Master Gardeners say no need to spend lots of green on growing green things

March 26, 2013 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Quick, hide the credit cards; spring is here. Even the most budget-conscious gardener can get into trouble now. A trip to the nursery for a flat of plants results in three flats, plus a new spade and pair of garden gloves. A plan to grow tomatoes in containers morphs into a raised bed of pricey redwood. Even a stop at the market for bread and milk brings about a new basket of blooms.

University of Delaware’s Sussex Master Gardeners feel your pain. “We’re garden-a-holics; we have a tough time controlling ourselves in spring,” acknowledges Fran Meehan, a Milton-based Master Gardener.

While they can’t help you with your self-control, the Master Gardeners do have some good advice on saving on gardening expenses.

For starters, get your soil tested, says Tracy Wootten, a horticulture agent with UD Cooperative Extension who oversees the Sussex Master Gardeners. You’ll spend a few bucks for the test but could save in the long run. For example, if you have acidic soil, cabbage and other vegetables won’t do well. You’ll need to fix the problem with limestone or other amendments before planting.

Master Gardeners say no need to spend lots on green thingsMany of the Sussex Master Gardeners save money by starting vegetables from seed. It’s also easy to start flowers from seed, notes Maggie Moor-Orth, a Delaware State University horticulture agent who provides technical assistance to the Master Gardeners.

If you’ve had bad luck starting plants from seed, try using a sterile, soil-less medium, says Moor-Orth. Seeds started in soil can suffer rot because of over-watering or non-sterile conditions.

Save money on your soil-less medium by buying dry mix rather than the wet mix formulation, advises Melora Davis, a New Castle County Master Gardener. “With the wet mix, you’re paying for water,” she notes.

Don’t buy those special (and expensive) plastic trays for starting seeds. Recycle plastic containers you already have; just be sure to punch drainage holes in the bottom. Davis suggests using single-serving coffee pods (such as the K-Cup brand).

Garden accessories are another area where you can economize. Stakes, twine, plant markers and weed fabric can get pricey so the Sussex Master Gardeners are creative recyclers. Cut pieces from an old mini-blind for plant markers, suggests Betty Layton of Greenwood. Pantyhose can be used instead of twine, and T-shirts work well, too. “One year, I grew three-pound watermelons on a trellis and used my husband’s old T-shirt as a sling,” recalls Wootten.

“Some gardeners like to use bamboo for stakes,” she adds. “It’s such an aggressive plant that if your neighbors have any, I’m sure they’d be happy to let you cut some for garden stakes.”

Carrie Murphy, horticulture agent for New Castle County Cooperative Extension, has even seen old golf clubs used to stake vegetable plants at Bellevue State Park’s community garden.

If you’re willing to consider more radical ways to save, get rid of your lawn. That’s what Master Gardener Brent Marsh did about 10 years ago. Ever since, he hasn’t spent a penny on lawn fertilizers, re-seeding bare spots, watering the lawn, lawnmower repair, or gas to run the mower. In place of turf grass, Marsh’s one-acre Georgetown yard is filled with perennials, shrubs and trees.

Even if you remove a portion of your lawn, you could save money.

“If you’re mowing a lot of lawn, you might think about turning part of it into a meadow planted with native grasses and wildflowers,” says Marsh. “You’ll see lots of birds and butterflies, enjoy the sounds of those songbirds and insects, and provide food for baby birds. And you won’t have as much grass to cut.”

Of course, Marsh didn’t go out and buy all those plants that now fill his yard. When a sapling turns up – its seed carried by wind or birds – he allows it to grow. He also propagates his plants by taking cuttings, seeds, and dividing them.

Murphy has been waiting patiently to divide some ornamental grasses that she purchased three years ago. She wanted to hold off until she had good-size divisions to add to a new landscape bed at her North Wilmington home. Those original three plants will become six plants – for the price of just three.

Once you’ve decided to divide your plants, it’s important to divide at the appropriate time of year. Murphy divides her perennials in early spring or later in the fall, depending on when they bloom.

