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Common Ground

I am excited about the Institute's new partnership with the statewide TV program, Tennessee Uncharted. See the story about this below, and be sure to watch the PBS program's video about Ag Day when you have the opportunity.

We will be traveling to Washington next month for the Council on Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching (CARET) meeting. The Institute has two volunteers who serve as our CARET delegates. Mr. Dave Fugate (Blount County) and Mr. Chuck Yoest (Williamson County) will meet with congressional staff members regarding federal funding issues affecting UTIA. We are grateful for their time and service on our behalf.

Last week, the President released his budget recommendations for FY 2017. These include an increase of $47,473 million for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). I've posted a table that shows the individual account numbers as proposed in the President's budget request.

Hopefully you have seen that we are promoting #UTIAsaysThanks. As part of a national month-long celebration of student engagement and philanthropy, we are expressing our gratitude and appreciation for the impacts donors have at UTIA. Please consider how donor gifts advance your programs and join us in telling about their importance in messages on social media using the hashtag #UTIAsaysThanks.

With the snow and ice we are experiencing, I am sure plenty of you join me in wishing that spring will arrive soon!

Go Vols!

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

To Our Donors, Thank You

Whether it is enabling a student to fulfill a lifelong dream of becoming a veterinarian, providing resources for animal-assisted therapy programs, helping purchase specialized diagnostic equipment, or funding cancer research, donors make a difference.

As part of national Student Engagement and Philanthropy Month, UTIA and CVM are taking the opportunity throughout February to thank our donors and show the impacts created by their contributions. Donor dollars help us advance the land-grant mission. Without those funds, UTCVM would still be a great college, but donor support takes us to a whole new level. Learn more about donor impacts on our College. More ...

PBS's Tennessee Uncharted Takes in Ag Day

Erick Baker is the host of Tennessee Uncharted, an outdoor lifestyle show airing on PBS affiliates across Tennessee (click here for times and channels in your area). He's also a well-known singer-songwriter who has performed in venues across Tennessee and the United States. Erick is a UT alum, graduating in 2001 with a degree in public relations from the College of Communications and Information.

Tennessee Uncharted and UTIA Marketing and Communications have begun working together on story ideas for this dynamic show. Recently, the crew made its first visit to Ag Day (see the episode here) and had a chance to see #RealLifeSolutions and #TNMagicMoments firsthand. UTIA's Doug Edlund sat down with Erick to get his thoughts about what he experienced.
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A Symphony of Peonies Set for April 29

Join the UT Gardens, Knoxville, and former UT President Joe Johnson and his wife Pat as they host the fourth annual UT Gardens Gala, A Symphony of Peonies, on Friday, April 29. A UT student string quartet will set the mood for guests as they enjoy a memorable evening of drinks, hors d'oeuvres, dinner, and live and silent auctions to benefit the UT Gardens' academic and educational programs.

If you or someone you know would like to receive an invitation to this year's gala visit visit tiny.utk.edu/Gala to let us know. See photos from last year's event here.


As part of national Student Engagement and Philanthropy Month, we are showing our gratitude and highlighting how donor giving impacts the UT Institute of Agriculture. From research to Extension and from the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources to the College of Veterinary Medicine, donors make it possible for UTIA to touch the life of nearly every Tennessean. Help us say thank you for gifts that improve our programs by sharing the message #UTIAsaysThanks on social media.

Big Orange Family Campaign Underway

The UT Institute of Agriculture is again participating in Big Orange Family Campaign, a month-long initiative that continues through March 11 to enhance philanthropy among faculty and staff.

Giving back is an opportunity for faculty and staff to show their support for UTIA's Real. Life. Solutions. Participation from our faculty and staff demonstrates that UT is one of the best investments for a potential donor's philanthropic support.

When we give, we inspire alumni and friends to invest in UT. Give Now.

UT Junior Bulls Now Ready for the Farm

More than forty performance-tested bulls will be sold at the UT Junior Bull Test Sale on March 10. The sale takes place at noon CST at the Middle Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center.

All bulls have undergone DNA testing and have Genomic Enhanced EPDs. This information can improve the accuracy of genetic predictions, giving prospective buyers more insight into each bull's genetic merit. This testing will also qualify buyers for an additional $400 in cost-share reimbursement from the Tennessee Ag Enhancement Program.

The forty-five Angus and one Simmangus gained an average of 4.50 pounds per day. The high-gaining bull added an average 6.07 pounds per day. More ...

UT CVM offers its annual horse owner's conference on March 5. The seminar is an opportunity to learn about horses inside and out. A tour of the Equine Hospital is included. Register by February 26. More ...

UT CVM’s Class of 2017 invites you to Bark in Brehm, a celebration of all things dog. The family-friendly fundraiser and educational event takes place Sunday, February 28. All dogs and people welcome. More ...

