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Floriculture, FFA, Bat Hotel

Posted by | May 16, 2007

It’s a Fact

From $16.2 billion in 2005, U.S. sales of floriculture crops were projected to reach $16.5 billion in 2006. Although it earns only 2.5 percent of total U.S. floriculture sales, Washington is the nation’s second largest producer of cut flowers. Despite competition from imports, strategic growing has resulted in increased sales per grower. From $492,000 in 1992, average cut flower sales per grower reached almost $797,000 in 2005. (Source: ERS/USDA)

On Solid Ground is a weekly, electronic newsletter for the friends and stakeholders of the Washington State University College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS), WSU Extension and the WSU Agricultural Research Center.

In a Blaze of Blue

The 77th Washington State FFA Convention brought 2,500 blue-clad students to WSU’s Pullman campus this past weekend. About 170 of Washington’s 200 FFA programs were represented at the convention.

“These students have worked their way through activities during the year to be able to come to this event with their teachers,” Marvin Kleene told the Daily Evergreen. Kleene is an associate professor of agricultural education and campus coordinator for the event. “FFA is leadership within the agricultural education program.”

A number of students won awards. The AgriScience Student Award went to Mallory Wall-Tweten of Sumner, for her study of sheep genetics. For developing and promoting her own business, the AgriEntrepreneurship award went to Anna Chlebowski of Snohomish. In a wide variety of areas in agricultural education, said Kleene, the convention attendees are “the cream of the crop.”

WSU was lit up in a blaze of blue as 2,500 FFA members attended the 77th state convention. Photo by Samantha Graf.

Welcome to the Bat Hotel

At the bat hotel, mosquitoes check in, but they never check out. That, at least, is one of the goals behind a collaboration between six science students at Cascade High School (Leavenworth, WA), WSU Extension, and the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Pesticides kill mosquitoes efficiently, but with environmental and economic costs. Bats are just as efficient at eliminating the biting bearers of West Nile virus. Encouraging bats in their role as natural pest controllers will cut pesticide use and improve fish habitats by keeping pesticide drift and runoff from entering streams.

The project is still in its infancy. Students are building three bat hotels, each housing 50 of the furry flyers. Students and their advisers, including WSU Extension’s Cody Stitt, scouted locations for the accommodations. The bat hotel team has identified suitable spots along the Icicle Creek Nature Trail near Leavenworth. They plan to hang the hotels in trees in June.

“It’s hands-on experience,” student Pedro Barrera told the Wenatchee World. “I’m going to remember that I was a part of this project. I learn by doing it, instead of out of a book.”

A Little Brown Bat photographed in near-infrared light.