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Common Ground

Spring semester has ended and faculty have proudly seen our newest graduates head off to launch their careers. Commencement is always one of my favorite events to attend as I see UTIA's profound impact on our students and their futures.

Our Colleges' graduation ceremonies this month were moving for everyone. At CASNR's commencement, I especially enjoyed hearing our speakers: Will Freeman, ALEC student and SGA president; Dr. Gina Pighetti of the Department of Animal Science, who was recognized as the College's Outstanding Faculty Advisor; and alumnus Jim Herbert as the keynote speaker. You can read more about Jim's remarks below.

At the College of Veterinary Medicine's commencement, I listened as faculty member and cardiologist Dr. Becky Gompf and former faculty pathologist Dr. Casey LeBlanc shared life lessons with the graduates in their commencement addresses. It was impressive to think of the impacts the College's seventy-nine newest graduates will have across the span of their careers as they better countless animal and human lives.

As we prepare to begin a busy summer season, we appreciate the hard work that will be invested in the numerous field days and special events ahead at our AgResearch and Education Centers. Also, thanks to all those individuals who will make the many 4-H camps and other 4-H activities successful this summer.

I would like to give a shout-out to two of our UTIA deans who were recently recognized. Dr. Caula Beyl was recognized at the UT Knoxville Chancellor's Honors Banquet with the Notable UT Woman Award. This honor recognizes a faculty or staff member, student, or alumna whose accomplishments bring great distinction to the University.

Dr. Bill Brown received the Southern Association of Agricultural Experiment Station Directors (SAAESD) 2016 Excellence in Leadership Award at the spring meeting of SAAESD. This award recognizes those who have served the Southern Experiment Stations, SAAESD, and the national land-grant system with exemplary distinction. Congratulations, Drs. Beyl and Brown!

Finally, the UTIA Advancement Board held its spring meeting on April 21-22. We appreciate the leadership role these volunteers provide for our development efforts at UTIA. Current members are Isaac Bennett, Bob Coley, Donna Davis-Beltz, Matt Fennel, Ruth Henderson McQueen, Jennifer Hatcher, Kirk Huddleston, Bill Latimer, Stefan Maupin, Charlie Goan, Bob Strasser, Willis Jepson, Wayne Hutton, Joe Pearson, Waymon Hickman, Charles Wharton, Ken Alley, Steve Bennett, Steve Harrison, Carolina Naar, Al Oliver, Jamey Tosh, and Alison Williams. Mark Wilson serves as board chair. If you would like to nominate an individual for the Advancement Board, please contact Dr. Keith Barber at kbarber@utfi.org.

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

Wise Words for Spring Graduates

In his commencement address, Neogen CEO and animal science alumnus Jim Herbert identified key steps that CASNR graduates can take to transition from college to valuable and respected leaders. The first is to keep the momentum of achievement following earning their degrees going. The toughest thing about success, he confided, is that you have to keep on succeeding. That insight, shared by a friend of Herbert's early in Neogen's development, has become a motto for the company, today appearing in its offices around the world. Neogen is a Forbes and Fortune magazine-ranked leader in the development, manufacturing, and marketing of products for food and animal safety.

For students embarking on careers, it's vital to understand that even in entry level jobs, there are opportunities to be take responsibility and make a difference. "With young people coming in to our company, some say, 'I don't know anything about that,' 'That's not my job,' while others say, 'What can I do,' 'How can I help?' The second group is beginning their path of leadership."

Central to leadership is to listen, Herbert told the graduates. "Most people really just want to be listened to, respected, and understood. Once you get that reputation, all of a sudden you have become a leader." The final step is to focus on changing the word "can" to "will." As in, "I will do this" or "we will do that." "As you go forward search for the things you can do and then convert that finding to a will do." Excellent advice for us all.

From Dean Beyl—

With Senior Gifts, Students Celebrate
Their CASNR Experience

CASNR students who are approaching graduation have the opportunity to give a "senior gift," traditionally in an amount equal to their year of graduation. This spring, graduating students gave at least $20.16 to correspond with their year of graduation—2016. Their gifts are a way for students to say thank you to all of the faculty, staff, and supporters who have shaped their college experience and also leave a legacy for classes to follow.

With their contribution, they also share with us their favorite CASNR memory and what made CASNR special to them. Robert McClelland, a senior in wildlife and fisheries science, said that he valued "the smaller, more calm, and separate campus." Read more about what students say they value about our College in my column for Common Ground here.

AgResearch Field Days and Special Events Ahead

Summer arrives soon and UTIA field days and special events enter prime time. You can see the full schedule here.

