UD Cooperative Extension aids UD researcher at Delaware Ag Week

February 10, 2014 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Professor Kent Messer and his team of researchers poll farmers at Ag WeekSometimes, an offer can seem too good to be true. The University of Delaware’s Kent Messer was worried that would be the case with his latest research project — one that promised land owners in the state who owned more than 10 acres of land $50 simply for completing a 30-minute survey and offered up to $40,000 worth of funding to support cost share and landowner incentives to help implement nutrient management practices on private property.

Luckily for Messer and his research team, University of Delaware Cooperative Extension — in conjunction with Delaware State University Cooperative Extension and the Delaware Department of Agriculture — was holding Delaware Ag Week in Harrington at the Delaware State Fairgrounds and welcoming around 1,900 visitors, many of them land owners.

“We were able to piggyback on Extension’s work and trust with the farmers,” said Messer, Unidel Howard Cosgrove Chair for the Environment in the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics (APEC). “Our research was more believable because we were at Ag Day.”

“This is an excellent example of outreach and engagement within UD,” said Michelle Rodgers, associate dean for Cooperative Extension in the University’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “Cooperative Extension is a key partner in the Ag Week event which provided over 97 educational sessions with over 1900 attendees. Students involved in the survey were introduced to Cooperative Extension programming and through the event were able to meet face to face with their desired survey participants. This is was a win-win for the researchers and the research participants.”

Messer’s project is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Economics Research Service and at Ag Week, his team conducted a field experiment on nutrient management practices and landowners’ attitudes toward and adoption of those practices.

The USDA project had funding to support cost share and landowner incentives to help implement nutrient management practices on the ground. Messer’s team asked landowners about conservation buffers, areas that are vegetated along streams and ditches either by grass or forest, and asked the landowners how much they would be willing to share the costs of those practices.

Messer singled out Jennifer Volk, extension specialist in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, for helping to identify practices relevant to Delaware for the survey that are not currently available for cost share. “We didn’t want to fund practices that were already supported by state or federal programs; we want to learn about landowners’ attitudes and behavior related to new practices,” said Messer.

Messer said he combined this project with another one of his National Science Foundation (NSF) projects that focuses on the Murderkill Watershed, which has issues surrounding nutrients. If participants had property in the watershed, they were eligible for an extra $25 for taking the survey.

Survey team members included Walker Jones, a master’s degree student in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), Maik Kacinski, a postdoctoral researcher in APEC, Linda Grand and Seth Olson, both seniors in the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, and Michael Griner, a student from Delaware Technical Community College.

The research team set up shop in Harrington for four days during Ag Week. With four and sometimes six tablet computers available for survey participants, the team members set up through each day of Ag Week and was able to attract 80 people to participate in the survey, which Messer called a “home run.”

“One of the reasons I love Ag week is that it helped ensure our validity. Our booth had a bright blue University of Delaware sign on it. We were in a UD event. Because, in many cases, you could say that this was a too good to be true offer — $50 for a 30-minute survey. We’ll pay up to $40,000 for you to do nutrient management on your land. Most people will see that survey and throw it in the trash because they think there must be a catch.”

Messer said that he was very happy to be able to conduct his research survey at a Cooperative Extension event.

“I’m fundamentally committed to good research that has Extension components. I think that’s a wonderful pillar of the land grant and these are exciting opportunities to collaborate. This is a time when the Extension efforts helped the research project,” said Messer. “We wouldn’t have been successful without having Extension do what it does and having this program that is servicing the landowners. And we were really just able to take advantage of it and participate in it.”

The next steps for Messer and his team include collecting data via mail from participants who were not at Ag Week and finalizing the results of the study.

Article by Adam Thomas

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

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Seaford’s Sarah Bell wins inaugural 4-H Diamond Clover Award

February 7, 2014 under Cooperative Extension

Sarah Bell wins 4-H Diamond Clover AwardDelaware 4-H has announced that Sarah Bell of Seaford is the first recipient of the Delaware 4-H Diamond Clover Award, the highest honor a 4-H member can earn.

The 4-H Diamond Clover Award is Delaware 4-H’s formal acknowledgment of Bell’s achievement in making a significant difference in the community and state through her “Read to Success Delaware!” project, designed to combat illiteracy.