Backyard propagation

May 14, 7 p.m.: Minimize the costs of gardening by reproducing plants in your backyard. New Castle County Cooperative Extension office, Newark. $25. To request a registration form, call 302-831-COOP or download the form online.

Article by Margo McDonough

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UD alums return to campus to share insights into environmental careers

March 15, 2013 under CANR News

University of Delaware students interested in pursuing environmental careers had the opportunity to learn from UD alumni who are now professionals in various environmental fields at the second annual Environmental Career Morning held on Saturday, March 9, in Townsend Hall.

The seven panelists at the Environmental Career Morning included:

  • Maia Tatinclaux, a graduate student studying environmental engineering at the University of Maryland;
  • Samantha Loprinzo, associate at ICF International;
  • Matthew Loaicono, market analyst at Monitoring Analytics;
  • Kristen Atwood, research assistant at ICF International;
  • Chelsea Halley, environmental scientist at the Site Investigation and Restoration Section of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control;
  • Kristen DeWire, assistant attorney general in the Office of the Attorney General, Maryland Department of the Environment; and
  • Alex DeWire, environmental scientist, Tetra Tech Inc.

The panel was moderated by Steve Hastings, professor and associate chair of the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, who organized the event and taught all of the former students on the panel.

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) Dean Mark Rieger was in attendance and he addressed the panelists, saying he was pleased to see all the alumni come back to help educate the current students. “Our graduates go out and do wonderful things and they change the world. So I’m so glad that you took the time to come back here and tell about your journey and how best to get from here to do that,” Rieger said.

The panelists talked about their personal experiences, ranging from trips to Cameroon with the Peace Corps to spending months working places part-time before finally landing a job in their desired field and, of course, the differences between college and the working world.

“Working and having a job and having bosses and deadlines, there are definitely higher stakes,” explained Atwood. “If you miss a paper, or if it’s a day late in college, you can apologize to the professor and maybe get a little markdown, but if you miss a deadline in the working world, it’s definitely a bigger deal. I had to learn how to keep better track of what I was working on and what I needed to get done.”

Loprinzo echoed those thoughts, saying, “You really have to be on top of your work and it’s important to set your own deadlines. You have to motivate yourself to get everything done and be organized enough to keep on top of everything.”

While the panelists did offer individual nuggets of wisdom, there were some pieces of advice that were universal. For instance, all the panelists agreed that taking some sort of communication or public speaking course while still at UD would be incredibly beneficial to the students.

“No matter what job you do, you have to be able to communicate well,” explained DeWire.

Tatinclaux agreed, saying, “Communicating and public speaking and being confident, that’s really important. Just in the interview process, it’s so important to be friendly, open and have a level of confidence when you’re talking to your potential employer because that goes so far.”

Loprinzo even talked about taking advantage of places on campus like the Career Services Center, as she explained that she went there as a student and took part in mock interviews to prepare for the real world interviews she would face.

Other important skills mentioned by the panelists were an understanding of statistics, the ability to manipulate large data sets and proficiency in software like statistical software and geographic information systems.

UD Alums return to talk about Environmental CareersAll of the panelists also stressed patience in applying for jobs and perseverance because with so many people applying for a finite number of jobs, it might take students awhile before they are hired. Loaicono explained that he applied for about 200 jobs before finally landing the one that he wanted.

Loaicono also said that when going in for an interview, it is important to learn about the company and to come up with 5-10 questions to ask about the firm during the interview. “The more you know about the company, the more that you’re interested in what they’re actually trying to do,” is beneficial, he said, adding, “Even if you know this is going to be a steppingstone, you definitely want to ask good questions.”

Other pieces of advice included looking at job descriptions posted on-line for “buzzwords” to be included in resumes, tailoring resumes every time to fit a particular company’s needs, attending career fairs and making connections, remembering names and faces and the importance of a master’s degree, while at the same time understanding the risks of incurring mountains of debt in student loans.

