New AGcelerate program provides CANR freshmen with support

April 10, 2014 under CANR News

UD's new AGcelerate program sets students on the path to successLast fall, University of Delaware faculty members Erin Brannick and Tanya Gressley welcomed the inaugural 30-member class to the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) AGcelerate Program.

Funded through the President’s Diversity Initiative, the AGcelerate program is designed to foster a sense of community, to prepare students for academic success by giving them peer and faculty mentors, and to help them make important contacts in the real world to secure internships and promote career development.

“We just opened it up to freshmen this year and we have about 30 freshmen enrolled. We paired them all with peer mentors, so we have 22 peer mentors that are a part of it, also,” said Gressley, associate professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences (ANFS).

Brannick, assistant professor in the department, added that the program is “tailored for individual support. We have students that may want to be a part of this program for the tutoring that’s offered here on South Campus.”

Brannick added that group tutoring sessions are held once a week on Tuesdays, from 5-7 p.m. in 049 Townsend Hall.

In addition to tutoring, the students also get mentoring from peers and can request a faculty mentor, in addition to their regular faculty member adviser.

Brannick explained that the peer mentoring is more focused on having the freshmen learn the ropes of the University, while the faculty mentors help give the students career attention and career planning advice.

The program also brings resources directly to the students. For instance, Joyce Henderson, assistant director at the University’s Career Services Center, spoke to program members about opportunities available to them.

“We do a weekly discussion thread through our campus site that usually relates to either campus resources or to how students learn and study, giving tips and advice about any detailed support that they can share with each other,” said Brannick. She added that the group also has weekly prize giveaways, such as gift cards to bookstores or restaurants on Main Street, to encourage the students to contribute to the discussions.

In addition, Brannick said many of the students enjoy the fact that the group is close-knit. “The students have indicated that another major factor for them is just the friendships and that idea of camaraderie in the group and feeling like they have other people to go to when they need help, or knowing who to approach when they’re looking for assistance beyond what they can find on their own,” said Brannick.

The group also participates in off-campus excursions, such as going to Milburn Orchards in the fall, and in service learning activities, such as planting beach grass at the Delaware shore.

Gressley said the hope is that students who are taking the program as freshmen will come back and serve as peer mentors for the next group as they continue their college careers.

There are also funds allocated to “support travel to conferences and internships and in the future we hope to kind of team up a little bit to help get them internships in their fields,” said Gressley. “This year is predominantly about academic success but then as they mature, we want to get them to hit the ground running. Once they’re running, we’ll focus more on leadership skills and career building.”

Brannick added that the program is designed to “support students as they develop so it’s everything from hitting the ground running and finding everything that you need around campus to being successful and to wanting to stay at UD and at our college. And there is that next phase about how to develop themselves while they’re here to become leaders.”

The AGcelerate program is teaming up with Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) to host two booths at Ag Day on April 26 and they will host a MANRRS reunion panel on May 2 in the Townsend Hall commons from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., with a panel discussion from 11 a.m.-noon and lunch from noon-1 p.m.

AGcelerate has open enrollment and is open to CANR students in all fields of study.

Those interested in applying for the AGcelerate program should email the group at AGcelerate@udel.edu.

Article by Adam Thomas

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

Share

UD students spend winter in Hawaii studying whales

March 17, 2014 under CANR News

Rebecca Moeller spent her winter break in Hawaii studying whalesWhile most Delawareans were inundated with cold and snow this winter, using shovels and plows to get out of their driveways, University of Delaware student Rebecca Moeller was busy working in the warm sunshine with whales in a place known as something of a tropical paradise: Hawaii.

Working in Maui through an internship with the Ocean Mammal Institute, Moeller, a senior majoring in animal science and minoring in wildlife conservation in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, said she spent three weeks tracking pods of humpback whales to see what effect boats had on their behavior.

She explained that during four-hour shifts, either from 8 a.m.-noon or 1-5 p.m., she and her team would be stationed on a cliff about a half a mile offshore, or at another location right on the shore, equipped with binoculars and looking for pods of whales.

