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Common Ground

Photo of Chancellor Cross

I recently received goals from President DiPietro for this fiscal year, and as I reflect on them I am reminded of a quote by Michael Korda, who is a very successful writer and editor. He says, "One way to keep momentum going is to constantly have great goals."

The Institute of Agriculture has had positive momentum for many years. This can be seen in the growth in student enrollment and student success, our achievements in landing large multistate and multidisciplinary grants, our far-reaching contacts with stakeholders in Tennessee and around the globe, and the significant increases we've seen in both gifts and numbers of donors. These and other metrics show we have made excellent progress.

Which brings me back to Mr. Korda's quote and our goals. If we are to maintain our momentum and continue to advance, we must always strive to be better and to do more. And our goals are certainly great:

• Increase outreach contacts by 10 percent;
• Increase NSF-reported research expenditures by 10 percent; and
• Raise $25 million in gifts, pledges, and bequests, with at least one major gift of $3 million.

We can all agree that achieving these goals will advance the Institute and everyone we serve. Working hard to achieve these goals ensures that we maintain our positive momentum, and I am asking for your help. First, I welcome your thoughts and suggestions about ways to increase outreach contacts, extramural funding, and gifts. Secondly, your hard work and dedication is the very foundation of the Institute's programs, and it will take all of us working together to realize these stretch goals for the Institute.

We have made remarkable progress and have established a solid history of success. I will be working closely with our administrative team to build on our past success and achieve these goals for fiscal year 2017-2018, and I want you to know how important you are to these efforts. Thank you for all you do to advance UTIA every day.

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

Why CASNR Is Family

Photo of Dean Caula Beyl

We have always considered CASNR as a family—a very large, nonhomogeneous, and lively family! So why do we say this? What are the characteristics of a family that CASNR shares? And finally, why does it matter?

Families are a wonderful structure in which members are tied together through bonds of affection, mutual respect, and a shared culture. The culture in CASNR is founded upon an appreciation of the land-grant mission and what it means for future generations. Our CASNR family sees firsthand how research informs and is interpreted by Extension for the public, and research findings contribute to discipline knowledge taught in the classroom.

Graduates of our College then become the next generation of scientists, Extension personnel, and stakeholders. All will be engaged in the development and use of new discoveries in agriculture. More...

Robert Burns Begins as UTIA's New Dean of Extension

I'm pleased to announce that Robert T. Burns has been appointed our next dean of Extension for UTIA. Dr. Burns is well known to UTIA and UT Extension as associate dean responsible for working with specialists and agents in all ninety-five counties in Tennessee. He began his new role on August 1. Learn more about him, and don't miss a thoughtful article published by the Daily Times newspaper of Maryville, which ties into his history there.

Photo of Robert Burns

Congratulations to BESS Student Teams on Big Wins

Social media is abuzz on how well two student teams from the Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science performed in competitions at the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. Take a look:

Photos of two Facebook posts

You can also view these posts on Facebook by clicking here and here.

UT Gardens, Knoxville, Dedicates New
Children's Garden
A Treehouse, Play Area, and Place to Learn

Photo of at the opening of the new garden

It's an area where kids can run and play and engage with nature at the same time. The scenery isn't bad either.

Friends and families gathered Saturday, July 29, to take part as the UT Gardens, Knoxville, dedicated and cut the ribbon on its newest garden. The Children's Garden features a digging pit, boulders and logs for climbing, an interactive sun clock, hobbit hole, crawling tunnel, water feature, and a green roof playhouse. Its centerpiece is a treehouse nicknamed The Nest. Sized ten-by-ten-feet and five feet off the ground, it includes a fireman's pole for kids to slide to the ground and a handicapped accessible ramp that's great to race up, too. The garden meets all safety standards and is accessible for children with disabilities. It is free and open to the public any time. And if all of this makes you want to be a child again, we're right there with you.

"Our children’s garden allows us to teach kids in a fun and interactive way about something so important to our world," says Sue Hamilton, director of the UT Gardens. "We encourage children to appreciate plants and trees and to develop a desire to plant and nurture them. We hope what we teach will influence positive life skills in adulthood."

Text on Plant Pathology Concepts and Exercises Marks Its Third Edition

Photo of book cover

Bob Trigiano and Bonnie Ownley, both professors in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, are editors of a newly released research and teaching focused text. The book, Plant Pathology Concepts and Laboratory Exercises, was published by CRC Press and is now in its third edition. CASNR Dean Caula Beyl served as senior editor for the book. Trigiano has edited all three editions with Ownley serving as coeditor for the third edition and Mark and Alan Windham of the department for the previous two. The 2017 edition includes contributions from eight UTIA faculty members and two students. It is the seventh book by UTIA members since 2015.