Halley, who graduated just one year ago, stressed that it is important for the students to take a wide range of courses while they are undergraduates, as it will help to inform them — like it did her — on what they like and what they don’t like.

“When I was choosing classes, part of me just wanted to take all science classes but I did branch out and take some economics classes. It is important to have that wide background and also to see what you like and what you don’t like. I took a wildlife course about birds and I hated it and it made me realize that I don’t want to work in fish and wildlife. But I didn’t know that until I took that course so I think you learn something from every course, whether it’s negative or positive.”

In the end Hastings summed it up for all those in attendance, saying that finding a career is “not a straight road. It’s a crooked road to get where you want to be and you just need to keep that in mind.” And though the road is crooked, he added that the crooked road can also be “kind of exciting, as well.”

Article by Adam Thomas

Photos by Danielle Quigley

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College of Agriculture and Natural Resources announces Ag Day date

March 6, 2013 under CANR News

Ag Day 2013 date announcedAg Day, an annual tradition of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) at the University of Delaware, will be held on Saturday, April 27, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Members of the campus community, and the surrounding community, are encouraged to join the college for a day filled with music, exhibitors, great food, and fun on UD’s South Campus.

Celebrating all that the college has to offer, visitors can experience everything from bird shows to bee demonstrations, livestock exhibits, 4-H arts and crafts, farm tours, plant sales, and much more.

The event will be held at CANR’s Townsend Hall, located at 531 South College Avenue in Newark. Both admission and parking are free and the event is open to the public.

Ag Day is family friendly, however, for the safety of the live animal demonstrations, organizers ask that all pets be left at home.

Registration for exhibitors and vendors opened on March 4 and will be available on the Ag Day website. The website also features additional information, announcements, and schedules, and will be updated as the event approaches.

Article by Kelsey Schwenk

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Native Delaware: Early signs of spring are popping up in Delaware

February 28, 2013 under Cooperative Extension

Spring has sprung – or, if you’re an optimist like Dot Abbott it has.

“The skunk cabbage is popping up and will leaf out soon. Groundhogs and skunks are active again. And the spring peepers will be calling any day now,” says Abbott, a renewable resources agent for University of Delaware Cooperative Extension.

Spring doesn’t officially arrive until March 20, but early signs of the season are evident – that is, if you’ve been outside and observant enough to notice.

If you haven’t spent time outside recently, get out there now, and take the kids with you, says Abbott.

Native Delaware Spring has Sprung“Today’s kids spend twice as much time indoors as their parents did,” notes Abbott, a board member of the Delaware Association for Environmental Education. “It’s important to be exposed to nature education at school but it’s even better to experience nature with your parents or other caregivers.”

Although the earth appears to be in winter slumber, it’s teeming with life and activity. Abbott suggests these ways to get the kids outside to spot the earliest signs of spring:

Track animals

Do your kids love mud? Then they’ll love looking for animal tracks. Tracks are easiest to find in mud (as well as snow). Throughout the winter, you can see tracks from white-tailed deer, fox, squirrels, muskrats and beavers – all of which are active year-round.

Now, as spring draws near, you can spot groundhog and skunk tracks, too. Delaware has few true hibernators but in winter groundhogs, skunks and some other mammals exist in a semi-hibernation state known as torpor.

Lately, the groundhogs and skunks have been out and about, especially on days when temperatures climbed above the mid-40s. A groundhog track is pretty easy to identify. Look for imprints with four toes on the front paws and five toes on the back. They will be spaced 4-12 inches apart.

Skunk tracks show five toes on both the front and back foot. The front tracks usually show claw marks farther ahead of the toe marks than the rear prints do. These longer front claws help the skunk dig up roots and insects.

Search for stream critters

Macro invertebrates are a good indicator of a stream’s health. They’re also a great way to see if spring has sprung.

Head to a pond or stream and take a close look at the water, says Abbott. The nymphs of dragonflies, mayflies and stoneflies are active all winter, often living beneath the ice. They feed and grow throughout the cold weather months to emerge as adults in early spring. If you have a smart phone, pull up photos of the adult form of these insects and see if your kids can spot any new adults in the water.