“We would try to find one pod and then we would keep track of that pod for 20 minutes. Once we had a 20-minute period without a boat near the pod, we would keep track of the behaviors when there was a boat within half a mile, and then again once the boat was out of range for 20 minutes,” explained Moeller.

Tracking behavior wasn’t the only thing Moeller did during her internship, however; she also learned how to use a theodolite — a surveying instrument used to track coordinates — in order to pinpoint the locations where they spotted the pods.

Moeller said that team members would usually work with four or five pods a day and they would do an analysis of the pods at the end of every day.

“We would map them and then record how much down time there was and how many surface behaviors there were,” said Moeller. “Then at the end of the internship, we had to write a research paper using all of the data that we had collected.”

The interns also had to take a three-hour class every night after completing all of their work. So while it’s natural for everyone to hear Hawaii and automatically think of rest and relaxation, Moeller stressed that she spent the majority of her time hard at work.

“We were able to go snorkeling, but that was about the only thing that we had time for. I mean, the condos that we stayed at were right on the beach so we were able to appreciate the beauty of it, but we didn’t get much down time,” said Moeller.

Not that that was a bad thing, especially since she was able to fulfill a lifelong dream. “Ever since I can remember, I wanted to be a dolphin trainer. A lot of people have that phase, only I never really grew out of it. I’ve always just really loved marine mammals,” said Moeller.

She added that the internship would also help her after graduation as she enters the career field.

“In my future endeavors I really want to work in conservation biology for marine mammals and this definitely helped push me in that direction because I always knew that I wanted to be involved with dolphins and whales and porpoises,” she said. “Having this experience kind of showed me that conservation biology is definitely the direction that I want to go.”

Moeller was joined on the trip by another UD student, Alessandra Fantuzzi, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Article by Adam Thomas

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

Share

UD students look at possible contamination of irrigation water

November 21, 2013 under CANR News

students look for contaminants in irrigation waterStudents in the University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) are using a plot of land on the campus farm to help study possible contaminants in soil and irrigation water used to grow leafy greens and tomatoes in order to help inform new regulations on growers that will be going into effect next year as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act.

The study is part of a $9 million U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Specialty Crops Research Initiative (SCRI) grant titled “Developing Consensus Produce Safety Metrics for Leafy Greens and Tomatoes.” The project is led by the University of Maryland and is taking place at seven different universities and industry liaisons across the country.

Signed into law in 2011 by President Barack Obama, the food safety act has been implemented in stages over the past two years.

Kali Kniel, associate professor of animal and food sciences, explained that part of the law includes regulations for growers of fruits and vegetables, noting that this is the first time there have ever been specific regulations for growing fruits and vegetables.

“There have been guidelines and marketing agreements before but not regulations in terms of environmental aspects that are difficult to control,” Kniel said, “so growers are anxious and nervous about this.”

The rules are not yet finalized and include some fairly complicated aspects in terms of metrics, use of irrigation water and soil amendments. Delaware extension agents have been working with growers over the past two years to make the transition more manageable.

To help inform these regulations, researchers from the seven universities will meet with representatives of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to report on their findings.

UD research team

At UD, the research team used a plot of land next to the Allen Laboratory and has been growing tomatoes, romaine lettuce and spinach on the plot for the past two years.

Angela Ferelli, a senior double majoring in biochemistry and food science, worked on the project during the first summer and said that it was interesting to get hands-on experience outside of the lab.

Because it was her first time working in a garden and growing plants for a project, she said that it was a “labor of love. We really wanted to tackle it head on and we didn’t know what the best way was to keep the weeds out and keep the plants growing and happy. And if you looked down the rows the first time we planted, we had four rows — they started out straight and then they went crooked, but you could definitely tell that we were doing it, and it was great.”

Ferelli said that the next year, the group tested a new variable plasticulture for tomatoes, putting down plastic tarps to keep the weeds out. This is also a means of potential control for splash from rainfall for growing produce and for the protection from plant contact with soil.

