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Common Ground


It's been an exciting month since I transitioned to the role of interim chancellor.

The Ag Leadership Forum sponsored by Farm Credit Mid-America, CoBank, and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture brought together agricultural leaders from across the state to discuss the outlook for agriculture and rural Tennessee. A number of UTIA staff members along with our Farm Credit Scholars, who are all students in CASNR, were on hand and recognized during the program. It was a great chance to think about the future and reconnect with our many partners.

The College of Veterinary Medicine Advisory Board met on campus and I was impressed with the passion, commitment, and excitement of the Board members.

The Board members received updates from UTCVM faculty and administrators, and also had a chance to visit with students. Their service, and the service of our many advisory and alumni groups, strengthens our programs and ensures that we're meeting priority needs.

Congratulations to Dr. Jim Byford on his induction to the National 4-H Hall of Fame. The ceremony was held at the National 4-H Conference Center on October 7. It was an honor to be present as our friend and former coworker was recognized for his years of service to 4-H both as a former Extension specialist and faculty member at UTIA and UT Martin, as well as a dedicated volunteer leader. Dr. Byford was instrumental in organizing support for Lone Oaks Farm and is known by thousands of former 4-H'ers for his wildlife programs at camp.

It's always nice to catch up with our employees across the state. On a recent trip to Middle Tennessee I had a chance to stop by the Middle Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center and talk with Center director Kevin Thompson. He was busy preparing for a visit from a delegation of out-of-state beef cattle producers wanting to learn about our Bull Test program. The visit reminded me not only of the excellent facilities we have to conduct research and education programs, but also of UTIA's outstanding staff who work hard every day to provide real-life solutions.

Hoping to see you at an upcoming UTIA event, activity, or meeting. Enjoy this outstanding fall weather.

Go Vols,



From UTCVM Dean Jim Thompson—

The Anatomy of Learning

Gross anatomy class. Over the years those words have struck fear in many veterinary students' hearts. Even the memory of the class can cause practicing veterinarians to break into a cold sweat. Dr. Robert Reed, associate professor in our Department of Biomedical and Diagnostic Sciences, is determined to change that through a new summer anatomy boot camp.

Robert teaches small animal gross anatomy in the fall and large animal gross anatomy in the spring to first-year veterinary students. In these courses, he presents foundational material upon which all of veterinary medicine builds. For example, where do you put your stethoscope head to listen for different gut sounds in the equine abdominal cavity?

It all starts with anatomy, and Robert has a passion for ensuring our students understand both anatomic structure and function. Learn more about him and his work.


Extension's Shirley Hastings Celebrated as Legend

Shirley Hastings, director of UT Extension Strategic Planning and former associate dean of Family and Consumer Sciences, has been honored as a Legend in Family and Consumer Sciences by the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS). The recognition occurred at the 107th annual Conference and Expo, held in Bellevue, Washington.

The honor spotlights Hastings' achievements and her visionary role in leading the profession. She has provided leadership for Family and Consumer Sciences throughout a career that has spanned positions in five states—New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

Through her efforts, Hastings obtained more than $70 million in funding to build and strengthen FCS programs. As a past president of AAFCS, she led the professional organization to set and attain ambitious goals based upon her deep-rooted belief in how the profession positively impacts the lives of families and communities. During the AAFCS conference, Hastings and other Legend honorees shared their experience and insights with members in interactive sessions called "Learning from Legends in our Field."

Hastings' biography of professional accomplishments was published in a book titled Leaders in Family and Consumer Sciences. The book, which was introduced at the national meeting, recognizes individuals who have advanced the quality and impact of the profession of the human sciences.


Two Faculty Begin as Fulbright Specialists

Two UTIA faculty who were Fulbright Scholars last year have begun new roles with the prestigious organization as Fulbright Specialists. The specialist program promotes linkages between US scholars and professionals and their counterparts at host institutions overseas. The program awards grants to US faculty and professionals approved to join its specialist roster in select disciplines to engage in short-term collaborative projects at eligible institutions in over 140 countries worldwide.

Professors Joseph Bozell and Tim Young, both faculty with the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries and researchers with the unit's Center for Renewable Carbon, are the new Fulbright specialists. They join Dr. Marcy Souza of UTCVM who has been on the Fulbright specialists roster since 2012. Souza is an associate professor in the Department of Biomedical and Diagnostic Sciences who, as a specialist, has taught short courses on wild and pet bird medicine, clinical avian medicine, and One Health/conservation medicine at Madras Veterinary College in Chennai, India, and Andres Bello University in Santiago, Chile.

As a Fulbright Scholar last year, Bozell served at Ghent University in Belgium, where he conducted research to improve processes for converting renewable building blocks into high value chemicals, collaborated with students, and developed new opportunities for joint US-EU research proposals.

