UD alumnus Lemheney directs Philadelphia International Flower Show

September 21, 2012 under CANR News

When the Philadelphia International Flower Show’s “Brilliant” opens on Saturday, March 2, 2013, University of Delaware alumnus Sam Lemheney will be on hand making sure that visitors enjoy the sights and scents of summer in the middle of an East Coast winter.

Lemheney, who graduated from UD in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in plant science, serves as director of America’s oldest and largest indoor flower show.

During a campus talk, “The Making of the Philadelphia International Flower Show,” held Sept. 5 in Smith Hall, Lemheney described what it takes to turn 10 acres of the Pennsylvania Convention Center into a world-class horticultural extravaganza.

The Philadelphia International Flower Show is sponsored and managed by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, a nonprofit membership organization founded in 1827.

Building on a legacy that began in 1829, the year Andrew Jackson was inaugurated as America’s seventh president, the show has blossomed into an event that draws nearly 300,000 visitors annually.

“The Philadelphia Flower Show has a tradition of introducing new plants to the industry and has had some famous visitors, including U.S. Presidents Herbert Hoover and Calvin Coolidge,” Lemheney said. “Each new show combines a lot of the old traditions with cutting edge flowers and garden designs, different, but with similar classes of plants and flowers on display.”

Meeting the high expectations of visitors of all ages, each year’s show demands a commitment to cutting edge design and floricultural and arboricultural excellence, Lemeheny said.

“Getting tulips to bloom during the first week of March takes a combination of science and art,” Lemeheny said. “We have built the show into a powerhouse brand across the United States that has the same impact on the flower industry as the New York City Fashion Week has on the fashion industry.”

Working for the “wow factor” calls for a creative approach incorporating innovative uses of color, movement, scale and entertainment venues, Lemheney said.

“The effective use of colors range from a rainbow display of flowers and bulbs to a uniform, mono-colored display themed around certain related shades,” Lemheney said. “When we bring professional actors to the show, they are amazed when we tell them it’s the flowers, not the performers, who are the main attraction. Once they see this for themselves, they start having fun.”

Popular also are the series of contests in which designers are invited to fashion creative designs that are voted on by audiences of nearly 600 visitors per competition.

Passion and energy

Lemheney noted that show attendees are not the only ones who get caught up in the enthusiasm of the competitions, educational displays and cornucopias of roses, tulips, trees and orchids.

“I thought I knew what passion for my work was before I got to the Philadelphia Flower Show,” Lemheney said. “Nothing can match the passion and energy and time that our staff and volunteers have for horticulture.”

The logistical challenges tackled by the staff of the Philadelphia Horticultural Society and its 3,500 volunteers include hauling in 2,000 yards of mulch (that’s 30 tractor trailer loads), and 18 truckloads of stone and block, all driven right onto the convention center floor.

“We couldn’t do it without our volunteers,” Lemheney said. “It takes us 10 days to set up, and three days to tear down the show and make it look like we had never been there.”

As the Philadelphia Horticultural Society’s largest fund raising event of the year, the show benefits a host of programs, including community gardens, the city harvest program and vacant land management programs.

UD presence

Once again there also will be a UD Blue and Gold element at this year’s “Brilliant” show, which highlights the storied history of traditional and contemporary garden and landscape design in London and the United Kingdom.

Freshmen students from plant and soil sciences, public policy and administration and art classes are designing an educational exhibition for the show.

University faculty assisting with the 2013 UD Philadelphia Flower Show project include Jules Bruck, associate professor of plant and soil sciences; Anthony Middlebrooks, associate professor in the School of Public Policy and Administration; and Jon Cox, assistant professor of art.

Students participating in the flower show project are trying to raise $25,000. To make a donation and learn more about the program, visit the website.

