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Common Ground

Congratulations to our spring graduates of CASNR and CVM. We look forward to watching these students succeed as they move on to their first career opportunities, or as they advance to graduate or professional school programs. Thanks to all the faculty and staff who helped them to achieve their collegiate goals and mentored them as they move into the next chapter of their lives.

With the arrival of summer, it's time to think about our favorite UTIA pastime—field days. We're fortunate to have such a great array of AgResearch and Education Centers that host these many excellent educational events throughout late spring, summer, and fall.

It's good for all of us to pause a moment and take pride in the research results we have for citizens about many topics. Our diverse field days serve the needs, and interests, of youth, farmers, gardeners, home canners, livestock producers, forest landowners, and wildlife enthusiasts, and actually others, as well! Check out the 2017 schedule online and find a field day to attend this year.

Our UTIA Strategic Planning team has started their work, and I hope you'll watch for opportunities to provide input and feedback over the next couple of months. Thanks for engaging in the planning process. It's important for all of us and your input is as well.


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

It's a Million a Mile for Impact of TVA Reservoirs

A detailed study conducted by UTIA has found that the combination of aquatic recreation and waterfront property along the Tennessee Valley Authority's managed river system creates $11.9 billion in annual economic impact—the equivalent of $1 million per shoreline mile.

In addition, the TVA-funded study estimated that TVA's forty-nine reservoirs support about 130,000 jobs annually.

"The UTIA study clearly establishes a strong link between the recreational opportunities our reservoirs create and improving the economic opportunities for the 9 million people we serve every day," said Mike Skaggs, TVA executive vice president of operations. More...

Standout Students

A CASNR graduate who, at age seventeen, is one of the youngest graduates ever; students receiving Chancellor's Honors; and a standout Wildlife and Fisheries graduate selected for a distinguished graduate school fellowship for her achievements. These are among the accomplishments of our students this spring. Congratulations to them and to all of our students as they finish their studies this semester, and for some, complete their degrees. We're proud of all of you.

Lone Oaks Farm Hosts BioBlitz

Bear blood transfusion

"Look at this!" That was a commonly heard phrase at the recent BioBlitz at Lone Oaks Farm. During the three-day event, scientists and conservationists from across the state surveyed the 1,200-acre farm to document as many different plant and animal species as possible. With each new find, be it a salamander or a sumac, the excitement was evident.

What they found will now be used to inform the design process for the Lone Oaks master plan. Lone Oaks Farm is being developed by UTIA to serve as a 4-H Center as well as a venue for youth development and STEM education and as an outdoor laboratory for sustainable agricultural practices. More...

When Tortillas Are the Teachers

Most of us have eaten tortillas, but do we know how to make one using traditional methods?

At East Tennessee State University's College of Public Health, five of our students made tortillas from seed to table in the college's Tortilla Experience. Along the way, they learned important global lessons.



Scientists Say Agriculture Benefits Honey Bees

Honey bees

In a recent study, researchers with UTIA found the overall health of honey bees improved in the presence of agricultural production, despite the increased exposure to agricultural pesticides.

The study, published in a recent issue of the Journal of Economic Entomology, evaluated the impacts of row-crop agriculture, including the traditional use of pesticides, on honey bee health.

Results indicated that hive health is tied to the presence of agriculture, while the colonies examined in a nonagricultural area struggled to find adequate food resources and produced fewer offspring. Read more here...

Commencements & Celebrations

Jubilant College of Veterinary Medicine students painted the rock after graduation rehearsal. At this year's hooding and commencement ceremony, former faculty member and Small Animal Clinical Sciences interim department head, Dr. Joe Bartges, returned to campus as the invited speaker. Bartges was celebrated with several teaching and research awards during his time with UTCVM. The College presented three distinguished alumni awards during the ceremony on May 13. Eighty-five veterinary students received their veterinary degrees.

In the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Commencement Ceremony on May 11, students representing spring and summer graduations, 196 in all, registered to walk the stage. Addressing them was Isaac Bennett, a distinguished graduate and supporter of the College. Bennett joined Food Science graduate Jourdan Jones as commencement speakers for the event.