Chattanooga area residents interested in volunteering with Human Animal Bond in Tennessee (HABIT), an animal-assisted therapy program, are invited to a February 27 meeting.
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Cats & Diabetes—Perspective on the Problem

Obesity is a growing epidemic in the United States, and pets aren't immune. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, almost 53 percent of dogs in the nation and 58 percent of its cats are overweight or obese. Obesity can lead to many other medical problems, including diabetes in cats.

Dr. Laura Adelman, internal medicine resident at the UT College of Veterinary Medicine, was a recent guest on WBIR TV to talk about diabetes in cats. Learn more about the condition.

UT Arboretum Society Hosts Talk on Rain Gardens

The UT Arboretum Society in Oak Ridge will host a lecture on rain gardens and stormwater management on Thursday, February 25, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Andrea Ludwig, assistant professor in the Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science, is the featured speaker. Ludwig will share ideas and information on how to make water-healthy landscapes in both community and residential settings.

A twilight walk will follow the talk to explore a future rain garden site and examine the Arboretum auditorium's stormwater footprint. More ...

ISO 'A Southern Fix' for Animal Euthanasia Rate

Join Rescue Docs Media and representatives of the UT College of Veterinary Medicine and Young-Williams Animal Center for the screening of a new documentary, A Southern Fix, on March 3 in Knoxville.

The documentary is focused on finding solutions to reducing the number of companion animals that are euthanized each year in the South.

According to the film producers, of the 3 to 4 million companion animals euthanized each year throughout the United States, a disproportionate number of euthanizations occur in the South. Working to find answers, the filmmakers sat down with advocates, veterinarians, and rescue coordinators. The documentary's trailer is available here. Learn more about the film here.

In Shelby County, Meet Tim Roberts
UT Extension Agent & Agricenter Education Director

What do you do in Shelby County Extension?

I am both an Extension agent for Shelby County and the director of education for Agricenter International in Memphis. The position is unique because of the relationship with Agricenter. My responsibilities are different than most Extension agents because my focus is to bring students to Agricenter for education in agriculture, forestry, and other natural resources. Students come not only from Shelby County, but other counties in West Tennessee, North Mississippi, and East Arkansas.

Annually, between 4,000 and 5,000 students and adults visit Agricenter. The activities include Package or Seed Tour, Cowboy Up!, Plant Exploration, Cotton Tour, Water Festival, Solar Tours, and Discover the Forest. Also included are special programs such as the Ag Day poster contest, Forestry Judging Workshop, Enviro Ed Expo, Progressive Ag Safety Day for Urban Youth, Farm Education Day, and Plant Camp (a weeklong summer program). The grade levels include pre-kindergarten through the twelfth grade, plus college and adult programs.

The activities are free and bus scholarships are offered to schools. Between $10,000 and $20,000 is raised annually for the scholarships and other program costs. During many educational field trips, students have an opportunity to ride on the Limo or Cadillac. These are two cut-down cotton trailers used to transport students to the activity site.

I also set up farm tours for visiting colleges, the Tennessee Governor's School for Agriculture Sciences, and adult groups interested in agriculture.

How long have you been with UTIA?

I am in my twenty-first year with the University of Tennessee, starting in Haywood County, moving to Crockett County, and currently in Shelby County.

What is the best part of your job?

The biggest reward is when students get excited about learning and they understand something being taught. The bright eyes of kindergarteners seeing a horse for the first time or touching a snake skin. Teaching students that milk does not originate at the grocery store and their next T-shirt may be growing in a field of cotton helps to plant the future seeds for agriculture. So the best part is working with students! No two days are the same.

Other thoughts?

The University of Tennessee created this partnership with the Agricenter twelve years ago. It has been a privilege to be the first person to hold this position, and I am honored to be able to set the standards or job description for such a rewarding career. 

Adventurous Eaters Invited to Wild Game Dinner
Students' Fundraiser This Saturday Serves Good Cause

Meals of smoked beaver, fried fish, raccoon and squirrel meat, and much more await adventurous eaters this Saturday. An assortment of delicious wild game foods will be in the serving line when student members of the UT Wildlife and Fisheries Society host their forty-seventh annual Wild Game Dinner at the Institute.

The fundraiser enables the Society's roughly one-hundred members to participate in the annual Southeastern Wildlife Conclave, academic and professional meetings, and field-based management and research activities.

"The Society gives students hands-on experience beyond the classroom and provides them with opportunities to interact with their peers and professionals. That's our purpose, and that's what the money we raise at the Wild Game Dinner is for," says Society president Ethan Newman. "People who attend the dinner help UT students better achieve and prepare for their careers ahead."

Last year's dinner drew 300 people. Students are hoping for an even larger turnout this weekend. Find out how to buy a ticket and swell the numbers. More ...


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.

Real. Life. Solutions.