NIFA Update — September 1, 2010
NIFA Update, from the Office of the Director, is a biweekly newsletter for research, education, and extension partners at land-grant universities and other cooperating institutions.
- New Analyst Joins OPA’s Reporting Team
- Core Knowledge of Tree Fruit Expands with Apple Genome Sequencing
- NIFA AgrAbility Grants Give Disabled Farmers Tools They Need to Be Successful
- NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications
- Secretary Vilsack Opens New World-Class USDA Forest Service Research Facility
- USDA Announces Funding to Expand School Community Gardens and Garden-Based Learning Opportunities
- Statement of Agriculture Secretary Vilsack on the Appointment of Elisabeth Hagen
- Students Validate Folk Medicine Claims
- ISU Appoints Interim CES Director
- New Dean and AES Director for Auburn University
New Analyst Joins OPA’s Reporting Team
Katelyn D’Alessandro joined the Office of Planning and Accountability (OPA) as a management and program analyst. This is a new position that supports OPA’s Reporting Team’s work, as well as business analysis for agency reporting. D’Alessandro comes to us from the U.S. Army Research and Development Engineering Center, Combat Feeding Directorate at Natick, MA. She is a graduate of Boston College with a B.S. degree in communications. She is located in Room 1104 in the Waterfront Centre and can be reached at 202-401-5482.
Core Knowledge of Tree Fruit Expands with Apple Genome Sequencing
WASHINGTON, August 29, 2010 - An international team of scientists funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture has published a draft sequence of the domestic apple genome in the current issue of Nature Genetics. “The United States is the world’s second largest producer of apples, with annual production valued at more than $1 billion and the completion of the sequence of the apple genome gives researchers an important tool that can be used to develop nutritious fruit of the highest quality for American consumers,” said Roger Beachy, NIFA director. NIFA funded the project through a grant from the National Research Initiative. Other funders include the Washington State University (WSU) Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, WSU-Agriculture Research Center, and the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission. Visit the NIFA Newsroom to read Core Knowledge of Tree Fruit Expands with Apple Genome Sequencing.
NIFA AgrAbility Grants Give Disabled Farmers Tools They Need to Be Successful
WASHINGTON, August 18, 2010 – NIFA awarded 23 grants to help farmers with disabilities through the AgrAbility program, which helps thousands of disabled people overcome barriers to continuing their chosen professions in agriculture. “Each year, more than 80,000 farmers, ranchers, and agricultural workers are injured at work badly enough to limit their ability to do their jobs,” said Roger Beachy, NIFA director. “Producers with disabilities should have every opportunity to be successful, and the AgrAbility program gives them the assistance and training they need to be profitable and maintain their quality of life.”
NIFA awarded the funds to land-grant universities that have joined with nonprofit disability organizations to address the specialized needs of AgrAbility's customers. Projects include educating professionals on how to assist those with disabilities and directly training disabled agricultural workers. The program has improved customers' financial stability, access to life activities and the ability of states and regions to deliver timely services to those with disabilities. Visit the NIFA Newsroom to read NIFA AgrAbility Grants Give Disabled Farmers Tools They Need to Be Successful.
NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications
NIFA advertises all of its funding opportunities through “Find Grant Opportunities” on the Grants.gov website. This site is searchable and contains summary information on all federal funding opportunities with links to the full announcements. Users can search announcements by topic, funding agency, and date, as well as subscribe to an email notification service based on these parameters.
Secretary Vilsack Opens New World-Class USDA Forest Service Research Facility
FORT COLLINS, Colo, August 27, 2010 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joined Colorado Governor Bill Ritter and Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell to formally open a state-of-the-art, energy efficient Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station. The new lab's three very specialized labs, which will support critical research on climate change, air quality, forest ecosystem adaptation processes, and water resources, were partially funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act). The remarkable laboratory capabilities will not only support policy decisions and management actions, research from the new lab will help forests mitigate and adapt to climate change. The building has energy conservation design elements integrated into its structure and landscaping. Of the $5.3 million invested in the new research facility, 29 percent came from the Recovery Act. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release Secretary Vilsack Opens New World-Class USDA Forest Service Research Facility.
