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WSU Colville Reservation Extension team honored with national teamwork award

Group photo with Wells holding award.
Honored as part of a team award for a WSU Extension food garden and food sovereignty program on the Colville Reservation, Kayla Wells accepts awards from NEAFCS President Karen Munden.


WSU Colville Reservation Extension educators and tribal program partners were honored by a national organization this fall for their efforts in helping tribal communities thrive through food garden education.

Kayla Wells, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator for WSU Colville Reservation Extension and director of WSU Okanogan County Extension, and team members Linda McLean, Director and 4-H Educator with WSU Colville Reservation Extension; Tabitha Parr, Office Assistant with WSU Colville Reservation Extension; and Dorothy Palmer, Program Manager for the Colville Confederated Tribes Low Income Heating Energy Assistance Program, were recognized at the 85th annual session of the National Extension Association for Family and Consumer Sciences (NAEFCS), in Hershey, Penn.

This team received the association’s second-place National Award, first place Western Region Award, and first-place State Award for Excellence in Teamwork.

Women looking at fruit deliveries on table.
Fresh food items from the WSU Colville Reservation Extension Demonstration Garden are delivered to the Colville Confederated Tribal Food Distribution Program.

The team was honored for their Food Sovereignty/Food Security Garden Program, addressing the needs of the residents of the Colville Reservation, which is designated by USDA as a “food desert.”

This program helped families learn how to grow, preserve and enjoy healthy, nutritious foods. Wells and her team taught the “Why, How and What Now” of gardening, thus providing reservation residents with the skills and knowledge to plant, maintain and harvest their own food gardens.

“Teamwork was vital to the success of this program,” said Wells. “Without each person’s expertise and contribution, we would not have been able to provide the depth and breadth of education to our participants. This program would not have been as successful without the sponsors, the educators, and the behind-the-scenes person who created the marketing materials.”

Sponsored by the NAEFCS Awards Fund, the Excellence in Teamwork Award was established in 2018 to recognize outstanding Extension Family and Consumer Sciences programs conducted by a multi-disciplinary team. This team is comprised of Extension, Tribal and FRTEP (Federally Recognized Tribes Program) Educators.

In honoring Wells and her team, the Association highlighted their exemplary commitment to meeting the needs of individuals, families and communities.

View of vines in garden planters.
The WSU Colville Reservation Extension Demonstration Garden produced a variety of crops like, green beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, squash and peppers.

CAHNRS well represented at national leaders conference

By Sarah Appel, CAHNRS Academic Programs

Nineteen students and one faculty member from WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS) attended the annual Agriculture Future of America (AFA) Leaders Conference in Kansas City, Mo. earlier this month.

Group photo of conference attendees holding a red WSU flag.
Back Row: Kai Yi Wang, Chase Baerlocher, Leighton Dorman, Luke Wolfisberg, Gracie Dickerson, Nick Schultheis, Ornella Usanase, Aline Uwase, Corey Phillips, Amanda Martian
Front Row: Juliana LeClair, Elea Van Weerdhuizen, Lacey Biemold, Kayla Beechinor, Autumn Miller, Sarah Appel, Juan Martinez, Harrison Moore, Marie Boragine

The students ranged in majors from Animal Science and Agricultural and Food Business Economics to Communication and Field Crop Management and were among the approximately 850 students and over 300 industry leaders from across the nation to attend.

The conference provided students pursuing future careers in food and agriculture a chance to develop their professional abilities and grow as individuals. Students were placed in different tracks and exposed to a variety of different speakers depending on their year in school and previous involvement with AFA.

Track 4, the last and most selective track, included sessions about living an authentic life, respect and inclusion in the workplace, advanced time management, and leadership capabilities.

“AFA encouraged me to use long term thinking for short term decisions: what kind of life do I want to live?” said Gracie Dickerson, a senior Agricultural and Food Business Economics major and Track 4 delegate.

The other tracks also included speakers who focused on money management, professional attire, etiquette, communication, brand development, and handling change in the agriculture industry.

Round table discussions, industry panels, and an opportunity fair with over 80 companies represented provided students with the chance to connect with professionals from the agriculture industry.

With professional development at this caliber, the conference left a different impact on every student.

“AFA had a huge impact on me, and I was able to meet great new friends as well as make connections in the agriculture industry,” said Corey Phillips, a first-year WSU student planning to major in Animal Science. “I actually switched my major because of the impact of the conference. It was definitely a great experience and I would recommend it to all of my friends in the ag program.”