Delaware 4-H has long acknowledged excellence with blue ribbons, trophies and project pins, and has awarded many scholarships to its 4-H members. However, as the largest youth program in the nation, 4-H did not have a signature capstone award to honor members who demonstrated extraordinary, sustained and focused service learning in their community.

Bell, it turns out, was Delaware 4-H’s diamond in the rough.

Before a crowd of adult 4-H volunteer leaders, University of Delaware Cooperative Extension and 4-H staff, family and friends, Bell, a member of the Stateline 4-H Club, was officially presented with the inaugural award on Feb. 1.

“The Boy Scout Eagle is the gold standard of youth awards and it was used as the model for the Diamond Clover,” said Dan Tabler, a retired 4-H agent with a long career in Delaware, Maryland and West Virginia. “As with the Eagle, a very small number of members achieve this ultimate level of recognition.”

Tabler authored the concept and first suggested the Diamond Clover Award idea to his colleagues with Maryland 4-H, where it has become the premiere 4-H award.

To attain the Diamond Clover Award, a 4-H member must progress through several stages. Upon completion, each stage is marked with a gemstone award designation – amethyst, aquamarine, ruby, sapphire, emerald and diamond. “The sixth level requires the 4-H member to propose a major community service project that must be approved by a local Diamond Clover Committee and the state 4-H project leader,” said Tabler.

Tabler explained the process is completely voluntary, “but it is something that 4-H members choose to strive for.” At present, the Diamond Clover Award has been adopted in Maryland, Delaware and Nebraska, Tabler said. The Delaware 4-H Foundation sponsored the award for the First State.

At the ceremony, Delaware 4-H program leader Mark Manno described the award process as intense, noting that the final level will likely take more than one year to complete. “It is not a race, it is a journey,” Manno said.

After Bell’s presentation, Manno held up his index finger and acknowledged the power of one. “That’s one 4-H’er. There are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of youth who are capable of making a difference like Sarah has made,” he said.

Manno told the audience that approximately 80 Delaware 4-H youth are presently working on one of the six levels toward a Diamond Clover Award.

Bell’s project

Bell selected childhood illiteracy as her sustained service-learning project after hearing a presentation from Read Aloud Delaware given at Sussex Tech High School, where she is a member of the Class of 2014. She titled her project “Read to Succeed Delaware!” and through exhaustive research discovered that one in five Delawareans are functionally illiterate.

Bell learned that illiteracy rates could be positively impacted if children are reached at a young age. Her examination of the issue also revealed that families with low income had few or no children’s books in the home, a significant contributor to illiteracy.

Bell conceived a plan to establish a means by which families could obtain free children’s books. She partnered with the Delaware State Service Centers, operated by Delaware’s Division of Health and Human Services.

The centers help families in need with a variety of services. “I thought the idea was perfect. I contacted all the service center administrators in the state and all of them wanted literacy centers,” Bell said. “Their passion for helping people was evident.”

All 15 centers agreed to provide space and a table for reading and obtaining literacy resources. Bell then approached Read Aloud Delaware and pitched the idea to permanently sponsor the literacy centers. They were willing to help, Bell explained, on the condition that she first establish an initial supply of books to serve all 15 centers, as well as create or obtain literacy resources and displays for families visiting the centers.

Bell recruited a team of 12 young people and adults, and began the process of fundraising and establishing book drives throughout her community. Bell also took advantage of valuable contacts within her communities at Delaware 4-H, Delaware Girl Scouts and Gethsemane United Methodist Church. Bell credits them for giving her moral support, agreeing to serve as a book donation site, or donating books or the money to purchase them.

Bell put the donations to efficient use and became a book bargain hunter, finding suitable children’s books for as low as ten cents apiece at yard sales and thrift stores. Her church community led in donations for the approximately 3,000 books needed to get the literacy centers in operation. Read Aloud Delaware now oversees responsibility.

The 15 centers, along with new parents at the Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, now have access to bilingual materials that stress the importance of literacy and point to where literary resources are available.

In pursuit of the 4-H Diamond Clover Award, Bell soon realized her ultimate goal was less about the award, than it was about making a lasting difference. “It taught me that I can be capable of leading adults as well as youth, and that I can achieve things that I previously thought were beyond my abilities,” she said.

In addition to 4-H, Bell has received numerous recognitions in the Girl Scouts, is a 2014 recipient of the Jefferson Award for Public Service, and is active in her school and church organizations.

