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UT CASNR Chronicle, from the desk of Caula Beyl, Dean of the UT College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources
Photo of an FWF class taking place in the woods

First in the Nation for Wildlife & Fisheries

We are delighted to report that the Society of American Foresters has bestowed its first-ever accreditation to our wildlife and fisheries management concentration in the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries. The high honor means graduates of this study concentration can rightfully claim they are the only students in the world, at present, to complete an accredited wildlife and fisheries program that is accredited and enables them to become certified wildlife biologists. Click here for more on this.



Making Our Mark

Photo of Colleen Cruze Bhatti

A Graduation of Milk, Ice Cream, and Honest Advice

She's the driving force that transformed her family's fifth-generation dairy into one of Knoxville’s most well-known brands of milk and ice cream—Cruze Dairy. She also credits education at our College for helping her do it. Colleen Cruze Bhatti (BS agricultural education '11) will address our newest graduates at commencement. So will Neal Schrick, professor and head of Animal Science. Schrick is the honoree of the Faculty Advisor of the Year Award. The ceremony is at 8:30 a.m., May 11, in UT's Thompson-Boling Arena.



Unlimited Opportunities

A photo of the Soil Vols with their trophies

Soil Vols Capture National Title

It takes a discerning eye and body of knowledge to characterize soil profiles. That's precisely what a CASNR team demonstrated in March when they correctly identified, evaluated, classified, and described soil profiles, both as individuals and as a team.

The Soil Vols competed in the National Collegiate Soils Contest, and their skills put them at the top. They also took home the national title—a first for the College—and, for two, an invitation to the international competition. Click here to read more.

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Peace Corps Prep Kicks Off at UTIA

The Institute is now home to a Peace Corps Prep Program. While the certification track is open to all UT students, it's housed in CASNR and is one of a kind in Tennessee. As a university participating in the program, we will enhance students' undergraduate experience by preparing them for international development-focused fieldwork and potential Peace Corps service.

Adam Willcox, CASNR study abroad coordinator, will also coordinate this program. Willcox can also offer students his direct experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon. Click here to learn more.

Peace Corps PREP logo

The Gift Too Big to Wrap

While we are mentioning Adam Willcox, we want to share a little more about him. At the end of the semester, students express their gratitude to faculty in many ways. It might be applause or a quiet personal thank you; sometimes it's a small gift. Adam Willcox received far, far more.

His students joined together to purchase a quarter-acre of a tropical rainforest on his behalf. Willcox is a research assistant professor in the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries. The students were in his spring semester course, FWF 420 International Natural Resource Issues. They bought their bit of forest as part of a class project investigating Amazon deforestation and current conservation efforts. Willcox received a certificate from the World Land Trust action fund informing him their gift will help protect this threatened wilderness habitat and all its wildlife. The slightly overwhelmed professor says, "This was 100 percent their initiative, and I am pretty touched." The photo at left shows the students who made the gift participating in a "hunger banquet," a simulation in which they learn about conditions in many of the tropical, developing countries studied in this conservation-focused course.

Photo of Drake Copeland

There's a Positive to Amaranth? A Student's Win

In a field of students from around the world, weed science student Drake Copeland captured attention and placed first in the category of Poster Presentation given by PhD candidates. The competition took place at the Weed Science Society of America's 2018 annual meeting.

Drake's poster was titled, "Influence of Residual Herbicide Application Rate on PPO-Resistant and Susceptible Palmer Amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri) in Tennessee." His initial findings suggest Palmer amaranth could be exhibiting greater tolerance and possibly resistance to even more herbicide modes of action. Click here to read more.

Photo of Jessica Layton in the lab

This Undergrad Shines in Biotech

We could call undergraduate Jessica Layton one in 4,000, and we'd be right. For the merit of her work in biotechnology, Jessica's abstract was among an elite number the National Council of Undergraduate Research (NCUR) chose from a field of 4,000 submissions.

NCUR invited these students to present their work at the 2018 National Conference of Undergraduate Research. Meet a student whose Chair of Excellence professor calls a "fantastic example of synergy." Read more about this budding biotech star here. Click here to take a look.

Photo of Jessica Layton in the lab

Our Forestry Student Makes the Cut

Just as we were wrapping up this newsletter, word came of another student winner. Brad Nellis, a senior in the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, won the chainsaw event at the Southern Regional Collegiate Stihl Timbersports competition.

"This was an individual win for me, but also big deal for the UT Forestry Club," Brad says. "Tennessee has never had someone go to the collegiate finals." He credits alumnus Adam Lethco (BS forestry '12) for guiding his training. Lethco, by the way, is opening a new Lumberjack Feud in Pigeon Forge.



Happenings in the College

Screen capture of video about pathogen research

The Bsal Rap

"Bsal Rap," a video produced by student researchers in the UTIA Center for Wildlife Health, won the "Fan Favorite" Award in the inaugural 3-Minutes-to-Win-It Research Challenge. The challenge is a competitive showcase of UT undergraduate researchers. Bsal is a pathogen the students study. Team members were Daniel Malagon (video producer), Rajeev Kumar (vocals), Brian Gleaves (executive producer), and Davis Carter (MS student). Click here to watch the video at tiny.utk.edu/bsal.

