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Excellence award honors Extension Parenting Team’s support for underserved families

Cradleboard practice
Participants in WSU Extension Parenting Team’s Positive Indian Parenting course practice the traditional skill of lacing a cradleboard for a young child.

Helping underserved families in Washington State grow healthy skills for life, the WSU Extension Parenting Team was honored this summer for efforts on behalf of equity and inclusivity.

Parenting Team faculty members Kayla Wells-Yoakum, AnaMaria Diaz-Martinez, Brittany Cooper, Jennifer Leach, Louise Parker, and Diane Smith received the Western Extension Director’s Association‘s Award for Excellence in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, during the organization’s joint summer meeting, June 29, 2022, in Concord, Calif. This award recognizes outstanding achievement by Extension professionals in reaching traditionally underrepresented populations.

The Extension Parenting Team supports the health of caregivers, parents, and children across Washington, helping build resilient families, enhancing positive parent-caregiver-child interactions, and reducing risks.

Kayla Wells-Yoakum
Kayla Wells-Yoakum

“Without the culturally adapted programming led by our team, we would be missing key audiences often left out of traditional parenting programs,” said Wells-Yoakum, Parenting Team member and associate professor in WSU Extension. “We are doing what Extension does best, serving the needs of our communities, and doing so with a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

Formed in 1999 to provide training and assistance through the Strengthening Families Program for Parents and Youth 10-14 (SFP 10-14), the Parenting Team has expanded its scope to meet diverse childhood development stages, family needs, and cultures. The team focuses on two traditionally underserved populations: Latino and Native American families; Washington is one of the top ten states with the largest Native American population, and more than 13 percent of Washingtonians are Latinx or Hispanic.

The original Strengthening Families program has reached tens of thousands of Washington families. Participants report significant improvements on rules about substance use, positive involvement, family harmony and open communication.

Other successful, award-winning programs include Positive Indian Parenting, a program based on traditional Native American child-rearing practices that applies those practices to parenting today; Fortaleciendo Familias, a culturally-adapted version of SFP 10-14 delivered entirely in Spanish; and Guiding Good Choices, which promotes healthy, protective parent–child interactions and addresses children’s risk for early substance use. Members of the Extension Parenting Team are trained as both facilitators and trainers for all four programs.

During the COVID pandemic, the transition to virtual learning pushed the team to adapt and innovate, ultimately helping programs be more inclusive, accessible, and valuable for parents.

Traditional in-person activities were adapted to meet the needs of virtual audiences, and culturally relevant activities were introduced. The team has also expanded virtual facilitator trainings, offering sessions in English and Spanish, and more than 330 positive parenting podcasts have been downloaded, as well as shared with parents and school counselors.

“Our Extension Parenting Team thanks WSU Extension leadership and Associate Dean and Director Vicki McCracken for recognition that our work has always been about supporting diversity, equity and inclusivity, and for encouraging us to submit for the award,” Wells-Yoakum said.

“This team is highly deserving of the excellence award,” McCracken commented. “Together, they’ve done innovative work in reaching and helping families learn, grow, and be more resilient. They have been able to enhance their impact by effectively working together as a team.  Please join me, and their peers across the West, in congratulating them.”

Serving the western U.S. states, territories, and protectorates, WEDA supports members’ Extension organization through education, facilitating stakeholder input, and developing collaborative environments and partnerships. Learn about WEDA at

Learn how to develop a sustainable small farm at Cultivating Success course series

Small Farm stockInterested in farming? Not sure how to begin? Do you dream of beginning or expanding your own small farm? The Cultivating Success™ series of courses combines workshop and farmer-direct learning experiences to help foster the success of new and existing farms. Cultivating Success helps participants explore the unique advantages available to the small and mid-size farm.

Join us for the first course in the series, Whole Farm Planning on Monday evenings, 6 to 8:30 p.m., September 19 through December 5, 2022. Offered statewide, the course will be conducted online using the Zoom platform with in-person field trips available in some regions of Washington state. In addition, the course will be offered with Spanish language interpretation and facilitation.

Weekly presentations include local growers, organizations, and agriculture professionals with expertise in direct marketing, value-added processing, production planning, agronomy, livestock production, and more. Cultivating Success provides students with the tools necessary to create, develop, or expand a sustainable farm operation.

Cost for the twelve-week course is $200 per farm/family. Scholarships are available for Military Veterans and anyone for whom the course fee is a barrier. Visit to register online.

