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CAHNRS Coug Connections: Claudia Kightlinger

Each week, we showcase one of our CAHNRS Ambassadors, a student leadership organization that encourages students to pursue higher education and serves as a liaison between the college and the greater community. This week, we’re featuring Claudia Kightlinger, a junior from San Diego, Calif.

Formal portrait photo of Claudia Kightlinger
Claudia Kightlinger

What are you studying?

I’m majoring in Wildlife Ecology & Conservation Sciences with a minor in Zoology.

Why did you choose WSU?

My major offered a lot of opportunities for hands-on experience early on.

What is special about being a CAHNRS Coug?

The facilities and opportunities we have are fantastic.

What is your favorite CAHNRS class so far and why?

NATRS 435—Wildlife Ecology because I get to learn from a professor with real world experience doing what I’m interested in, with the animals I want to specialize in. He’s also teaching us how to make an impact in conservation using fact-based science and research.

Who are influential professors that you’ve had, and how did they impact your life?

Lisa Shipley—enthusiastic and the first professor I interacted with; I worked with her for my IGNITE internship.

What extracurricular activities are you involved in besides ambassadors?

I volunteer at the WSU Bear Center, and I also tutor.

What is a fun fact about you?

Interned at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park working with cheetahs primarily, but had the most amazing summer and gained a bunch of real-world animal experience.

What advice would you give an incoming freshman/high school senior to help them adjust to college?

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, or have too high expectations. Everyone has a different path so don’t worry about your progress compared to others.

Favorite item/flavor at Ferdinand’s?

Tin Lizzy

 

CAHNRS Coug Connections: Megan Russell

Each week, we showcase one of our CAHNRS Ambassadors, a student leadership organization that encourages students to pursue higher education and serves as a liaison between the college and the greater community. This week, we’re featuring Megan Russell, a sophomore from Renton, Wash.

Formal portrait photo of Megan Russell
Megan Russell

What are you studying?

I’m majoring in Apparel Merchandising.

Why did you choose WSU?

I wanted to come to WSU for the community feel and the school spirit.

What is special about being a CAHNRS Coug?

It’s special to get to know all different kinds of students and represent something bigger than myself and share my passions.

What is your favorite CAHNRS class so far and why?

Visual Merchandising has been my favorite because of the industry experience and discovering my future career path.

Who are influential professors that you’ve had, and how did they impact your life?

Patrick Brown-Hayes has been the most influential professor due to his commitment to preparing students to be ready for industry. He pushes us to our limits to benefit us now and in the future.

What extracurricular activities are you involved in besides ambassadors?

I am in a sorority where I currently hold two positions, and I am also a PINK campus representative.

What is a fun fact about you?

I have played soccer since I could literally walk.

What advice would you give an incoming freshman/high school senior to help them adjust to college?

Treat it like a 9-5 job. I got told that by my advisor and it has made such a difference in my attitude about school.

Favorite item/flavor at Ferdinand’s?

Chocolate with Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough!

From CAHNRS Coug to Cornell Graduate Student

By Maya Wahl, CAHNRS Academic Programs

It all started when Brennan Hyden visited the Washington State University campus in the summer of 2012 to conduct research in Dr. Amit Dhingra’s lab. Brennan, a senior studying Agricultural Biotechnology, developed a passion for research as a freshman here in CAHNRS.

Brennan sits at a table in a white lab coat and purple latex gloves holding a scalpel and tweezers. He is about to slice into some leaves in a petri dish.
Brennan Hyden slices into a sample during his work in WSU professor Amit Dhingra’s lab.

This experience in the lab compelled Brennan to attend WSU and continue his work.

“I was welcomed back into the same lab and have stayed there since. I have had a great time in Dr. Dhingra’s lab and have been given a lot of freedom to work independently on a diverse range of projects, which has really enhanced my educational experience,” he said.

Brennan will graduate this December and has been selected to carry the CAHNRS Gonfalon banner during Commencement, an honor given to outstanding seniors in CAHNRS each year. He has been an active member of the CAHNRS community for four years.

After graduation, Brennan will head to Ithaca, New York, to attend Cornell University, where he will continue to pursue his passion and work towards his Ph.D. in Plant Breeding.

“I am passionate about agriculture because it enables me to take my passion for plants and apply that passion to global issues like food quality, nutrition, and security,” he said.

As he prepares to say goodbye to WSU in December, Brennan reflects on the pride in being a CAHNRS Coug.

“CAHNRS has a wonderful community of professors and staff and has provided so much support in my studies, including scholarships, funding to travel to conferences, and study abroad,” hesaid.

Many CAHNRS students are passionate about their fields and research. Brennan shared a few tips for those interested in pursuing graduate school.

Brennan stands in front of his research poster, hanging from a board.
Brennan presents his research poster.

