FREC Masters Students Placed in PhD Programs across the US

August 17, 2010 under CANR News

The Department of Food and Resource Economics at the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources is having an outstanding year, with six masters’ students going into funded Ph.D. programs across the country in the fall.

 Titus Awokuse, associate professor of food and resource economics, said the FREC graduate program prepares students to contribute to critical social problems in education, natural resources and the environment, data analysis and the economy.

 “Our students do very well in the job market with a master’s degree, but those who desire more study are very competitive,” Awokuse said. “This year was an exceptional year with six students funded for advanced study. We are proud of that.”

 Tom Ilvento, chairman of the FREC department, said the master’s program includes rigorous courses in economic theory, operations research and statistics.

 “Our graduate education emphasizes a sound theoretical base coupled with applied opportunities to develop and practice professional skills in analysis, writing and presentation of ideas,” Ilvento said. “Students go on to complete a thesis or work in a company as an intern, but we want them to have a good foundation in theory so they can compete in advanced graduate study.”

Jubo Yan, who graduated from the FREC program this summer, said he was drawn to the department’s research when choosing a master’s program. Yan will be pursuing his Ph.D. in Applied Economics and Management at Cornell.

“I went to several meetings to present my papers and to meet other researchers across the country,” Yan said. “This might not be common for a lot of masters’ programs.”

Guang Xiao, who graduated from the program in May, is currently a Ph.D. student in Operations Management at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. He said the FREC program taught him valuable research techniques, as well as gaining experience and improving his communication skills through presentations and written reports.

“The operations research program at UD has a practical focus, which may help me to get a better understanding about the applications of OR in the real world,” Xiao said. “The OR program in UD made me well prepared for future Ph.D. work.”

Kathryn Onken, who will graduate in the fall, is planning to pursue a Ph.D. in Agricultural and Applied Economics at Virginia Tech. After completing her bachelor’s degree in the FREC department, Onken said she jumped at the chance to earn her master’s degree while conducting research with UD faculty.

“My master’s work provided me with a solid foundation from which to further build upon—not just course work, but also the opportunity to assist with research projects and publications,” Onken said. “I was never short on good advice; the faculty in the department genuinely want to see their students succeed.”


UD Board of Trustees Approves Faculty Promotions

May 12, 2010 under CANR News

The University of Delaware Board of Trustees approved 51 faculty promotions (6 in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources) at its spring meeting May 11. The appointments are effective with the 2010-11 academic year.

Four CANR faculty members were promoted to the rank of full professor with tenure: Mark Parcells, animal and food sciences; Eric Wommack, plant and soil sciences; John Bernard and Paul Eggermont, both food and resource economics.

Promoted to the rank of associate professor with tenure were two CANR faculty members: Haiqiang Chen and Kalmia Kniel, both animal and food sciences

View the full story on UDaily by clicking here.


April 24: Ag Day to celebrate 35 years with ground breaking of the UDairy Creamery, music, festivities

April 19, 2010 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension, Events

The 35th annual Ag Day, sponsored by the University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, April 24.

Every year, Ag Day draws more than 3,000 guests who come to experience the wonders of agriculture and the natural world.

This year, those who attend will be able to see the college break ground on its new ice cream store front and processing facility, the UDairy Creamery, at 11:45 a.m.

Ag Day will be held, rain or shine, on the grounds of Townsend Hall at 531 South College Avenue on UD’s main campus in Newark. The event is organized by staff and students with the support of more than 80 organizations.
The money raised at Ag Day benefits student and community organizations.

Following the Ag Day tradition, there will be a variety of educational workshops and live entertainment at this year’s event.

On the entertainment stage will be acts including:
• The Deltones, one of the premier a capella groups at UD;
• Five Points, a student band with a unique blend of rock music;
• Dodging Cupid, a classic rock and roll band from the Delaware Valley featuring Thomas Ilvento, chairperson of the Department of Food and Resource Economics;
• Tater Patch, lively folk music featuring Judith Hough-Goldstein, professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology; and
• The Common Room, a student band with reggae, rock, and acoustic styles.

In the education presentation area, guests will be able to:
• See live animals from the Brandywine Zoo;
• See innovative vegetable gardening with representatives of the Tyler Arboretum;
• Learn about money management with Patricia Barber, associate professor in the Department of Food and Resource Economics;
• Hear and sing along with Zach Ladin and his nature songs;
• Participate in a wool workshop wool workshop with Lesa Griffiths, associate provost and professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences; and
• Learn how to keep those pesky pests out of your garden in an eco-friendly way with UD’s Cooperative Extension.