Meet Bob Hayes, director of the West Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center

Photo of Bob Hayes

What do you do as Center director?

I often tell people that the most important part of my job is to make sure there is toilet paper in the restroom! More seriously, my job is to ensure that our people have the facilities, equipment, personnel, supplies, and maintenance items they need to get their jobs done, as well as to provide recognition for jobs done well. Like the conductor of an orchestra, I am here to facilitate the concert, but I am not the performer.

How long have you been with UTIA?

Officially, thirty-nine years, but I actually started as a student in fall 1966. During college, I worked for professor Horace Smith at what later became the AgResearch and Education Center at Milan. I was working at the University of Kentucky when Tom McCutchen encouraged me to apply for a new weed scientist position here in Jackson. I joined the faculty of UTIA in 1978. After twenty-four years of weed management research, I moved to my current position of director in 2002.

What is the best part of your job?

Getting to help people! Whether it is helping our faculty and staff be successful, or helping the people we serve find solutions. I particularly enjoy helping graduate students, following their research, and then seeing them succeed in their careers and lives. One of the greatest rewards is having a student or former employee come back and say thanks for contributing to their success.

Any other thoughts?

As I near the sunset of my career with UTIA, I will be eternally grateful for the opportunity to be a part of an organization that serves people and employs some of the very best. Many of the colleagues and mentors who helped me in my career have gone to their eternal rest, but I am presently blessed to work with exceptional faculty and staff. They are what makes this so enjoyable!

Engaging CASNR Students Abroad

The number of CASNR students engaged abroad has quadrupled during the past decade. Not only have the numbers increased, the types of international opportunities offered have expanded, including international undergraduate research activities, internships, and faculty-led short-term courses. Learn how our students benefit from these programs.

The programs are:

Photo of two people on a Vaca Forest Reserve Farm

• Research and Extension Experiential Learning for Undergraduates Fellowship Program: Belize
• Milam International Scholars Program: Guatemala
• Undergraduate International Funding Opportunity

Be sure to mark your calendars for the UTIA International Showcase on Thursday, September 28, in Hollingsworth Auditorium. At the showcase, you'll be able to learn how faculty, students, and alumni are engaged abroad and also learn about upcoming student and faculty opportunities. The morning will focus on research and Extension experiences. The afternoon will host a study abroad fair highlighting all our faculty-led programs.

Job Well Done

Awards and Promotions banner

At the UTIA annual Awards and Promotions Luncheon in July, we honored members of the Institute for outstanding contributions to UTIA, their disciplines, and the people we serve. I want to congratulate everyone recognized at the event and express my deep appreciation for advancing UTIA's mission.

Henderson County UT Extension Director to Lead STEM Learning at Lone Oaks

Photo of Ron Blair with students

Ron Blair has been named to the position of STEM director at Lone Oaks Farm, the new 4-H and Conference Center in West Tennessee. In this position, he will lead and deliver educational programs in STEM—science, technology, engineering, and math—to K-12 students from across the nation who visit the center.

At Lone Oaks Farm, Blair will develop activities with an emphasis on educational opportunities involving the area's lakes, forests, and fields. The farm is a stunning tract of 1,200 acres in Hardeman County. It's also a working farm with ninety head of cattle, a few chickens, and gardens.

"One of the big opportunities kids have is they get to come to a working farm, a safe environment with beautiful natural resources," Blair says. "We want every young person who comes here to leave a mark at Lone Oaks."

A Winning Experience for 4-H Youth

Photo of 4-H Level II winners

With silver bowls in hand, college scholarships, and tickets to the coveted National 4-H Congress trip this fall, Level II winners at this year's 4-H Roundup and State All Star Conference were Amanda Huggins, Unicoi County (first row, second from left) and Trinity Peoples, Madison County (first row, third from left). Their project was in the Food Science category, and Level 1 winners who also won top Food Science honors were Lindsey Hedrick, Sevier County (first row, left) and Mia Selvidge, Loudon County (first row, right).

"The 4-H project competition is truly a highlight of our annual 4-H Roundup event," says Lori Gallimore, 4-H Extension specialist. More than 200 youth competed for top honors in twenty-five project areas. They were among more than 350 4-H members who gathered in West Tennessee at the University of Tennessee Martin for the annual event. In addition to competition on projects, the youth engaged in service projects and educational sessions and took a trip to Discovery Park. They elected State 4-H Council officers, enjoyed All Star activities, and installed the newest Vol State recipients.

"We could not be more pleased with the success of this year's 4-H Roundup and State All Star Conference," Gallimore says. "These 4-H’ers worked hard. They competed well, and most importantly, they all had a great time!"


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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