The main goal of AFA is to provide opportunities for college students and bridge the gap between education and industry within the agriculture sector. Leaders Conference is one of the many ways they achieve this and will continue to do so for many years.

“AFA helped me to expand my network of people, professionals, and friends in a way that incorporates our mutual appreciation of agriculture. It put me in contact with people whose opinions and experiences were different than mine, and helped me to broaden my understanding of the American agriculture industry,” said Chase Baerlocher, a sophomore in Agricultural Biotechnology.

New review paper explores global dimensions of plant virus epidemics

Head shot of Rayapati
Dr. Naidu Rayapati

Worldwide, plant virus epidemics threaten livelihoods, food, farms, and the environment.

Naidu Rayapati, WSU plant pathologist and director of the Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center at Prosser, co-authored a new review of the impact of viruses on global agriculture, sharing perspectives on virus diseases and possible solutions through emerging technologies, in the September issue of the Annual Review of Virology.

With co-author Roger A.C. Jones, scientist at the University of Western Australia, Rayapati wrote “Global Dimensions of Plant Virus Diseases: Current Status and Future Perspectives.”

A changing climate, growing population, and globalized agriculture are driving fast changes that favor destructive disease outbreaks, the authors relate. Synthesizing their many years of experience in international agriculture, this review takes stock of the current global situation of viral diseases, how viruses spread, the factors influencing outbreaks, disease management, and new and emerging technologies to help understand virus epidemics.

Jones and Rayapati also discuss strategies for defense and future needs, including the need for collaborative global networks to address food security challenges caused by viral epidemics. A paradigm shift toward smart, integrated, and eco-friendly strategies is needed to stop epidemics in their tracks, according to the authors.

“We are playing an active role in addressing viral disease problems of global significance, and bringing knowledge and practical experiences to safeguard American agriculture from viral disease threats,” Rayapati said.

View the paper here.


WSU student represents Washington agriculture at national FFA competition

By Sarah Appel, CAHNRS Academic Programs

“Push yourself to try and make it to nationals and get to wear your FFA jacket one more time. Because the memories I have made in that jacket have been great and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.”

Arroyo-Mejia stands on a stage in an FFA jacket holding a plaque with another woman.
Aranza Arroyo-Mejia, left, receiving an award for her FFA efforts.

That’s the advice freshman WSU student, Aranza Arroyo-Mejia, has for every high school senior participating in FFA this year. She gets to wear her FFA jacket one more time, representing Washington in the Environmental and Natural Resources (ENR) Career Development Event (CDE) at the National FFA Convention this week.

Aranza is a Fruit and Vegetable Management student but looks back at FFA with fond memories. She is excited to have the opportunity to compete one more time with her teammates for ENR at the national level.

She started participating in FFA as a freshman at Cashmere High School. Over the next four years, she competed in public speaking, meat judging, livestock judging, apple judging, and ENR – to name a few. She fell in love with the organization and participated in all four years.

Aranza is in Indianapolis, Indiana, representing Washington State with three team members as they compete in the Environmental and Natural Resources CDE. Over the next few days, the team will be put to the test as they demonstrate their skills related to wildlife conservation, soil science, GPS navigation, and water management. They will go through a 50 question knowledge test and give an oral presentation.

“Overall, I think we all live on the same planet, and we all need to grow food and maintain a sustainable environment,” she said.

All this, on behalf of Washington State FFA.

“It feels awesome, especially being from a small town of 3,500 people, and going to Indianapolis means a lot,” she said. “I’m proud of myself and my town and Washington State”

Aranza is grateful for all the skills that FFA taught her and encourages others to get involved as much as they can.

Food safety scientist Juming Tang honored for lifetime achievement

Dr. Tang holding plate with a meal.
Juming Tang, recipient of the IAEF Lifetime Achievement Award.

Honored for pioneering research that makes our favorite foods safer and better for us, Juming Tang, Regents Professor and Chair of the Department of Biological Systems Engineering, was honored this fall with the International Association for Engineering and Food’s (IAEF) Lifetime Achievement Award.

Recognized Sept. 26, 2019, at the International Congress on Engineering and Food in Melbourne, Australia, Tang is internationally known for his work in food safety technologies, helping make packaged, prepared foods safer, tastier, more nutritious, and more economical.

Tang’s proudest achievement is development at WSU of two new technologies: microwave assisted thermal sterilization, or MATS, and microwave assisted pasteurization systems, or MAPS, which help address modern safety standards and will particularly benefit rural communities, where most small and medium companies are located.