Bell plans to one day become an elementary school teacher, saying, “I look forward to helping my students achieve high literacy levels so they can become successful learners, which will help them become successful adults.”

Click here to view Bell’s presentation at the award ceremony.

Article by Michele Walfred

Photo by William Campbell for Delaware 4-H

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UD alum writes ice cream cookbook featuring UDairy Creamery

January 29, 2014 under CANR News

UD Alum Lindsay Clendaniel features UDairy Creamery in CookbookMost adventures don’t lead to writing a cookbook – particularly one about ice cream – but that is where University of Delaware alumna Lindsay Clendaniel was headed all along when she started a Scoop Adventures blog in 2009 to chronicle her experiences with unique and interesting flavors and recipes.

The blog ultimately led to a publisher approaching her to write a cookbook on the subject and Clendaniel, a 2003 UD graduate, jumped at the opportunity.

The cookbook, titled Scoop Adventures: The Best Ice Cream of the 50 States, is due out on March 25 and features ice cream recipes from all 50 states as well as 30 of Clendaniel’s own personal recipes. Chapters are divided up regionally, from the “Sugary Southeast” to “The Mountains of Milk and Cream.”

Clendaniel took six months to write the book, in which she found and whipped up 12 to 16 recipes per week. “The book is full of recipes that I would consider pretty unique and creative,” said Clendaniel. “There is nothing wrong with the run of the mill chocolate, vanilla and strawberry when it’s done right, but I like coming up with pretty creative flavors.”

Clendaniel said she sought out contributors, looking for ice cream vendors that used good ingredients and had a good philosophy about ice cream, as well as that creative knack for flavor.

When it came time to pick an ice cream contributor for Delaware, Clendaniel looked no further than her alma mater. “The UDairy Creamery didn’t start until after I graduated but, of course, since I’m so in to ice cream, I was super excited to hear that they were actually starting a creamery on campus. As soon as I got this book opportunity one of the first things I did was contact the University of Delaware.”

For the book, Clendaniel said the UDairy Creamery contributed its recipe for the flavor known as “Junk in the Tree Trunk,” which consists of maple, a caramel swirl, pecan and praline pieces. She noted that she is a big fan of the UDairy Creamery flavors “Holy Fluffernutter!” and “Katie’s Bagged Lunch,” as well.

Not surprisingly, Clendaniel’s adventures opened her eyes to some interesting flavors of ice cream, such as basil. “I heard of restaurants making basil ice cream and it turns out that the anise kind of quality actually does well with the ice cream — and when you pair it with things like lemon and strawberry, it’s really good.”

Clendaniel, who works as a psychologist, said that ice cream and her blog are a special interest of hers and that it is “nice to have an interest that is truly different from my work. Outside of work, I love food, and I love sweet things, so ice cream was just a good thing to find.”

Having dealt with ice cream for so long and tasted so many flavors over the years, it is also no surprise that Clendaniel has trouble picking a favorite.

“I love fresh fruit flavors. I think that making sorbets is one of the best things to do with fresh fruit other than eat it,” she said, adding, “This is always the hardest question. I love chocolate flavors, too — some of the chocolate flavors in the book that I like are chocolate coconut macadamia nut. Those are just kind of playing with chocolate, which is one of my favorite things to do, too.”

Scoop Adventures: The Best Ice Cream of the 50 States is available for pre-order on-line at Barnes and Noble.

Those interested can also check out Clendaniel’s Scoop Adventures Blog.

Article by Adam Thomas

Photo by Danielle Quigley

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CANR alumna reflects on introduction to agriculture, Maryland post

January 27, 2014 under CANR News

Mary Ellen Setting CANR alum serves as Maryland Deputy SecretaryWhen Mary Ellen Setting attended the University of Delaware, she never envisioned herself as one day serving as the deputy secretary of agriculture for the state of Maryland.

In fact, before coming to UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), Setting — who grew up in the city in downtown Wilmington — had very little interaction with agriculture at all.

Now, after a little over 36 years working at the state of Maryland’s Department of Agriculture, Setting has learned a thing or two about the subject.

Setting said her initial introduction to agriculture came as a youth, when she and her mother would travel to the King Street Farmers Market and interact with the farmers there. A farmer would deliver fresh eggs and fruit and vegetables to her house, and that same farmer would take his customers out to his farm as a sort of customer appreciation day.

