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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UD statistics students spend summer getting real world experience

November 12, 2013 under CANR News

Three University of Delaware students studying statistics spent the summer interning with financial and medical research institutions, gaining invaluable real world experience and, for some, job offers.

Tom Ilvento, professor in the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics (APEC) in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), said that internship opportunities are important for every student but especially for statistics majors, as it “opens the students’ eyes to a bigger vision of what their field is about and what they can do and what kind of skills they really have.

“We preach a lot that as a stat major, you’re different, you have a lot of skills. But I don’t know that they appreciate it until they get into a setting where they have to start using it.”

Using their skills were seniors Heather Bowman and Zachary Baine, who completed internships with financial institutions, and Qiuming (Mark) He, who worked with a medical research organization.

Ilvento said he was pleased with the students’ work over the summer, pointing out that they went out on their own and actively sought out the internship opportunities and then excelled in their respective positions.

“I was impressed with all three finding positions and I was really happy for the experience they had. They were all involved in real world problems in groups, and they were participating members, so these weren’t internships where they went and got the coffee — they really got involved and were able to do things and contribute to their teams.”

The undergraduate internship program in statistics is not as developed as the statistics master of science internship program, which has up to 17 students each class in year-long internships with local companies such as DuPont, Conde Nast, Chase, Bank of America, and PNC Bank. However, Ilvento noted that APEC would like to head that way with undergraduate internships and this past summer was a great start in that direction.  “Ultimately, we would like to see more undergraduate statistics majors intern each year,” he said.

Heather Bowman undergraduate statistics majorHeather Bowman

Bowman spent her summer interning at Chase Bank in Wilmington, working with a marketing manager on a partner credit card for the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), a brand that owns facilities such as the Holiday Inn.

“Every week I would do acquisitions reports — looking at how many new card members we had from in a hotel and how many we got from various sites or emails — and then I would present that on a phone call to our partner,” said Bowman.

She also explained that she looked at the net promoter score, which told her how pleased current card members were with their card and the reasons why, from which she could report on whether changes the credit card company had made recently were making card members more or less happy.

Bowman said that having an analytical background from her undergraduate courses at UD helped her as she applied what she learned in the classroom to the world of work. “Having the analytical background and thinking came in handy when I looked at the data and tried to figure out what to do with a gigantic spreadsheet and how to make sense of the numbers.”

Another thing that helped was her knowledge of Statistical Analysis Software (SAS), a program that she learned how to use in class. “I took a master’s level statistics class that taught SAS and that’s something that a lot of companies like to see, so I thought that helped because I actually used that this summer at Chase to work on a couple of reports.”

Zachary Baine Undergraduate statistics majorZachary Baine

Baine interned at American Express in New York City. He explained that his main project was researching card member data, trying to find certain trends and looking at metrics. “I was analyzing those metrics and trying to figure out how we could predict them and use the information to try to generate more revenue growth.”

Baine said that the people at American Express were hands-off, trusting that he would get his work done, which he did thanks to the foundation he gained in UD’s statistics program.

“Some statistics classes for regression analysis really helped me and I used that often,” said Baine.

He added that the computer science and programming classes that he took as a requirement for his statistics major helped him understand some of the coding language.

“The statistics courses built a foundation for me so that I could stare at all this data and try to figure out what was going on.”

As for his favorite part of the internship, Baine said that was easy: the end when he was given a job offer.

“I was lucky enough to receive a job offer and for the interns that did get a job offer, they brought us all up to the top floor, the CEO’s floor, with this luxurious conference room,” he said. “They put us all in there and had the CEO of the company come in and congratulated us, so that was a good way to end the internship and left the most lasting impression on me.”

Qiuming (Mark) He undergraduate statistics majorQiuming (Mark) He 

He spent the summer working at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City, Mo.

The facility had many individual labs, but He explained that he worked for the core facility for bioinformatics, helping to process data and provide consultation for scientists.

“They came to us if they had any questions,” He said. “Usually they could handle their data by themselves but if they had some difficulty, they came to us and we figured it out or gave them advice on how to approach the data.”

He worked with a program called R, software with which he had no previous experience prior to the internship. “I heard the name R but I never touched it and then in the first two months, I was doing some tasks and practicing, and in the last month I did my project just using the R software.”

He said that all of the skills learned in the statistics program at UD came in handy, as he had experience programming in other languages and only had to adjust to the syntax changes. He also said that the skills he learned at UD, such as critical thinking and ways to approach data, helped him out, as well.