Increase your chances of seeing this transformation by scooping up a bucketful of nymphs and creek water. Place the bucket in a sunny but cool room of your house. If you’re lucky, you may get to witness some nymphs metamorphosize into adults.

Take a night hike

As winter heads into spring, the woods become noisier at night. Owl breeding season is underway, and with it, a cacophony of calls.

“Great horned owls started defending their territory and looking for mates at the end of January. They were the first calls I heard. Next, came the barred and barn owls. The last few nights, I’ve also heard screech owls,” says Abbott.

“Yet in between the owl calls, it can become so quiet that you can hear every leaf that crackles underfoot,” she notes.

It’s this combination of silence punctuated by mysterious sounds that makes Abbott love a night hike this time of year. Owls are just the start. Abbott often hears red foxes. These voluble creatures produce a variety of barks, howls and whines. Some are sharp yaps; others are long, mournful howls.

Spot the first robin of spring (or not)

Have you seen a robin? It feels more like spring, doesn’t it?

We hate to burst your bubble but robins stick around all year. Formerly a migratory bird, large numbers of robins now over-winter in Delaware. Abbott first noticed this phenomenon in the early to mid-1990s, though she’s quick to note that she’s not an expert on the subject.

Robins have been able adapt to Delaware winters. They switch from their summer diet of insects to eating seed in wintertime. Because they are fairly large birds, they’re usually able to withstand cold snaps.

Not every bird adapts so easily. For example, a homeowner called Abbott last month to report dead goldfinches in her backyard. Goldfinches normally migrate south but a half-dozen or so stragglers hung out in this Dover backyard during the fall and into winter. Unfortunately, when bitter cold weather hit, they weren’t able to survive.

Now that spring is drawing near, the robins have changed up their behavior. The early pollinators like skunk cabbage have appeared, and with them, insects. Robins can now be found feeding on invertebrates in grassy and disturbed areas.

Abbott enjoys birding at Wyoming Mill Pond. Other good birding spots include the St. Jones River, Mispillon River, and the many millponds found in Kent and Sussex counties. Be on the look out for resident robins, as well as some of the earliest returning migrants, says Abbott.

Article by Margo McDonough

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UDairy Creamery launches ’1923′ ice cream as study abroad tribute

February 18, 2013 under CANR News

This year marks the 90th anniversary of study abroad programs at the University of Delaware, and the UDairy Creamery has partnered with UD’s Institute for Global Studies to celebrate in a special way — unveiling a new ice cream flavor in honor of the milestone.

The new flavor is named “1923” in honor of the year that study abroad began at UD.  Slated to be released at the UDairy Creamery storefront on Monday, Feb. 18, the new “1923” flavor is a specially made French vanilla flavored ice cream with bittersweet chocolate chunks and a salted caramel swirl.

UDairy Creamery unveils new flavorFor the creation of the new flavor, the study abroad team consulted with the creamery staff. “We didn’t want to choose a flavor that identified too much with a specific location or region of the world,” says Lisa Chieffo, associate director of study abroad, noting that they and the creamery also wanted to offer a flavor that would have broad appeal.

Chieffo says she is proud of the new flavor and of this great milestone for the University. “The fact that UD was the first U.S. institution to have a study abroad program, and that we continue to be a national leader today, is testament to the institution’s long-term commitment to internationalization. Thus far, well over 25,000 students have participated in UD study abroad programs, and we’re still going strong. The University community can be proud of this great legacy.”

The program can be credited to University President Walter S. Hullihen. When approached by professor Raymond Kirkbride in 1921 to send students to France, Hullihen recognized the value of the concept and lobbied for its implementation. It took two years before the first study abroad took place, but in July 1923, eight students sailed to France for their junior year. The program not only proved a success, but also had great influence on the students.