Patrick Spanninger, a doctoral student in Kniel’s lab who has been working on the project since the beginning, explained that after the students grew the plants, they ran trials by pouring water mixed with manure that contained different levels of E. coli on the plants to monitor bacterial persistence on the fruit. “We wanted to see if the bacteria in the manure that we started with survived after we put it on the plants,” said Spanninger. This is a controlled way modeling how irrigation water may become naturally contaminated in real-life situations.

The students then harvested the tomatoes and leafy greens by hand and used random sampling strategies to look at the levels of generic E. coli on the plants.

Explaining that because the outdoors is a complicated, unsterile environment, Kniel said that they tested for generic E. coli because it is an indicator organism, meaning that if increased levels of generic E. coli show up, there could be a potential risk associated with the irrigation water. This is the current industry standard and part of a grower’s best practices.

The problem with rain

Another part of the research on which the students worked was the development of water safety metrics to help decide how many generic bacteria — nonpathogenic bacteria — can be found in water used for irrigation.

students look for contaminants in rain water“They’re associating the levels of bacteria in the water with climactic changes with rainfall and wind and relative humidity and temperatures to try and understand what puts produce at risk for having higher bacterial levels or potential pathogens,” said Kniel.

Ultimately, Kniel said that rainfall more than anything else poses a problem for growers when it comes to bacterial contamination on fruit that may have originated in irrigation water. Using DNA fingerprint analysis on the recovered E. coli, Spanninger was able to trace bacteria coming from the manure through the tomatoes on different plants.

“We actually are seeing that the initial amounts of generic bacteria in the water are not really the biggest issue. Bacterial decay on plants occurs within a couple of days. Rainfall seems to really affect fresh produce,” Kniel said. “We think that rain close to harvest dates is an important consideration and should be part of a Food Safety Plan, so we’re sharing with the FDA that aspects other than strict water metrics should be considered. At this time meeting the water standards the FDA is suggesting is difficult for produce growers around the country, in particular those that use surface water for irrigation.”

Spanninger agreed with that assessment. “From what we saw, the greatest influence on bacterial presence and persistence was big rain events, which we’ve been getting more of in recent years.” He explained that the research was conducted last fall during Hurricane Sandy and in the summer when the area was doused with a large amount of rainfall.

Spanninger also added that possible contamination from animals — such as geese, dogs, and groundhogs in the field — is another issue that the group is investigating. Wildlife intrusion into produce fields is an important area of study along with irrigation water standards.

In addition to looking for E. coli, the group — along with the research teams at other universities involved in the project — also set out to identify potential hot spots for growers, areas where they would have the most success growing crops without high risk of contamination.

Ferelli explained, “The overarching implications of this research are going to be for the growers to be able to have a better grip on where the risk is in the field. So if a grower goes out now with this risk in mind and he or she see’s there has been a rain event, or observes that an animal has come in and left it’s signature, instead of just taking out that one plant that has been affected, the grower will be better equipped with knowledge to recognize the possibility to section off several plants in that area.’”

Article by Adam Thomas

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

Share

CANR pre-veterinary medicine major conducts equine research at UPenn

November 5, 2013 under CANR News

UD student Meredith Bonnell interns at UPENN's New Bolton CenterMeredith Bonnell, a junior pre-veterinary medicine and animal biosciences major in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) at the University of Delaware, spent her summer conducting a research-based internship at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center at the Havemeyer Barn.

Bonnell’s research project, which she designed with Sue McDonnell, focused on the genetic effects on the learning abilities of ponies. McDonnell received her doctorate in reproductive physiology and behavior from UD and now heads the Equine Behavior Program at UPenn.

The center, located in Kennett Square, Pa., includes 700 acres of pastureland and exposure to experts in equine-based medical and surgical techniques. “The ponies that occupy some of that land are a part of a semi-feral herd used for equine research,” Bonnell said. “They undergo annual vaccinations and de-worming, in addition to blood work and basic handling when they are foals.”

The New Bolton Center is a large facility that specializes in many different types of veterinary care practices for horses and other large animals. The facility serves to generate data for medical specialists including cardiologists and orthopedists as well as for trainers seeking performance evaluations.

