Members of the CAHNRS Alumni & Development and Communications teams won a first place award this summer from the National Agricultural Alumni and Development Association (NAADA), for their eye-catching, creative postcard aimed at first-time donors to the college.
The colorful postcard reminds donors of quintessential campus experiences, and thanks them for support that helps new generations of students have the same life-changing moments.
The card was developed by Jessica Munson, CAHNRS Assistant Director of Development, to support stewardship, and was designed by Gerald Steffen, CAHNRS Creative Manager.
The award was presented at the association’s annual conference, June 13 in Baton Rouge, La.
Learn more about NAADA here.
Helping scientists and farmers in Nepal, Naidu Rayapati, professor of plant pathology and director of the WSU Irrigated Agriculture Research & Extension Center, co-led a hands-on training course on viral diseases that harm vegetable crops.
More than 20 early-career scientists from the Nepal Agricultural Research Council, academic institutions and non-profits learned how to identify symptoms and detect viruses in the field, in a three-day course held this spring in Kathmandu, Nepal.
The course was funded by USAID’s Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management (IPM IL), managed by Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Rayapati co-led the course with Amer Fayad, Associate Director of IPM IL at Virginia Tech.
Course participants came away with better knowledge to protect their crops.
Learn more about WSU efforts to stop the spread of plant diseases here.
By Sarah Appel, CAHNRS Academic Programs
Esther Rugoli did not want her summer to start off slow.
Between online classes and research with USDA wheat breeder Kimberly Garland-Campbell and molecular geneticist Camille Steber, the senior Agricultural Biotechnology major wanted to use her free time to develop professionally and further her investment in international agriculture.
Esther was selected as a Future Leaders Fellow of the Association for International Agriculture and Rural Development (AIARD). This position and the AIARD awarded her a scholarship to attend the AIARD Annual Meeting and Future Leaders Forum last month in Washington D.C.
Esther was one of the 12 students, and the only undergraduate student, selected from around the United States into the forum. This year’s conference theme, Resilience in Global Food Systems, accurately reflected Esther’s commitment to not only her own education but also her future career and current passions.
As a member of WSU’s chapter of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences, Esther already understood the importance of diversity in both national and international agriculture, but wanted to learn more. This conference was one more step in that journey. The first two days of the trip were the National Conference itself and the latter two days consisted of tours for the AIARD Future Leaders. Both showcased the importance of international agriculture and the food supply.
“The food is going down, and the population is increasing. We have to talk about how to recover from the shock,” Esther said, describing the conference theme.
To solidify this theme, the Future Leaders Forum members visited a variety of companies in Washington D.C. that work in national and international food security.
Future goals from past experiences
From a young age, food security has been important to Esther. A native of Rwanda, she grew up on her family farm and her village faced food insecurity. The hunger problems she saw that plagued her friends and family inspired her to commit herself to solve the problem through plant breeding and genetics.
She came to WSU in 2016 with a set path in mind: Bachelor’s Degree, then Masters, then off to the workforce. This conference shook up those plans and opened her eyes to the vast horizon of possibilities.
“For me to get where I want to be, it’s not a straight line. That was a big takeaway from the forum: reaching where you want to reach doesn’t always mean it’s going to be straight, and sometimes doesn’t always go how you plan it,” Esther said. “But you have to fake it till you make it to reach where you want to reach.”
She was referencing a speaker at the forum that explained the importance of flexibility.
“As long as I want something, I will do anything to achieve that thing. And that requires endurance and persistence,” she said.
Helping where it’s needed
And where Esther wants to be is an African country, preferably Rwanda, working to improve plant genetics and breeding. She hopes to take crops that are already grown in Rwanda and modify them to contain more minerals and micronutrients. To achieve this, Esther is now considering the idea of pursuing a Master’s Degree in plant genetics or breeding and a Ph.D. in a policy-related field.
Esther is grateful for the opportunity to participate within an organization that emphasizes international agriculture and teaches resiliency even when the path isn’t straight. Esther advises any student who has an interest in international agriculture to apply for next year’s conference.
“It was really life-changing. I came back more energized, more focused, and more ambitious,” Esther said. She feels ready, more now than ever, to work for what she wants.