Following that first program, study abroad grew in popularity, expanding to other locations around Europe. Students from universities across the country participated in the programs, spending their junior year abroad with the University of Delaware.

Today UD consistently ranks among the top U.S. research institutions in the percentage of its undergraduates who study abroad. With more than 70 study abroad programs held annually, the University currently sends students to six of the seven continents, providing them with a rigorous and adventurous learning experience.

Article by Samantha Walsh

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Delawareans can takes steps to avoid winter plant damage

February 18, 2013 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

native delawarePeople have been whining about the weather recently. We’ve dealt with high wind and rain from a nor’easter that walloped states to the north. We’ve had icy, sleety and snowy mornings — not enough to close schools but enough to be an annoyance. We’ve seen Old Man Winter switch on and off, from artic conditions to spells of warmth.

If plants could whine, they would be whining right along with us. Winter can be a tough time on plants, especially young plants and those that were transplanted this year. Branches can break from ice, snow and wind; leaves can get dried and burnt from salt damage, roots pushed out of the soil from frost heave; and lack of moisture can cause plant tissues to suffer desiccation.

Unfortunately, we’re not out of the woods yet – spring doesn’t officially arrive until March 20. In fact, the waning days of winter can be the trickiest for plants, when it’s common for temperatures to fluctuate wildly from day to day.

You can’t do much to prevent some types of winter plant damage – like salt burn on shrubs by the street. Most road maintenance crews persist in using road salt, not eco-friendly alternatives such as sand or calcium chloride.

But other issues are avoidable, says Carrie Murphy, a University of Delaware horticulture agent. And even when damage occurs, it often can be fixed.

For example, in the case of salt burn, the effects can be minimized by flushing the plants in early spring. Apply two inches of water over a three-hour period and repeat three days later. This will leach much of the salt from the soil.

Avoiding winter damage starts by choosing the right plants for the right place. Think about overall conditions – how much sun, rain, wind and cold your plants will experience. Don’t forget to factor in any specific microclimates within the yard, such as wet spots and windy areas.

“I have chosen plants for my garden that are fully hardy,” says UD Cooperative Extension horticulture specialist Sue Barton. As a result, Barton’s plants don’t need a lot of help in winter. She waters all of her plants thoroughly in the fall, especially if it’s been dry. She also rakes leaves into her landscape beds for a layer of protective mulch. Some years she loosely places evergreen boughs over top tender plants.

Bob Lyons, director of UD’s Longwood Graduate Program in Public Horticulture, also is a big fan of mulch and makes sure that his new plantings are covered with a blanket of it before winter winds blow.

If you didn’t mulch in the fall and are worried about young plants, then get out there now – it’s not too late, notes Murphy. Mulching reduces water loss and it also helps to prevent frost heave.

When soil freezes and thaws in rapid succession, shallow-rooted plants can be pushed out of the ground. Mulching decreases frost heave by reducing the amount of alternate freezing and thawing that occurs.

Dick Pelly has been staffing the Master Gardeners’ Garden Line since joining the group in 1999. In winter, he often gets asked what to do about branches that have broken off because of ice, wind or snow.

Pelly recommends removing the broken limbs as soon as conditions are safe and weather permits. Doing so helps the tree or shrub heal faster. Damaged trees are more prone to disease.

Another question that frequently comes up is whether or not to wrap trees in burlap. Although Pelly doesn’t use burlap in his own yard, he says it can be a good way to shield smaller trees, fruit trees and evergreens from cold temperatures and wind. In coastal areas, wrapping a tree can help reduce the damaging effects of salt spray.

Highway crews may use salt, but that doesn’t mean you should use it on your sidewalks and driveway, notes Pelly. Eco-friendly and effective alternatives include sand, ashes and kitty litter.

Learn more

Those with questions about winter plant damage can call the Garden Line in New Castle County at 831-8862. In Kent, call 730-4000, and in Sussex, call 856-2585, ext. 535. A Master Gardener will return your call within 24 hours.