But other than that, Setting had very little background in the field when she chose to study entomology at UD.

“Coming to the University of Delaware in the entomology department, that’s really where I got my main introduction to agriculture,” said Setting, who majored in entomology and applied ecology, learning things like wildlife management and ornithology along the way.

After working at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C., doing pesticide registration, Setting was hired as an entomologist trainee at the Maryland Department of Agriculture in 1977.

She went on to be promoted to section chief for the pesticide regulation section in 1988, and served as the first woman president of the Association of American Pesticide Control Officials in 1994 before becoming the assistant secretary of plant industries and pest management for the agency in 2004.

Setting was appointed deputy secretary in 2009.

The job entails being directly accountable for the day-to-day operations of the department and providing leadership to upper level managers as well as all of the department’s 400 employees.

Setting said she is also “responsible for setting policy, determining procedures and more or less guiding the direction of our programs and the activities here at the department.”

Setting said her job does not have a set day-to-day routine, and that while one day she could be testifying before the Maryland General Assembly on legislation that affects either the department’s programs or agriculture, she could also be participating in a commodity conference, going to a trade show for the nursery industry, or heading out on the ice cream trail to promote the state’s dairies.

Of all her job requirements, however, Setting said that her favorite is meeting and working with farmers. “We’ve got very knowledgeable and innovative farmers here in Maryland,” she said, adding, “They’re always looking for new angles, new ways to add value to their production.”

Setting added that getting to know the farmers and learning from them, as well as learning about their operations, has been an important experience in her work for the state. “I’ve had several farmers that have taken me under their wing over the years and showed me how to treat the farming industry, how to regulate them, and how to get cooperation from them. So I’ve had a lot of folks over the years help me along the way.”

Setting, who joined the Maryland Department of Agriculture at the age of 24, said she has grown up in the department and enjoys that the people she works with “share the enthusiasm that I have for agriculture. They work very hard at it. They work hard for farmers and I’ve been fortunate to have the relationships I’ve had, not only with my co-workers but with the folks outside of this department, the whole industry. I feel very blessed that I’ve had these opportunities.”

As for advice for current CANR students, Setting said that agriculture is a wonderful field to get into, one that is important not only for the individual but for the country as a whole. “Having the opportunity to be in that field is pretty exciting and students should take advantage of that and focus on what interests them but not be afraid to go outside of their comfort zones and look into new areas because you just never know where that will take you,” Setting said.

She also encouraged students to build on the relationships they gain from being in the field.

Article by Adam Thomas

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Delaware Ag Week draws record numbers

January 24, 2014 under Cooperative Extension

Delaware Ag Week draws record crowdsA successful Delaware Agriculture Week, held from January 13-17, attracted record attendance at the Delaware State Fairgrounds, home to the event for the past nine years.

An estimated 1900 visitors, up from 1700 last year, drove to Harrington to attend their choice of 97 sessions offered on a variety of topics crucial to Delaware agriculture. Topics included poultry, equine, nutrient management, fresh market fruits and vegetables, production crops, irrigation, forestry, horticulture, safety, ACA health insurance, Integrated Pest Management (IPM), weed and disease control in agronomic crops. Additional presentations covered equine, small ruminants and beef cattle.

‘Ag Week’ as it is known in the First State is planned in collaboration with the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension, Delaware State University Cooperative Extension and the Delaware Department of Agriculture. In addition to invited experts from around the country, more than 30 sessions were taught by experts from the University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and college staff served as session moderators.

Cory Whaley, Sussex County agriculture Extension agent and chair of the Delaware Ag Week Planning Committee, was pleased with the number of people who attended and the 81 vendor exhibits offered during the week.

“Ag Week is great event where the ag community can come together for continuing education, to catch up with friends, and talk with local vendors,” said Whaley. “Much of the success of Ag Week can be attributed to the individual session chairs who identify topics that are relevant and timely and then match these topics with expert speakers from our area and from across the country.”  A complete listing of this year’s program sponsors and exhibitors is available on the Delaware Ag Week website.

