UD Cooperative Extension team presented award at national conference

April 10, 2014 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Dennis Calvin, chair, eXtension Governing Committee, and director, Penn State University Extension (left) presents the Be, Grow, Create Outstanding Institutional Team Award to (from left) UD's Michele Walfred, Adam Thomas and Christy Mannering.A University of Delaware Cooperative Extension team has been honored by eXtension as a 2014 Be, Grow, Create Outstanding Institutional Team Award winner. The award was presented at the National eXtension Conference and National Extension Directors and Administrators joint meeting on March 26 in Sacramento, Calif.

The UD team includes Carrie Murphy, Phillip Sylvester, Deborah Delaney, Kathleen Splane, Nancy Gainer, Adam Thomas, Christy Mannering and Michele Walfred.

Ask an Expert implementation was a major focus of the team’s work. Jeff Hino, from Oregon State University, worked with members who personalized a marketing concept developed by Oregon State and developed a video for use in a multimedia presentation at the Delaware State Fair.

The team developed the implementation process and the timeframe for delivery. By the time they rolled out Ask an Expert at the State Fair, over 30 staff and volunteers had been trained to respond to questions, “question wranglers” were in place, and a web presence had been developed.

All Extension staff participated in Adobe Connect training in relation to Ask an Expert prior to the State Fair. Since the rollout time period, the team has continued to enhance Ask an Expert with a question of the week feature and additional training sessions as new staff come on board.

At this year’s Delaware Extension Annual Conference, the Ask an Expert sub-committee members were selected and received the Director’s Leadership award.

Terry Meisenbach, eXtension communications and marketing leader, said, “The University of Delaware team, with the help of eXtension leadership members, was able to grasp the multitude of resources available from eXtension. Through Adobe Connect poll pods and a Qualtrics online survey, the team identified some immediate and short-term goals for eXtension implementation. They quickly met that first round of goals and the goals they’re considering now focus on social media development and online course development using Moodle.”

Elbert Dickey, eXtension executive director, added, “An Outstanding Institutional Team has demonstrated the planning, creativity, and commitment to making eXtension a ‘fit’ for its state and institution. An Outstanding team also helps eXtension know just what its state and institution brings to eXtension.”

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Delaware 4-H hosts students from Colombia, Ecuador

November 7, 2013 under Cooperative Extension

4-H hosted the 2013 Youth Ambassadors ProgramThe University of Delaware Cooperative Extension 4-H Program recently hosted 24 students and four adults from Colombia and Ecuador as part of the 2013 Youth Ambassadors Program.

The program is funded by Department of State through its Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA).

The participants stayed with host families for three weeks, from Oct. 6-27, and participated in various activities that included visiting historic sites in Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, meeting with officials including U.S. Rep. John Carney, visiting Delaware schools, taking in a live showing of the theatrical production Spider-Man: Turn Off the Darkand touring Times Square in New York City.

Mark Manno, Delaware 4-H program leader, said the participants learned a lot about American culture during their stay, perhaps most of all from the host families with whom they stayed. “It was interesting to hear, after they had stayed with host families for awhile, how their opinions changed,” said Manno, noting that a lot of the students came to the country with preconceived notions about the United States and American families.

One participant, Felipe Solano Paute from Ecuador, said, “One of the things that I have learned from this trip is a lot of history about the United States, many things that I didn’t know before, and I have changed the way I think about some aspects of the United States. American people have been very kind and very open to welcome us — and not only our host families but, in general, they have been very kind.”

Colombia’s Luna Sierra said she enjoyed talking with officials, as well as spending time with young people in America. “There is a lot of respect to other people and there is a lot of technology. In America, you have to work hard but you will find success at the end of the road.”

Sierra said that she and her classmates will be “taking with them the best of the American culture.”

Daniel Quinones, also from Colombia, agreed with that assessment, stating that his favorite part of the trip was “the way in which the host families have welcomed us into their homes. They have taught us a lot about how they as a family behave and the family culture.”

The visits to Delaware schools were equally interesting to the students, as Quinones said that he was surprised about how much technology is used in American classrooms.

Manno, who picked up one of the students from St. Elizabeth High School in Wilmington, said, “The kids went to really great schools and they were really impressed. The kids were a huge hit in the schools, especially in the Spanish classes. They loved to have a Spanish speaker there. At the end of the day, I went to St. Elizabeth to pick those kids up and when I got there, there were all these St. Elizabeth kids gathered around them, so they made a lot of friends in a hurry and it was a really good project.”

Manno also pointed out that one of the best experiences the students had was attending a 4-H leadership camp in Sussex County the first weekend they arrived in the United States along with Delaware 4-H members. Manno credited Mallory Vogl, New Castle County 4-H Educator, for putting the camp together.