Article by Margo McDonough

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Winter weary gardeners can force branches for a taste of spring

January 23, 2013 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Sue Barton explains how to get a splash of color with winter plantsMany plant lovers need an early taste of spring to raise their winter-weary spirits.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature isn’t ready to oblige; the yellow blossoms of witch hazel and winter jasmine, both non-natives, won’t appear until mid- to late February. As for natives, serviceberry – one of the earliest native bloomers – won’t be out until early April.

But gardeners can get that splash of color they crave now by forcing branches.

Most ornamental trees and shrubs set their flower buds during the previous season, notes Sue Barton ornamental horticultural specialist for University of Delaware Cooperative Extension. These buds must undergo a period of dormancy – usually about six weeks of cold temperatures – before they can bloom.

Gardeners can force forsythia, pussy willow, redbuds, crabapples and many other deciduous branches. But, keep in mind that since it’s only mid-January; not all species are ready to force.

Plants that gardeners should have luck with now include Cornelian cherry (a type of dogwood), forsythia, fothergilla and witch hazels. By the end of the month and into early February, they can start forcing cherries. By mid-February, a plethora of choices opens up – Eastern redbud, lilacs, magnolias, quinces, red maple and serviceberry.

However, these dates aren’t set in stone. What really matters is whether the flower buds have swollen. As soon as gardeners see signs that the buds are starting to expand, they can cut branches and bring them inside. Barton has a magnolia in her yard that already is showing buds. She plans to clip a branch or two to see if she can get it to flower inside now.

Throughout the winter months, Barton keeps an arrangement of forced branches on a stainless steel bar that divides her kitchen from her family room. “I want the flowers to be the first thing you see when you come in the front door,” she says. “If I have an arrangement on the dining room table for a dinner party, I always move it to the kitchen after the party is over. Keep spring blooms out in a spot where you’ll see them often.”

Dare to be different and try something unexpected. Like red maple, suggests Barton.

“Red maple blooms are some of my favorite for forcing,” she says. “Out in the landscape, on a large tree, the budding flowers may not look all that spectacular. But when you have just a few branches inside, in a vase, you can really appreciate the clusters of tiny red flowers and long stamens on this native species.”

Blooms aren’t the only thing that helps Barton banish the winter blahs. She also cuts branches with catkins, from willows (pussy willows are very easy to force), as well as from beeches and birches.

She likes to force leaves, too.

“I often force beech buds,” she says. “Beech buds are pointy and when the leaves unfurl, the pleated leaves look as pretty as any flower.”

People should take time cutting and choosing their branches, even if the cold winds are blowing and they’re anxious to get back inside.

“Remember that you are changing the shape and look of your bush, so try not to take all your branches from the same side of the bush,” advises Anne Boyd, a Master Gardener with New Castle County Cooperative Extension.

“Select long, thin branches that have buds on them and cut them off near a junction,” she says. “Once you are back inside you can look them over and trim any that are too long or too branched.”

Not long after the holiday decorations have been taken down at Hagley Museum, staff horticulturalist Renee Huber starts cutting branches to brighten the Visitors Center, Belin House café and other public areas.

“Bringing in a handful of branches and watching them progress with either leaves or beautiful blossoms really gives you hope that spring will come,” says Huber.

After she cuts the branches, she puts them in warm water in a spot out of direct sun. She likes to add a bit of bleach to the water – around one tablespoon per gallon – to control bacteria.

Eileen Boyle, who also is a horticulturalist at Hagley, prefers to place branches in a garage, cellar or other cool, dark spot overnight after she has cut them for forcing. Then, on day two, she re-cuts the stems and places the branches in tepid water.

“Keep an eye on water level, changing the water daily,” she says.

Depending on the plant, buds need up to two weeks before they’ll bloom. Cherries may start flowering in just a few days; forsythia is another quick bloomer.

For those who don’t see any blooms after two weeks, they goofed. They may have cut the branches too early before the buds were properly formed or they may not have kept the water clean enough and bacteria rotted the opening of the stem. Perhaps the water level wasn’t adequate. Or, if the vase was in too hot of an area, the flowers may have opened but not fully or they faded fast.