Photo of Andrew Muhammad

Policy Smarts for Our Students

UTIA's new Blasingame Chair of Excellence has his hands full. Among his charges are to establish an infrastructure and a program to serve the global needs of Tennessee's agricultural sector, as well as those of the Southeast. This work is tied to Andrew Muhammad's expertise and heart.

So is being an integral part of the College. Already on his mind are developing two courses that assist students in becoming policy savvy. The first is an undergraduate course this fall. Students should expect lots of interaction. Muhammad says, "I want to engage students in policy debates, to sharpen their critical thinking skills and confidence. So, whether they support the position they may be assigned or they don't, they will develop the ability to become well-versed in both sides of a policy matter, or—as the case more often is—the many dimensions, impacts, and repercussions a policy can have." Click here to learn more about Muhammad and the experience he brings us.

Photo of Andy Holt addressing the trustees

Welcome to a Year of Celebration Marking UTIA's 50th Anniversary

Throughout this year, CASNR and the Institute's three other units are proudly celebrating fifty years of creating Real. Life. Solutions. for our students and the citizens of Tennessee, and well beyond. This new era for agriculture at UT began in 1968.

At the urging of Edward Boling, then-vice president for development and administration for the UT System, the Board of Trustees united Extension, the Agricultural Experiment Service (now AgResearch), and the College into one entity. Boling believed the inherent statewide mission of the newly formed Institute warranted it to be a separate, distinct unit of the UT System. The legendary Andy Holt (above), UT System president at the time, was present and addressed the trustees. Webster Pendergrass was named vice chancellor and with the addition of the College of Veterinary Medicine in 1974, the Institute as we know it today was in place.

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Share Your Magic Moments

Consider this: What would your life be without agriculture? In one way or many, ag touches us every day. We invite you to share how you recognize agriculture's presence in your life's moments through a social media initiative called TN Magic Moments.

By using the hashtag #TNMagicMoments on any social media platform, you can help family and friends understand how central agriculture is to your life and theirs—present in our daily moments and also very special ones. The campaign was spurred by the Governor's Rural Challenge, which encouraged the Institute, Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation, and Tennessee Department of Agriculture to help develop a strategy for the growth and prosperity of agriculture and forestry over the next decade. Beyond its social media presence, TN Magic Moments is educating Tennesseans through a monthly podcast and e-newsletter. Subscribe by sending a request to team@tnmagicmoments.com.

Keep up with the latest news in the College and UT Institute of Agriculture with Amazon Echo. Add AgCast to your Flash Briefing by enabling the skill in your Alexa app. Of course, we're on social media, too.

Photo of Brody talking to a student about CASNR

Our Youngest Recruiter

Meet Brody, the five-year-old son of Christopher Stripling, associate professor and undergraduate coordinator in the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications. Brody entertained students before a student workshop his father gave at the ninetieth Tennessee FFA Convention. Then, when he saw an opportunity to talk with students about CASNR, he stepped right up and did it. No word yet on whether he's attracted his peers to apply, but the dean and one or two professors have been heard to say our students look younger and younger.

Late-breaking & Wonderful News

Out of about 7,000 graduate and professional students at the university, CASNR students placed second and third in the Graduate School Three Minute Thesis Competition, an event that challenges students to communicate their complex work in a very short span of time. Amanda Lee of the Department of Animal Science was the second-place finisher, with Sreejata Bandopadhyay close behind in third. Sreejata is a student in the Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science. Both students participated in our new Oral Communication Bootcamp that was spearheaded by Scott Senseman, Plant Sciences department head and professor, and taught by communications consultant Norman Hammitt.

We also extend congratulations to two CASNR students who have received prestigious Fulbright awards to continue their studies. Miles Ownby, of the Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science, and Alex Crockett, of the Department of Food Science. Each will begin master's study at universities outside the US.

CASNR students also did outstandingly in the 22nd Annual Exhibit of Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement (EURēCA) held April 16-20. Details about them were shared in a separate message to our community.

Click to view the full CASNR calendar or the UT Knoxville academic calendar.



The College is approaching a significant milestone. Five years have passed since the last external review of CASNR and that means it is time again to invite an external review team to assess the strength of the educational experiences and opportunities we provide to our students. I think we all share a tremendous sense of pride at seeing so much evidence of our students' successes. Behind them, as our alumni well know, is the equally successful impact of our professors, staff, and administrators. They make certain the experiences students have are exceptional, from the very moment they begin their journey on our campus to when they leave for the next steps in their lives. For that, we are all thankful.




Caula Beyl,
Dean, UT CASNR

Keep In Touch

CASNR Office of the Dean
2621 Morgan Circle Drive  ·  126 Morgan Hall  ·  Knoxville, TN 37996
865-974-7303
casnr@utk.edu  ·  casnr.utk.edu