Bonnell’s research at the Havemeyer Barn utilized target training on a 100-count semi-feral Shetland-type pony herd to test learning ability, using performance scores generated to examine correlations between them and genetics, or known family lineage.

“Target training is relatively new to the equine industry and is connected with clicker training,” Bonnell said. “We’re typically familiar with its use on marine animals, like those we might see at SeaWorld.”

Bonnell said in order to test how she would collect data and gather equipment lists, she did extensive research and conducted preliminary tests on ponies removed from the semi-feral herd to be used on rotation for studies by the veterinary students at UPenn.

All of her sessions, she said, were videotaped and used as a reference in order to collect sufficient and accurate data.

Bonnell said she was excited to find this internship with McDonnell through a friend working in the neonatal intensive care unit at the center. She is currently working toward publication of her work and will continue research as independent study.

Bonnell said she hopes to pursue a career in equine veterinary field and plans to apply to veterinary school after graduating from UD.

Article by Angela Carcione

Photo by Danielle Quigley

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

Share

Fall seminar series provides information on poultry career opportunities

September 23, 2013 under Events

DKQ_6534With employment opportunities in the poultry industry thriving, the University of Delaware will host a Poultry Careers Seminar Series starting Sept. 26 and running into October geared toward students interested in positions in the field.

The seminars will all take place at 6 p.m. in Room 101 of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources’ Allen Laboratory and will provide students opportunities to speak directly to employers offering internships, management trainee programs and full-time positions. A free dinner will be offered before each seminar and there will be drawings for two $50 Barnes and Noble gift cards for students who attend all four seminars.

The first seminar will be held on Thursday, Sept. 26, and will feature Connie Parvis and Byron C. Field.

Parvis is the director of education and consumer information at Delmarva Poultry Industry (DPI) Inc., a nonprofit trade association working for the continued progress of the broiler chicken industry on the Delmarva Peninsula. Members include more than 1,000 farm families raising chickens, five poultry companies producing birds for farmers, and thousands of poultry company employees and allied industry suppliers of products and services.

Field is the federal state supervisor of the Livestock, Poultry, and Seed Program in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). AMS Poultry Programs facilitates the marketing of poultry, poultry products and eggs. The USDA AMS also oversees the efficient, fair marketing of American agricultural products, including food, fiber and specialty crops, in the global marketplace.

Additional seminars will be on Tuesday, Oct. 15; Tuesday Oct. 22; and Wednesday, Oct. 30.

Presenters at these seminars will include representatives from Perdue Farms, Cobb-Vantress, Mountaire Farms, UD Cooperative Extension and more.

There will also be information about a travel opportunity to Atlanta in January 2014 to attend the U.S. Poultry Foundation’s College Student Career Program, held during the International Poultry Expo, a major international poultry and agribusiness trade show.

The program will allow students opportunities to interview with 25 regional, national and international poultry and agribusiness companies and organizations and to network with representatives of more than 1,100 companies. Most travel expenses are covered with minimal cost to students attending this conference.

Students who attended the trade show last year said they found the event to be incredibly beneficial, with all five seniors and the one graduate student receiving one or more employment offers, and with at least three of the students accepting positions and now working in the poultry industry.

Students interested in attending any of these seminars should log into their Blue Hen Career account to RSVP for the seminar series or write to Diane Venninger at dvenning@udel.edu for each individual seminar so that food can be planned accordingly.

For more information, email Venninger at dvenning@udel.edu.

Share

UD graduate Acciacca serves as military veterinarian at Camp Lejeune

August 26, 2013 under CANR News

Rachel Acciacca serves as a military veterinarianBefore enrolling at the University of Delaware, Rachel Acciacca knew that she wanted to accomplish two things in her professional life — serve the nation in the military and become a veterinarian. Once she heard about the Army Veterinary Corps, she knew her path was set.

Acciacca, a Veterinary Corps officer in the U.S. Army, was a UD Honors Program student who studied animal science as a pre-veterinary major in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR). She also minored in biology and completed four years in Army ROTC.