But this kind of gardening goof is easy to fix. “Just go out and cut some more branches and try again,” says Barton.

Article by Margo McDonough

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UD donors fund Equine Studies Program

January 22, 2013 under CANR News

Funding has been provided for an equine studies programStuart M. and Suzanne B. Grant of Greenville, Del., recently donated $1 million to develop and support an Equine Studies Program in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) at the University of Delaware. With this generous gift, the University will create an equine studies minor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences that will be available to UD students.

“The Department of Animal and Food Sciences (ANFS) has recognized for some time that our undergraduate programs could be significantly enhanced by the addition of a minor in equine studies,” said Jack Gelb Jr., chairperson of ANFS. “However, we have not had the resources to make an equine minor a reality.” That was, of course, before Stuart and Suzanne Grant generously stepped in.

Stuart Grant is co-founder and managing director of the Wilmington law firm Grant and Eisenhofer. A lawyer by trade and alumnus of Brandeis University and New York University Law School, he and his wife may not be the most obvious choice to endow an equine studies program at the University of Delaware. Their story, though, illustrates an interesting path of great affinity for both horses and UD.

In 2000, the Grants purchased their first racehorse. When that horse began winning races, the excitement propelled them to begin building a horse breeding and racing enterprise that today includes a horse farm, a training center and substantial racing and breeding stock – an impressive operation that provides employment for many in the South Carolina, Kentucky and Pennsylvania regions. Through it all, there was one thing about the horse business that bothered Stuart Grant.

“When my horses were being examined by the veterinary staff, I couldn’t always understand everything the vets were telling me — and I hated that,” he said. “I decided that I wanted to continue my education by taking pre-veterinary courses that would help me better understand the horses.”

In fall 2009, Grant gave up his position as an adjunct professor of law at Widener University School of Law and enrolled as a part-time student at UD, taking courses in animal science. A year and a half later, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell nominated Grant to the University’s Board of Trustees.

It is Grant’s subsequent relationship as a UD Trustee and student, as well as his enduring commitment to the horse breeding and racing industries, that prompted the Grants’ recent $1 million gift to CANR. The gift is most welcomed by the leadership of the college.

“The Grants’ gift will allow us to grow enrollment and interest in the college, which is a major priority at this time,” said CANR Dean Mark Rieger. “Though it will be open to students within CANR, we hope the equine minor also will attract students from outside the college. In doing so, the equine minor will allow non-CANR students to learn more about our college and career opportunities, which are plentiful and rewarding.”

Grant agrees, and said he foresees many students not currently involved in CANR being drawn to the college by the new equine studies minor. “More than half of the current members of the University’s equestrian team are majoring in disciplines outside of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources,” he said. “They may be business majors or health and human development majors, but their love of horses will likely compel them to pursue this minor as a complement to their existing studies.”

The mid-Atlantic region, in which UD is located, is home to a flourishing horse industry, including thoroughbreds, standardbreds and Arabians. This makes an equine studies minor a logical and welcome addition to the UD curriculum.

One person who welcomes the addition of the equine studies minor to UD is student Samantha Rosser of Amityville, N.Y., a senior. An animal science major and member of the UD equestrian team, Rosser is a lifelong animal lover who has been riding horses for the past 13 years. As she begins applying to graduate programs in animal behavior, Rosser is keenly aware of the opportunities this new minor will create for future UD students.

“The creation of an official equine minor will encourage students to expand their areas of study,” said Rosser. “I think it will provide a great opportunity for students to learn more about horses. The University has great resources in the equine industry, and with the addition of this new minor and more courses, I believe CANR will augment its appeal to prospective students.”

Article by Shannon Pote

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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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These unique holiday gift ideas have a First State focus

December 17, 2012 under CANR News

blanket_yarnHaven’t finished your holiday shopping yet? You’re not alone. Only 47 percent of Americans have their shopping wrapped up by the second week of December, according to the National Retail Federation. But the clock is ticking.