“My biggest advice would be to get some quality undergraduate research time in-preferably a full-time experience in the summer,” he said. “It looks great to graduate schools and it will also give you a better idea of whether research is right for you and, if so, what you might like to focus on in graduate school.”

Lucky for Cougs, there are many opportunities to work in various research labs across campus, particularly for those who are involved in our CAHNRS Ignite Undergraduate Research Program.

Brennan will certainly take his experiences from WSU and CAHNRS with him to Cornell and there is no doubt that he will excel in this next step of his professional career. CAHNRS is proud to support students like Brennan and wish him the best as he moves towards his next goal and contributes to the agricultural world through his work.

CAHNRS Coug Connections: Jason Wigen

Each week, we showcase one of our CAHNRS Ambassadors, a student leadership organization that encourages students to pursue higher education and serves as a liaison between the college and the greater community. This week, we’re featuring Jason Wigen, a sophomore from LaCrosse, Wash.

Formal portrait photo of Jason Wigen
Jason Wigen

What are you studying?

I’m majoring in Agricultural Biotechnology and Field Crop Management.

Why did you choose WSU?

Growing up in Whitman County, I was always near Pullman, watching sports games and surrounded by Coug fans made WSU feel like home even before I came here for school. The hometown feel and family tradition of attending WSU, accompanied with a program that fit what I wanted to do, made WSU the one school that I wanted to choose.

What is special about being a CAHNRS Coug?

Being a CAHNRS Coug makes you a part of a large, but tight-knit community, of diverse students and majors. Much like WSU, it has a friendly and easily relatable student base.

What is your favorite CAHNRS class so far and why?

CROPS 102 with Dr. Pumphrey was the first class I took that was related to my major, and it gave me a better understanding of what I was going into, and a validation that I was in love with what I chose to study in college.

Who are influential professors that you’ve had, and how did they impact your life?

Dr. McCubbin was easy to listen to during lecture and gave me a good understanding of plant biology for my future classes.

Dr. Pumphrey gave lots of examples using a variety of different plants and crops to make the material more understandable.

What extracurricular activities are you involved in besides ambassadors?

I am a member of the Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity and play intramural sports.

What is a fun fact about you?

I had a high school graduating class of 5 people.

What advice would you give an incoming freshman/high school senior to help them adjust to college?

Be open to new things. With so much diversity, it really opens up a door to learn about new people and new ideas.

Favorite item/flavor at Ferdinand’s?

Cookie Dough Grabber

Markus Flury wins soil physics medal

Soil scientist Markus Flury takes soil samples at the Hanford nuclear reservation, studying movement of radioactive compounds.
Soil scientist Markus Flury takes soil samples at the Hanford nuclear reservation, studying movement of radioactive compounds.

For more than 20 years, Markus Flury has studied how the soil and water under our feet interact, influencing the food we eat and the water we drink.

Now, the Washington State University soil scientist’s achievements have earned him a prestigious accolade from the Soil Science Society of America: The Don and Betty Kirkham Soil Physics Award.

“Soils can protect groundwater from many contaminants, from chemical runoff to radioactive particles,” said Flury, professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences. “But soil isn’t a perfect barrier.”

Based at the WSU Puyallup Research and Extension Center, Flury studies the physics of soil and water in the vadose zone — the region between the ground’s surface and the water table.

Working in the lab and at field sites including Washington’s Hanford nuclear reservation, Flury discovered that water and water-borne contaminants move faster than previously thought using pores and channels in the ground. His research into this process, dubbed preferential flow, helped lead to tighter chemical restrictions in the European Union.

The Kirkham Award, which includes a bronze medal and a $2,000 prize, recognizes soil physics achievements by scientists in the midpoint of their careers.

“I am very honored to receive this award,” said Flury, “and proud of the recognition for my group’s work over the past 20 years. I’m inspired to continue our research into diverse and important aspects of soil physics.”

Flury received the award during the society’s annual meeting, Oct. 24 in Tampa, Fla. The honor is named for Don Kirkham, a distinguished soil physicist regarded as the founder of mathematical soil physics, and his wife Elizabeth.

“Soil physics has historically been a pillar for agriculture, providing fundamental principles for irrigation, drainage and other important processes in the soil,” said Flury. “Don Kirkham was a pioneer in irrigation and drainage. We can continue his work by investigating the many physical processes that remain less understood.”

Encouraged by the award, Flury hopes to pay it forward through mentorship of students and visiting scientists.

“I’ve benefited from excellent mentors, students and collaborators throughout my career,” he said. “I hope to pay back some of those contributions by following their example.”

Learn about the Soil Science Society of America at https://www.soils.org/.