At CANR, Capt. Acciacca served as an Ag Ambassador, was a member of Sigma Alpha and assisted with Ag Day. She was also a member of the women’s ice hockey club team and rode and trained horses and competed in eventing, an equestrian sport that involves dressage, cross-country and show jumping.

After being commissioned as a second lieutenant out of ROTC and receiving an educational delay to postpone her active duty service obligation until after veterinary school, Acciacca earned her doctor of veterinary medicine degree from North Carolina State University in 2011.

Following graduation, she was assigned to the Department of Defense Military Working Dog Hospital in San Antonio, Texas, and after completing her internship she was assigned to her current position as branch chief of Veterinary Services at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C.

As a military veterinarian, she provides around the clock emergency, medical, and surgical support to the military working dogs (MWDs) throughout coastal North Carolina. “I am responsible for ensuring that these MWDs are medically fit for short-notice deployment, and managing their routine preventive care,” said Acciacca. “I am also responsible for managing our veterinary treatment facility, which provides routine veterinary care for service members’ privately owned animals.”

Acciacca said that she also provides veterinary support to the base horse stables and works closely with the installation’s public health and preventive medicine teams on issues such as “disease control, rabies prevention and control, animal control, and epidemiological studies.”

Being an Army veterinarian is not simply limited to taking care of animals, as Acciacca explained there are many facets to the job.

“Military veterinarians need to be prepared to manage and respond to an extremely wide variety of mission requirements, environments and unpredictable situations,” she said. “You may get tasked with developing an agricultural support mission in a developing country, respond to a food-borne disease outbreak in your area of operations, develop casualty evacuation procedures, or respond to a foreign animal disease risk.”

In her role as branch chief at Camp Lejeune, her overall mission is to lead and supervise military and civilian staff.

“I oversee our unit’s training and mission readiness to ensure that all soldiers are competent in the basic soldier skills and their job-specific tasks. Our veterinary services mission here at Camp Lejeune has two main categories — veterinary medical services and public health and veterinary food inspection and quality assurance for the surrounding installations.”

Their food inspection and quality assurance mission involves inspecting all sustenance that is delivered and sold on base to ensure that it is wholesome and safe for the consumers.

While Acciacca has no set day-to-day routine, as each day presents its own unique challenges, she does try to dedicate one day a week to privately owned animal surgeries, two days a week to military working dog medicine and surgery, and a day to handle managerial and branch leadership issues.

The soldiers of Camp Lejeune veterinary services also dedicate one day a week to training to ensure they stay up-to-date on general military skills such as marksmanship, land navigation, leadership skills, and resiliency training.

Experience at UD

Acciacca said she enjoyed her time at UD, and said that CANR helped set her on the road to success. “The close-knit community at CANR was very supportive and encouraging,” she said. “I still remember individual professors who went out of their way to support me and prepare me for veterinary school. Everyone there was always so approachable, and I truly felt that they were dedicated to seeing me succeed.”

For any UD students currently interested in applying to veterinary school after graduation, Acciacca said, “Don’t ever doubt your ability to become a veterinarian — if you want it badly enough, you will make it happen. Work hard, seek out many different types of animal or veterinary-related experience you can, and keep your mind open. It’s a lot of work, but it’s a blast and I wouldn’t trade my job for anything.”

Article by Adam Thomas

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

Share

UD’s Williams spends summer as intern on Herr Angus Farm

August 20, 2013 under CANR News

Kathryn Williams spends summer interning at Herr'sAs an animal and food science major, University of Delaware senior Kathryn Williams was looking for a summer internship that incorporated both of those elements. Luckily for Williams, her adviser, Lesa Griffiths, knew just the place.

Griffiths, professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences, has a long history with the Herr company – based in nearby Nottingham, Pa., and a leader in the snack food industry — and she suggested that Williams apply for a summer internship.

Williams took the advice and met with Dennis Byrne, manager of the Herr Angus Farm and a UD alumnus who received the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources’ Distinguished Alumni Award, and he offered her an internship on the spot.

Williams has now been working at the cattle farm since May 28, and said she is enjoying the hands-on experience the internship offers.