No worries. We’ve rounded up some great gift ideas. Best yet, many of these choices have a uniquely Delaware focus. Some – like soil test kits and garden gloves – are tailor-made for outdoorsy types. Other gifts – like Delaware wool blankets — work equally well for couch potatoes who just gaze at the landscape from their windows.

Sure-fire way to get owls in the backyard

The young – and young at heart – will love Hoot the Owl, a chubby creature made from sunflower seed, with apple and apricot rings for eyes and an almond for the mouth.

“I stuck one in my backyard and set up a time-release camera,” says Charles Shattuck, who, with his wife Kathy, owns Wild Birds Unlimited in Hockessin. “I’m getting a wide variety of birds feeding at it. By late December, I expect ‘Hoot’ and my other feeders will be attracting white-breasted and red-breasted nuthatches; downy, red-bellied and hairy woodpeckers; and yellow-bellied sap suckers.”

At $9.50, Hoot the Owl is a good choice for a stocking stuffer or gift exchange at work.

Wild Birds also stocks black oil sunflower seed in bulk that is grown locally, by Jamie Hicks of Kennett Square, Pa. Buy a pound or several pounds for the birdwatcher on your list.

Most serious birdwatchers prefer black oil seed. It has a higher oil content than other varieties so it provides the birds with more calories. Plus, small birds have an easier time cracking its thinner shell.

Or, consider a $22 hand-painted ornament by Dover artist Marcia Poling. Choose images of bluebirds, woodpeckers and warblers, as well as deer, rabbit and other mammals.  “They’ve been selling well,” says Shattuck.

Warm and woolly choices

The University of Delaware’s flock of Dorset ewes are sheared every spring before going out to summer pasture. Previously, their wool was sold at a regional auction to wool processors. Then farm superintendent Scott Hopkins and Lesa Griffiths, professor of animal and food sciences, put their heads together and, soon after, Blue Hen Blankets and Yarn was born. Now, after the sheep are sheared, the wool is sent to a Canadian mill to create cozy blankets.

A lap throw style, the blanket has plenty of heft — each requires four pounds of wool. Get one for $100 at the UDairy Creamery on UD’s South Campus. For creamery hours go to the website.

Hori hori knives and other garden gear

When it comes to garden tools, Carrie Murphy is a minimalist. A UD Cooperative Extension horticulture agent, Murphy gets by with a few common tools plus one that’s a bit more exotic. “I use my hori hori knife all the time,” she says.

In Japanese, the word “hori” means to dig and that’s exactly what Murphy does with her knife, plus pruning and weeding and a whole lot more. It’s the Swiss army knife of gardening.

At Gateway Garden Center in Hockessin, the hori hori is usually just called a soil knife, says owner Peg Castorani. She likes it for dividing perennials. A stainless steel version in a case costs $39.99.

Finding garden gloves that fit well can be hard, especially for women, but Castorani likes Womanswork brand. “They make form-fitting, athletic style garden gloves,” she says. The $25 gloves come in purple, lime green and other bright colors.

A plastic bag sounds like an odd present until you learn what that bag can do. Gateway stocks test kits from the University of Delaware Soil Testing Program. The $10 kits include plastic bags to obtain the necessary samples. After UD analyzes the samples, your gardener will know whether pH or fertility problems are making it more difficult to grow plants.

Bring the outside in

Native Americans used birch bark to make canoes and cover their wigwams. Today hobbyists continue to take advantage of birch’s flexible nature to craft household items, ranging from baskets to picture frames. Wilmington resident Danielle Quigley makes handcrafted wood items when she’s not working as a photographer for UD. (Quigley regularly shoots the photos for this column.) One of her best-selling items is a $325 table light featuring a birch bark shade mounted on a vintage glass base. Quigley’s personal favorite is a $150 luminaire made from silver birch bark. Check them out at the website.

Article by Margo McDonough

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

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