On Tuesday, June 14, the Middle Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center in Spring Hill will host the ninth annual Fruits of the Backyard Field Day. Organizers say the half-day event is ideal for homeowners who want to get more from their outdoor spaces.

Topics include berry production, unique vegetable gardening techniques, and the interactions of honeybees and agriculture. Visitors can also take advantage of a free plant and insect diagnostic booth.

Next up is the Tobacco, Beef and More Field Day on Thursday, June 23, at the Highland Rim AgResearch and Education Center in Springfield. Herd reproductive efficiency and presentations on pairing byproduct feeds with forage, as well as an overview of the Veterinary Feed Directive, are on tap. Tobacco tours will feature variety developments for both dark-fired and burley tobacco, an overview of dark-fired tobacco curing strategies, and updates on tobacco fungicides and insecticides.

Congratulations to Newest Farm Credit Scholars

CASNR has announced the students who have been chosen as 2016-17 Farm Credit Scholars. Students accepted into the distinguished program are Jeb Beasley, a freshman from Hendersonville majoring in food and agricultural business; Sam Daniel, a freshman from Covington majoring in plant science and landscape design; Jade Ellis, a sophomore from Lafayette majoring in food and agricultural business; Catherine Moore, a freshman from Dyersburg majoring in agricultural communications; Haley Webb, a freshman from Rogersville majoring in agricultural education; and Ty Wolaver, a freshman from Fayetteville majoring in food and agricultural business.

"Farm Credit Mid-America views the Farm Credit Scholars program as an investment in the future of agriculture and our rural communities," says Mark Wilson of Farm Credit Mid-America. "Someday these students will be leaders in their communities and Tennessee agriculture. We want to prepare them for this role and be sure they are equipped to keep agriculture strong and our rural communities healthy." More ...

While theatre can entertain, it can also deliver strong messages about important issues. That is what some talented Robertson County 4-H'ers are doing as part of an acting troupe—performing skits about bullying, drug abuse, eating disorders, sexting, and tobacco. The high school actors often perform in front of their peers and younger audiences.

UT Extension agent Kathy Finley has organized this program for seventeen years. She believes it is important for the skits to reflect current issues. The Robertson County schools and health council are also partners in this program. Watch the video here.

UT 'Mentor of Year' Award to UTCVM's Sherry Cox

As Sherry Cox began to wrap up her spring semester, the UTCVM clinical professor in biomedical and diagnostic sciences received word she was to be one of the first three recipients of UT Knoxville's Undergraduate Research Faculty Mentor of the Year Awards.

The awards were hand delivered to the honorees, who were chosen for their outstanding commitment to mentoring undergraduate researchers. Students Kristen Gordon and Molly White nominated Cox for the honor.

Kristen says that her professor has "been an amazing mentor in too many ways to count... She has guided me not only in research, but in life decisions and even in the rigorous veterinary school application process."

"Dr. Cox has a way of seeing more potential in a student than they themselves could ever imagine, and she works with that student so that they can see it for themselves," says Molly. More ...

Big Orange Win for Forestry Students at Conclave

It's Big Orange talent and Big Orange pride for nine members of the UT Forestry Club/Student Chapter of the Society of American Foresters. The students had their best showing in eighteen years this spring at the Association of Southern Forestry Clubs (ASFC) Conclave.

The competition at Clemson University tested student skills and abilities in twenty-two events. Among the technical challenges were compass, pacing, dendrology, timber estimation, and wildlife identification. Physical contests pitted the students in archery, axe throwing, log birling, men's and women's bowsaw, chain throwing, log rolling, Jack and Jill crosscut, knife throwing, pole climbing, pole felling, and more.

The students placed fifth overall in two days of stiff competition and also earned the prestigious Outstanding Sportsmanship Award for the fourth time in six years. More ...

Rob Ellis to Lead at Springfield & Greeneville

Interim Director Named for Highland Rim Ag Center

Rob Ellis has been named interim director for the Highland Rim AgResearch and Education Center in Springfield. Ellis is currently director for the AgResearch and Education Center at Greeneville. He will continue in that role and provide leadership for both centers. Ellis began the interim position on May 1.

"Rob has done an outstanding job at the Greeneville Center, and we are sure that he will provide excellent leadership during this interim period at the Highland Rim Center," says Dean Bill Brown, UT AgResearch.

Ellis succeeds Barry Sims, who became associate director of UT AgResearch on May 1. Sims served as center director at Highland Rim for the past eighteen years. More ...

In Knoxville, Meet Dr. David Bemis, Professor
UTCVM Biomedical & Diagnostic Sciences

What do you do at UTIA?