As for statistics in general, He said that he loves how the practice allows him to help people. “We can really talk to people and see what they want and then we have the data as the backup. We can come up with the result and then we have to back that up so it’s really solid, and I like the feeling of making people happy when they see what they think is actually statistically significant. I really like seeing that they meet their expectations.”

Article by Adam Thomas

Photos by Danielle Quigley

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

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Titus Awokuse Accepted for the APLU national Food Systems Leadership Institute

October 25, 2013 under CANR News

Titus Awokuse Accepted for the APLU national Food Systems Leadership InstituteTitus Awokuse, chair of the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics (APEC), was accepted for the Fall 2013 Food Systems Leadership Institute (FSLI), an executive leadership development program for academia, industry, and government. The FSLI enhances personal and professional development by emphasizing leadership competencies, skills for organizational change, and a broad, interdisciplinary perspective of food systems. The FSLI experience prepares scholars for upper-level leadership roles in food system programs, and to assume broader leadership responsibilities within their organizations.

During the FSLI program, scholars work with expert instructors, leadership development coaches, and an upper level mentor to help increase their leadership abilities. They meet with leaders of universities, political leaders, industry leaders and others who have advanced to the highest levels of leadership. Leadership theory is combined with practical experience, often in the context of food systems and higher education.

The FSLI is a two year program. Year one includes intensive executive education-style residential learning sessions at three university locations. Scholars perform assessments to increase their self awareness of their leadership style, and the results are used to develop and implement a personal development plan, prepared with the assistance of a professional coach. Interactive distance learning is used between residential sessions. During year two participants work, applying what they have learned, to develop and carry out an individual leadership project.

Additional information is available at www.fsli.org.

FSLI is dedicated to advancing and strengthening food systems by preparing a set of new leaders with the skills and knowledge necessary to invent and reinvent the food systems of the future. It is a program of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (A-P-L-U), with the initial funding provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. North Carolina State University is the host site with The Ohio State University and California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo being residential sites responsible for implementation of the program.

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Steve Hastings’ China Trip Travel Log

July 10, 2013 under CANR News

hastingschinatripChina Trip
Steven E. Hastings
Professor and Associate Chair, Applied Economics and Statistics
June 17 – June 30, 2013

To view the photos from Hastings’ trip, check out his Flickr page.

This trip actually began several months ago when I saw an announcement for a trip to China for University of Delaware alumni, faculty and staff. The trip directors were UD faculty member and world-renowned violinist Xiang Gao and his wife Renee. Thinking this would be a unique opportunity to see China, I asked Jeanne if she was interested.

So, months later– with new luggage, several immunizations and a wallet full of new $20 bills (the only bills banks will accept for exchange), we boarded a chartered bus in Newark bound for JKF Airport to catch a flight to Beijing.

Click here to read more.. »

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An economist and an artist

February 8, 2013 under CANR News

Steve Hastings knows the science of economics and is learning the nuances of art, the latter of which was recently shown at the Oxford Arts Alliance’s “University of Delaware: Past and Present” where Hastings had two pieces on display.

Hastings, professor and associate chair in the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, had his passion for sculpting and welding stoked back in 2007 when he took a welding class in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and then continued on by taking a week long workshop with a prominent metal sculpture named Stan Smokler in 2008.

Steve Hastings is an economist and an artistOne of the pieces that was on display at the Oxford Arts Alliance is titled “Protection” and Hastings explained he made the piece while taking an independent study at UD in the fall of 2012 with David Meyer, associate professor of art.

As part of an assignment, Hastings had to build a 3-dimensional object that had a frame and had a skin attached to the frame. Hastings explained that if you were to flip the piece over, “You’ll see there’s a frame in there that I built out of straps, and small strips of wood” and on the outside of “Protection” are “pieces of ply wood that have been stacked together, sliced and then attached to that frame.”

The resulting piece turned out to be “Protection” and Hastings said that everyone seems to have their own interpretation about the piece.

“My original idea was a tortoise shell but several people have seen this, and some people have said it’s a shield, some people have said a biking helmet, some people have said that it could be conceived as a tribal mask of some kind. So, it’s kind of what you see in it. My idea was very different than what other people have seen.”

Hastings said that the piece took between 25-30 hours to complete and was his first time working with wood for a sculpture.

Of the connection between art and economics, Hastings said, “They cross over some. I would argue that economics is a rigorous discipline, mathematical, and structured–where art is more subjective. And so, that may be part of what I like about it, that it’s so different from what I do every day and what I teach in my classes.”

Hastings especially likes working with metal, and he said that his family and his upbringing on a farm in Sussex County–where he watched his father make or fix things on the farm as needed–inspire his art.