Sponsors include WSU Food Systems, WSU Extension, Washington State Dept. of Veterans Affairs, and US Dept. of Veterans Affairs.

For more information on the course, visit or contact Kate Smith (360) 395-2363,

WSU Extension Forestry team honored for excellence in education

Miner forestry
Northeast Washington Extension Forester Sean Alexander visits with Lynn Miner, owner of Casa Becca del Norté tree farm near Chewelah, Wash. Miner hosted WSU’s Forest & Range Owners Field Day in June 2022; the event was attended by 300 families and forest professionals.

The WSU Extension Forestry team was honored this summer by the Western Extension Director’s Association for their educational efforts preserving the health and safety of Washington’s private forests.

Team members Andrew Perleberg, Kevin Zobrist, Sean Alexander, Patrick Shults, Rebekah Zimmerer, Grace Garrison, Todd Murray, Vikram Yadama, and Karl Englund received WEDA’s Excellence in Programming award as part of the association’s joint annual meeting, June 29, 2022 in Concord, Calif.

“Washington has one of the richest forestry cultures on Earth,” said Perleberg, forestry team leader. “Families care deeply about leaving forests in better shape than when they came into ownership of the land.”

“To be selected as the top Extension program in the West is amazing,” he added. “Because there are so many participants in our programs, we get to hear how our programs have changed people’s lives, often!  It is common to hear, ‘I’ll never look at my forest the same way again.'”

The Extension Forestry team provides education and training to Washington’s 215,000 forest-owning families, and those who work with them. Small forest owners manage more than 5 million acres—making them the largest rural land use group in Washington.

Family forests are at risk due to wildfire, drought, insects and disease, invasive species, land-use changes, and past mismanagement resulting in unhealthy, overstocked forests. Education and technical skills are the top needs for owners to plan and employ best practices to steward their lands.

The WSU team combines tradition and technology in reaching learners. During the pandemic, the team launched an Online Field Day over Zoom, replicating it for Online Winter School across three seasons. Extension Forestry has offered more than 200 online webinars and over 100 YouTube videos, as well as downloadable bulletins, podcasts, and pre-recorded modules.

Stewardship forestry
Brinnon forest owner Eric Hendricks stands with Dennis Hill, (B.S. Forestry 2021), and receives recognition for being a State of Washington “Stewardship Forest” owner. Eric and wife Joanie completed the Coached Planning Forest Stewardship Shortcourse in 1998, learning to steward their Duckabush River property.

Since 2010, Extension educators have held more than 1,100 events and workshops, attended by more than 53,000 people. Their efforts have led to a $2.7 billion positive net benefit in protected or enhanced forests and resources across every forested county in Washington.

The program influenced forest health, stewardship, and wildfire mitigation treatments, including on more than 366,000 acres controlled by 34,000 families in eastern Washington alone. WSU’s Coached Planning short course created some of the furthest reaching impacts through the planning process. Seventy-three percent of participants in WSU’s Ties to the Land Succession and Estate Planning workshops prepared a 10-year plan. More than a third created 20-year plans. In Forest Manager education, more than 600 logging contractors increased awareness for protecting water quality, as well as their ability to manage insects and disease, prevent fire, protect soil erosion, and market forest products.

“Private forests generate public benefits through the healthy, productive, and safe management executed by the owners– most of whom will never see timber harvest revenues from the trees they plant today,” Perleberg said. “All forest land is important, whether it’s five or 5,000 acres.”

New guides from Extension: Irrigated agriculture in Spokane, Skagit counties

Irrigation systemEach month, experts at Washington State University publish new and revised guides aiding farmers and communities across the Northwest.

The latest guides include:

Irrigation plays an essential role in the state’s economy and natural resources. Good irrigation management saves water and energy and increases crop yield and farm profitability.

Intended for producers, agencies, and stakeholders, this publication is part of a series exploring irrigation system efficiency across five Washington counties. Learn about geography, weather, crop status, market value of crops, and irrigation systems in Spokane County. Authors include Don McMoran, Troy Peters, Abdelmoneim Z. Mohamed, Kate Seymour, Sylvi Thortenson, and Patricia J. Munts.

Irrigated agriculture in Washington has been adversely impacted by insufficient water and drought conditions, and there is an urgent need to improve irrigation system efficiency. WSU-WISE (Water and Irrigation Systems Efficiency) evaluates irrigation system efficiency for five counties across Washington state. This publication is part of a series resulting from WISE and provides an overview of irrigated agriculture in Skagit County, a diverse and major agricultural county. Authors include Sylvi Thortenson, Don McMoran, Abdelmoneim Mohamed, and Kate Seymour.