A devastating rose disease, rose rosette, and UTIA research to develop solutions to combat it are the topics of a new Rose Rosette Field Day. The event takes place Saturday, May 20, at the Plateau AgResearch and Education Center.

Apple production will be among the topics at UT's Fruits of the Backyard Field Day at the Middle Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center on June 13. Honey and tomato production will also be featured.

The UT Extension Grass-Fed Beef Conference is designed to help producers address the challenges of managing forages, finishing cattle, and marketing beef using pasture-based production systems. The workshop is set for June 28 in Spring Hill and June 29 in Athens.

I AM UTIA—In Knoxville, Meet Joe Cagle

Assistant Director of General Services

Video capture

What do you do in your work?

I assist director Steve Glafenhein, and I also work construction and renovation projects, those that are on campus and off. When people need something related to safety or a building problem, or even getting something moved, a lot of times I can help with that. If I don't know where it exists or how to get a hold of it, I'll get them to someone who does. And if it's something we need, I'll bulldog it to make sure it gets done. Basically, I'm the get 'er done guy.

Other things I do are to work on the Space and Ag Day committees and manage our parking. I am also the campus liaison with Parking and Transit Services. So, when our people need parking for special events, I work to ensure their needs are accommodated to the best they can be.

What do you find most challenging?

Space. Trying to help find space and trying to redesign what we have to fit what's needed, while at the same time, we're trying to repair and renovate buildings. I want to be proactive rather than reactive. That way I can reduce any problems that may occur. I have developed a good relationship with Facility Services and contractors, and that helps us when we're repairing or renovating a space. I always tell people, "I'm very resourceful."

How long have you been with the Institute?

Twenty-five years.

What is the best part of your job?

I'm proud of my staff, of the many things they do, and how they've grown. I'm also proud of how our student employees grow and to be a part of that. In general, the best part of my job is working with the employees of the Institute. These are great people. You're not going to find a better place to work.

Other thoughts?

Our students need leadership skills. So, what I'll do is to take turns assigning one to be a lead on a project. I'll tell them the reason that leadership experience is important is because one of these days, you'll work for a person who knows less than you, and you will need to follow and help them. You want your unit to be a success and through that, you'll be a success. If you're fighting and arguing with them, you'll be useless. Then I say, sometimes you'll have someone you work for who knows a lot more than you, and you'll need to follow them and learn. And then some day, you'll have someone working for you who is not going to know as much but thinks they know everything. So, you'll need to handle them, to help them. That understanding is important to these students. When they graduate, I want my students to be a success in what they do.

In Memoriam

Photo of a lily

Tim Hicks, former 4-H agent in Tipton County. Hicks touched many lives during his time with UT Extension. He had a talent for writing and securing grants that he used to implement after-school programs in the county.

Hale Moss, a tremendous supporter for the Wilson County Fair and advocate for UTIA programs.

Don Tyler, 66, professor emeritus, Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science. Tyler devoted nearly forty years to improving Tennessee soil health. He advanced the no-till farming movement and was recognized by President Barack Obama as a Champion of Change for Sustainable Agriculture.

Garden Legends—Rooted in Tradition

The Fifth Annual Gardens Gala

Photo of a lily

With the sun appearing just in time, the fifth annual Gardens Gala was host to the largest gathering in the history of the event. More than 300 people arrived at the UT Gardens in Knoxville to enjoy wonderful food and fellowship, and to also support the important therapeutic gardening programs offered in our community to children, adults, and seniors.

As a part of our program we were pleased to honor the Knoxville Garden Club, a group that has an incredibly rich history in enhancing the beauty of Knoxville. A member of this group also served as our Honorary Host this year, Sherri Lee. We are grateful to Sherri and her tireless effort to ensure that our Gala was a great success.

The food for the event was spectacular and received many rave reviews. The menu planning, food preparation, and service for the Gala was a collaborative effort of the students of the Culinary Arts program at Pellissippi State Community College and the senior class of the UT Retail, Hospitality, and Tourism department.

Thanks to the many staff members with UTIA and our community volunteers who worked on this important fundraiser for the UT Gardens in Knoxville. Watch a video about the Gardens educational programs, including therapeutic gardening, at this link.

UTCVM Open House

Congratulations graduates!


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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