About the 2013 UD Philadelphia Flower Show

For UD students in organizational and community leadership, the Philadelphia Flower Show project provides many opportunities to engage in a real-world, cross-disciplinary creative problem solving. As individuals aspiring to leadership positions in a variety of fields, the capacity to innovate will be a highly valued tool for these students. And, working with students and faculty from art and landscape design greatly enhances students’ opportunity to ‘see differently’ and develop their creativity.

Students engaged in this project get to see the full range of the process – from conceptual to prototype to construction to implementation to assessment and iteration – all within a context of collaboration and community impact.

Article by Jerry Rhodes

Photos by Evan Krape

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

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UD alum Steven Leath named president of Iowa State University

February 14, 2012 under CANR News

University of Delaware alumnus Steven Leath has been named the 15th president of Iowa State University. Leath started his new position on Jan. 16 and he said of the appointment, “I’m very excited, a little bit humbled and very pleased to be here.”

Leath said that he hopes to continue to make Iowa State a great place for undergraduate and graduate education.

“We’re going to continue to provide a real hands on, high quality undergraduate educational experience,” he said, “and we’re going to make our research very responsive to the needs of the state. We want to be the best place for public/private partnerships so that industry is drawn to Iowa State and cooperating with Iowa State.”

Before becoming president of Iowa State, the nation’s first land grant university, Leath served as vice president for research and sponsored programs for the University of North Carolina system. He also served as the associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and as director of the North Carolina Agricultural Research Service at North Carolina State University.

Leath has received three plant science degrees, earning his bachelor’s from Pennsylvania State University, his master’s from UD and his doctorate in plant pathology from the University of Illinois.

Leath received his master’s degree from UD in 1981, studying in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and he remembers fondly his time in Newark, specifically the Saturday morning lab sessions with his fellow Blue Hen researchers.

“The Saturday morning lab sessions were some of my favorite memories because it seemed more informal,” he said. “We all got along and there was a lot of camaraderie, a lot of exchange of ideas, ranging from scientific discussions to sports discussions.”

Another aspect that sticks with Leath is the time he spent conducting research in southern Delaware. “I loved going to the research farm in Georgetown. That was really great. The drive was nice and it was just a great place to do your field work,” Leath said, explaining that he conducted his master’s thesis research on root disease in soybeans.

He credits his time and his professors at UD — specifically Robert Carroll and James Hawk, professor of plant and soil sciences and professor at the Agricultural Experiment Station — for preparing him for the future, saying, “The University of Delaware did a real good job of transforming college graduates into independent researchers.”

Of course, he also remembers UD fondly because it is where he met his wife, Janet, who was also a student. “I met my wife of 30 years there and as it turns out, she’s had a huge positive effect on my career,” Leath said, adding, “It’s probably hard to quantify that, but it’s a big deal.”

They both returned to the campus in 2010 when Leath received the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Distinguished Alumni Award, and he said that the University still holds a special place in their lives. “We just still have fond memories and great affection for the University of Delaware. We always remember it as a beautiful campus, but it’s more beautiful than ever.”

Article by Adam Thomas

Photo by Danielle Quigley

This article can also be viewed on UDaily

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Diamond combines military background with veterinary passion

February 8, 2012 under CANR News

Growing up in a military family, University of Delaware graduate Danielle Diamond always told her parents — specifically her father, who had a career in the Navy — that she would join ROTC if it weren’t for her love of animals and her interest in veterinary medicine. Now, as she serves as a military veterinarian stationed in England, Diamond gets to experience the best of both worlds.

Diamond, who graduated from UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources in 2005, said she was first made aware of the opportunity to combine the two fields through the Army Health Professions Scholarship Program, which she discovered while attending the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.

She said that the program is “a bit like the ROTC program.  I received a two-year scholarship and owed back three years of active duty service once I graduated.  I completed vet school, was commissioned as a captain in the United States Army and pretty much put a uniform on for the first time on June 1, 2009.”

Diamond is now serving as the officer in charge of the veterinary treatment facility at the Royal Air Force (RAF) Feltwell facility, and she explained that there are many facets to her job as a veterinarian in the military.