“I think it all goes back to growing up on this farm in Sussex County and I have a piece out in the yard that is all old farm wheels that kind of represent different eras in our family farm. I use old tools a lot to make garden signs and those kinds of things so I think it all goes back to my farm upbringing basically.”

Article by Adam Thomas

Photo by Danielle Quigley

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Hong Yin finishes up school with multiple areas of study

January 17, 2013 under CANR News

Hong Yin will graduate in the spring with 3 majors and 2 minorsHong Yin has more majors (3) and minors (2) than years it took to graduate from the University of Delaware (4).

She is majoring in food and agribusiness marketing and management (FABM) and in resource economics in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), and in operations management in the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics — and minoring in economics  and international business with a foreign language. That might seem unmanageable to some, but not to Yin.

Yin, who is originally from China and who attended the University of Delaware’s English Language Institute to learn the English language, has maintained a grade point average of above 3.0 despite taking such a full course load. She said that in addition to the educational advantage of taking so many classes, she took a lot of classes for another reason, as well — to meet more people.

“I’m not from here so I figured, if I take more classes, I will know more people and then I will meet more friends. It worked out really well.”

Yin said that she enjoys all of her areas of study, and especially likes that they are so different. “For example, the FABM is more focused on the agriculture sector. Resource economics is more focused on environmental concerns that businesses are facing today. On the other hand, operations management is more about making everything efficient and eliminating waste.”

Yin singled out Steven Hastings, professor and associate chair in CANR’s Department of Applied Economics and Statistics (APEC), for making his introductory level economics class so interesting that it spurred her to look into APEC to find a major that she liked. It turned out, that she found two.

One of those majors could come in very handy, especially to her parents. “My parents have a company in China. They sell dairy products, like baby formulas,” said Yin. “And they said, ‘If you don’t find a satisfying career in the U.S. after you graduate, the family business could benefit from your education.’ That’s why I added the FABM major.”

Yin now has Hastings as an advisor and she said that he is “really helpful. He helps students plan out what they want and he is always there, always in the office and whenever you email him, even on the breaks, it is really easy to get in touch with him and talk about what you want and then he gives you really good suggestions.”

Of Yin, Hastings said, “I have known Hong for three years, since she declared her second and third majors, both in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. I was immediately impressed with her enthusiasm and motivation.” Hastings added, “While many students take random courses for electives, Hong was adamant — she wanted to take courses that counted for another major. She is a wonderfully pleasant young lady that has accomplished a great deal.”

As for her favorite part about UD, Yin said that she enjoys the outdoor areas available for students to study. “I like The Green a lot because where I’m from in China, there are not many stretches of green areas. In the summer it is really beautiful.”  Yin added that she also enjoys, “the Botanic Garden in the spring. I appreciate the plants much more because of Professor Swasey’s—Professor Emeritus in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences–flower arranging class.”

Article by Adam Thomas

Photo by Danielle Quigley

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Fooks, students help remove privet from Sharp Farm near Odessa

December 10, 2012 under CANR News

Students remove privet from Sharp FarmUniversity of Delaware instructor Jacob Fooks wanted students in his Department of Applied Economics and Statistics sustainable development class to experience things beyond the classroom, so when the opportunity arose to assist Delaware Wild Lands, a non-profit land conservancy, with an invasive species removal project, he jumped at the opportunity.

The UD students were assigned to work on a project at Delaware Wild Lands’ Sharp Farm near Odessa, said Fooks, who is a doctoral student in UD’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics.

The Sharp Farm provides a great learning experience for those unfamiliar with invasive species and their impacts on the ecosystem because such plants are prolific throughout the understories in the forested areas of the 430-acre property.

The farm — owned for many years by the Sharp family, longtime UD benefactors, until its acquisition in 2006 by Delaware Wild Lands — sits within two critical geographic transition zones in Delaware.

“One of the really wonderful things about the Sharp Farm is that is provides exceptionally diverse habitat because it’s right in the middle of two transition zones,” said Kate Hackett, Delaware Wild Lands executive director. “The Sharp Farm lies within the southern extent of the piedmont region and the northern extent of the coastal plain region, so you get both of those regions there and all of the associated plants and animals associated with those two different eco regions.”

While there are many invasive species present on the farm — Japanese honeysuckle, wineberry, multiflora rose and Japanese stiltgrass, to name a few — Fooks and his students spent their time at the farm removing privet.

The problem with privet and other invasive species, Hackett explained, is that it grows faster than the native plants with which it competes for space, lights and nutrients. “If you have a little seedling of privet regenerating at the same time you have an acorn from an oak tree, the privet just grows faster and will crowd out the oak tree,” said Hackett. “So we need to control invasive species and make sure that the oak trees can naturally regenerate faster.”

