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Common Ground

My calendar says it is spring, which makes me think of family members' graduations, planting flowers and a vegetable garden, shearing sheep, filing taxes, and sprucing up the yard. While these are all associated with my home and family, the Institute of Agriculture is also gearing up for similar activities.

Graduation ceremonies for CASNR and CVM represent the culmination of many years of work and effort not only for our students and parents, but also our faculty and staff. Participating in these ceremonies brings back memories of the great sense of accomplishment that accompanies the completion of a degree. And it provides an opportunity for us to reflect on the great potential for these graduates to make a positive difference in this world.

Planting crops in thousands of research plots and working cattle gets us ready to harvest another round of data this fall. This enables us to complete funded projects, publish scholarly articles and practical summaries of research results, and make presentations at eleven field days throughout 2017. We don't have to file a 1040 tax form for UTIA; however, we do assess our past revenues and expenditures to prepare for our fiscal year end and plan for the coming year. Our federal and state budgets are still uncertain at this time, but we anticipate stable appropriations for FY 18. There is always something that needs spruced up, repaired, or replaced around campus and our statewide facilities. With nineteen capital facilities projects currently under way, we're involved in fixing roofs, building new office structures, installing new outdoor furniture, repairing greenhouses, and many other undertakings. Investing in these projects enables us to carry out our mission and gives us all a sense of pride in our facilities and our work.

I hope that you're hard at work on all your spring tasks. In the words of late comedian Robin Williams, "Spring is nature's way of saying, 'Let's party!'"


P.S. Be sure to follow me and the latest Institute developments on Twitter at @UTIAChancellor.

Is College Worth It?

By CASNR Dean Caula Beyl

Dean Beyl

As I travel across the state and visit with alumni, I am gratified when they recall their time in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR) while working on a degree with misty-eyed affection and profound gratitude for the opportunity they were given. What gives them the sense and absolute conviction that their degrees were worth every bit of effort to achieve?

A survey of 30,000 college graduates was administered to determine what made those graduates "engaged in their work and thriving in their purpose, social, financial, community and physical well-being."

Much of their satisfaction and enhanced quality of life following graduation depended on "who made the most of their higher education experience as students" and who had experienced as many of what the Gallup survey is calling the "Big Six" experiences while in college. These experiences have emerged as being the most important indicators of later success and happiness as well as satisfaction with life. More...

CASNR and CVM Graduation Ceremonies Ahead

A distinguished graduate of the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Extension is one of two commencement speakers for the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources' spring graduates. Joining Isaac Bennett in giving addresses to our very newest alumni is food science senior Jourdan Jones.

Bennett is vice president of capital markets for Farm Credit Bank of Texas. Headquartered in Austin, Farm Credit is a cooperatively owned wholesale bank with assets of $21.4 billion.

The Texas bank is part of the nationwide Farm Credit System, established by Congress in 1916. The bank and its lending cooperatives comprise the $27.9 billion Tenth Farm Credit District, the single largest rural lending network serving Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas.

Join the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources for its Commencement Ceremony on Thursday, May 11, at the Thompson Boling Assembly Center and Arena. The exercises start at 8:30 a.m. The university-wide graduate hooding ceremony also occurs on May 11, starting at 7 p.m.

Former faculty member and Small Animal Clinical Sciences interim department head, Dr. Joe Bartges, returns to campus as the invited speaker at the veterinary college's hooding and commencement ceremony. While at UT, Bartges received several teaching and research awards and currently serves as professor of internal medicine and nutrition at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine. The College will present three distinguished alumni awards during the ceremony, which will be held Saturday, May 13, at 10 a.m. in the James R. Cox Auditorium of the Alumni Memorial Building. Eighty-five veterinary students are graduating.

Rare Blood Transfusion for Black Bear

Bear blood transfusion

Clinicians at the veterinary medical center at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine (UTCVM) performed the facility's first bear blood transfusion the afternoon of March 27. The previous night the Appalachian Bear Rescue (ABR) transported a black bear yearling that had been rescued by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency to UTCVM.

While a healthy yearling would have spent the winter in a den with its mother, this bear was found at a farm near Bristol, Tennessee. This is bear number 258 for ABR and their first one in 2017. The rescue has nicknamed the yearling Summitt. News stories here and here.

Three-minute Thesis Competition

Veterinary Medicine Student Is among Top Finishers

Congratulations to veterinary student Rachel Herwick, who took third place in the University of Tennessee Three-minute Thesis competition. You can watch Herwick and other finalists give their presentations here.

Herwick worked with Drs. Zenny Ng and Julie Albright in the Center of Excellence Student Summer Research Program. In the competition, she discussed her work testing the hypothesis that hospitalized children who interact with a therapy dog for ten minutes prior to sedation will demonstrate less anxiety before their operation and require less sedation than children who play with an iPad for the same length of time.

George Brown Recognized at Congress for 4-H Experience

This year Tennessee 4-H Congress celebrated its seventieth birthday! This signature event included mock legislation as part of the 4-H Know Your Government activity, a service project benefiting military service men and women, and a visit by Secretary of State Hargett and Lt. Gov. McNally. Tennessee 4-H Congress is a hands-on opportunity for youth to learn more about citizenship and leadership.

