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CAHNRS News – September 23, 2011

Posted by | September 23, 2011

Register Today for CAHNRS/WSU Extension All-Faculty Conference!

Dear Colleagues,

Greetings! I’m writing to strongly encourage you to attend the CAHNRS and Extension all-faculty conference being held at the CUB here on the Pullman campus, Oct. 4 – 6.

Your peers have pulled together an incredible program of conference sessions and presentations on key issue areas, including: natural resources and environmental stewardship, food safety, climate change, agriculture and sustainable food systems, childhood obesity and nutrition, sustainable energy, youth and families and community and economic development. The planning team also has built in some terrific opportunities for you to informally network with your fellow faculty members about the possibilities of integration and collaboration.

Improving integration has been a long-time goal of both CAHNRS and WSU Extension. This conference is another step forward in advancing that goal.

I understand and appreciate what a sacrifice it can be to step away from you regular duties for an event such as this, but your presence is critical to the long-term success of your individual program as well as that of CAHNRS, WSU Extension, and most importantly the stakeholders we all serve. So take a moment today to register at http://cm.wsu.edu/universityengaged.

Best regards,

Dan Bernardo

Dan Bernardo

Washington Apple, Pear Growers Approve $27 Million Special Project Assessment to Support WSU Research, Extension; Largest Gift in WSU History

Tree fruit growers and reporters from throughout the state gathered at the Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center at Prosser Tuesday for the announcement of the largest gift in WSU history: $27 million over the next eight years to support tree fruit research and extension.

“A gift of this magnitude is truly transformational,” said WSU President Elson S. Floyd. “We sincerely thank the industry for making such a dramatic investment, and for finding a way to make it happen that fits the industry’s culture and values. In partnership, WSU and growers will work to ensure the industry continues to be a leader in the global market.”

Washington State Department of Agriculture officials certified the election results at end of day Friday, Sept. 16. Separate ballots were mailed for apples, pears, cherries and stone fruit, with producers of each commodity voting on the assessment. Of the 791 ballots cast by apple growers, 450, or 57 percent, approved a $1 per ton assessment dedicated to WSU research and extension. Of the 265 ballots cast by pear growers, 148, or 56 percent, approved a $1 per ton assessment for WSU research and extension. Cherry and stone fruit growers did not approve the special project assessment, with 56 and 57 percent opposed, respectively.

This investment comes at a time when the $35 billion food and agriculture industry continues to increase its contribution to the state’s economy. Annually, the Washington tree fruit industry accounts for more than $6 billion of economic impact, with more than a third of that total derived from exports.

“Washington growers support research and extension because they know it’s important to invest in the future of the industry,” said Dan Newhouse, director of the Washington State Department of Agriculture. “We grow the best quality tree fruit in the world, but we need to be ready to respond to a changing marketplace, unknown pests and diseases and other uncertainties we can’t anticipate. This agricultural research at WSU will be a valuable tool as we seek to manage future risks.”

Jim Doornink, chair of the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission, said approval of the special project assessment speaks to a rich legacy of partnership between growers and WSU, and acknowledged there is “still much work to be done.”

“The Washington tree fruit industry is a global competitor today in part due to the partnership and close collaboration among growers and scientists at WSU,” said Doornink, who raises cherries, apricots, peaches, pears and apples in the Yakima Valley. “The results of that relationship show up every day in the orchard, the packing house and the market. We are thrilled with this endorsement by apple and pear growers, and as a commission working with WSU, we remain committed to serving all fruit growers in the state.”

Bruce Allen, a Washington tree fruit grower and shipper as well as a member of the volunteer leadership team that helped to spearhead the tree fruit campaign, said research and innovation have always been at the heart of the industry’s success. “The Washington tree fruit industry’s investment in WSU has always paid big dividends,” he said. “We, as growers, benefit economically from the partnership; this investment guarantees that will continue.”

Dan Bernardo, dean of the WSU College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences, agreed.

“This gift is testimony to three critical factors,” he said. “The first is the commitment and foresight of an extremely progressive industry. The second is the quality and contributions of the gifted and dedicated scientists at WSU who work tirelessly to serve the industry. And, third is the trust and respect built between the two during a century-long partnership.”