Hackett, who had spoken to the class about sustainability issues before inviting them to help with the invasive species removal on the farm, said that when Fooks and his students arrived at the farm, they were tasked with removing an eight-foot wall of privet.

“We were working on these hedgerows along the edges of this field that was overgrown with underbrush,” said Fooks. “At the end there was a massive pile of all this brush that we hauled out, so it was pretty cool.”

Hackett recalls, “Jacob and his students — and we had some community members, also — literally just came in and mowed over all of the privet. We actually got much farther than we expected that day and that’s in large part because of the students, so they really helped us significantly advance our goals of removing invasive species and ultimately of restoring and enhancing forests at the Sharp Farm.”

The work was funded, in part, by a wildlife grant from the state of Delaware. In addition to invasive species removal, and also part of the grant, Delaware Wild Lands is also exploring the use of deer exclosures to prevent overbrowsing from deer.

Fooks said that he had a great time helping out at the Sharp Farm. “It was a great experience for the students, it was a lot of fun for me and I think they got a lot out of it, too.”

Hackett reflected on the day, saying she was thrilled to have Fooks and his students show up to help with the project. “Jacob’s students showed up ready to work and learn. For anyone, it’s difficult to understand how invasive species can adversely affect the environment. Jacob’s student’s advanced us significantly towards our goal while learning more about the multitude of factors that can and do affect an ecosystem.”

Article by Adam Thomas

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

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Stefanie Ralph excels at agricultural education

November 8, 2012 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Stefanie Ralph, a University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) alumnus, has been named the 2012 Smyrna School District Teacher of the Year. Ralph graduated in 2007 with a bachelor of science degree in agricultural education and technology with a concentration in natural resources, and with a minor in landscape horticulture.

Of the award, Ralph said, “Being chosen as the District Teacher of the Year is unquestionable the most extraordinary honor of my career, and I wish to express my gratitude.  I think, at some point, every teacher begins to question if they’re doing a good job, especially since it often goes unrecognized. Being selected restores my confidence as a teacher, and it’s encouraging to know that my colleagues believe that I’m doing a good job.”

Ralph teaches 7th grade Agriscience at Smyrna Middle School, and she said that she believes that the school is filled with great teachers.  “The entire faculty at Smyrna is highly qualified and all go above and beyond the call of duty,” said Ralph.

Ralph said that she finds teaching middle school challenging but rewarding at the same time. Reflecting how most students in that age range are still trying to find themselves, Ralph said that the students are “constantly trying on different personas. They need to know they are cared for and are needed. It is rewarding to obtain a trusting, meaningful rapport with students as they enthusiastically grow and mature from the first day they walk into my class.”

Having been involved in 4-H and FFA for 13 years, Ralph said that it has been a lifelong goal of hers to educate and promote awareness about the importance of agriculture to students who may be unaware about the critical role it plays in their day-to-day lives. “I believe that education is the foundation of success and through my course, students develop various life skills to become active, contributing citizens to today’s society,” said Ralph. “I became a teacher to not only make a difference in a child’s life, but to prepare students for the future, as they are the future.”

While she attended CANR, Ralph said that her education helped her learn about various aspects of the agriculture industry, from taking classes on animal science and plant and soil science to agribusiness and natural resource management, among others. “By taking these various courses, I was able to expand my knowledge base in the agriculture industry; thus preparing me to teach various courses as an agriculture educator,” said Ralph.

Ralph also noted that she particularly enjoyed her study abroad trip to New Zealand, where she learned about pastoral livestock production, and that she enjoyed professors such as Patricia Barber, a retired faculty member from the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, David Frey, associate professor and assistant Chair in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, and Ed Kee, retired University of Delaware Cooperative Extension Specialist and University alumnus.

The person who she originally learned about agriculture from, however, was her grandmother. “As a young girl, I remember helping my grandmother in her garden, digging in the dirt, having fun, not realizing at that time she was teaching me to appreciate our environment. She was planting the seeds for me to grow and aspire in a way to continue my journey to learn more about my passion for plants and agriculture.”

For any current students who are hoping to one day become teachers themselves, Ralph offered some words of wisdom stressing the importance of preparation and passion in teaching. “The advice I would give to a future teacher is to show your passion in your lessons and planning; show the students that you are there for them to learn and you will stop at nothing for them to succeed.”