“I’m basically a farm hand — even though I’m technically the intern,” said Williams. “The first day I was thrown right in with everything. They were running cows through the shoot, doing a lot of medical checks and giving a lot of timed breeding shots. There was no, ‘Oh, you’re the intern, you can just sit and watch us.’ They put me right to work and it’s been great. I’m learning so much.”

Williams said that she usually arrives at the Herr farm around 8 a.m. and stays until 4 p.m. or later. Her daily routine consists of riding around the fields with her boss to check on the cows and make sure that they are well and, if not, bring them in for a medical check. She helps out with shots and other basic medical procedures, as well as lending a hand for any miscellaneous jobs that need to be performed — like fixing fences or mowing lawns.

One of her favorite parts of the internship has been learning to drive the tractors and getting to climb to the top of the silo.

“It was a little nerve-wracking, but there’s an enclosed ladder and it was worth it. I got to the top and got my camera out and was taking pictures,” said Williams.

Williams admitted that when she first took the internship, she did so in order to broaden her horizons, but now after working with beef cows for the summer, she can see herself doing it as a career. “Now that I’ve gotten into it, I’ve really enjoyed working with beef cows. It’s a lot different than working with dairy cows and I’ve actually come to enjoy it a lot more.”

And of course, interning at the Herr farm does have the added bonus of being close to their famous and flavorful potato chips, especially the salt and vinegar or the kettle cooked chips, which are Williams’ favorites.

Multi-tasking

Williams is preparing for a busy senior year, as she performs her duties in the Sigma Alpha sorority and serves as president of the Animal Science Club. But multi-tasking is nothing knew to Williams.

In addition to interning on the farm this summer, Williams also volunteers at Pet-Assisted Visitation Volunteer Services (PAWS) for People with her dog, Riley.

The organization visits nursing homes, hospitals and children’s hospitals and volunteers sit and talk with people one-on-one. Williams has been volunteering by visiting an adult day center, with Riley in tow.

“I’ve been visiting the one place for so long, I’ve developed relationships with each person, so I’m able to just sit and chat with them and they’ll sit there and pet Riley the whole time we’re talking, and it’s just really nice,” said Williams. “A lot of the time you get feedback from them, and it’s just so wonderful to see how much they enjoy it.”

Article by Adam Thomas

Photos by Danielle Quigley

Video by Adam Thomas and Danielle Quigley

Share

CANR announces 2013 Benton Award winners

July 29, 2013 under CANR News

benton-award-winnersThe University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) has announced that Jacquelyn Marchese and Michelle Windle are the winners of the 2013 William J. Benton Graduate Student Awards.

The awards were established in honor of William J. Benton, former CANR associate dean of research and professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences (ANFS).

Jacquelyn Marchese

Marchese received her master’s degree from the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology in May. Of the award, she said she was “honored that I was even nominated, so it was pretty cool that I won. I was definitely very grateful.”

Marchese’s research has dealt with bumblebees and how they can be used to pollinate certain crops in Delaware, such as watermelon, cucumbers and strawberries.

After graduating, she decided to take some time off and go on a cross-country road trip before settling into the professional world.

Marchese acknowledged her adviser, Deborah Delaney, assistant professor of entomology and wildlife ecology, and the rest of her committee: Gordon Johnson, assistant professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences; Vincent D’Amico, supplemental faculty in entomology and wildlife ecology; and Joanne Whalen, Cooperative Extension specialist in entomology and wildlife ecology.

Michelle Windle

Windle, a doctoral student in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences who previously received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from CANR, said her doctoral research focuses on silage, specifically how to increase the digestibility of starch earlier in the ensiling process to make it more readily available for cows to digest, which will in turn help them have more energy and produce more milk.

In addition to her research, Windle has also been a teaching assistant for many classes in fields as diverse as animal nutrition, which she taught for five years, production and genetics. She has traveled extensively to conduct research and present papers, and has given talks at conferences.

Windle said that it was an honor to receive the award, especially in light of the fact that she has interacted with some past winners. “That was really neat. It was an honor. I’ve known some of the other people who have gotten it, Laura Nemec and Kirsten Hirneisen, and it was an honor to be included with them.”