Young's appointment as a specialist is with Austria's Salzburg University of Applied Sciences. There he will lead courses in statistics with industrial applications, experimental design, and process development for forest products manufacture. The appointment, and his Fulbright Scholar term last year, continue a long association Young has had with several Austrian universities. These relationships have led to reciprocal exchanges of students and postdocs at UTIA.


CASNR Student a First Place Winner
at International Congress of Entomology ...

An estimated 6,000 Entomology and Plant Pathology faculty and students—the largest delegation in the history of the discipline—attended the International Congress of Entomology, held in Orlando earlier this month. The Congress allows scientists and students to interact with the world's leading experts, two Nobel Prize winners among them, in many specialties to exchange ideas and build on their research. That makes it especially impressive that CASNR student David Theuret won first place in the graduate student oral presentation competition at the event!

Theuret is a member of assistant professor Becky Trout Fryxell's lab in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology. She says, "To me, David has already accomplished so much in such a short period of time. When he arrived as a student, David asked me to push him and he told me that he wanted to conduct research that was practical to the community.

"This meant he wanted me to help him develop his capability and meet his potential, to learn and grow as an entomologist and student, and to give back to his community. Students rarely ask for this before they start their graduate degree," Trout Fryxell says.

Both practical and groundbreaking, David's thesis focuses on the diversity of tick species that parasitize beef cattle and investigates the microbial communities within ticks. More ...


... And an International Award for Knox County
Master Gardeners, As Well

Knox County UT/TSU Extension Master Gardeners have placed second in the workshop/presentation category of the International Master Gardener Search for Excellence competition. The impressive win recognizes the whole of their work supporting a Master Gardeners Speakers Bureau for the county. The Search for Excellence is the recognition program of Master Gardener volunteer work throughout the US and Canada. The award will be presented at the International Master Gardener conference next July in Portland, Oregon.

Last year the Knox County Master Gardeners gave sixty-plus public talks with over 1,000 people attending in total. This year they're even busier. "For 2016, we have eighty-six presentations on the schedule," says Marsha Lehman. "So far, eighty-one are completed with year-to-date attendance of 1,622." The outreach efforts really took off in 2014, she adds, when the MG'ers launched a speakers bureau. Lehman is the current chair of the Speakers Bureau and was responsible for submitting the application to the international competition. Barbra Bunting was chair from 2013 through 2015, the year the bureau won a statewide award.

"The breadth of our Master Gardeners' work is really quite remarkable, so it's a very significant award!" says Emily Gonzalez, Extension Master Gardener coordinator with UT/TSU Extension Knox County. More ...


Ag Day Celebrates Four Tennessee Leaders



Amid the fun and festivities at Ag Day on September 24, Interim UTIA Chancellor Tim Cross presented awards to four standout figures in Tennessee agriculture.

Here, left to right, Cross congratulates James Haskew of Marion County, the Tennessee's Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year; Meritorious Service Award winners Julius Johnson (BS animal science '70), former Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture, and Lacy Upchurch (BS animal science '67, MS animal science '77), president of the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation for ten years; and Robert Elliott (BS agricultural economics and business '05, MS agricultural leadership and education '08), recipient of the Horizon Award recognizing young alums exceling in their careers. You can learn more about their achievements here.


New UTIA Center Provides Weed Diagnostic Tests

Specialists with the Institute have launched a UT Weed Diagnostics Center. The center employs both whole-plant and molecular methods to provide Tennesseans and people beyond the state's borders with a wide range of services, from basic weed identification to herbicide resistance tests using DNA screening.

"Our aim is to provide a broad spectrum of services to both professional and consumer clientele," says Jim Brosnan, associate professor of turfgrass weed science.

"Our tests are tailored to weeds of crop production systems as well as turf, ornamentals, and urban landscapes," he says.

Brosnan heads the center and sees it as a valuable service to provide clients with knowledge and diagnostic results that enable them to implement optimal management strategies. More ...




On Thursday and Friday, October 27-28, a mobile educational exhibit focused on engaging students on the issue of food security and hunger will be on the Institute campus in Knoxville. Look for a HungerU trailer and associated tents along EJ Chapman Drive beside the Plant Biotechnology Building. Representatives will be on hand to talk with students and employees from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Word is there will also be a six-foot animated model of a T-Rex moving up and down the sidewalk to attract attention. HungerU's visit is presented by CASNR. Faculty are asked to encourage students to visit. Everyone is welcome.

HungerU is a nonprofit organization operated by the Farm Journal Foundation that travels to campuses around the nation to raise awareness of nutrition security issues. Its philosophy is that every student in every discipline has the potential to be part of the global hunger solution now and throughout their lifetime. The exhibit uses everything from dynamic conversation to interactive tools to capture students' attention and teach them important facts about food insecurity around the world. HungerU is staffed by recent graduates and young professionals who travel with the exhibit and talk to their peers about nutrition security issues on a peer-to-peer level.

CASNR Dean Caula Beyl says, "We're excited about this opportunity to raise student awareness to issues connected to hunger both in the US and around the world, and how they can be a part of the solution—personally and professionally."

