Extension TodayNews from and about the 1890 Land-Grant Extension System
Message from the Chair
Dr. Carolyn Williams Executive Associate Director, Prairie View A&M University
We are pleased to highlight the value of collaborative projects among the land-grant mission areas: Extension, research and academics.
A land-grant college or university is an institution that has been designated by its state legislature or Congress to receive the benefits of the Morrill Acts of 1862, 1890 and 1994. The tripartite mission of land-grant universities (research, teaching and Extension) continues to produce astounding numbers of college graduates, inventions and discoveries.
Addressing rural and urban critical issues requires interdisciplinary approaches between families, farmers, businesses and youths, enabling them to understand and adopt innovation. Well-planned and executed programs by universities in research, teaching and academics have the potential to respond to clientele needs and provide measurable benefits to participants.
Successful collaboration is facilitated by a deep understanding of science and technology with practical knowledge, a hands-on methodology, real-world application and experimental skills. Several stories published in this month’s edition spotlight some of the interactive partnerships endorsing relevance, capacity and impact.
Two birds, one stone
By Roosevelt Robinson
All over North America, native songbird populations have been declining, and some species by as much as 70 percent or more. Native songbird decline is concerning as bird populations are indicators of ecological integrity and are highly sensitive to adverse environmental change.
In addition, by the year 2050, more than 21 percent of people worldwide will be over the age of 60. In the United States, just over 34 percent of the population is aged 50 and over, and their numbers are rising. Unfortunately, older adults are often left out of science outreach. Many science, technology, engineering and mathematics outreach initiatives target school-aged learners.
To respond to the declining native songbird population and limited outreach targeting elders, two Alabama Extension programs—the Urban Environmental Science Education Program and the Virginia Caples Lifelong Learning Institute established for older adults, developed for older adults—implemented an innovative effort called Senior Scientist. Senior Scientist encourages participants to be curious and engaged, thus stimulating thought processes. In addition, it provides much-needed nesting sites for native secondary cavity-nesting birds.
To achieve program goals, older adults attended seven sessions in songbird population recovery. Sessions involved assembling and installing a manmade nest box at their respective residences. The senior scientists managed, monitored, recorded and reported data collected at nest boxes. A small step in population recovery, this citizen science project serves as the nexus between improved cognition in participating senior citizens and supplying suitable nesting sites for native secondary cavity-nesting birds—two birds with one stone.
Central State University building new research facility
Central State University is forging ahead in its efforts to accomplish the 1890 land-grant mission of food and agriculture research to serve the stakeholder communities in Ohio. The university is breaking ground for a state-of-the-art 40,000-square-foot facility with advanced research capabilities to address key critical issues in the state that demand scientific innovation.
The facility aims to create a strong framework for future growth within both the research building and the John W. Garland College of Engineering, Science, Technology and Agriculture (JWG CESTA) through an environment that is flexible and reflective of the academic ranking that the JWG CESTA strives to achieve.
The building design allows stakeholders to see science on display. This significant piece of architecture will drive architecture standards for the expansion on the research and demonstration site. The facility design is a sustainable architectural solution that preserves the agricultural viability of the site and maintains the integrity of the research plots by minimizing runoff pollutants.
The construction will happen in three phases with the first phase expected to be completed by June 2024. Phase one construction will include offices for research faculty, research staff, student researchers, laboratories and collaboration spaces. Phases two and three will include other labs such as core lab, pollinator lab, natural products lab and seed testing lab.
Doing it all: Dr. Kwame Matthews’ work illustrates the value of the land-grant method
Small ruminant animals, like sheep and goats, are crucial components of an integrated production system. They provide food and fiber, which aids in human nutrition, food security and household profitability.
For the month of May, Delaware State University spotlights the work of Dr. Kwame Matthews, a Delaware State University alum, associate professor and state small ruminant specialist.
He explains more in this video (https://youtu.be/HGovIewPxkg) about how his purposeful animal production work spans across the teaching, research and Extension pillars of the land-grant university model.
Opioid harm reduction strategies utilized as a teaching tool
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) funds Rural Opioid Technical Assistance (ROTA) grants via Extension programming throughout the United States. ROTA is designed to provide opioid-related training and technical assistance specific to rural communities.
As a ROTA facilitator, Florida A&M University Cooperative Extension coordinates the process of identifying model programs and collaborating with designated organizations and agencies to ensure that the specific ROTA guidelines are met. Florida rural county designees included Columbia, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Hamilton, Hernando, Jackson, Madison, Monticello – Jefferson and Suwanee. ROTA tools and services were offered to these and other counties in Florida’s Panhandle.
ROTA activities and service provision include:
- Identifying model programs.
- Developing updated materials related to prevention, treatment and recovery activities for Opioid Use Disorder (OUD).