Find more guides at the Extension Publications website.

Training collaboration helps CAHNRS campuses better serve Latinx students

Escala logo graphicGaining skills to help Latinx students succeed, 16 CAHNRS faculty and staff members from across Washington state took part June 2022 in a national training program through ESCALA Educational Services.

Spanish for “striving,” ESCALA is a consortium of higher education consultants based in the U.S. Southwest who seek to increase retention and graduation rates of underrepresented students in higher education. The organization works with Hispanic-serving intuitions to close the gap in access and completion rates for Latinx and Hispanic students, helping them transform their institutional culture.

College participants from Pullman, the Tri-Cities, Prosser, and Mount Vernon took part via Zoom, June 6-10. They explored learning behavior and motivation and evaluated their own perspectives, deepening their understanding of cultural difference and how it impacts instruction and learning. The program sought to change the culture of STEM to best promote Latinx student success, with a focus on altering strategies to meet students’ needs.

Training was supported by Culturally Responsive Education in STEM (CRESCENT), a National Science Foundation-funded program offered regionally in collaboration with WSU, Heritage University, and Yakima Valley College.

Head shot of Rayapati
Naidu Rayapati, Director, WSU Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center, Prosser.

“With increasing number of students from Latinx and other communities of color in our college, ESCALA training is an opportunity to empower faculty with a broader understanding of changing demographics in the classroom,” said Naidu Rayapati, director and professor at WSU’s Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center at Prosser. “It helps us recalibrate teaching and mentoring activities to promote culturally appropriate pedagogy for the success of linguistically diverse students at WSU, and helps to advance an inclusive culture to better serve our diversifying student body.”

Sponsoring more than a dozen faculty, the CRESCENT project is a great example of successful partnerships between IAREC and Heritage University, a Hispanic Serving Institution, to provide higher education opportunities for future generations of students from under-served communities, Rayapati said.

“I’m hopeful that the CRESCENT project will sponsor more faculty and early career researchers, such as post-docs, in future to benefit from the ESCALA training,” he added.

Portrait of Nancy Deringer
Nancy Deringer, Interim Associate Dean for Student Success and Academic Programs

Nancy Deringer, Interim Associate Dean for Student Success and Academic Programs in CAHNRS, said her office is giving the trainings its full support.

“ESCALA training highlights the need to re-tool our syllabi, assignments and assessments so there is high-context engagement with all our students,” she noted. “We are focused on student success, and this training is one way to ensure that the curriculum meets the needs of all learners. I want to thank Heritage University, Yakima Valley College, and Dr. Rayapati for their collaborative work in bringing this important training to the faculty and post-doctoral scholars of CAHNRS.”

New guides from Extension: Weed control, dairy-defending raptors, and hard cider chemistry

Learn how to control a pesky weed of grain and pulse crops, attract birds of prey to protect dairies, and view a first-of-its-kind study of the chemical properties of eastern Washington cider, with help from new and revised guides from WSU Extension.

Found at the WSU Extension online store, the latest publications include:

Mayweed Chamomile
Mayweed Chamomile

Integrated Management of Mayweed Chamomile in Wheat and Pulse Crop Production Systems (PNW695), Revised May 2022

Producing as many as 17,000 seeds per plant, mayweed chamomile is a troublesome weed in grain and pulse crops throughout the high-rain zones of the inland northwest. This guide shares integrated management approaches to help in long-term, sustainable control. Authors include Extension Small Grains Weed Science Professor Drew Lyon; WSU Research Weed Scientist Ian Burke; Oregon State University Extension Weed Science Specialist Andrew Hulting; and University of Idaho Weed Science Research/Instruction Associate Joan Campbell.

Cider test assayStudies on Fruit and Hard Cider Chemistry of Eastern Washington (TB77E)

With the industry expected to continue growing, now is the perfect time to learn more about the chemistry of Washington-grown hard cider apples. Only a few studies have been published concerning tannin tests for cider apple juices or hard ciders within the northwestern United States. This study examines apple fruit chemistry, including tannin assays, in which several common apple varieties were analyzed. Authors are WSU Department of Horticulture scientists Nathan Tarlyn and Scott Mattinson.