Find out more about HungerU on Facebook and on Instagram at hungerutour.


Would You Like Flies With That?

Insects on Your Plate—No Really

The tenth annual Buggy Buffet (Insect Smorgasbord), sponsored by the freshman students in "A Bug's Life" (FYS 129) and the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, is scheduled for 3:30-5:30 p.m., Thursday, October 27. The highly popular event takes place in Hollingsworth Auditorium on the Institute campus in Knoxville.

EPP Professor Jerome Grant, who teaches the class, invites you to join in the "tasty, entomological feast." Grant says the buffet illustrates the importance of insects as food throughout the world and gives a glimpse of what may be on our future dinner table. "We have cattle farms, goat farms, and horse farms—why not insect farms?" he asks.

A silent auction held at the buffet helps support the students' efforts. Numerous insect-themed items and artwork will be available to purchase. The event is free and open to the general public. More ...


Calling All Children, the Treehouse Awaits!



The UT Gardens, Knoxville, dedicated a children's treehouse called the Nest on October 4. The Nest is the result of a design competition and is accessible for children with disabilities. The treehouse is the signature element of what will be a bigger project for the UT Gardens. Work is underway to design a Children's Discovery Garden, which will also include another playhouse, a spider climbing web, Hobbit hole, tunnel, digging pit, a shade pavilion, and a water feature. Funding for the project comes entirely from donations. The Children's Discovery Garden, already under construction, is scheduled to open in the spring. Watch a WBIR video. News release here.


Wild Turkey Health Focus of TWRA-UTCVM Studies

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is partnering with UTCVM to conduct a comprehensive six-year research project on wild turkey after receiving inconclusive results from a three-year turkey disease study.

The study was prompted by citizen concerns in southern Middle Tennessee that the agricultural use of chicken litter as fertilizer may serve as a means of disease transmission to wild turkeys.

The new study involves tracking 200 radio-marked turkeys for five years to provide a comprehensive look at turkey survival, reproduction, and other factors impacting population trends in the region. (Photo credit of the National Wild Turkey Foundation.) More ...


In Memoriam

Etta Louise Barker was a food marketing agent in Davidson County until the late '70s. She appeared on many television shows, promoting her lifelong passion of Extension work.

Jesse Francis was a retired supervisor for UT Extension District V, now known as Eastern Region. Francis was a respected and trusted district administrator.

Marilyn Geraldson served as a Hamilton County Extension agent in food marketing for twenty years beginning in 1983. She was beloved by television viewers as "The Veggie Lady" and worked tirelessly to promote local Tennessee farmers and agricultural products to consumers in the Tennessee Valley area. Memorial ...


At a Glance—

  • The Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics has received a USDA grant to expand the farm financial management database FINBIN to include Tennessee farms. This makes Tennessee the only Southeastern state currently contributing data.
  • On November 29 and December 1, specialists with the UT Center for Profitable Agriculture and UT Departments of Food Science and Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science will join with the National Ag Law Center and Tennessee Department of Agriculture to present a workshop to assist farmers market managers and others with market-related responsibilities to enhance the safety of their market and products.
  • The Center for Profitable Agriculture is also presenting workshops in November and December to help farmers and farmers market representatives take their online marketing efforts to the next level.
  • On October 27-29, UT Extension and Alabama Cooperative Extension will host a Small Ruminant Conference to assist operators with production and profitability.
  • This month, Extension specialists and agents are presenting the first Tennessee Master Horse Programs at locations across the state.
  • The UT Gardens, Knoxville, hosts a Bewitching Bats program this Saturday, October 22. Families and individuals are invited to celebrate these amazing mammals with costumes, free refreshments, activities, and informative talks.
  • The UT Gardens, Knoxville, and UTCVM are presenting their third annual Howl-O-Ween Pooch Parade and Pet Expo. The fun Halloween-themed event for dogs and their people takes place this Sunday, October 23.


At the Northeast Beef Expo



The year's major field days and special events draw to a close this month. At the UT AgResearch and Education Center in Greeneville last week, some 350 cattle and forage producers took part in the Northeast Beef Expo. Many wore orange to show their appreciation and some because it was Bama Week.

Milton Orr, director of UT Extension Greene County, has coordinated Expo from its start. "It is gratifying to know that Expo is meeting the needs of producers and keeping them updated on the cutting edge of their business," Orr says. "We must be fitting what producers are looking for in an educational event as this is the twenty-ninth Expo and we are still growing."

Ninety forestry and natural resource managers, homeowners, and UTIA faculty and retirees participated in last Friday's Woods and Wildlife Field Day for Urban Environments—a specialized program hosted by the Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center in Oak Ridge. At the other end of the state, festivals celebrating harvest, home, and history held at the AgResearch and Education Centers in Milan and Ames Plantation attracted 3,117 and a record 6,124 participants respectively.

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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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