Bernardo said WSU, over the past decade, has made significant and strategic investments in all areas of tree fruit research and extension. For the special project assessment, WSU worked very closely with industry representatives to ensure their dollars are spent where they will have the most impact. As a result, the funds will go to WSU’s research and extension centers at Wenatchee and Prosser. Specifically, the funds will be spent as follows:

  • $11 million to create six endowed chairs to provide perpetual support for the tree fruit research program. WSU will cover the salary and benefit costs for each faculty position.
  • $11 million to create an endowment to establish new positions in tree fruit production regions to accelerate the transfer of new information and technologies for Washington growers and shippers. These non-tenured positions will reinvigorate WSU extension activities and focus on industry priorities.
  • $5 million to create an endowment to support dedicated research orchards in Prosser and Wenatchee and enhance development and evaluation of cutting edge technologies and practices.

Bernardo also noted that he will work directly with an advisory committee appointed by tree fruit industry organizations to ensure industry-endowed programs perform at the highest level and produce results for the growers and shippers of Washington.

President Floyd announced last December that WSU is in a $1 billion comprehensive fundraising effort: “The Campaign For Washington State University: Because the World Needs Big Ideas.” The Tree Fruit Industry’s gift of $27 million gift will be counted within that $1 billion goal. To date, generous donors, businesses and organizations have committed more than $621.4 million to the Campaign for WSU to increase support for the university’s students, faculty, research and extension programs and to leverage the university’s impact across the state, nation and world.

Allied industry members have made additional gifts of over $500,000 in support of tree fruit research at WSU, and efforts will continue to secure an additional $10 million in gifts from other businesses associated with the tree fruit industry over the next year.

Final Faculty Review of Tenure and Promotion Polices and Criteria

Over the past year, CAHNRS has been engaged in the process of updating its policies and criteria for tenure and promotion. This process began last Fall with the appointment of a 10-person committee representative of the diversity of disciplines and appointments in the college. This committee worked tirelessly to develop a draft document that was vetted with the dean, associate deans, and department chairs. The document was then revised, reflecting the collective input of the Administration, and then distributed to the department chairs and school directors. The chairs and directors were asked to distribute the draft document to their faculty, discuss it at a faculty meeting, and provide collective unit-level input. This input was then incorporated into a third draft. That draft was shared with Fran McSweeney, Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs, who provided input from the Provost’s Office. Incorporation of these suggestions resulted in the fourth and current draft. Faculty are invited to review this document at http://cahnrs.wsu.edu/fs/promotion-tenure.htm, and provide input using the instructions provided on the web page.

Bringing Back Local Grain: Kneading Conference West 2011

One hundred years ago, the U.S. world record for bushels of wheat grown per acre—119—was recorded not in the north central states or the Midwest, as one might assume, but on Whidbey Island in the coastal Pacific Northwest. WSU wheat geneticist Stephen Jones and other organizers of the inaugural Kneading Conference West, held Sept. 15-17 at the WSU Mount Vernon Research and Extension Center, hope that the tradition of growing wheat and other grains in Washington’s coastal areas can be resurrected.

“We hope to restore a local flavor to our baked products and malt and add value to grain farming areas outside of the wheat belt,” Jones said. “Through the efforts of the original Kneading Conference in Maine and the many local grain movements across North America, wheat and barley are returning to regions where they have been missing for generations. The reconnection between bakers, millers, maltsters, farmers, and those interested in the grains is a wonderful thing to see.”

In all, 250 people from 14 states and two Canadian provinces attended the conference to sit in on workshops covering baking, milling, farming, and malting. Jones and Jeffrey Hamelman, Master Baker and lead baker for King Arthur Flour Company in Vermont, served as keynote speakers. Other presenters included the founders and co-owners of The Essential Baking Company, Grand Central Baking Company, Breadfarm, Camas Country Mill, Hayden Mills, Country Living Grain Mills, Wildfire Bakery, Macrina Bakery, Columbia City Bakery, and many others. More than 35 sponsors, showcasing their products at the conference, ranged from local makers of cheese, cider, and beer to Whole Foods Market. W.P. Kemper Bakery Systems installed a $25,000 steam-injected bread oven just for the event. Jones said graduate students and staff had a major role in making the conference a huge success, and organizers plan to make it an annual event.