“Our primary concern is the military working dogs.  I oversee two kennels here with roughly 20 dogs.  We provide their routine and emergency care,” said Diamond, explaining that she also examines the animals that are owned by military personnel or retirees, administering preventive medicines to the animals — such as vaccines, flea and tick control — and spaying and neutering the animals.

Though her main focus is the military working dogs, Diamond helps out with food audits, as well, making sure the food and water that is distributed to the military base is safe to consume. She also works closely with the public health department to manage potential rabies cases, although she notes that the United Kingdom is considered “rabies-free.”

Because she works at “the only veterinary treatment facility in the U.K. for military members” other than pricey private practices, Diamond explained that she makes quarterly trips to three neighboring military bases to look at their animals. She and her staff also go to child development centers to monitor the health of their pets, and volunteer with scouting and school-age groups to “expand animal awareness and provide education.”

Of all her duties, Diamond said that working with the military working dogs is her favorite part of the job. “Those dogs are at the top of my priority list, 24/7.  When anything happens with one of those dogs, from vaccines to an emergency surgery, I’m the one who will be called in to handle it.”

Keeping the dogs in top physical form is key to their success, as Diamond explains that if a dog is sick or misses a routine veterinarian appointment, that dog is not going to work out as well or could even “miss out on the opportunity to deploy.”

Diamond said that watching the dogs work together as a team is “an awesome thing.  It’s especially rewarding when you see some of these young enlisted folks come in and take responsibility for their dog and work out the kinks in their performance.  Those dogs and their handlers save lives, and I want those dogs that are patrolling for drugs or explosives to be at their best physical being in order to keep our American military members safe at all times.”

In the end, Diamond says that what matters most to her is making sure that her patients stay healthy and alert. “It doesn’t matter if that dog’s job is making a small, safe base even safer or joining a Navy SEAL team to take down a bad guy like Osama Bin Laden — I want to be able to say I did the best job at keeping that dog healthy and capable of doing a great job.”

Time at UD

Before she even realized that she could combine her military background with her interest in veterinary medicine, Diamond was an undergraduate in UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Diamond graduated from UD in 2005, with a bachelor of science degree in animal science, and a concentration in pre-veterinary medicine and minors in wildlife conservation and biological sciences.

Diamond was an active Ag Ambassador, a program with which she wanted to get involved after being shown around the campus by an ambassador when she visited UD as a high school student.

“When I came and interviewed at UD, I spent a day there with an Ag Ambassador and I got to go to some classes and spend some time out on the farm, and that kind of sealed the deal for me when I was going to visit schools, because it was such an interpersonal relationship and I really got to see the school and talk to somebody one on one,” Diamond said.

She added that once she became an Ag Ambassador, she was heavily involved with the program, “I did a lot of events when I was there. I think we had to do four events a semester and I think I did about 75 by the time I graduated.”

Besides the fond memories of working with Karen Aniunas, director in University Development and an instructor in CANR, and the Ag Ambassadors, Diamond recalls fondly traveling to New Zealand during a Winter Session study abroad trip with Lesa Griffiths, professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences, and working with Limin Kung, professor of animal and food sciences, in the Ruminant Nutrition Lab. “Dr. Kung took me on for a research lab position to earn some extra money, linked me up to a local large animal veterinarian to gain experience, and ultimately became my adviser and a good friend.”

She encourages current UD students to go out and get involved in both the campus and the community. “There are a ton of opportunities both on the campus as well as at your fingertips, as Delaware is a very agricultural state,” Diamond said. “It will benefit you, your school, and the community.”

Diamond does have one regret, however, and that is graduating before the UDairy Creamery opened for business.

“I just want to make it known that I’m a bitter alumni in that the UD Creamery opened after I had graduated!” Diamond joked, adding that she made the mistake of one day perusing the UDairy Creamery menu on the website and longed for a taste. “Guess I need to plan a visit back…”

Article by Adam Thomas

This article was originally published on UDaily

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