“We ended up with about 60 kids and it was terrific. Even though we had 7.5 inches of rain in Sussex County that weekend, the kids just bonded. The South American kids got to spend a whole weekend with the Delaware kids, and that was just terrific. They just really hit it off, so I have to give credit to Mallory Vogl for that –she really stepped up,” said Manno.

The experience was equally positive for the adult chaperones who accompanied the students on the trip.

One of the chaperones, Cynthia Orna Ladd from Ecuador, said that while the students visited schools, her host family took her to see Longwood Gardens in nearby Pennsylvania.

Orna Ladd said it was fun to see the reactions of the students as they saw America for the first time, and that she enjoyed spending time with an American family. “I’ve only been in an Ecuadorian family environment but to be with American people, to be part of the family and such is great,” she said. “I’m living with a couple of retired people so they have all the time to talk to me and the mom used to teach home economics, so she cooks very well. I went with them to Longwood Gardens and that was very nice — that’s the thing that I’ve appreciated the most.”

Article by Adam Thomas

Photos by Danielle Quigley

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UD Cooperative Extension presents awards at annual conference

November 6, 2013 under Cooperative Extension

Cooperative Extension 100th anniversary celebration and awards ceremony held at the Atlantic Sands Hotel in Rehoboth, Delaware.University of Delaware Cooperative Extension kicked off a Centennial Celebration at it annual conference held at Rehoboth Beach on Tuesday, Oct. 29.

At the celebration, UD Cooperative Extension recognized four Director’s Friend of Extension Award recipients as well as the recipients of the 2013 Director’s Leadership Award.

The following were the recipients of the Director’s Friend of Extension Awards:

Nancy A. Cotugna

Nancy A. Cotugna is a professor of behavioral health and nutrition at UD and in 2004-05 she spent her sabbatical with UD Cooperative Extension researching where other states obtained matching funds for the Food Stamp Nutrition Education program (SNAP Ed) and identifying potential sources of funding in Delaware.

Her graduate students have also conducted research to further Extension programming efforts.

Michelle Rodgers, associate dean for Cooperative Extension in the University’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, said Cotugna has been “extremely helpful in assisting with the University of Delaware’s Cooperative Extension nutrition education programs. When the nutrition department had a coordinated dietetic internship program, Dr. Cotugna was instrumental in placing dietetic interns with Extension. Additionally, she assigns one to three community nutrition students each semester with various staff members to volunteer for Extension.”

Fifer Orchards

Fifer Orchards, a fourth generation family farm that features a farm and a country store in Camden-Wyoming and a local fresh market in Dewey Beach, was presented with the award thanks to its support of 4-H and Cooperative Extension over the years.

4-H youth have been given the opportunity to gain educational knowledge and value from various operation tours provided by Fifer Orchards staff. These youth have been able to develop and showcase their presentation skills as well as their culinary skills through the Front Porch Demonstration program.

Through the program, members of 4-H prepare recipes using fruits and vegetables in harvest and showcase them on the front porch of Fifer Orchards. They also have been allowed to share their knowledge and skills with others through the Animal Showcase program.

Fifer Orchards has also been a donor of funds and products to various 4-H events, including the peach ice cream donation booth at the Middletown Peach Festival that provides $1,100 annually to support the county program.

Fifer Orchards has also allowed Extension to host tours at its site and has provided speakers for various Extension events, all in an effort to promote agriculture and to share knowledge and information with their clientele as well as to the clientele of Cooperative Extension.

Fifer Orchards has been instrumental in providing land and labor to do various vegetable trials. In addition, Fifer family members participate on various Extension committees and boards.

Delaware State Housing Authority

The Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA) is a low-income public housing community with 10 locations throughout Kent and Sussex counties. UD and DSHA have collaborated to provide 4-H Afterschool Programs to youth at seven of those locations.

For the past twenty years, 4-H and DSHA have operated a site at Hickory Tree in Selbyville and the success of that program has convinced the state agency to partner with 4-H to reach all their eligible children.

DSHA provides the community rooms, computer labs at some locations, recreational space, heat/air conditioning, maintenance of facility, water, and monthly pest control at each location at no cost to UD.

The housing manager and social worker at each location assist in identifying children to attend the afterschool programs and serve on the afterschool advisory board.

David Marvel

David Marvel is a grain and vegetable farmer focused on fresh and processing vegetable production. He is the past president and current vice president of the Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association of Delaware (FVGAD).