Michelle Rodgers, associate dean and director of UD Cooperative Extension, attended many of the sessions throughout Delaware Agriculture Week. Rodgers commended her Extension colleague’s efforts and teamwork for developing an event that positively impacts the agricultural community. “Hat’s off to the entire team for an excellent Ag Week.” Rodgers said. “We have had record crowds as well as top-notch speakers from Delaware and across the country. Feedback has been very positive,” Rodgers said, adding that attendees especially voiced appreciation on hearing the current research, the breadth of topics offered, and a venue to network with others in the agriculture sector.

Ed Kee, Delaware Secretary of Agriculture, thanked everyone who organized Delaware Ag Week. “We are really connecting. Good job to all the farmers and industry people who participated,” Kee said.

During Delaware Ag Week attendees were able to earn nutrient management, pesticide and certified crop advisor continuing education credits.

It was the first Ag Week for Nathan Kleczewski, UD Extension plant pathology specialist, who was hired in May 2013.  Along with Dan Egel and Shubin Saha, colleagues from Purdue, Kleczewski felt the collaborative nature of the sessions gave other experts the opportunity to share their research and expertise. “It gives growers an outside perspective and builds collaborations,” said Kleczewski.

Kleczewski was pleased to see 250 people attend the high tunnel and agronomy sessions and received positive feedback. “It was a great way to introduce myself to many people and now that they have a face to put to the name, I expect to receive more calls during the course of the growing season,” Kleczewski said.

A new exhibition for 2014 was the Hazards of Flowing Grain demonstration. Mike Love, agriculture safety Extension agent, coordinated the presentations, equipment and resources. Twice a day, Love conducted a workshop on the dangers of grain entrapment and rescue best practices via a mobile unit developed to scale by Penn State.

“An individual entering a grain silo can be entrapped in seconds,” Love said. Attempts to move can bury the victim deeper in the grain. Love illustrated the physics behind grain movement within silo storage, explaining how a 165-pound individual effectively becomes 300 pounds when the grain reaches waist level. Love emphasized that knowing how to safely respond is critical. The exhibit was enthusiastically received and plans to feature it during the Delaware State Fair in July are being discussed.

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings during Ag Week, Love conducted Grain Rescue workshops at the Quillen Arena where first responders utilized best practices for the unique rescue challenge inside a full sized silo mock-up on loan from Perdue Agribusiness Grain Emergency Response Team. More than 100 first responders from Delaware attended and worked in teams as they entrapped a volunteer and practiced the rescue techniques and equipment. “The grain rescue workshops were offered to first responders and farmers so they may learn the characteristics of flowing grain, the causes and best practices for rescue,” Love said.

Philip Russell, 1st Assistant Chief of the Magnolia Volunteer Fire Department attended the training Thursday night and found the experience extremely valuable. “This was an eye opener for us. We need to make sure we have the right equipment to make the proper rescue.”  Russell said.

Robbie Roe, Russell’s colleague, volunteered as a victim and agreed the training was necessary. “It would be the worst way to die known to man,” Roe exclaimed. “I couldn’t breathe.” Fortunately, their fire department has not been called out to a grain entrapment, but Roe was grateful for the opportunity to become better prepared. “We have silos in our district we never had before. This [training] is what we need to do.”

Held in January every year, the 2014 event was an opportunity for Rodgers and her Extension colleagues to mark Cooperative Extension’s 100th year of providing research-based information to the public.

Click here for additional photos of Delaware Ag Week

Article by Michele Walfred

Photos: Michele Walfred, Cory Whaley, and Heather Baker

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UD students create predictive models for Capital One competition

January 23, 2014 under CANR News

UD interdisciplinary team placed as finalists in a Capital One competitionAn interdisciplinary team from the University of Delaware was one of six finalists from universities across America selected to compete in the Capital One Modeling Competition held in the financial corporation’s headquarters in McLean, Va.

The final six teams were chosen from a field of 33 universities and, in addition to UD, included Ohio State University, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, which fielded two teams, Texas A&M University and Southern Methodist University.

The five-member UD team consisted of graduate students from three different colleges — Ruizhi Xie, a doctoral student in the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics who is also a master’s degree student in statistics in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) and received a master’s degree in agricultural and resource economics from CANR; Zhiqi Zhang, a master’s degree student in CANR; Yue Tan and Yan Hu, both doctoral students in the Lerner College; and Du Zhang, a doctoral student in the Lerner College and a master’s degree student in the College of Engineering.