USDA Announces Funding to Expand School Community Gardens and Garden-Based Learning Opportunities
WASHINGTON, August 25, 2010 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA will establish a People's Garden School Pilot Program to develop and run community gardens at eligible high-poverty schools; teach students involved in the gardens about agriculture production practices, diet, and nutrition; and evaluate the learning outcomes. This $1 million pilot program is authorized under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act. A cooperative agreement will be awarded to implement a program in up to five states. To be eligible as project sites, schools must have 50 percent or more students qualifying for free or reduced-price school meals.
Part of a broad USDA effort to provide children with access to a nutritious and safe diet, this initiative also aims to influence healthier choices for all American households. Produce raised in the gardens can be used in the schools' meals and by student households, local food banks, or senior center nutrition programs. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release USDA Announces Funding to Expand School Community Gardens and Garden-Based Learning Opportunities.
Statement of Agriculture Secretary Vilsack on the Appointment of Elisabeth Hagen
WASHINGTON, August 19, 2010 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made the following statement on the appointment of Elisabeth Hagen as Under Secretary for Food Safety. "There is no higher priority at USDA than ensuring that Americans have access to a safe and healthy food supply, and Dr. Hagen's background as the chief medical officer and senior executive within USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service will enable her to successfully lead the effort to develop and execute the agency's scientific and public health agenda, and continue to build the coordination with public health partners at federal, state, and local level needed to achieve the objectives of President Obama's Food Safety Working Group." Visit the USDA Newsroom to read Statement of Agriculture Secretary Vilsack on the Appointment of Elisabeth Hagen.
Students Validate Folk Medicine Claims
Honohono grass is a botanical remedy used in China and Vietnam for hundreds of years to cure a sore throat, treat dysentery, or stop bleeding. However, the Western world demands scientific data to give credibility to therapeutic potential. Windward Community College botany students, part of the University of Hawaii System, conducted laboratory research to determine the grass’ medicinal values. Bioassay and clinical tests indicated the effectiveness of honohono grass combats sore throat, dysentery, and is a blood coagulant. The students didn’t stop with these findings; they went on to create bio-products made from organically grown honohono—grass-tea and cough drops; wine and tonic; and topical coagulant powders, cream, and soaps to heal cuts. The students also created delicious and nutritious honohono grass dishes. The lab data and recipes were published in a booklet Pharmaceutical and Nutraceutical Values of Honohono Grass and available through Windward’s campus bookstore. Funding was provided under NIFA’s Alaska Native-Serving and Native-Hawaiian-Serving Institutions Education Grants Program.
ISU Appoints Interim CES Director
Iowa State University Cooperative Extension Service appointed Gerald A. Miller as interim director, effective June 1. Miller earned a B.S. in agronomy from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and his M.S. and Ph.D. in soil science from Iowa State University. He served as associate dean for Extension Programs and Outreach, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; director, Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension; and agronomy professor. He may be reached at: Iowa State University, 2150 Beardshear Hall, Ames, IA 50011-2046; telephone 515-294-4333; fax 515-294-4715. This appointment was made upon the departure of Jack M. Payne who accepted the position of senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources at the University of Florida.
New Dean and AES Director for Auburn University
William D. Batchelor is the new dean of the College of Agriculture and director for the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, effective July 15. His contact information is: 107 Comer, Auburn University, AL 36849-5401; telephone 334-844-3209; fax 334-844-2937.
Call for Proposals
Proposals for the 2011 National Extension Urban Conference must be submitted no later than September 15, 2010, at midnight (Central Daylight Time). The conference is May 2-5, 2011, at the Marriott Hotel, Des Moines, IA. Check conference web site for details.
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Editor: Judy Rude, public affairs specialist, NIFA Communications Staff. If you have questions about Update, please contact her.
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Roger Beachy, Director
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