Additionally, annual attractions include 3 tents of educational exhibits, pony rides, a petting zoo, YoUDee, face painting and UDairy Ice Cream.

Those with an interest in gardening will want to visit the 18th annual UD Botanic Gardens Plant Sale from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., located in the Fischer Greenhouse behind Townsend Hall. The sale offers a variety of perennial flowers, shrubs and trees that are sure to add flare to any lawn or garden.

Admission and parking for Ag Day are free and open to the public, with minimal charges for food. If you are interested in becoming an exhibitor or for additional information, visit the Ag Day Web site or call (302) 831-2508.


UD assists Food Bank of Delaware in fight against hunger

April 7, 2010 under CANR News

The number of Delawareans seeking food assistance is at an unprecedented high, according to a study released in February by the Food Bank of Delaware and Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization.

To assist with the increased need for emergency food assistance, UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) and the Food Bank of Delaware (FBD) have teamed together to identify pockets of poverty throughout the First State.

Under the direction of Rhonda Hyde, associate professor of food and resource economics, four operations research graduate students generated sub-maps of Delaware categorizing the food assistance needs of different geographical regions. In order to collect this data, the students used census tracking and the GIS database.

Guang Xiao, a master’s student in operations research, said, “I learned a lot about how to provide sound solutions to real world problems in a managerial setting. After a fair amount of trial and error, we were able to provide recommendations to help the Food Bank create more efficient food distribution patterns.”

With the aid of Don Berry, education associate with the Delaware Department of Education, the student-based team was able to provide a large poster-sized map indicating the number of people at or below the poverty level in the entire state. In conjunction with the large map were a series of smaller maps that gave more detailed information about the specific areas with the most need.

The Food Bank plans to take this information and establish ties with local service agencies in order to optimize food distribution in low-income communities.

Charlotte McGarry, Food Bank of Delaware logistics and program director, said, “It is our goal to identify if there are any gaps in food assistance and, if so, do direct distributions of product from FBD or partner with hunger relief organizations to provide food to those communities. Ultimately, the FBD staff identified the level of knowledge, time and funding to execute such a project was not within the resources of our current staff and budget, therefore, when presented with this partnership opportunity from Dr. Hyde and her students we graciously accepted the much needed assistance.”

“The University is committed to improving the quality of life for all Delawareans,” Hyde said. “This project is an example of that commitment. We were more than pleased to have the opportunity to assist the Food Bank with its efforts to eliminate hunger in Delaware. The four graduate students who worked on this project persevered despite numerous setbacks in obtaining usable data. Their reward is knowing that their work will make a difference.”

This project is just one of many bringing together CANR and the Food Bank of Delaware.

Last year, UD dedicated part of its 350-acre agro-ecology teaching complex at the college as a Garden for the Community. In 2009, the garden produced more than three tons of fresh produce, which was donated directly to the Food Bank.

In March, CANR and the Food Bank of Delaware jointly hosted a “Think Spring Fling” event to jumpstart the spring community garden season. Approximately 100 garden lovers, UD staff and students, and community members enjoyed an array of educational displays and an eclectic selection of gourmet soups and seasonal breads, provided by the Food Bank’s Culinary School.

“We knew that there was a Garden for the Community, but we weren’t quite sure where it was,” said James Stokes, a sophomore hotel, restaurant, and institutional management major and member of UD’s Slow Foods student organization. “After attending this event, Slow Foods definitely wants to get more involved in agriculture side of things.”

The evening was a huge success, bringing in approximately $2,000 and 532 pounds of non perishable food items to the Food Bank.

Newark Mayor Vance A. Funk III said, “The partnership between CANR and the Food Bank is outstanding. These fundraisers are well attended and well appreciated. I would say that this is one of the best partnerships in our community.”

For more information, visit the Garden for the Community Web site.

To learn more about backyard gardening, a wallet friendly way to get fresh produce, Slow Foods and the New Castle County Master Gardeners will be holding a “Backyard Garden: Seed to Table” lecture series May 10-11. These lectures will teach community members how to utilize fresh vegetables in their homes and the best ways to plant and raise a backyard garden. Both events will be held from 6-8 p.m. at Marriott’s Courtyard Newark-University of Delaware on campus. Those who plan to attend should RSVP by April 30 to [].

Visit UDaily for the original story.