The competition required the team to use creativity and statistical problem solving skills to develop an analytic tool to uncover insights about individuals’ spending patterns. The goal was to predict how those individuals would spend at certain merchants and to develop a strategy for those merchants to assign discounts to customers who use their Capital One cards at their places of business.

Xie explained that the group was given a large amount of real transactional data of customers from 3,000 different merchants. The data included information such as the merchant ID, the date of the transaction, the amount and whether the purchase was made on-line or in the store.

From that data, Xie said the team “basically applied the optimization strategy and the modeling strategy to predict the likelihood of the future expenditures for every customer of certain merchants.”

Zhang said that she enjoyed how Capital One allowed the team to use real data to solve the problem for the competition. “Most of the time, the data from the bank is confidential. They don’t want to provide the data to personnel outside the company but because we were solving a real problem for them, they provided us with the real data.”

Xie said that the group worked on the project for about two months and once they made it to the finals, they spent two sleepless nights preparing for the project’s final presentation to the bank executives.

Zhang said the interdisciplinary aspect of the team helped them greatly as the members could each tackle individual problems on their own and also within the group during meetings, which were held twice a week. “It was very efficient working in this team. Before the meeting, everyone prepared his or her own part for the meeting and during the meeting we could exchange ideas,” Zhang said. “When we talked about our ideas, sometimes we could find that something might be wrong and the other people could give us feedback, and that was great.”

Tan said he had two favorite parts of the competition — the teamwork aspect and the fact that they got to use the real world data. “I enjoyed dealing with the real banking data. If you go into the industry, this is the kind of data you will experience every day. And the other thing was we had very good team work and I enjoyed that part, too.”

The team was introduced to the competition and advised by Titus Awokuse, chair of the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics (APEC). Zhang said that working with Awokuse was beneficial because he has “a real direct connection to the industry field so we could get this opportunity. The manager of this project sent the invitation directly to him so we could take part in this competition.”

Xie, who has been advised by Awokuse since 2009, said he has helped her with studies and research, especially “how to identify research problems and how to tackle them using different methodologies to try and reach the conclusions. I’m very grateful to him.”

Awokuse said he thought this opportunity was a fantastic one for the students. “I think overall it was a very good experience for our students because not only did they work with data based on a complex real world problem that has potential to help a real company, they also got to interact with people in the industry.”

Awokuse continued, saying that the people at Capital One were very impressed with the students’ presentation. “They liked the models that the students developed. Their models were the best in terms of accuracy of prediction and I was very impressed with them. They did excellent work.”

Article by Adam Thomas

Photo by Danielle Quigley

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Professor seeks volunteers for nutrient management research

January 8, 2014 under CANR News

Kent Messer, Unidel Howard Cosgrove Chair and associate professor in the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, is seeking volunteers to participate in a research project focusing on the adoption of nutrient management practices on farms. Messer is seeking volunteers to complete a 30 minute survey and participate in a choice activity in order to understand their perspectives on the topics and their willingness to adopt new practices.

Participation is voluntary and all responses will remain confidential. By completing the survey and participating in the choice activity, participants will receive a $50 Visa card. To be eligible for the $50 gift card, you must have decision-making authority for at least 10 acres of agricultural land in Delaware.

Participants will also be eligible for up to $40,000 in participant incentives and cost-share match for the implementation of new nutrient management practices on their property.

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UD Botanic Gardens selected as partner for Woodburn Garden Project

December 17, 2013 under CANR News

University of Delaware Botanic Gardens’ (UDBG) own gordlinia, a rare tree characterized by large “fried egg” white flowers and deep maroon fall foliage, has been donated to the Woodburn Garden ProjectSome say a rose by any other name is just a rose; a gordlinia by any other name, however, is far from just another gordlinia. During this season of giving, University of Delaware Botanic Gardens’ (UDBG) own gordlinia, a rare tree characterized by large “fried egg” white flowers and deep maroon fall foliage, has been donated to the Woodburn Garden Project as plans unfold to establish the historic grounds at Woodburn, the governor’s residence in Dover, as a public garden.

UDBG has been selected as one of several official partners for the project, which is being coordinated in two phases by Delaware’s Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs.

Landscape architect Rodney Robinson, a UD alumnus who hails from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, heard about the plant this September through a colleague at work and visited UDBG to purchase the unique species, which is a hybrid between two native trees (Franklinia and Gordonia).

