing else like it in the state.”

DeBord recently announced a new graduate certificate in program development for family life education, which Jones will help administer next year. The 12-hour graduate certificate includes three required courses and one elective course. The certificate program is designed for those with an interest in developing family life education programs, and is also a good way to get a taste for graduate school, DeBord said.

-N. Hampton

Posted by Natalie at 01:25 PM

Leath joins UNC System leadership

Interim appointments announced

Dr. Steven Leath, associate dean for research in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and director of the North Carolina Agricultural Research Service, has accepted the position of vice president for research for the University of North Carolina System effective July 16.

Leath spent 15 years as a USDA scientist before joining college administration in 2001. He has served as associate dean and director since 2005. During the last year he has led NC State’s Kannapolis Project. He also provided leadership for the Plant Breeding Center, the establishment of the NC Research Foundation, the establishment of a relationship with Northern Ireland and has overseen the college's federal and corporate relations.

Effective July 16, Dr. Steve Lommel will become the interim associate dean for research for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He will also continue as assistant vice chancellor for research, reporting jointly to Dr. John Gilligan, vice dhancellor for research, and Dean Johnny Wynne, with responsibility for being the NC State/CALS representative to the North Carolina Research Campus.

Lommel will also provide leadership for grants and contracts and the life science departments in the college. And he will continue his federally funded research program as a faculty member of the Department of Plant Pathology.

Lommel, a plant pathologist, has served as a faculty member at NC State since 1988. From 1992 to 2001 he served as an assistant director of the North Carolina Agricultural Research Service. He has served as assistant vice chancellor for research and graduate programs since 2001.

Also, effective on July 16, Dr. Sylvia Blankenship will become interim director of the North Carolina Agricultural Research Service, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She will include provide leadership and oversight for agricultural research programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences with specific responsibilities for leadership of the agricultural departments of the college, working with commodity groups, field days, federal reporting and commodity funding.

Blankenship joined the NC State faculty in September 1983 in horticultural science. She is a post-harvest physiologist with an emphasis in ethylene biology in fruits, vegetables and flowers.

Dr. Blankenship served as assistant department head in horticultural science from 1999 to May 2003 and as interim department head in horticultural science from May 2003 to October 2003. She also served as interim associate dean for administration for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, beginning November 2003. She was promoted to associate dean in February 2005.

Posted by Natalie at 11:48 AM