I am a professor of bacteriology and mycology in the Department of Biomedical and Diagnostic Sciences at UTCVM. In addition to teaching veterinary students, I direct our full-service diagnostic bacteriology and mycology laboratory that receives samples from veterinarians within and outside of the Veterinary Medical Center. I also have a long-standing research collaboration with Drs. Linda Frank and Stephen Kania studying antibiotic resistance in Staphylococcus and collaborate on a wide variety of projects with other investigators.

How long have you been with the Institute?

I've been with UTIA and UTCVM since July 1977.

What is the best part of your job?

Without question it is the many people (staff, students, and faculty) whom I have known and worked with. Their encouragement, support, and friendly collaborations make it a pleasure to come to work every day. Our lab performs a spectrum of bacteriology and mycology testing services for veterinarians. Our principal technologists, Mary Jean Bryant, Rebekah Jones, and Brian Johnson, are among the best in the nation at what they do, and they are constantly striving to improve our services through continuing education and seeking new technologies. I also enjoy the enthusiasm, fresh ideas, and intellectual challenges that students bring to an academic environment (students being anyone, including referring veterinarians, with whom I can share a mutual interest in learning).

Other thoughts?

I frequently consult with RDVMs (referring doctors of veterinary medicine) on anything from A to Z in the realm of bacteriology/mycology. The samples we test for referring veterinarians and the case information they share with us are integral parts of our teaching programs in bacteriology/mycology. What I love about clinical veterinary microbiology are the investigations involved in growing, characterizing, and identifying unknown micro-organisms. These are very much like those used by practitioners to diagnose disease in animals; bringing both processes together to benefit a patient is very gratifying.

26.2 Miles or 13.1—

Extension Staff Are Marathoning in Tennessee!

UT Extension employees are running, jogging, walking, hiking throughout the state. May is Marathon Month, and the fitness goal for many is to log 26.2 miles of activity during the month or a half marathon of 13.1. They invite you to join in, too.

UT Extension McMinn County employees are all on board. Their post to Facebook this week encouraged community members to take part in the marathon fitness challenge.

While achieving the miles is great, employees know the more valuable reward is in adopting a healthy habit that becomes part of your routine: increased physical activity that will boost your health and wellbeing.

UTIA-trained H.S. Students Take Fourth
at Int'l Science Fair

Knoxville high school students Taimur Kouser and Emma Batson just returned from the INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, Arizona. In the experience of a lifetime, the duo won fourth place in Plant Sciences category at the fair for their project on biological and chemical activity of saponins in plant extracts.

Their research took place across two summers at UTIA in the laboratory of associate professor Kimberly Gwinn in the Department of Entomology Plant Pathology.

Also assisting were researchers Niki Labbé and Stephen Chmely of the Center for Renewable Carbon and Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries. Read about the students' research, a regional reserve grand prize they captured on their path to the international, and their experiences at UTIA. More ...

In Memoriam

Dr. Robert Linnabary, 81, associate professor emeritus, UTCVM. (Name links to obituary.)

Linnabary retired in 2000 after twenty-five years of service. He later worked as staff epidemiologist with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture and consulted with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

UT Farmers Market Off to a Ringing Start

Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero rang in the new season at the UT Farmers Market last Wednesday at the UT Gardens. Now in its seventh year, the market has provided a venue for area producers to sell healthful, local food to the greater Knoxville area, including making it readily available to students and other members of the university family. This year the market is expanding its community offerings. Read more about them here.

The UT Farmers Market is free and open to the public every Wednesday from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. Market activities will be scheduled through October 19. For more information, visit the market website or follow the market on Facebook.

Being on campus prompted Mayor Rogero to reflect how UTIA has impacted her life. Watch a video where she credits professor and Extension specialist John Skinner of the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology for her start in beekeeping, a hobby she and her husband have now enjoyed for twelve years.

Celebrations & Smiles at UTCVM

UTCVM graduated seventy-nine new doctors of veterinary medicine May 7. View a photo essay of the excitement and emotions of the College's 2016 Hooding Ceremony here. Representatives from Tennessee Farm Bureau and Tennessee Veterinary Medical Association joined the class of '16 at their luncheon. Click here for photos. The class of '16 also continued the tradition of Painting the Rock. Click here for those photos.

Also as part of the ceremonies, the College honored 1981 graduate Dr. Charles Halford of Memphis as its Distinguished Alumnus for 2016 for a veterinarian in private practice. The award recognizes alumni who have risen to the top of their profession while committing to community service. Learn about his many significant contributions here.


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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