As an officer and member he continues to serve on a number of boards and committees that connect the issue of healthy living and family farming. Under his leadership, the FVGAD started the first farm to school program in Delaware and continues to lead the way in getting farm fresh food into rural public schools in the state.

Marvel has always been a strong supporter of Delaware Cooperative Extension as evidenced by his involvement with on farm extension demonstrations, his input and overall vegetable science extension and research programs, and current and past membership on the UD and Delaware State University County Extension Advisory Boards.

Marvel is a graduate of the first Delaware LEAD Class organized by Delaware Cooperative Extension and has assisted with recruiting and training with subsequent classes. Marvel also served on the UD CANR advisory committee that provided input in the selection of the dean, Mark Rieger.

Delaware Cooperative Extension Director’s Leadership Award

The Delaware Cooperative Extension Director’s Leadership Award was given to Katy O’Connell, Michele Walfred, Adam Thomas, Christy Mannering and Troy Darden.

Rodgers cited their collective work on the successful rollout of the Cooperative Extension “Ask an Expert” service as the catalyst for the award.

Photos by Evan Krape

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LGP alum tends to home of American Horticultural Society

April 11, 2011 under CANR News

Tending to the picturesque 25 acre River Farm, once owned by George Washington, would be a dream for any horticulturist.  For James Gagliardi, a graduate of the Longwood Graduate Program who now works as River Farm’s lone horticulturist, it’s a reality.

The farm is home to the headquarters of the American Horticultural Society (AHS) and Gagliardi is responsible for all the plantings and running the maintenance for the 25 acre garden, as well as writing any educational brochures, developing educational panels, and doing community outreach.  He is the first to say that none of it would have been possible had it not been for the experience he gained at the Longwood Graduate Program.

“The Longwood Graduate Program helped me a lot for what I’m doing now. It has one of the strongest and greatest networks within the public horticulture field.”

Gagliardi said now that the program is providing 5 graduates a year, the network is expanding and there are graduates of the program all over the world in public horticulture.

“There’s a strong network among fellows and even the people who haven’t come out of the program know the experience and the education that you are getting from the program.”

AHS has strong ties with the Longwood Graduate Program. Katy Moss Warner (76’), the President Emeritus of AHS, is a graduate of the program, and when Gagliardi was applying for his position, one of his classmates, Grace Chapman (08’), was doing her thesis at AHS.

“AHS had a really strong connection with the Longwood Graduate Program so they knew the kind of person that I had to be and the kind of experiences I had. So I am very sure that it helped me get my job here.”

Attending the program from 2006-08, Gagliardi said that the five-person class had a mix of people with varying professional horticulture experience.  He came to the program right after completing his undergraduate work at the University of Connecticut and said that getting the job at AHS was due in large part to the professional, hands on experience he gained while at the Longwood Graduate Program.

“I was 25 when I was getting out and I didn’t have the work experience that some other people had. But because the Longwood Graduate Program features experiential learning, it provided a good solid basis for me when I was applying for jobs with botanic gardens.”

While he said that finding a favorite part of the program was tough since he enjoyed it so thoroughly, Gagliardi did admit that the trip he and his classmates took to Ecuador for three weeks was hard to beat.

“The travel with the program is unbelievable. We looked at botanical gardens in Ecuador and went everywhere from the Amazon Rainforest up into the mountains and out to the Galapagos Islands to see plants in their native habitats, and what they’re doing in different countries for conservation. It was beyond amazing.”

Robert Lyons, director for the Longwood Graduate Program, said that Gagliardi’s passion for the program was evident before he even finished his undergraduate degree.

“James made it a point to visit us prior to applying and saw that what we offered would be a great fit for his career goals.”

Lyons said that once Gagliardi was accepted to the program, he “soon became one of the most resourceful of all the Longwood Fellows, so it is not surprising to me to see how he has combined his interest and knowledge of horticulture with efficient gardening practices that he can now share with others.”

Those efficient gardening practices are now being displayed in his professional work at AHS, and that work isn’t going unnoticed. In just the past month, Gagliardi has been quoted for his horticulture expertise in two USA Today pieces, a TIME Money column and a Washington Post piece.

Once again, Gagliardi credits the Longwood Graduate Program with putting him on the path to success.

“The program is created to produce leaders in public horticulture. It’s course driven, it’s thesis driven, and it’s project driven; the combination of those varied experiences gave me the strength I needed in various means of management and knowledge. The Longwood Program is the premier program to go to for public horticulture. Delaware is definitely the place to get that education.”

Story by Adam Thomas

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Tallamy awarded gold Eddie Award for article

February 8, 2011 under CANR News

Doug Tallamy, chairperson of the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Delaware, has received the gold Eddie Award from Folio magazine for his article “A Call for Backyard Biodiversity,” first published in American Forests.