When he later became involved with plans for phase one of the Woodburn Garden Project at the home of Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, Robinson knew the gordlinia was the “last piece of the puzzle.” A call to Melinda Zoehrer, assistant director of UDBG, followed quickly to see if the botanic gardens would be interested in donating the tree to what will one day be a popular garden focal point in the Dover area.

Ken Darsney, state horticulturist for Delaware’s Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, visited campus recently to secure the tree, which has wowed many by its beauty and rarity. “The gordlinia will be used during phase one of the planting,” he said. “We are going to interpret the garden from different angles to tell stories. It has been a lot of work, but we are happy. Phase two will be a formal garden located in the back of the residence.”

“The Woodburn Garden Project is an important way for our students and faculty to help tell the state’s botanical story,” said Mark Rieger, dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “We are particularly honored to have been asked to contribute to this important effort and look forward to our continued partnership.”

A formal ribbon-cutting for the garden is slated for spring 2014 at Woodburn. Woodburn has served as the official residence of the governor of Delaware since it was purchased by the state in 1965. The Georgian mansion is considered to be one of the finest examples of late-18th century architecture in Delaware.

The house was built by Charles Hillyard III around 1798. Hillyard bought the land at a sheriff’s sale for 546 pounds, 4 shillings and six-pence in 1784. At the time of purchase, the estate measured approximately 29 acres and was located outside the town limits of Dover.

Article by Nancy Gainer

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4-H youth from Kenya tour University’s CANR facilities

December 13, 2013 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Two 4-H youth from Kenya and their principal visited DelawareThe University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) served as host to three guests from Kenya on Wednesday, Dec. 11, as part of a joint effort by DuPont and the National 4-H Council.

Touring CANR facilities were Naomi Atieno Ochieng and Dancan Odhiambo Inda, two young 4-H members from Kenya, and Millicent Akinyi Obare, the principal of Nyaminia Primary School, which they attend.

The goal of the trip was for the students and principal to share the many ways that their club enterprises have helped generate life-saving revenue in Africa due to the unique partnership between DuPont and 4-H.

The guests were joined by members of Collegiate 4-H and Ag Ambassadors for a pizza party in the Townsend Hall Commons before taking a tour of the UDairy Creamery.

Prior to arriving at UD, the delegation also visited the 4-H After-School Program at George Kirk Middle School in Newark, which is run by UD’s Cooperative Extension, had lunch and a reception with DuPont leaders, and visited DuPont’s Stine-Haskell Research Center, which both of the students said was a highlight of the day.

Obare explained that the club in Kenya, which there is called 4-K, has “45 registered members but basically all the children in the school are members in a way because the club runs a school feeding program which feeds the whole school. The population of the school is 920 so the feeding program takes care of the 920 every day.”

Obare also said that the Nyaminia Primary School keeps the feeding program open on weekends so that if any child should stray into the school, they will have something to eat.

Ochieng said that the 4-K program has provided her the opportunity to “learn skills that will help me in the future, and it has led me near a brighter future.” She said that her favorite part of 4-K is horticulture, while Inda said that he enjoys the livestock, specifically the cows.

Obare said that since they have been in the U.S., she has taken a look at what kinds of activities the 4-H program runs for American youth and will try to incorporate some of those activities in the 4-K program when they travel back to Kenya. “Many of our projects are agriculture based but we could have children who have other interests, maybe scientific or otherwise. So we are going to sit down and explore ways of incorporating such kinds of projects so that we can bring on board other children who are not really interested in agriculture,” she said.

About the partnership

In 2011, DuPont partnered with 4-H in five African countries to engage youth in development activities aimed at building skills to address the challenges of food security.

The Kenyan 4-H, or 4-K, club was initially designed to help sustain the feeding program of Nyaminia Primary School, which often provides a child’s only meal for the day.

Today, the club’s enterprises include gardening, maize growing, dairy production (cattle and goat), poultry, horticulture and forestry.

Club enterprises also include a barbershop, as well as printing and photocopying.

The club uses the revenue generated from these projects to subsidize the school feeding program; to provide milk and other sustenance to reach local communities affected and infected by HIV/AIDS; and to hire four adults to assist with forestry and animal projects.