CAHNRS Coug Connections: Megan Whited

Each week, we showcase one of our CAHNRS Ambassadors, a student leadership organization that encourages students to pursue higher education and serves as a liaison between the college and the greater community. This week, we’re featuring Megan Whited, a junior from Buckley, Wash.

Formal profile photo of Megan Whited
Megan Whited

What are you studying?

I’m majoring in Agricultural Education.

Why did you choose WSU?

After participating in FFA State Conventions at WSU throughout high school, and then taking a year off after high school to serve as a Washington FFA State Officer, I found myself already connected to the Cougar Community and CAHNRS Family, so the transition felt very comfortable. I really appreciate that it is a land-grant institution and that they had a great Agricultural Education Program!

What is special about being a CAHNRS Coug?

CAHNRS consistently offers opportunities that push you out of your comfort zone and into your growth zone so that you can discover your talents, thrive in your education, enhance your experiences, and connect with your community and world.

What is your favorite CAHNRS class so far and why?

Soil Science 201 because it was really interesting to learn about soil and how it is literally the foundation of all things on earth: building, growing, filtering, collecting, decomposing, etc.! Soil is more interesting than you think, and this class helped me discover more about it!

Who are influential professors that you’ve had, and how did they impact your life?

Andrew McCubbin from Biology 120, Plant Botany was really fun and engaging because of his accent and cool plant music videos that illustrates the topics he is teaching us!

Kevin Murphy from AFS 201 was really interesting to learn from because of his extensive work with quinoa and explicit passion for international agriculture.

What extracurricular activities are you involved in besides ambassadors?

Agriculture Future of America, National Association for Agricultural Educators, President of WSU Young Farmers & Ranchers, Agricultural Education Club, Student Experience Advisory Council, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Hunting, and working at CAHNRS Academic Programs.

What is a fun fact about you?

I used to have the goal of working at the Library of Congress and being the person to take care of preserving the Declaration of Independence and Constitution…just in case there was a hidden treasure map you know!

What advice would you give an incoming freshman/high school senior to help them adjust to college?

Take a deep breath! Write down encouraging words/sayings on a paper and hang it where you will see it every day to motivate you to keep going. Also, pick something you have been meaning to do and do it! Put it in your calendar!

Favorite item/flavor at Ferdinand’s?

Huckleberry Ripple is the best flavor on this planet! And the cheese curds are divine!

CAHNRS Coug Connections: Alec Solemslie

Each week, we showcase one of our CAHNRS Ambassadors, a student leadership organization that encourages students to pursue higher education and serves as a liaison between the college and the greater community. This week, we’re featuring Alec Solemslie, a junior from Big Lake, Wash.

Formal profile photo of Alec Solemslie
Alec Solemslie

What are you studying?

I’m majoring in Forestry, with a minor in Geospatial Analysis.

Why did you choose WSU?

I chose WSU for its community and small town feel. While debating between UW and WSU, I decided WSU would provide a chance to be an individual and to connect with others while having a voice.

What is special about being a CAHNRS Coug?

A CAHNRS Coug means being a part of a community/family working together as a collective, and as individuals, to better and support one another, and the future of our fields.

What is your favorite CAHNRS class so far and why?

NATRS 305, Silviculture with Dr. Mark Swanson. He is very passionate about the class, giving us energy and passion. Hands-on experience with field trips connects lecture material to the real world.

Who are influential professors that you’ve had, and how did they impact your life?

Dr. Mark Swanson is immensely relatable and passionate about his work. Every conversation is entertaining and I always walk away feeling inspired.

Dr. Benjamin Zamora is a huge resource in terms of knowledge and research. He cares about his students and brings passion to his subject.

What extracurricular activities are you involved in besides ambassadors?

I am involved with Horticulture Club, Forestry Club, Residence Hall Association, and ASWSU Environmental Sustainability Alliance.

What is a fun fact about you?

I have a bad habit of collecting plant seeds and materials from other people’s gardens and arboretums.

What advice would you give an incoming freshman/high school senior to help them adjust to college?

Get involved and find your community. It is your responsibility to find events and activities. You will build lifelong friendships and a support group and be able to explore your passions.

Favorite item/flavor at Ferdinand’s?

Huckleberry and Cougar Gold

 

CAHNRS Coug Connections: Jesus Rodriguez

Each week, we showcase one of our CAHNRS Ambassadors, a student leadership organization that encourages students to pursue higher education and serves as a liaison between the college and the greater community. This week, we’re featuring Jesus Rodriguez, a senior from Chelan, Wash.

Formal profile photo of Jesus Rodriguez
Jesus Rodriguez

What are you studying?

I’m majoring in Fruit and Vegetable Management, with a minor in Horticulture.

Why did you choose WSU?

I chose WSU because it offered a major/field of study I am interested in and passionate about. Additionally, WSU is a premier university for agricultural studies.