The Eddie Award is part of the Eddie and Ozzie Awards Gala in New York City, which has celebrated editorial and design excellence in the magazine industry for over 20 years.

The article deals with the dangers of the diminishing biodiversity in the American urban and suburban landscape and the need for suburban lawns to be populated with natural native plant species instead of unnatural plant species imported from across the globe.

It also focuses on the importance of functional landscaping, using plants that, in addition to their beauty, help support ecosystem development, instead of aesthetical landscaping, using plants which may look nice but serve little ecosystem function.

Tallamy was honored in the category for association/non-profit publication with circulation less than six times a year.

Article by Adam Thomas

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Operations Research grad student helps Newark optimize trash collection

January 3, 2011 under CANR News

Priyanka Jain, a master’s degree student in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, is working with the city of Newark to study ways to optimize residential trash pick-up and save costs.

Jain, who is in CANR’s operations research program, explained that the main goal of her work is to “enhance waste collection practices in the city of Newark in terms of minimizing fleet size, total transportation and operational cost, and avoiding time imbalance in between different routes.”

The study has two main parts. First, Jain looked at assigning different capacity trucks to various routes to help cut down on the number of trips taken by each truck. The city has trucks of varying capacity and Jain saw that specific types of trucks worked better on certain routes.

Jain found that a smaller model of truck was making two trips to pick up the same amount of waste that could be handled by a larger truck in one trip. She said she would like to cut the number of trips to save on fuel, operational costs and overtime pay.

Because there is less trash to pick up in the winter, Jain said she believes the city can collect all the trash successfully with four trucks rather than the five they currently use.

By decreasing the number of trips taken by each truck on their routes, Jain’s research showed a 19 percent reduction in yearly transportation and drivers’ labor costs.

The second part of the study concerned route optimization to save on fuel and overtime costs.

To determine the optimal route depending on the average waste to be collected, Jain used Network Analyst, an ArcGIS extension for problems such as shortest route, closest facility, location allocation and vehicle routing.

Jain said of the city’s current routing plan, “They have a good scheme, but still there are some trucks that have to do multiple trips because there are uncovered remaining houses. I’m trying to make routes, different routes, so that they have very optimal collection schemes and they don’t have to go back.”

Using optimal route solutions for the city, the ArcGIS computed using traffic directions, turn restrictions, average speeds for local roads and highways and average time for serving each bin. It included geocoding of the city’s customers on GIS maps, which can be helpful in the future if more customers need to be added. City historical data was used to calculate average drop off time at the transfer station, the area where the trucks transfer their waste. Field observations were also conducted to assess the average turn times and service time for bins.

When these optimized routes were compared to the current ones, the results showed that distance would be decreased between 4-15 percent on each route, with an average of a 9 percent reduction in mileage, leading to an estimated decrease of fuel costs by $1,500 and maintenance costs of $7,000 per year per route.

Cost is not the only benefit from Jain’s research, however, as she says another plus that comes from route optimization will be public safety.

Jain said she is “trying to optimize their routes so they do fewer U-turns, which is critical in terms of safety. They are huge trucks and when they back up, if they make a three-point turn, it is a main concern especially in terms of safety. They don’t want the trucks to make many U-turns or three-point turns.”

With fewer trucks running more efficient routes, there will be an environmental benefit to the research as well, as fewer trucks driving fewer miles will help Newark reduce its carbon footprint.

The study originated in a class taught by Kent Messer, assistant professor of food and resource economics and assistant professor of economics, and Messer says Jain was “just a wonderful example of someone going above and beyond and demonstrating her passion and knowledge. She obviously did a great job.”

Messer also said that the city of Newark was very helpful to Jain throughout her research. “They are a great team, and I give them kudos for doing it because they have to get a lot of data to run these things,” he said. “They’re very data intensive to get good meaningful results. So I just think that it’s a beautiful relationship between the University of Delaware and a student and the city.

“I think her analysis was great, and the thing that I like about it is that I think they’re going to do it. From what I can tell, they’re going to go try it out, run some of these routes, get feedback and see whether it’s actually going to get put on the ground. And that’s so much better than a study by itself.”

Along with Messer, Jain credited Rich Lapointe, the director of public works for the city; Patrick Bartling, public works superintendent for providing a lot of support, information and data; and Benjamin Mearns, information resources consultant with the University’s IT-Client Support and Services, for helping her with ArcGIS.

Jain will continue her study into next semester, adding things such as more detailed traffic data and recycling into her analysis.

Article by Adam Thomas
Photo by Danielle Quigley

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