“Hundreds of individuals have contributed to the success of MATS and MAPS,” said Tang—among them engineers, current and former students, staff in his lab and department, colleagues at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Center and in WSU’s Colleges of Agricultural and Resource Sciences and College of Engineering, members of the Seafood Products Association, National Food Product Association, and other food company associations, as well as regulatory agencies including the FDA and USDA FSIS. “I’m thankful to so many colleagues, friends and fellow scientists for their partnership in the meaningful work that led to this humbling award.”

Newly elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences, Tang is the Institute of Food Technologists representative-elect to the IAEF. In 2016, he launched the USDA-NIFA Center of Excellence for Food Safety using Microwave Energy at WSU. In 2018, he was the inaugural recipient of the WSU President’s Distinguished Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Learn more about Tang’s research here.

Future teacher returns the generosity that an organization showed to her

By Sarah Appel, CAHNRS Academic Programs

Elizabeth Warren planned to major in Agricultural Education when she first came to Washington State University. Years later, she earned degree with a major in Agriculture and Food Security instead. That major, combined with a minor in Crop Science, a Global Leadership Certificate and Honors College chords, rounded out Elizabeth’s undergraduate career.

Warren talks to 2 students wearing blue FFA corduroy jackets.
Elizabeth Warren talking to high school students while representing CAHNRS at the 2018 National FFA Conference.

But while working on her bachelor’s degree, Elizabeth got involved with the Aspiring Teacher Leadership and Success (ATLAS). ATLAS is a grant-based collaborative program between the Office of the Provost and the College of Education. Their goal is to support all students, primarily first-generation, those from low-income backgrounds, and those with disabilities.

Elizabeth learned first-hand what it meant to have such a support system through the ATLAS program.

“As a first-generation student, some knowledge that others had didn’t exist for me,” Warren said. “I felt embarrassed for not knowing things and, since my family members had never gone to college, I didn’t know what I didn’t know and didn’t know who to ask to find out either. ATLAS staff was always willing to answer my questions and let me know about opportunities within the university. They never made me feel inferior for not knowing something.”

Warren holds a sign, wearing the traditional cap and gown, in a parking lot.
Warren holding the CAHNRS sign before the 2019 WSU commencement ceremony.

She started working for the organization as a clerical worker when she was a sophomore. She moved to Project Assistant and helped design and implement the Peer Advising program before serving as a Peer Advisor and a Teacher’s Assistant.

This summer, after she graduated, she was promoted to a position as a Project Advisor. When she’s not advising ATLAS students, Elizabeth works toward her Master’s in Teaching – a 13-month program which offers both a graduate degree and teaching preparation.

“I want to cultivate a classroom where students can pursue their passions and explore concepts in agricultural sciences to help them better understand the world around them,” she said.

Elizabeth wants to encourage her students to become lifelong learners and seek answers wherever they go.

While her undergraduate education did not go quite as she expected, Elizabeth is grateful for where she is today and is excited to see what the future holds for her and her future students.

Crop and Soils student’s discoveries on root growth featured in Plant and Cell Physiology

Head shot of Thiel Lehman
Thiel Lehman

Fundamental research by 2019 WSU Crop and Soil Sciences doctoral graduate Thiel Lehman was featured this summer in Plant and Cell Physiology.

Advised by assistant professor Karen Sanguinet, Lehman studies interactions between plant cell walls and auxin, a key hormone in plant growth.

Featured in the journal’s July Research Highlights, Lehman’s work explores how coordination between auxin and cell wall biosynthesis is a key driver for root growth.

Working with Sanguinet, he found that auxin reduced swelling in plant roots with destabilized cell walls, showing evidence that cell wall biosynthesis feedback regulates auxin movement into and out of cells. This research could help scientists better understand how plants regulate their growth.

Read the article here.

Students earn competition awards at Society for Horticultural Science conference

Huan, at podium, in front of presentation screen.
Presenting at Scholars Ignite, student Huan Zhang took first place for his talk on plastic mulches for the raspberry industry.

Students in the WSU Department of Horticulture won awards in competition at the annual conference of the American Society for Horticultural Science, July 21-26 in Las Vegas.

Doctoral student Huan Zhang took first place in the Scholars Ignite three-minute talk competition, presenting his research on plastic mulches for the raspberry industry.