- Providing high-quality training and technical assistance to rural communities.
- Developing and disseminating training and technical assistance (T/TA) for rural communities on addressing opioid/stimulant issues affecting these communities.
One of the main thrusts of ROTA programming involves sharing data and disseminating information for opioid harm reduction strategies. This consists of a continuum of care that encompasses addressing the opioid epidemic as a public health issue, sharing harm reduction strategies to prevent death and disease, providing tools and resources to avert overdose, and disseminating evidence-based practice and policy initiatives to deter substance misuse and disorder.
By Russell Boone, Fort Valley State University Agricultural Communications Public Information Editor/Writer
Fort Valley State University (FVSU) is playing a role in bringing clean and renewable energy to residents of middle Georgia.
In collaboration with Georgia Power Company, a solar farm of more than 107 acres was built on FVSU’s campus in 2021. The facility, one of the largest solar operations on a college campus in the United States, consists of more than 27,000 solar panels (400 watts each) that include a connected sub-station built at a cost of more than $9 million. FVSU did not incur any costs in the construction of the facility.
In addition, the solar farm consists of a model demonstration site dedicated to academic and research use. It will serve as a power source for energy-dependent applications at the FVSU Sustainable Research Site.
More than 10.8 megawatts (10.8MW) of power can be generated by the farm for more than 3,000 homes in the middle Georgia area. This is done with solar panels and the substation converting sunlight to electrical power through the utility power grid. Georgia Power Company will handle the day-to-day operation and management of the larger solar farm with FVSU maintaining control of the solar demonstration site.
“This solar project will expand FVSU’s Cooperative Extension Program in Agricultural and Natural Resources (ANR) to include renewable energy,” said Dr. Cedric Ogden, FVSU professor of engineering technology and Cooperative Extension engineer specialist. “It will also provide additional opportunities for FVSU and the Extension program in the areas of sustainability, climate change awareness and alternative energy.”
Research and Extension personnel at Kentucky State University are collaborating on a grant aimed at making tilapia production through aquaculture profitable for small farmers.
The project is a U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded grant titled “Expanding Aquaculture and Healthy Food Choices to Reduce Economic and Health Disparities Affecting Minority and Limited-Resource Stakeholders.”
Previous grants have funded Kentucky State’s ongoing research to more effectively raise tilapia. This grant, funded for $250,000 from 2021 to 2024, is focused on bringing that information to farmers, businesses and other stakeholders.
Aquaculture Extension personnel help farmers produce tilapia, but their production won’t be profitable without a market to sell in and consumers who will buy tilapia. That’s where marketing, economics and nutrition come in.
“This is a really special project,” said Dr. Noel Novelo, aquaculture research associate at Kentucky State and principal investigator for the grant. “The principal leaders of the project come from a very different background.”
Cooperative Extension & Outreach Program collaborates with community clinic to increase healthy living
Langston University Cooperative Extension and Outreach Programs continue to serve communities by addressing and meeting their needs. It is easy to leverage resources we think or believe the community at large needs; however, it is equally beneficial to become active listeners to the voices in the community.
African Americans suffer from hypertension and diabetes at an alarming rate in contrast to other races. In fact, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in 2022, two in five Black men (42 percent) and Black women (43 percent) suffer from hypertension, compared to 31 percent of white men and 27 percent of white women. For diagnosed diabetes, Hispanic men are at the highest risk (14 percent), followed by Black women (12 percent), Hispanic women (12 percent), and Black men (11 percent). Whites have the lowest rates – lower in fact than Asian Americans.
LU-CEOP has actively established many community-based organizations and partnerships and highlights Ira A. Thomas Jr. (APRN FNP-C). Thomas is a primary care provider, along with his wife, also a registered nurse, who together owns Northeast Family Medical Clinic in the heart of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. This area consists of more than 160,000 African Americans who are within five to seven miles of the location of the clinic. As an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) and family nurse practitioner-certified (FNP-C), Thomas has served in the medical field for more than 15 years and identified a continual trend of African Americans with diabetes and hypertension throughout communities of color nationwide.
Water Resources Extension, research, teaching activities at LU
The Water Resources Observatory (WRO) at Lincoln University was created to provide research-based solutions to water-related problems affecting diverse, underserved communities in Missouri and the nation.
Dr. Sean Zeiger is an assistant professor of watershed management and director of WRO at Lincoln University of Missouri. Zeiger and members of WRO are engaged in integrated Extension, research and teaching activities designed to share lessons learned from climate and water-related research with students and underserved communities in Missouri. This article outlines WRO activities funded by federal and state agencies during 2023.