Photos by Danielle Quigley

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Waterfowl conservation focus of new UD Ducks Unlimited chapter

December 12, 2013 under CANR News

UD adds a Ducks Unlimited chapter to campusThe University of Delaware has added a Ducks Unlimited chapter as a new registered student organization on campus.

Ducks Unlimited (DU) is the world’s leader in wetlands and waterfowl conservation and started in 1937 during the Dust Bowl when, according to its website, North America’s drought-plagued waterfowl populations had plunged to unprecedented lows.

DU has an active presence in the state of Delaware, with more than 6,000 members in now 16 chapters who have conserved over 15,000 acres of the state’s wetlands.

At UD, the chapter will have three goals for its members: fund raising for the national organization, educating the public about waterfowl and wetland conservation, and providing students with conservation experiences.

Chris Williams, associate professor of entomology and wildlife ecology and the club’s adviser, explained that because UD is situated in the center of the Atlantic Flyway — one of four flyways corridors waterfowl use to move between northern breeding and southern wintering landscapes — “we have an amazing resource, starting in New Jersey and continuing through Virginia, where there are a lot of wintering waterfowl.”

As such, UD is “naturally a central hub for potential waterfowl research and education,” Williams said, adding, “It’s exciting that we have the ability to offer this resource in terms of education and research for the East Coast as a whole.”

Williams said that other than a DU chapter at Yale University, there are no other university chapters in the Mid-Atlantic and northeast regions. “When you think about that flyway, and all those ducks piling down starting at Long Island, we have a hole in university representation, so it was perfect that we could add a chapter.”

DU has a youth education outreach component that is broken up into three groups: Greenwing, for grade school; Ducks Varsity, which is geared toward high school students; and Ducks University, of which the UD group is a part.

Williams said he is hopeful that the UD group can give back by educating those in the Greenwing sections during an annual statewide event in April, while also exploring other opportunities as they arise.

Through the program, UD students will be directly involved in conservation efforts, Williams said, adding that they have already taken a trip to Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge.

Chase Colmorgen, a senior majoring in natural resource management in UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) and president of DU at UD, said the trip to Bombay Hook was very interesting as the students “met with the regional biologist for Delaware Ducks Unlimited, a Bombay Hook biologist, and a UD graduate student conducting waterfowl research. We had a tour explaining Ducks Unlimited’s projects in Delaware and in Bombay Hook, specifically. We hope to do more trips like that, where we can actually get insight on how Ducks Unlimited is getting involved and how we can help to get involved with conserving wetlands.”

Colmorgen, who has been a member of DU since he was 12 and participated in the Greenwing program, also said that while some may look at DU as simply an organization focused on hunting, it is much more than that and he wants to help spread their message of conservation. “Ducks Unlimited was founded by hunters but it’s priority is for conservation, so we want to do a lot of hands on work — maybe adopt a wetland on campus or go out and do work somewhere around the state in one of the main areas for the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC). We also want to do a lot of education for the public and for younger people.”

Colmorgen said the University’s DU chapter offers something for everyone. “If you’re interested in the outdoors, and you might not be a CANR student, we want to offer a chance for you to learn more about wetlands. We’re trying to do activities that pretty much cover anything that anyone would be interested in with regards to wildlife and the outdoors. We really just want it to be a group that everyone can have something to relate to.”

Getting DU to UD

Williams pointed out that the DU chapter at UD was formed in large part to efforts made by U.S. Sen. Chris Coons and Bill D’Alonzo, a Delaware resident who is on the national board of directors for Ducks Unlimited and who was named the 2012 Budweiser Conservationist of the Year.

“Both Senator Coons and Bill D’Alonzo have been interested in increasing our younger citizens’ involvement in Ducks Unlimited, so a conversation was opened up in the early part of the summer to extend DU to the University of Delaware, where a waterfowl research program already exists,” said Williams.

He explained that after a meeting with DU officials, D’Alonzo, Dan Sarkissian, director of development for CANR, and Mark Rieger, CANR dean, the decision was made to start a DU chapter at UD.  The chapter became official in October.

For those interested in joining DU, Colmorgen said to contact him or Williams and that DU will be present at the spring activities night — scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 13, at the Perkins Student Center — during which students can learn more about campus organizations.

Article by Adam Thomas

Photos courtesy of Chris Williams

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