Article by Adam Thomas

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Don Tilmon receives College of the Ozarks Meritorious Award

November 5, 2012 under CANR News

Don Tilmon, professor in the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics (APEC), has received the 2012 Meritorious Award for Distinguished Achievement from the College of the Ozarks where he earned his associate degree in 1963.

Tilmon received his master’s degree at the University of Delaware and then eventually returned to UD, where he has worked for 34 years. He served as the Cooperative Extension farm management specialist and the director of the Northeast Center for Risk Management Education, which was established at UD in 2001. It is one of four regional centers that conduct the Extension Risk Management Education Program. Tilmon provided leadership for developing the program while he was serving as the national program leader for risk management education, during one of three separate one-year Inter-Agency Personnel assignments at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Tilmon also received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Missouri in 1965 and his doctorate from Purdue University in 1971.

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Byers named FFA Agriculture Ambassador, Jones wins FFA Alumni Scholarship

September 13, 2012 under CANR News

University of Delaware student Jenna Byers has been named an FFA National Collegiate Agriculture Ambassador for the second year in a row, while UD student Jake Jones has received an FFA Alumni Scholarship.

Jenna Byers

One of only 20 students nationwide to be named a National Collegiate Agriculture Ambassador, Byers said that it felt great to be named for the second year in a row and joked that she was, “really happy to find out that I had done ‘Ok’ the first time around.”

As a National Collegiate Agriculture Ambassador, Byers is required to complete 30 hours of presentations, which she will give to high schools and clubs and organizations, in order to raise awareness of the importance of agriculture and develop and implement sustainable agricultural awareness programs to inspire and motivate local communities.

Through the FFA’s National Collegiate Agriculture Ambassador program, more than 103,700 people have learned the value of agriculture, with 88 students from 29 states having served as ambassadors giving 2,160 presentations in 34 states and three foreign countries.

Byers, pictured in the front row, third from the left, with her fellow FFA National Collegiate Agriculture Ambassadors

Arba Henry, instructor in the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics and faculty advisor for the University of Delaware’s Collegiate FFA, said of Byers being named for the second year in a row, “Jenna was the first member of our chapter to be so honored. She is an excellent representative of our chapter, College, and University at the national Level.”

As a second year ambassador, Byers, who majors in food and agribusiness marketing and management, said that she is able to not only learn from her experiences the first time around, but also to share those experiences with her fellow ambassadors. “In addition to being able to do the presentations to different schools and different audiences, I can also work with first year ambassadors and help them.”

It also helps that she can reflect on the presentations she conducted during her first year in the program as she said, “I can pick out probably something from every presentation that I did that I wish I had done differently.”

The most important lesson that she learned, however, was that flexibility is key. “When you’re working with kids, nothing is going to go exactly the way that you planned it but if you have an idea of what you want to talk about in general, you can go in and have a good time and make sure that the students come away with the information. You don’t always have to stick right to the plan.”

Last year, Byers was able to talk with preschool students about how milk gets from a dairy farm to their refrigerator, and had a Girl Scout Troop make ice cream in a bag, which was a good tie in for the UDairy Creamery, where Byers works as marketing manager.

Although she plans to conduct talks at schools and with younger kids again this year, Byers also said that she wants to incorporate more talks geared towards civic organizations. These talks will be more conversational and aimed at addressing topics currently going on in the country, like the drought farmers faced over the summer.

“I’m hoping to be able to talk a lot about the drought situation and the fact that corn prices because of the drought are going to be spiking soon and the effect that we’re going to see from that,” said Byers.  “A lot of people who aren’t directly involved in agriculture just see the prices fluctuating and they don’t know the reasons behind it, so I’m hoping to be able to bring some light to that situation.”

Byers also said that being named a National Collegiate Agriculture Ambassador has had a great impact on recognition for the First State. “The cool thing now is that we have someone from Oregon so now our little slogan is ‘Reaching from Oregon to Delaware.’ So Delaware got a little shout out there, and every time somebody says it I’m like, ‘Yeah, that’s me.’”

Jake Jones

Jones, a sophomore studying plant science in UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, explained that the award he received was “a scholarship awarded to a Delaware high school senior or college student who is studying agriculture.”

Jones has been involved with FFA for four years, three in high school and one at UD, and he heard about the opportunity through an e-mail sent out by Henry.

Henry said of Jones receiving the award, “Jake has been and continues to be an active member of our chapter. Over the summer, Jake interned at the UD Carvel Research Center in vegetable research. During his freshmen year, Jake maintained the highest GPA of all Collegiate FFA freshmen members.”

Jones said that his favorite part about FFA is, “the opportunity for scholarships and community involvement.”

Article by Adam Thomas

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