Partnering for success: PVAMU Goat Management Workshop
The Agriculture & Natural Resources (AgNR) unit of the Cooperative Extension Program (CEP) partnered with the Cooperative Agricultural Research Center (CARC) at Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU) to host the PVAMU Goat Management Workshop.
The team welcomed more than 100 producers to the International Goat Research Center (IGRC) on campus for a day of lectures and hands-on learning demonstrations provided by university Extension and research professionals. The morning sessions were presented lecture style with topics including Out of Season Breeding, Breeding Soundness Exams for Bucks and Goat Herd Management Strategies. The afternoon was split between two hands-on demonstration sessions and participants were rotated between sessions.
The first session allowed participants to interact with PVAMU goat researchers as they demonstrated low-stress techniques for goat kid management and post-kidding care for does. The second session was held at the new Meat Science Center and participants rotated between a goat carcass fabrication class and a nutrition management lecture. The workshop was an overwhelming success and received positive feedback from participants. This program highlights the practical application of the high-level research being conducted by the Extension and research team at PVAMU.
SC State 1890 Extension awarded $4.5M for climate-smart commodities partnership with Mixon Seed
South Carolina State University 1890 Research & Extension announced a $4.5 million Climate-Smart Commodities grant awarded by the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) during a press conference on Tuesday, Feb. 21.
The funding focuses on regenerative agriculture and its potential in climate-smart commodities to enhance the sustainability of underserved limited-resource farmers in South Carolina and verify the benefits of climate-smart practices at minority-serving institutions.
SC State 1890 will partner with Mixon Seed Services and the South Carolina Black Farmers Coalition to educate and provide resources, including financial incentive opportunities to small and minority farmers specializing in leafy greens and cover crops. As a result of this project, researchers and research associates will mentor students in data collection and data analysis. The results will be disseminated to small-scale farmers through regional and national workshops and conferences.
According to Dr. Louis Whitesides, vice president for public service and agriculture and executive director of 1890 Research & Extension, there is a need for public-private partnership amid fierce competition for federal research funding.
“A key advantage of having the private sector partner in public service is that it allows universities to concentrate on intellectual ideas and problem-solving, as well as planning, policy and regulation,” Whitesides said. “The private sector, in turn, is empowered to do what it does best and improve the efficiency and quality of service.”
For more information on the Climate-Smart Commodities grant, contact Dr. Lamin Drammeh at email@example.com.
Assisting underserved farmers, communities located in food deserts
The Sustainable, Community, Agricultural, Learning, Environments (S.C.A.L.E.) program has a goal of integrating Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) practices, creating a hands-on AG+STEAM education and workforce development pipeline and focusing on the specific challenges affecting underserved farmers and communities in Louisiana.
Implementing the S.C.A.L.E. program has introduced Extension-based learning, educational resources, and health and wellness training to assist communities located in food deserts lead healthy lives.
The creation of school and community garden curricula and designs has established educational partnerships between elementary and secondary educators and agricultural specialists, professors and researchers at the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center. These educators have incorporated agriculture to lead students in STEAM-engaged projects and activities that use critical thinking, creativity, innovation and collaboration.
In addition to Extension outreach and teaching, the program has a research component that encourages participants to research scenarios related to food, hunger and sustainability. Participants use unconventional farming techniques such as CEA, which combines plant science and environmental control techniques that optimize plant growth inside an enclosed space. This allows participants to conduct the best research methods by using laboratory and field facilities, as well as by interacting with farmers for a better quality of life.
For additional information on the S.C.A.L.E. program, contact Dr. Marlin Ford at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tennessee State University contains one of the most intact urban wetlands in Middle Tennessee
Just three miles from downtown Nashville, among the bustling city traffic, there are approximately 30 acres full of water, trees and animals. This green oasis in the middle of the city is where Tennessee State University houses one of the largest and most intact urban wetlands in Middle Tennessee. The wetland filters water runoff from north Nashville and the university farm, providing an ecosystem for frogs, turtles, snakes, blue herons, bald eagles and other animals.
Drs. Tom Byl and Bill Sutton utilize this wetland for research purposes, as well as a teaching tool to engage students. The knowledge gained from having a wetland that filters both urban and agricultural runoff allows Byl and Sutton to disseminate information about wetland importance and maintenance to Tennesseeans.
While this wetland provides vital research, teaching and Extension opportunities for TSU audiences, community members often call for the development of this green space due to its desirable location in Nashville. To learn more about the TSU wetland and the importance of it remaining intact, check out a recent conversation between Byl, Sutton and the Cumberland River Compact here (https://cumberlandrivercompact.org).
UAPB’s Dr. Karleah Harris teaches community members how to garden
Dr. Karleah Harris, assistant professor for the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) Department of Human Sciences, considers changing the lives of others through teaching, research and Extension her personal and professional mission. She has led a series of projects sponsored by UAPB’s School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences to provide educational outreach to schools and organizations around Pine Bluff, Arkansas.
