Ashley Fry Prepares for Career in Higher Education

March 6, 2012 under CANR News

As an undergraduate at the University of Delaware, Ashley Fry said that she wanted to study statistics in the Department of Food and Resource Economics in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) because of the plethora of career opportunities it would provide.

Now, as a master’s student studying counseling in higher education in the College of Education and Human Development and working as a graduate assistant in the CANR Office of Academic Programs and Student Services, Fry said that she has her career choice set on working in higher education.

Fry, who graduated in 2010 and also minored in math and business administration, said she hadn’t figured out what she wanted to do with her future until her senior year as an undergraduate, and that the activities in which she participated outside of the classroom fostered her interest in working in higher education.

“I was really involved on-campus as an undergraduate student,” said Fry, who worked in the Admissions office, as a Blue Hen Ambassador tour guide, as a student admissions officer during her senior year, as a new student orientation leader for two summers, and as an Ag Ambassador.

Convinced that she wanted to make a career in higher education, Fry started looking into graduate programs that were related to the field.

She credits Kimberly Yackoski, assistant dean of student services in CANR, and Latoya Watson, undergraduate services coordinator in CANR, for guiding her to graduate school for studies in university administration.

Yackoski suggested that Fry do a discovery learning experience—a requirement for all undergraduate students—in her office.

The experience went so well that Yackoski asked Fry if she would be interested in continuing in the office as a graduate assistant.

“Ashley epitomizes the perfect colleague,” said Yackoski.  “She’s got an amazing work ethic, is forward thinking, and thoughtfully juggles all the roles we play in the office each and every day.”

Said Fry, “I got really lucky that I got to essentially blend my new experiences in my grad program and apply them to the office here, in the college that I had already had such a strong feeling for.”

Talking about her day-to-day routine, Fry said that her main role in the CANR office is that of academic advisement and support. Working in the office has taught her to balance a lot of different projects at the same time, something that she relishes. “On any given day, I could be meeting with a student, I could be in a meeting with people from this office (CANR) or other offices around campus, I could be doing a presentation, or I could be sitting here answering emails.”

Fry said one of her goals in the office is to strengthen the partnership between CANR and the University’s Career Services Center.  “I think that they offer so many wonderful services for students that I really want to make sure that we’re promoting to our students to take advantage of.”

If class and working at CANR weren’t enough of a workload for Fry, she also has an internship at the counseling center as part of her graduate program where she mainly does career-based counseling for clients. So a typical day for her can involve any mix of class, work at the counseling center or work at CANR. “I’m just going back and forth all the time,” she said.

As she prepares to graduate in May with a master’s degree in counseling in higher education, Fry said she is looking forward to starting her professional career, but will also miss CANR, a college with which she had strong ties since before she even stepped foot on campus as a freshman.

“Being a prospective student in high school, I remember calling up my future adviser, Dr. (Tom) Ilvento,” said Fry. “And Dr. (Steve) Hastings was the first person I met here so, even from just being a high school prospective student, I started building relationships with people in the college which have only strengthened and become more meaningful to me through my undergraduate experience and beyond. I’m just really thankful for everything they’ve done for me.”

Article by Adam Thomas

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University reaches articulation agreement with Longwood Gardens

January 13, 2012 under CANR News

The University of Delaware and Longwood Gardens have reached a five-year articulation agreement that will allow students who graduate from Longwood’s Professional Gardener Program to complete their bachelor of science degrees in the agriculture and natural resources major in UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR).

The Professional Gardener Program at Longwood Gardens is a two-year, tuition-free program offered every year to approximately eight individuals who have obtained at least a high school diploma and have one year of horticulture experience. The program trains students to be gardeners skilled in the art and science of horticulture. Students work in all areas of the garden and receive classroom instruction from Longwood staff and outside instructors, some of whom are professors at UD.

Kimberly Yackoski, assistant dean of student services in CANR, was heavily involved in the process for the University and said she is excited for the benefits that the program offers for both the University and Longwood Gardens.

Concerning the benefits for UD, Yackoski said she is excited to have students from the Professional Gardener Program attending the University and bringing their real-world experiences to the classroom. “For the students who choose to continue at UD, I’m confident they will make a positive impact on other UD students by sharing their horticulture knowledge and the experiences they had during their time at Longwood.  It’s a win win for everyone involved.”

Doug Needham, the head of the education department at Longwood Gardens, Robin Morgan, dean of CANR, and UD Provost Tom Apple signed the agreement by the beginning of December, 2011, which delighted Yackoski. “Our goal was for the articulation to be approved by the end of 2011 and we were thrilled when that goal was accomplished.”

Working with Yackoski on getting the agreement finalized were individuals from UD and Longwood Gardens. They included Tom Sims, deputy dean of CANR and the T.A. Baker Professor of Plant and Soil Sciences; Bob Lyons, professor in UD’s Department of Plant and Soil Sciences; and Needham and Brian Trader, Longwood’s coordinator of domestic and international studies.

Lyons said he is “very excited about this new articulation agreement because it adds an undergraduate dimension to the already strong graduate program relationship between Longwood Gardens and the University of Delaware.  It also recognizes a high standard of rigor by Longwood’s course work instructors who are committed to excellence in the classroom.”

Said Needham of the agreement, “Education is deeply embedded in our mission at Longwood Gardens, and we are passionate about providing our students with a rigorous academic experience, coupled with experiential learning through rotational work internships in the gardens.”