Starling flockAttracting Native Raptors to Dairies for Management of Pest Birds (FS373E)

Pest birds, especially European starlings, cause problems for dairies, consuming and spoiling cow feed, and may also transmit diseases. This guide reviews their impact, describes the benefits of attracting native raptors to manage pest birds, and offers recommendations on how to attract native raptor species to dairy farms. Authors include WSU Animal Sciences students Callan Lichtenwalter, Abraham Reguero, and Emma Impala, and WSU Associate Professor and Dairy Management Specialist Amber Adams-Progar.

See all new and revised WSU Extension Publications here.

Ag student details her career goals as a woman in agriculture

By Carmen Chandler, CAHNRS Academic Programs

Daisy Arias, a recent graduate who studied fruit and vegetable management and field crop management recounts her experiences in college and goals after graduation.

Arias holds a shovel as machinery digs out a hole in the soil.
Daisy Arias getting hands-on experience.

When applying to universities, Daisy was unsure of what she wanted to do. After her first internship in high school, Daisy’s interest piqued for agriculture. She was fascinated with the potential for growth within the industry, and how quickly agriculture is evolving. Washington State University’s Integrated Plant Sciences programs offered Daisy the opportunity to further explore her newfound passion.

Daisy, an Entiat Washington native, grew up around apple orchards and agriculture with parents working in the agricultural industry. She aims to contribute more to agriculture by improving the system for farmworkers and fruit growth. Daisy is also passionate about contributing to the field by changing the narrative for women in agriculture.

As a woman of color in agriculture, Daisy has faced barriers at the start of her career in what is often a male-dominated field.

“You’re looked down upon, you’re not able to compete against these men,” Daisy said.

But Daisy found a way to affect change. Being a minority in STEM encouraged Daisy to join WSU’s Team Mentoring Program. She began as a mentee in her freshman year and was a mentor her final three semesters. With this program, Daisy advocated for minorities at the university and further explored her passion to advocate for women in agriculture.

“The program has shown me that I do have a voice, and my voice does count,” Daisy said.

Daisy has interned with a major agricultural company for the past two summers and was immediately employed after graduation as a research associate. She believes her experiences advocating for minorities have empowered her to speak up for herself in a professional setting.

Graduating with a WSU degree in fruit and vegetable management and field crop management opens students up to numerous fields within the industry.

“I have a friend who works as a technician in the field, and I have another friend who became a manager for a hops company,” she said.

With the multidisciplinary education provided by WSU, students like Daisy are prepared for many aspects of the industry.

Daisy encourages others to enter the field anywhere they can. “It doesn’t matter where you start, you can always grow from there.”

Plant pathologist Lindsey du Toit named fellow of the American Phytopathological Society

Lindsey du Toit
Professor and Extension Plant Pathologist Lindsey du Toit.

Internationally recognized for her work protecting valuable seed crops from diseases, Lindsey du Toit has been named a fellow of the American Phytopathological Society.

A professor and Extension Plant Pathologist at Washington State University’s Mount Vernon Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center, du Toit studies the origins, spread, patterns, and management of diseases affecting important vegetable and vegetable seed crops at home and around the globe.

In August, she will join nine other new fellows of the APS at the society’s 2022 Plant Health meeting. The fellowship honor recognizes members with distinguished contributions to the science and their society, including original research, teaching, leadership, and outreach.

“It takes a village to raise an effective faculty member, and an even bigger village to raise a fellow,” du Toit said. “This award is an acknowledgement to the many mentors and colleagues in South Africa, the U.S.A., and other countries who encouraged me, pushed me beyond my comfort zone, and inspired me to recognize the gratifying career I could have in plant pathology.”

Dr. du Toit is a past president and councilor-at-large to the society, which is made up of nearly 5,000 plant pathologists in higher education, government, industry and private practice. APS advances high-quality, innovative plant pathology research and the sharing of scientific innovations worldwide.

Dr. du Toit carrot harvest pic
Above, Dr. Lindsey du Toit carries a box of produce during a carrot research trial harvest. Below, du Toit with members of the harvest crew during an organic trial in Washington state.

Organic trial harvest crew with du ToitThe current Alfred Christianson Distinguished Professor in Vegetable Seed Science at WSU’s Department of Plant Pathology, du Toit currently leads or collaborates on multi-million-dollar research efforts investigating pests and pathogens of onions, studying crippling diseases in spinach seed, seeking genetic traits for improved carrots and sweet corn, and managing seedborne pathogens of table beets and Swiss chard. She has been a WSU scientist since 1998.

Dr. du Toit earned her bachelor’s degree in plant pathology at the University of Natal-Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, and holds advanced degrees in plant pathology from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.