Ag Day Exhibitor/Vendor Registration Now Open

March 3, 2010 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension, Events

The University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources invites you to take part in one of the longest-running and most popular spring events in the City of Newark—Ag Day!

Ag Day 2010 will be held on Saturday, April 24, 2010 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., rain or shine, on the grounds of Townsend Hall in Newark, Delaware.

Registration for exhibitors/vendors is now open and available at by clicking on Exhibitor/Vendor Registration.

REGISTRATION IS DUE BY March 24, 2010. PAYMENT MUST BE RECEIVED BY APRIL 1. Registration is subject to approval by the Ag Day Planning Team.

If you have further questions, please contact Katy O’Connell at (302) 831-1135 or via email to  

Ag Day is a community event that brings agriculture and natural resources to life for the approximately 3000 people who attend each year. Through educational exhibits, tours, and activities, our exhibitors educate everyone from schoolchildren to homeowners, senior citizens to teenagers, about the world of agriculture and natural resources. Adding to the fun are our many supplemental vendors, who provide food and entertainment for our guests.

With its far-reaching audience, Ag Day is the perfect opportunity to promote your organization, raise funds, and enjoy a spring Saturday with people who are interested in learning more about agriculture and natural resources. We hope you will consider joining us as an exhibitor at this year’s event, which marks our 35th Ag Day!

We hope to see you at Ag Day 2010!

College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
104 Townsend Hall – 531 S. College Ave. – Newark, DE 19716
PH: 302/831-2508 – FAX: 302/831-1360


Conservationists model smart shopping, save big

February 3, 2010 under CANR News

If there was ever a time for conservationists to shop smart, this is it. Across America, states confront budget shortfalls — a grim cycle of cuts, followed by more cuts that the Pew Center on States refers to as “fiscal crisis.” Tough choices confront land conservationists, who shop the American landscape with big ambitions but slim wallets.

That’s why an emerging economics tool is so timely. Researchers at the University of Delaware and The Conservation Fund have designed a computer based decision making tool that is helping conservationists get more bang for their buck — by evaluating potential conservation projects for best dollar value. With this new tool, government leaders can comparison-shop projects like never before.

“We all want the most bang for our buck, and conservation is no different,” says Will Allen, director of strategic conservation at The Conservation Fund, a leading environmental nonprofit. “Are you spending too much money on expensive projects — what some call budget sponges — or are you getting real value? With public budgets so tight, government officials must be able to justify how they’re spending these dollars wisely.”

Until now, conservation organizations have chosen which lands to conserve based primarily on land benefits. Their goal is to save high-priority land that’s valued for agriculture, perhaps, or open space and wildlife habitat. But Baltimore County, Md., has a better way, using optimization techniques developed by UD’s Kent Messer, an economist in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Allen.

According to Messer, optimization strategy, first used by the military during World War II, is gaining new ground in the conservation world. He says it would have once taken a supercomputer to run these calculations. But thanks to evolving technology, people can now run optimization analysis quickly for fields like conservation, which has largely operated more on a wish-list level.

Messer compares buying land to buying wine — choosing well means recognizing good value when you see it.

Messer and Allen have developed and applied a computer model to “optimize” conservation decisions. The model turns raw data about conservation decisions — project costs, benefits (scored numerically), budget constraints — into a user-friendly spreadsheet yielding comparison shopping conclusions.

Using the model, for example, a government agency can quickly compare the relative value of all possible projects — and then make, and justify, an informed choice.

The Baltimore County Agricultural Land Preservation Program in Maryland has one of the nation’s most well-established farmland preservation efforts. Every year since 2007, Baltimore County has tapped an optimization model to choose which agricultural lands to save with impressive results.

Over the past three years, Baltimore County staff estimate that optimization has helped the county protect an additional 680 acres of high-quality agricultural land at a cost savings of roughly $5.4 million compared to the class conservation decisions tools. This amounts to a return on investment of more than 60 to 1. In other words, for every dollar that Baltimore County spent using its optimization model, it has gained more than $60 in conservation benefits.

“This work is especially important in these times of constrained budgets. Making our money go as far as possible is a good thing,” says Michael McGrath, chief of planning for the Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA). Messer used data provided by the DDA for some of his initial research related to optimization. He and McGrath continue to look for ways that UD and DDA can use these techniques in Delaware.

McGrath says, “Dr. Messer’s current work in Baltimore County provides important substantiation of his techniques in optimization. These techniques have applicability in Delaware and all across the U.S. in optimizing farmland preservation easement negotiations.”

Read the article here on UDaily.