The Mount Vernon center was the perfect venue for the West Coast counterpart of the Kneading Conference. Its plant breeding program seeks to add to the long-term environmental and economic health of farming in western Washington while producing safe food crops that are high in nutritional value. Graduate student research focuses on breeding for traditional and organic farming systems, converting wheat to a perennial crop, evolution of wheat species, increased water- and nitrogen-use efficiencies of crop plants, and more. That local research infrastructure is critical to western Washington farmers.

“I can’t count how many times this research unit has reached out and pulled us back from the edge,” said Dave Hedlin, owner of Hedlin Farms, a third-generation family farm operating near La Connor in the Skagit Valley. Hedlin spoke during a panel on connecting the farmer, miller, and baker in the grain production process. He also noted that the Mount Vernon area is special to him and many others.

“What an honor it is to farm on the alluvial soil of this area. The soil here is wonderful,” he said. “Skagit County is a great place, conducive to preserving this way of life. People here are fascinated with locally grown food.”

Harvest Celebration at WSU Organic Farm Is Oct. 8

Everyone is welcome to come celebrate fall harvest at WSU’s Organic Farm annual Harvest Party, Oct. 8 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Harvest Party activities include hay wagon rides around the farm, corn maze, face painting, and fresh pressed apple cider. There will be a U-pick pumpkin patch with traditional jack-o-lanterns, baby pumpkins, and a few novelty varieties. Pumpkins will be sold by weight.

“The star of the party will be a giant pumpkin on display,” said organic farm manager Brad Jaeckel. “Party-goers are invited to take a guess at the pumpkin’s weight. The closest guess wins the giant or a more reasonable sized jack-o-lantern of the winner’s choice. The party is always a lot of fun, so we invite folks to come out to meet the farm crew and to enjoy the harvest and the crisp fall air.”

The WSU Organic Farm is located inside Tukey Horticulture Orchard on the corner of Airport Road and Terre View – follow the signs to the farm. The orchard will also be open for U-pick and pre-picked fruit sales.

Encourage High School Students to Apply for Borlaug-Ruan Internship

The prestigious Borlaug-Ruan international internship provides high school students an all-expenses-paid, eight-week hands-on experience, working with world-renowned scientists and policymakers at leading research centers in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.

Since 1998, over 140 Borlaug-Ruan Interns have traveled to Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Kenya, Peru, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and Trinidad.

The Borlaug-Ruan International Internship is different from other study abroad internship programs in that students participate in original research projects with acclaimed international scientists while getting a firsthand view of pressing food security issues and nutritional problems in poverty-stricken areas of the developing world.

Through the internship program, the student becomes an integral part of her or his assigned project, spending time in the lab, as well as days or weeks at a time in the field, conducting research and gathering data. Learn more about the program online at http://www.worldfoodprize.org/en/youth_programs/borlaugruan_international_internship/.

WSU Historic Costume Collection Online

Samples from the more than 5,000 garments and accessories in the Apparel, Merchandising, Design, and Textiles department’s historic costume collection are now online thanks to Washington State Magazine. Check out the gallery at http://wsm.wsu.edu/gallery/2011Summer-gallery.php – id=vintage-clothes&num=11!

Kudos

Two Washington State University faculty members have been elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences, honoring their scientific achievements and tapping them for advice on science policy in the state. The two – agricultural economist Thomas Marsh and plant biologist Gerald Edwards – will join 22 others from around the state when they are inducted at the academy’s fourth annual meeting in Seattle Sept. 22. They will bring the academy’s total membership to 154. “It’s certainly an honor to be elected to a group of well known and established scientists,” said Marsh, a professor in the WSU School of Economic Sciences and director of the school’s IMPACT Center, which addresses economic, social, political, and technical problems affecting Washington agriculture. “As an economist, I look forward to working with individuals on policy questions where I can contribute from a social and economic-impact point of view.” Marsh, who also sits on the faculty of the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health, has spent much of the past decade studying the economic effects of plant and animal diseases in the U.S. and abroad. Edwards, a Regents professor in WSU’s School of Biological Sciences, studies photosynthesis, including the effects of environmental stress and potential global climate change. He is currently involved in a consortium of scientists working to improve rice production and water use in stressed conditions.