“I hadn’t heard of plant pathology when I started my undergraduate degree,” du Toit said. “Once I recognized that this profession afforded the opportunity to work in science and directly with the communities affected by plant pathogens, I was hooked.”

As an undergraduate, she was given a gift membership to APS by a professor.

“I had no clue, reading the first APS newsletter I received in South Africa in 1991, what impact this membership would have on my career,” du Toit said. “The professional mentoring, networking, and development opportunities provided by APS to graduate students and early career professionals are incredible.”

The society has offered more than 1,200 student travel awards, and APS meetings are rich in scientific exchange and professional development opportunities. Members produce books, journals, and other resources for practitioners around the world.

“APS is a supportive community that believes in the value of our science for improving communities globally,” du Toit said. “It is a sincere pleasure to give back to the APS community that has given me so much.”

Learn about Dr. du Toit’s work on her faculty web page and at the WSU NWREC website. Learn more about APS here.

STEM opportunities abound in agriculture fields

By Carmen Chandler, CAHNRS Academic Programs

Washington State University’s Department of Crop and Soil Sciences explores and conducts research in plants, soils, and pests to identify best practices to improve crops and cropping systems. Crop and Soil Sciences strive to make foods safer, healthier, and more sustainable.

The department provides a wide variety of opportunities for students seeking STEM degrees. Opportunities range from lab, field, technology, education, and greenhouse employment. The multidisciplinary education within crop and soil sciences allows students to learn a broad set of skills to take with them into the workforce.

Hannah Peha sits in a field surrounded by bright yellow canola flowers.
Hannah Peha in a canola field.

WSU Crop and Soil Science professor Arron Carter hires students from his classes to participate in several campus job opportunities. These opportunities are not exclusive to soil science majors. Carter encourages any student with an interest in agriculture to search for opportunities early in their college career.

“I would be hard pressed not to find an opportunity for any student who has an interest in agriculture,” Carter said.

Hands-on opportunities allow students to discover the interdisciplinary learning behind various jobs in the Crop and Soil Sciences field. Technology is a key resource. Students have built equipment and assisted Carter with piloting drones on the field.

Carter believes the biggest misconception students find with his field is that they won’t be able to use their knowledge in multiple careers.

Hannah Peha, a junior Agricultural Biotechnology student, believes something similar: “I don’t think people realize the number of opportunities that there are in Crop and Soil Sciences.”

Hannah currently works as an undergraduate researcher for a barley breeder in the WSU greenhouse laboratory. She is involved in a pathology project working to identify a gene in barley that allows the pathogen to cause an infection in the plant. The research at WSU piqued her interest, and her goal is earning a Ph.D. in plant science before pursuing work in a laboratory.

Hannah took Carter’s plant breeding class, Crop Science 445, and is set to complete an internship at Columbia University this summer. She advises students who are interested in STEM to consider Crop and Soil Sciences.

“If you want to be in a profession that helps people and not necessarily go into medicine, agriculture is the way to go,” Hannah said.

The Crop and Soil Science department is versatile, with many hands-on and applied programs that span many research areas. Professors have a range of connections that can aid students in finding jobs and internships outside of the university.

Arron Carter

Carter advises students to engage in any hands-on opportunity they can. Using jobs or internships in education can allow students to discover the different areas within the field. Carter frequently finds himself collaborating with many different professors and researchers across a wide variety of specialties. Students engaging in these opportunities graduate from WSU with a broad set of tools and knowledge that will help them discover future careers.

WSU’s Lind Field Day returns June 16

Crop tour
Professor and Endowed Chair Drew Lyon points out the differences between similar weeds at a previous Lind crop tour. Returning this summer, WSU crop tours let Washington growers see research in action.

Growers can learn about the latest research on crops and practices for dryland farming at the 104th annual Lind Field Day, Thursday, June 16, 2022, at Washington State University’s Lind Dryland Research Station.

Registration begins at 8:30 a.m., with field tours starting at 9 a.m. A complimentary lunch and program will follow the tours.

Research presentations will focus on WEEDit sprayer technology; winter, club, and spring wheat breeding; pennycress research; and wheat diseases and the Plant Diagnostic Clinic.

WSU administrators will speak during the noon program. State legislature and wheat industry leaders will also provide updates.  An ice cream social will follow.

The Lind Field Day is free and open to the public. Washington pesticide recertification credits have been requested.

For more information, contact Samantha Crow, WSU administrative assistant, at (509) 660-0108 or by e-mail at