George Brown of Coffee County was recognized with the Friend of 4-H award during the 4-H Congress. Brown, a Coffee County 4-H alum, was cited during the awards presentation for his uncommon devotion to and enthusiasm for Tennessee 4-H. He joined his local 4-H club at Hillsboro Elementary School in the late 1950s and would begin a journey that would develop his leadership skills and continue to foster a deep-rooted passion for the agriculture community. That passion and his commitment now spans three generations of the Brown family. Read more...

Field Days Ahead!

Eleven field days are ahead along with four special events. The first two will occur on Saturday, May 20. They are the Tennessee Healthy Hardwoods at the Forest Resources AgResearch Center in Oak Ridge and a Rose Rosette Field Day at the Plateau AgResearch and Education Center in Crossville. This one is hosted by the American Rose Society.

Field days are held at most of the ten AgResearch and Education Centers located throughout the state. These events offer farmers, ranchers, gardeners, and the general public a chance to see research findings, learn from university and industry experts, and network with peers.

See the full schedule here.

After-school Opportunities for Academics, Emotional and Mental Wellness

Video capture

When the school day ends, there's still an opportunity for children to learn. UT Extension teams with educators across Tennessee in after-school programs. Their partnership includes a curriculum called "Zoom" that goes beyond academics and offers kids help in dealing with the emotional and mental challenges of being a teenager in today's world. Please go here to see "Zoom" in action at Watertown Middle School in Wilson County.


UTIA Hosts Top Undergraduates from Zamorano Pan-American Agricultural School, Honduras

Top undergraduates

The fifteen-week internship experience at UTIA is soon coming to a close for three undergraduates from Zamorano Pan-American Agricultural School (Escuela Agrícola Panamericana El Zamorano), a leading agricultural university located in Honduras. Mario Ernesto Bermudez Gonzalez, Juan Carlos Ramos Tanchez, and Jorge Eduardo Loaisiga Romero (left to right) are the first cohort of Zamorano interns hosted by UTIA.

For Zamorano University, sending students off for a fifteen-week, hands-on experience during the last year of their bachelor's programs is not a new concept. In fact, the opportunity for their students to engage with top professionals in academia or private industry, often outside the students' home country, prepares Zamorano graduates to be leaders in their respective fields in Latin America and the world. UTIA faculty Phillip Myer (Animal Science), Dave Ader (International Programs), and Mark Morgan (Food Science) saw hosting interns as an opportunity for collaboration and a way to increase UTIA's international connections. The 2016 Faculty Team Seed Grants offered by UTIA International Programs, through a joint initiative with AgResearch, UT Extension, CVM, and CASNR, allowed Ader and Myer to visit the university and interview interested students.

This activity contributes toward short- and long-term internationalization efforts in UTIA by connecting with top institutions in Central America and building relations in the region. Ader highlighted the benefits for faculty and the Institute, particularly as a way to recruit highly qualified graduate students from Central America. Once these students return to their home countries, their experience in the US, as well as their high-quality education from Zamorano, qualify them for opportunities in leadership positions. Whether with the private sector or with ministries of government, the interns' connection with UT remains. "It's a benefit to our students, too," Ader said. "UT students are engaged with the world right here on campus," he added, referring to their interaction with the interns and having opportunities to ask questions about language and culture and share experiences. More...

What did you do for spring break?

Two third-year veterinary students headed to Bolivia and Honduras for experiential learning. More...

News in Short

Plant sale

West Tennesseans can pick up beautiful plants for their gardens and landscapes on Saturday, May 6. That's when the Madison County Master Gardeners hold their Spring Plant Sale. The event runs from 7 a.m. to noon at the West Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center in Jackson. And the use of "run" is deliberate. You may see some buyers literally doing just that as they choose among the offerings, and you will not want to be late for the tremendously popular sale.


Keeping good business records is critical for any value-added farm business, with farming being no exception. The Center for Profitable Agriculture is offering training April through May. More...


Comprehensive information about the production of meat and dairy goats as well as sheep will be offered May 18-20 at the 2017 Small Ruminant Conference. More...


Producers interested in marketing beef, pork, lamb, and goat meat directly to the public can attend free training on May 20. The workshop is being held in Dickson and is hosted by Dickson and Hickman County Extension. More...

Children and dog

A free informational meeting for those interested in becoming volunteers with Human Animal Bond in Tennessee (H.A.B.I.T.), an animal-assisted therapy program, will be held at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine Wednesday, May 17, 2017, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m. for registration. Open to anyone interested in volunteering with their dog, cat, or rabbit.

In Memoriam

Photo of a lily

Anne Sorter
, former UT Extension Western Region FCS Program Leader and retired FCS/4-H Program Leader with University of Arkansas Extension.

UTCVM Open House

Veterinary Medicine Open House Draws 5,000

More than 5,000 people visited the College of Veterinary Medicine's thirty-eighth Open House on Saturday, April 8. Take a tour of images from the event at the College's Flickr page. And read more about the event in a Knoxville News Sentinel article here.


Common Ground is published monthly by the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture. Send comments and suggestions to commonground@tennessee.edu. The University of Tennessee is an EEO/AA/Title VI/Title IX/Section 504/ADA/ADEA institution in the provision of its education and employment programs and services. All qualified applicants will receive equal consideration for employment without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, pregnancy, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, physical or mental disability, or covered veteran status.

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