What is special about being a CAHNRS Coug?

You are part of a community that care about each other and are passionate about their majors and want to make a difference in their respective career industry.

What is your favorite CAHNRS class so far and why?

I enjoyed Crop Growth and Development (HORT 202) because I had the opportunity to conduct a research project about a crop of interest.

Who are influential professors that you’ve had, and how did they impact your life?

I admire Dr. Layne for his knowledge of fruit and crop production, and his engaging teaching style. I aspire to attain the knowledge that he has about tree fruit.

What extracurricular activities are you involved in besides ambassadors?

I play intramural soccer in the recreational league.

What is a fun fact about you?

I get a haircut every week—the fade has to be on point!

What advice would you give an incoming freshman/high school senior to help them adjust to college?

Get involved, attend events, and make new friends. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek help—there are many resources available and people happy to help.

Favorite item/flavor at Ferdinand’s?

Huckleberry!

CAHNRS Cougs in the Capitol

By Maya Wahl, CAHNRS Academic Programs

Rebecca Foote, a junior studying Agricultural Education, spent last spring semester working in our state Capitol as a legislative intern for Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler.

Foote sitting at the desk of Senator Schoesler, with Schoesler standing next to her
WSU student Rebecca Foote at the desk of Washington Senator Mark Schoesler

During her semester-long internship, she worked as a full-time staff member while the Legislature was in session from January to April of 2017. Rebecca worked together with other interns on mock committee hearings and floor debates on real issues currently happening in the State of Washington.

“The most interesting task I had was researching the cherry trees that were a gift from the Japanese government in the 1920s,” she said. “I wrote the inscription for the portrait we gave to the Japanese Ambassador. It’s an incredible feeling knowing that something that I did will be seen by important people around the world.”

While this was Rebecca’s first time working in the Senate, she had previous experience in the Capitol advocating for various causes as the 2014 – 2015 Washington FFA State Vice President. While she does not plan to work in politics for the rest of her life, Rebecca gained an understanding of how important policy is and the impact that it makes on the lives of the public.

“After this experience I want to become an agriculture teacher that is civically involved and politically aware. This was a wake-up call for me on how important it is to know what is going on rather than simply talking about it after the fact,” she said. “I want to show my students how easy it can be to make a positive difference in their community as well as the state level.”

While she was in the Capitol, Rebecca worked with some incredible people who genuinely care about the work they do.

“The people from the district calling in to voice their opinions, the interest groups that drive across the state for a fifteen minute meeting, the aides taking the time to teach you, and the other interns sharing tips on how to survive. That was my favorite part, all the people that care,” she said.

She received overwhelming support from her fellow interns and supervisors and always found help when she needed it.

“The hill is a tough place to work and most days feel like the next meeting can change everything. So when Senators take the time to sit with you and help you write your final, or when a legislative aide sends you an article that helps answer a constituent email, it makes all the difference,” she added.

The opportunity to work on the Capitol is available each year. WSU students travel to Olympia to build upon their knowledge of the legislative process.

“I would absolutely encourage CAHNRS Cougs to apply for this internship, no matter their major,” she said. “As students, it can be easy to fall into a certain area of focus and not really branch out. This is an opportunity to learn first-hand how agriculturalists are responding to new ag policies as well as why they were created in the first place.”

Rebecca learned not only about how the agricultural industry is affected by lawmakers’ decisions but also how her major is a springboard, not a boundary.

“This experience helped me to realize that my major does not put restrictions on what I am capable of doing.”

To find more information about the Legislative Internship Program, visit http://cahnrs.wsu.edu/ctll/2015/09/legislative-internship-program-deadline-1016/.

For other internship opportunities, visit the Center for Transformational Learning and Leadership website: http://cahnrs.wsu.edu/ctll/internshipcareer/.

Extension broadband efforts lead to national Rural Summit

Photo of Extension leaders meeting Sen. Patty Murray.

Local broadband planning work by WSU Stevens County Extensionand its director, Debra Hansen, and statewide efforts by Monica Babine, Senior Associate, Program for Digital Initiatives with Extension’s Division of Governmental Studies and Services, prompted an invitation by U.S. Senator Patty Murray to take part in the Senate Democratic Rural Summit, held Sept. 13 in Washington, DC.

At the Summit, more than 200 state and national leaders met for panel discussions on issues such as health care, critical infrastructures including broadband and economic growth.

While in the nation’s capital, Hansen and Babine met with members of the state’s congressional delegation and federal agencies. Building on WSU Extension’s work on local, regional and national rural broadband initiatives, the Division of Governmental Studies and Services is lending its expertise with the new WSU Economic Development Council and its priority initiative to expand broadband access in underserved areas of Washington.