Washington leads the country’s production of processed red raspberries, used in everything from pies and fillings to smoothies. Zhang’s research explores the use of plastic mulches, both conventional and biodegradable, and he has found that these ground covers can help suppress weeds, save labor, increase plant growth and boost yields.

Growers have been quick to adopt these mulches, and Zhang said the team is continuing to evaluate their long-term impact and explore ways to manage plastic waste.

In addition, Erica Casagrande Biasuz took second place in the doctoral student poster competition. Biasuz’ research looks at how dwarfed rootstock affect growth and water use in grafted fruit trees.

Growers graft scions onto rootstocks to cultivate new apple trees. Dwarf rootstocks help ensure plants don’t grow too tall, concentrating their energies on fruit. However, these rootstocks may limit trees’ ability to draw in water.

Working with the Honeycrisp apple, Biasuz was able to identify how rootstocks affect tree vigor, helping reveal key factors for growth and water use.

Learn more about the American Society for Horticultural Science here:

Biasuz, standing in front of research poster.
Erica Casagrande Biasuz took second place, showing research on dwarf rootstocks


Economics professor receives recognition for tobacco education paper

WSU Economics professor Gregmar Galinato was honored this summer for receiving the 2018 Outstanding Journal Article by the Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

Outdoor portrait photo of Galinato w/trees in the background.
Greg Galinato

The journal chose Galinato’s paper, “Tobacco Education Program Spending and Tobacco Use among Adolescents,” for its potential policy implications.

Galinato and his co-author Yeon Hong, who earned a Ph.D. at WSU, had a few important findings in their paper. They found that for every dollar per capita spent on tobacco education programs, the probability of a non-smoking adolescent ever smoking was reduced by eight percent. For adolescents already smoking, every dollar per capita spent on education programs reduced smoking by one smoking day per month for females only. There was no reduction for males.

But, the paper also looked at tobacco tax implications. Galinato and Hong found that adolescent smoking amounts actually responded more to increases in taxes. In other words, higher prices had more impact than learning about the ill effects of smoking through tobacco education programs.

“Raising tobacco taxes is a much more efficient way of reducing smoking, and to not start smoking,” Galinato said. “But that doesn’t mean those education programs aren’t useful. If they’re done in conjunction with increased taxes, you would hit an even larger swath of people.”

The implications could be huge for government agencies looking for the most efficient ways to curb smoking.

And the two methods could also work together, as increasing taxes could pay for the educational programs, a “revenue neutral” system that could have major impacts.

Galinato said he was surprised to win the award for his paper, but glad that his work could have a direct impact for policy makers. He received his award at a Western Agricultural Economics Association meeting in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho this summer.

WSU economists Jill McCluskey and Tom Marsh named Western Agricultural Economics Association Fellows

Head shots of both faculty members
Jill McCluskey and Tom Marsh

Recognized for making enduring contributions over their careers to agricultural, resource, and environmental economics in the Western United States, the Western Agricultural Economics Association recognized Jill McCluskey and Tom Marsh as 2019 Fellows.

The announcement came as part of the association’s annual meeting, held this year in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, and recognizes the impact that both Marsh and McCluskey have had in their field. Fellow is the association’s highest award, and recipients are chosen by a vote of Fellows.

“It’s always humbling to receive this kind of honor,” said Marsh, a professor in WSU’s School of Economic Sciences and the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health. “Many of my personal mentors are also WAEA fellows, and so this award is very satisfying.”

Marsh, whose research focuses on identifying empirical problems in agriculture, global health, and natural resource use to help inform economic and public policy across the world, joined WSU economics faculty in 2004. He was previously on the faculty at Kansas State University.

McCluskey, Regents Professor and incoming director of the School of Economic Sciences, joined WSU in 1998. Her research on product quality and reputation, sustainable labeling, consumer preferences for new technology, and representation of women in STEM, has garnered international acclaim and won numerous awards.

“The WAEA was my first professional association,” said McCluskey. “It’s where I first got involved in leadership, and so it feels very special that they have recognized my research, teaching, and service.”

Comprised of professional economists working across academia, government, and industry the goals of the Western Agricultural Economics Association include fostering the study and understanding of economics and its application to problems in the western United States and Canada and increasing the contribution of agricultural economics to human welfare.

As Fellows, Marsh and McCluskey join a celebrated list of current and emeriti WSU faculty including Ken Casavant, Vicki McCracken, Ron Mittelhammer, Richard Shumway, Norm Whittlesey, and Doug Young.

More information about the Western Agricultural Economics Association can be found here.