Because of this, Needham said, “It is critical to us that our students have the option to continue their education toward a baccalaureate degree, and we are very pleased to further our ongoing educational partnership with the University of Delaware through this articulation agreement. Graduates of our two-year Professional Gardener Program now will be able to transfer their coursework and complete a B.S. in agriculture and natural resources at UD.”

Trader, who is also an adjunct faculty member at UD, said that his role in the agreement was to meet with faculty from the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences and familiarize them with the classes being taught in the Professional Gardener Program to make sure the courses were of the same caliber as the courses being taught at UD.

Of the Professional Gardener Program, Trader said that it is “really a program that allows students to couple academic learning in the classroom with an immersive hands-on applicable experience in the gardens.”

Longwood currently has an articulation program with Temple University, and Trader said that about a dozen students from the Professional Gardener Program have received their degrees from Temple or are currently taking advantage of the opportunity. He said that after the success with the Temple articulation program, it only made sense to try to form one with UD.

“Longwood already has a strong association with UD because of the Longwood graduate program and because most of the Ph.D. staff here at Longwood are adjunct faculty at UD,” said Trader. “Some of the students in the program come from Delaware and the opportunity CANR provides is very attractive to our students.”

Trader also sees the benefits for both sides, saying that for Longwood, “It shows the caliber or the strength of the academics that we’re delivering here. It will allow us to recruit better and it could potentially increase some of the diversity and enrollment in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, not necessarily in number but in background and experience.”

Now that the agreement has been finalized, Yackoski said that she looks forward to seeing the relationship between Longwood Gardens and the University of Delaware grow even stronger. “We’ve had a relationship with Longwood for quite some time, but this has made it even stronger. They have a lot of the same goals that we have, which includes helping students grow and be the best they can be.”

Article by Adam Thomas

Photo by Evan Krape

This article was originally published on UDaily

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Brannick brings Veterinary Pathology experience to CANR

November 17, 2011 under CANR News

After leaving Philadelphia in 2006 to head to Ohio State University (OSU) for veterinary school, Erin Brannick thought that she and her husband were done with the east coast. “We both decided—or we thought—that we were mid-westerners,” said Brannick. Little did she know that in five years time, she’d be back by the Atlantic, working at the University of Delaware.

Hired in September, Brannick, an assistant professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences and the director of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) Comparative Pathology Laboratory, said that she knew UD was the place for her the moment she arrived for her interview. “I love UD and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. I would say that from the moment I came for my interview, it was immediately this sense of peace and this sense of home.”

Brannick said that all of her colleagues have been wonderful and loves how open everyone is to research collaboration. She notes that she has “been really impressed with the caliber of the students as well. I’ve gotten wonderful chances to meet quite a few of the pre-veterinary students as they’ve come in to talk with me about various things. Just to hear about their experiences here and how excited they are about the University and what it has to offer has been very encouraging.”

Brannick has already met with potential students as well, serving as a recruit for the students interested in the University. After sitting in on a single recruiting session for Kimberly Yackoski, assistant dean for student services at CANR, Brannick recalls that the very next day, Yackoski asked if she could meet with a recruit as early as that Friday. Brannick joked, “ ‘Do you think I already know enough to do this?’ But it was a lot of fun. I had a great student. I remember my own undergrad recruiting sessions where you go and talk with professors and I remember the ones that really stood out to me, so I hope to provide that to students considering UD.”

Having completed her undergraduate degree at Wittenburg University, a liberal arts college in Springfield, Ohio, Brannick went on to veterinary school at OSU where she earned her veterinary degree (DVM) in 2006 and then her masters degree and ACVP-board certification in veterinary pathology in 2010.

It was near the end of her stint in OSU veterinary school that Brannick decided that she wanted to be a veterinary pathologist instead of a small animal private practitioner. Brannick likened veterinary pathology to putting together pieces of a puzzle, connecting the dots between healthy and un-healthy animal tissue, and then diagnosing a disease. “Compared to what I would expect in a normal tissue, what is different? And when you see something different, whether it’s inflammation or cancer or a degenerative process or anything, then it’s up to you to put the pieces together.”

UD will benefit from this pathology expertise as Brannick heads the Comparative Pathology Laboratory. The lab is located in Worrilow Hall and Brannick said that she works there with Joanne Kramer, a research associate in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences. While the majority of their work supports the poultry diagnostic laboratories of Delaware and Maryland, the two “welcome outside submissions, even outside of our department, and we’re happy to collaborate when people need advice or just thoughts on how to proceed with collecting tissues.”

Another area where Brannick will help CANR is that she is a valuable resource for any student interested in applying to veterinary school. Having served on the veterinary admissions committee at OSU, Brannick has been involved behind the scenes and knows what admissions committees are looking for in candidates.

“The big things that veterinary schools are going to look for are strong academic skills, strong leadership and involvement both in the University and also in community,” in addition to varied animal experience and strong communication skills.

Brannick said that she welcomes students and faculty to stop by her office, 41 Townsend Hall, to discuss plans for veterinary school or upcoming research projects.

“I would say that I have an open door policy, even when my door is closed. When you’re doing diagnostic work, you sometimes have to concentrate so carefully that it’s easier to work when the doors are closed but anybody is welcome at anytime.”

Entering her third month of working at the University of Delaware, Brannick is indeed happy to have returned to the east coast and excited to call CANR home.

Article by Adam Thomas

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