Windle pointed out that she could not say enough about her adviser Limin Kung, the S. Hallock du Pont Professor of Animal and Food Sciences who has been exceptionally helpful throughout her time at UD.

“I can’t talk about Dr. Kung enough. The guy is awesome,” she said. “He’s got drive, excitement, he thinks silage is cool, and he’s got the ability to inspire that in other students. He just genuinely wants to see you do well.”

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

Share

UD student spends summer with New Castle County Police Mounted Patrol

July 15, 2013 under CANR News

Maggie Curran interns with NCC mounted policeUniversity of Delaware student Maggie Curran does not have any background in police work but she does have experience with horses. So when the opportunity arose to spend the summer interning with the New Castle County Police Mounted Patrol, she thought it would be a good chance to combine something new with something she has been doing since she was 6 years old.

Working out of Carousel Park, Curran has been on the job since the second week of June and said her day-to-day routine varies depending on the needs of the mounted unit.

“This internship has been really helpful with my horse skills because I’m here every day working with the horses from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and I’m doing different things,” said Curran, a sophomore studying animal science in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “I’m riding, I’m cleaning stalls and equipment, I’m grooming — all of the things that people don’t really think about outside of riding.”

As to riding, Curran is learning all of the formations used by the county mounted police — such as the column, the line, the echelon and the L — and the reasons behind those formations.

“The column is where we’re all following each other. When we’re walking through somewhere, it’s the easiest way to get from one place to another,” she said. “The line is all of us next to each other and that’s what they call the most aggressive formation, where we can line up and move people.

“The echelon is used to peel people off of a wall or a surface and the L is when there are three of us in the front and one behind, and that is for when we’re moving through a crowd and we’re trying to protect a car or a person. They stand right in between the riders in the L.”

Curran pointed out that taking care of 10 horses provides endless learning opportunities, as she encounters something new with at least one of the horses each day.

Specifically, she has been able to assist in the training exercises the three new Clydesdale horses must complete this summer in preparation for the work they will perform as members of the unit.

She said she is also glad that she gets to work at Carousel Park, a place where she used to ride.

NCCPD, UD collaboration

Curran’s internship experience was made possible through a partnership between the county police mounted unit and UD’s Department of Animal and Food Sciences.

The partnership is a collaborative effort between Mary Devine, senior sergeant with the mounted unit, and Carissa Wickens, assistant professor of animal and food sciences, as a means of supporting the work of the unit while providing UD students with a valuable hands-on, equine-focused learning experience.

Laura Nemec, laboratory coordinator in the department, also played an integral role in developing the internship.

“I’m certainly interested in any kind of a community outreach program that might involve the horses or the police department. We are community policing so I said, ‘Sure, come on out, and we’ll talk and we can brainstorm,’ and the internship is what we came up with,” said Devine.

Wickens said she was drawn to the opportunity because it is unique. “Not every state, city or county police force has a mounted division, and very few students would ever have the chance to work with police horses,” said Wickens. “The internship with the New Castle County mounted police unit may present opportunities for further studies designed to investigate characteristics that make horses suitable candidates for police work and/or to assess how horses respond to different training protocols. I also was looking for ways in which we could provide some assistance to the unit.”

She went on to explain that Curran is learning much more than just the basic care of the horses.

“Maggie is learning about the unit and the patrol, the use of these horses and how they’re engaged in the unit’s activities, but moreover, she’s actually getting to see the training protocols involved in acclimating horses to this type of work,” Wickens said. “Equine behavior, temperament and training are all important aspects of mounted police work, and being able to observe the horses’ training and daily routines is a great way for students to learn more about the biology and management of horses as well as to explore additional career options.”

Wickens and Devine both stressed the reciprocal nature of the partnership, how it benefits both UD and the county police, and said that they will look to collaborate more in the future.

As for Curran, Devine said that she is surprised how easily she fit in with the mounted unit.