One of Harris’ initiatives supports grandparents in the community who are raising their grandchildren. The project focuses on helping grandparents and their grandchildren gain new gardening, communication, parenting and computer skills. She has also started or rebooted gardening programs at local pre-K, middle and high schools, allowing students to grow produce such as strawberries, tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage and bell peppers during science classes.
One of Harris’ most recent Extension teaching endeavors is helping teachers inform their students about food deserts. As part of the project, she and other UAPB professors are designing curricula and classroom and field activities designed to inform students about this timely issue.
“Introducing all students to scientific concepts at an early age can help increase their representation in STEM fields,” she said. “Engaging, hands-on projects such as the gardening initiative can help open the door to a lifelong interest in science.”
For two weeks a year, it’s all hands in for UMES Extension lambing, kidding season
By Gail Stephens, UMES Ag Communications
Except for pollen creating a yellow carpet on EVERYTHING, spring is a welcome time on campus. For the last week of March and the first week of April, it’s lambing and kidding season for UMES Extension’s Small Ruminant Program (Youtube).
“We have the unique opportunity of engaging sheep and goat producers, as well as ag students, faculty and the farm crew,” said E. Nelson Escobar, an associate professor, small ruminant specialist and associate dean for Extension. “The lambing and kidding season serves as an event for combining efforts and collaboration.”
“The estrus synchronization approach that we practice has functioned well with lambing and kidding occurring in 10 days,” Escobar said. “Another benefit of the practice is that we have a very uniform crop, which facilitates feeding, vaccination, castration and other post-birth activities.”
In October, the ewes and does are synchronized using a procedure validated by Escobar and a former graduate student. Then, a couple of males join the herd the first week of November. Thirty-five days post-breeding, blood samples are taken from the exposed females for pregnancy confirmation (BioPRIN®). Prenatal care over the five-month gestation period is carried out by student workers and overseen by Escobar and the campus veterinarian and Pre-Vet Program adviser Dr. Kimberly Braxton, along with any “necessary-only” assistance during delivery of the offspring.
“Providing this practicum for our students is a positive experience for the students and myself. When they are directly involved in the birthing process, I can see the spark they have for this profession ignite,” Braxton said.
Accelerated lambing system improves lamb supply consistency
Virginia Cooperative Extension at Virginia State University helps small-scale sheep farmers across Virginia reduce expenses, increase profits and provide exceptional products with innovative, evidence-based strategies. With demand for lamb outstripping domestic supply, local, small-scale farmers and consumers can benefit from systems developed by Extension and the Agricultural Research Station at VSU.
Dr. Dahlia O’Brien, a small ruminant Extension specialist and ARS researcher (25 percent) collaborated with Dr. Stephan Wildeus, a small ruminant reproduction physiologist at ARS, to demonstrate a dual-flock semi-continuous lamb production system. With wool demand declining, VSU researchers and Extension experts study and promote the use of hair sheep in this system.
“Most lambs are born in late winter to spring. This results in an inconsistent lamb supply throughout the year,” said O’Brien. “The system we’ve developed helps stabilize sheep farmers’ income and increase their profits by enabling them to provide a more consistent, year-round supply of lamb.”
Using the strategies developed at VSU, the lambing process has been extended from once a year to every eight months, thereby increasing lambing from twice to thrice every two years. With a dual-flock, managed four months apart, lambing is six times every two years.
Virginia Cooperative Extension extends the resources of Virginia's two land-grant universities, Virginia State University and Virginia Tech, to solve problems facing Virginians every day.
ANR, research workshop collaboration provides biochar education
The West Virginia State University (WVSU) Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) team collaborated with WVSU Associate Research Professor Dr. Amir Hass and Biochar Consultant Kelpie Wilson to hold a biochar workshop on March 30.
Wilson provided a kiln for demonstration purposes, presented biochar’s purpose and benefits and explained the processes of running a kiln. NRCS and Capitol Conservation District representatives also spoke during the indoor portion of the workshop.
Biochar is made by burning biomass in low-oxygen conditions. It is similar to charcoal and has several soil microorganisms promoting soil and plant health.
ANR Program Leader Dr. John Kessell said, “Research and Extension go together like peas and carrots. WVSU researchers and Extension faculty do amazing things the public is unaware of. Our Extension educators provide outreach to the public to create awareness of these accomplishments. Collaboration is what makes the land-grant system function.”
“Close collaboration with Extension is imperative for our success,” said Hass. “It is an essential conduit for us to reach and converse with the public, develop and cultivate relationships, receive feedback and communicate and disseminate the latest knowledge, practices and technologies with our stakeholders and potential end-users to assure wide reach and adoption of our outputs.”