As an added bonus, the Future Leaders ran into Senator Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) while exploring the streets of Washington D.C. He was surprised and pleased with what this group of young adults were doing while visiting the city. He asked the group to take a selfie with him, which they excitedly agreed to. His support only solidified Esther’s commitment to her newfound ambition.
Patricia Townsend, a WSU Extension specialist in renewable energy and green infrastructure, was honored this spring as part of a team of extension agents creating opportunities for sustainability and change.
Townsend took part in the eXtension Foundation’s Impact Collaborative Summit this spring, as part of the National Sustainability Summit team, representing Washington State University, the University of Florida, North Dakota State University, and Florida A&M University.
Her team received the top score for the national project category during the LaunchFest portion of the Summit, an opportunity for teams to pitch their projects and programs to a panel of Cooperative Extension leaders and external partners. The group, which includes Townsend, Jennison Kipp-Searcy, Ramona Madhosingh-Hector, Linda Seals, Jennifer Taylor, Kimberly Davis, and David Ripplinger, received a $5,000 grant.
The team’s project, the National Sustainability Summit, is a meeting for Extension professionals, researchers, practitioners, and partners working on the urgent issues of climate, energy, water, food, land, and community engagement. The Summit provides tools and strategies to change behaviors, driving innovation in industry and research to improve community vitality and build resilient communities.
Team members are currently preparing for the launch of the summit in 2021, identifying and beginning conversations with partners, exploring innovative approaches, and inviting proposals for the next host community. They plan to attract new attendees, particularly from land grant and Hispanic-serving institutions, who will take ideas home to ensure that impacts are felt in all communities.
A research fellow with WSU Extension’s Metropolitan Center for Applied Research & Extension, Townsend works with stakeholders throughout the Pacific Northwest on issues related to renewable energy, ecosystem services, sustainable urban systems, earth abundant materials, and green infrastructure.
Townsend leads outreach for Advanced Hardwood Biofuels Northwest, which includes energy literacy, stakeholder research, and connecting poplar growers with market opportunities. Townsend is also conducting outreach with the Joint Center for Deployment and Research in Earth Abundant Materials, or JCDREAM, a new WSU center focused on earth-abundant materials, which can be more sustainably harnessed than rare materials.
The fall Impact Collaborative Summit will be held October 15-17, 2019, in Atlanta, Ga.
By Sarah Appel, CAHNRS Academic Programs
WSU students had an opportunity to learn about professional networking in the agricultural world, compete in national contests, and enjoy all that Overland Park, Kansas had to offer at last month’s Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) national conference.
MANRRS is a non-profit organization that “promotes academic and professional advancement by empowering minorities in agriculture, natural resources, and related sciences.” MANRRS is impacting students across the United States through countless opportunities including the annual MANRRS National Career Fair & Training Conference.
Colette Casavant, an academic coordinator and advisor in CAHNRS, and 10 WSU students attended the 34th annual MANRRS conference in Kansas where they gained skills for the professional world, participated in the career fair, and much more.
Senior Letty Trejo said the workshops that she attended and the chances to learn about post-graduation opportunities stood out to her and helped her the most throughout the event. For students interested in graduate school, there were opportunities to learn more about graduate programs and speak with graduate students during mixers and networking events throughout the week.
“My biggest takeaway from the National Conference was definitely all the new skills I got to learn,” said freshman Nicole Snyder. “I got the chance to attend the National Conference in conjunction with another conference for the NAAE (National Association of Agricultural Educators), which meant that I got to expand my professionalism in multiple ways. I was able to learn professionalism for my future classroom setting as well as in the industry setting.”
Grace Murekatete, who came to Pullman from Rwanda, said the National Conference, and MANRRS in general, is a great way to get to know a variety of people, both students and faculty.
MANRRS emphasizes the importance of professional connections while providing resources to help all students advance professionally and academically.
“You’re going to make some great connections that you’ll be able to hold on to during your college experience that will benefit you in the future,” said senior Adrian Lopez.
Overall, students had an incredible experience while at the conference. They look forward to the year to come and all the opportunities they will have the chance to take advantage of through this organization.