“It takes a special type of person to adjust and adapt to this unit. We have a lot of fun over here but it’s a lot of work and we work very closely with one another,” said Devine. “There’s a lot of personalities so you really have to meld in with the group, and she’s very flexible, very respectful. We ask her to do something and she’s happy to do it and it speaks volumes about her. She’s been great.”

Devine also said that she is always eager to work with UD, as she said the internships can serve as a great recruiting tool. “If the students get an opportunity to come over and see how we do police work on horseback, maybe they will gain some interest in what we do as police officers,” said Devine.

That seems to be the case with Curran, who admits that she had given little thought to a career as a police officer before beginning her internship with the county.

“Before the internship, I wouldn’t consider myself wanting to be a police officer or anything like that,” said Curran. “I came into this internship more for the horse aspect of it, but it really has been interesting and I will give it a second thought. If I could be in the mounted unit with horses, it’d be awesome to have as your day-to-day job.”

Article by Adam Thomas

Photos by Danielle Quigley

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

Share

UD’s Kung teaches silage to Brazilian professors, students

June 24, 2013 under CANR News

Limin Kung, an expert on silage, spreads that expertise to Universities throughout BrazilFor the past 14 years, Limin Kung has served as a bridge between the University of Delaware and various universities in Brazil, linking with more than 20 students and professors from the South American nation through his expertise in the agricultural practice known as silage.

Kung, the S. Hallock du Pont Professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences, has had students and faculty members come to UD from three Brazilian universities: Escola Superior de Agricultura Luiz de Queiroz (ESALQ), which is a unit of the University of São Paulo; the Universidade Estadual Paulista Júlio de Mesquita Filho (UNESP)-São Paulo State University; and the Universidade Federal de Viçosa (UFV).

The professors and students all came to UD as part of sabbaticals, undergraduate internships or through the Brazilian “sandwich” program, established between universities in the United States and Brazil in which Brazilian Ph.D. students spend one year studying at an American institution sandwiched between their studies at home.

Two students, Renato Schmidt and Mateus Santos, obtained their doctorates while working with Kung through UD-funded grants.

Kung is one of the leading experts on silage in the U.S. and internationally and because of the considerable interest in silage fermentation around the world, he said it made sense to have Brazilian students study with him to learn more about the topic.

Silage is plant material that has undergone anaerobic fermentation, a process similar to the one used when making pickles or sauerkraut, in order to store it properly.

According to Kung, “silage-making started off in temperate climates where people didn’t have the ability to graze during cold weather or they didn’t have the ability to harvest crops all year-round. They wanted to find some way to say, ‘At certain times of the year, I have really high quality stuff here — how can I preserve that and store it when it is at its best and use it as feed year-round?’”

The students who studied with Kung in his laboratory were able to get experience learning about silage on the UD farm in Newark, where they helped Kung with various research studies.

“The type of work that we do with silage, you need lots of people,” Kung said. “There is lots of hands-on activity and it is very labor intensive in the field and in the lab.”

Kung explained that they study silage both before and after they put it in the silo in order to make sure that everything is OK.

“We know what goes in and we try to control what comes out,” he said. “The way that we try to control what comes out is basically to have good management first, which means we have the right moisture and the right packing density. Also, we work on trying to find new types of additives — whether they be chemical or enzymatic or microbial — to improve the process. A huge area of worldwide research is trying to develop different types of additives to make the process better.”

Still, Kung said that silage is not the only reason that the Brazilian students come to UD. “They basically all want to learn more about silage but they’re here for a number of reasons,” he said. “For one, the internships are important for them to experience a different culture, so that they can improve their English speaking skills and then also to do some research. They’re here for the cultural and the scientific experience.”

Kung is also part of a recent grant with Odilon Pereira, a professor at UFV who spent a one-year sabbatical in Kung’s lab at UD. Pereira is linked to the Science Without Borders program and the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES), the Brazilian Federal Agency for the Support and Evaluation of Graduate Education, which will involve him teaching silage classes to graduate students as well as conducting seminars and meeting with project coordinators in Brazil.

Article by Adam Thomas

Photo by Danielle Quigley

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

Share