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Common Ground

Summer has arrived and we have many important programs underway across the Institute of Agriculture. The Fruits of the Backyard field day was held last week at the Middle Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center. Thanks to Center director Kevin Thompson and his team for their leadership of this event. The 2016 Tennessee 4-H Academic Conference took place June 14-17 on the Institute campus in Knoxville. This event, which brings together more than 160 junior high 4-H members, volunteer leaders, and Extension staff, provides hands-on opportunities for 4-H youth to learn more about their 4-H project in a classroom and lab setting.

While on campus, the 4-H members engaged in hands-on learning with professors and Extension personnel, participated in a service project, and also traveled to Pigeon Forge to have a little fun at Dollywood.

We continue to make progress looking at UTIA priorities for future programs and faculty positions. Under the leadership of Dr. Neal Schrick, the committee received twenty-one proposals and is currently working with faculty to refine the proposals. A follow-up forum will be held on September 27 to gain additional input from faculty and administrators.

Last month I mentioned the recognition that Dr. Bill Brown received from the Southern Association of Agricultural Experiment Station Directors. I am pleased to announce we have been notified Dr. Brown will receive the 2016 Experiment Station Section National Excellence in Leadership Award at the annual meeting of the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities in November. Congratulations, Dr. Brown!

This year Ag Day will be September 24, which is the UT-Florida football game. We will hold our employee picnic on Friday, September 23, and we will have Ag Day displays available for you to preview. Please save the dates and make plans to join us at Brehm Animal Science Arena.

Go Vols!


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


First Seed Grants For International Programs



UTIA has awarded its first set of international seed grants to five teams from across the Institute for collaborations that address global food security. The five faculty-led teams integrate personnel from eight departments at UTIA from both colleges—CASNR and CVM—as well as AgResearch and UT Extension. The seed grants will build collaborations in six countries on three continents and will be implemented over eighteen months, which started May 1, 2016. The grants will develop new teaching, research, and extension collaborations, materials, and trainings. These will extend UTIA’s opportunities to build future global food security programming with partners around the world.

One of these seed grants was awarded to Phillip Myer, assistant professor, Department of Animal Science; Mark Morgan, head, Department of Food Science and Technology; and David Ader, post-doc research associate, International Programs, to establish an international partnership with the Panamerican Agriculture University, Zamorano, in Honduras. Learn more about their project and read about the other four, which will be profiled in future issues of Common Ground. More ...


New Level 3 Biosafety Lab to Advance CVM Science

Discovery has been a hallmark of the UT College of Veterinary Medicine since our inception some forty years ago. We have a deep-founded responsibility to advance biomedical and surgical knowledge, improving both animal and human health. While we have made great strides in infectious disease research and are leaders in the areas of bacterial genomics, virulence, and antibiotic resistance, more remains to be discovered.

A new biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) laboratory at the veterinary college will enable even more important work on disease research.

The lab will support research that answers fundamental questions about infectious organisms and the study of emerging diseases with advanced equipment contained in a safe, controlled environment. More ...


Award of Excellence to Advancement's Lauren Vath

Lauren Vath, director of Advancement Communications in the UTIA Office of Institutional Advancement, has been recognized with the UT Foundation Inc.'s prestigious Award of Excellence. She is one of four members of the foundation's statewide organization honored for excellence earlier this month at its annual meeting.

"Basically, Lauren has taken our communications objectives from zero to 180 overnight," says UTIA Vice Chancellor of Advancement Keith Barber.

"Lauren's 'team first' attitude is something everyone appreciates, and she's made, and continues to make, invaluable impacts through her unique set of skills." More ...


Display Tells History of Tennessee Agriculture



If you happen to be on the second floor of the Plant Biotechnology Building on the Institute's campus in Knoxville, you may notice a new display that highlights the history and impacts of agriculture in Tennessee. It's not only attractive, but highly informative, as well.

It all started over eighteen months ago when UT AgResearch Dean Bill Brown came up with the idea to create an educational and interactive display for the building. A project team from multiple UTIA units was formed to develop and implement the concept. Read more about how the display developed and the story it tells in an article by Marketing and Communications' Doug Edlund. More ...


Focus on Edible Landscapes & Gardening With a Purpose

Summer Celebration Returns July 14



Planting peppers with petunias? Cucumbers next to coleus? Garden designs are trending away from the purely ornamental to more functional layouts that provide sustenance as well as style. Attend UTIA’s Summer Celebration Lawn and Garden Show on Thursday, July 14, at the West Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center in Jackson, and get expert advice on how to take part in the trend.

This year's theme is "The Garden of Eatin'." Many of the seventeen garden talks will provide gardeners with tips on how to add fruits, vegetables, and herbs to ornamental flowerbeds and containers. Visitors can see edible landscape designs during guided tours of the UT Gardens, Jackson, learn about proper plant selection, siting, and maintenance, and pick up a few new culinary concepts.

"If you're looking to enhance your lawn or garden, Summer Celebration is the event to attend," says Bob Hayes, director of the West Tennessee AgResearch Center. "Our presentations feature some of the Mid-South's leading horticulturists, our Diagnostic Center is manned by some of the region's top plant and pest experts, and our display gardens are simply stunning." More ...


MLB Field Manager a Speaker
at UT Turf & Ornamental Field Day



More than 500 green industry professionals from across the Southeast are expected when UTIA presents a Turf & Ornamental Field Day September 8. The event will be held this year at the Little Course in Franklin. The field day is becoming known as one of the premier educational events for golf course managers, landscape managers, and others interested in turfgrass and ornamental landscape management.

Former MLB field manager Luke Yoder is a special speaker. Yoder is formerly of the San Diego Padres’ organization and also worked with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He currently represents Ewing Irrigation and Landscape Supply as its national sports field specialist. Preregistration is expected to begin in early July. More ...


Tips to Reduce 'Container Mosquitoes' in Your Yard

Summer means insect season is in full swing, and this year, the insect on many people’s minds is mosquito—particularly mosquito species that can carry Zika virus, as well as La Crosse encephalitis, a well-established threat to young children.

Experts have identified the main mosquito vectors of Zika virus as Aedes aegypti (the yellow fever mosquito) and Aedes albopictus (the Asian tiger mosquito).

While Ae. aegypti has not been identified in more than fifteen years in Tennessee, the Asian tiger mosquito (Ae. albopictus) is the most common mosquito encountered around homes. And it is known to carry both the Zika and La Crosse viruses, the latter of which is known to have caused the death of Tennessee children.

UT Extension entomologist Karen Vail has a checklist of things you can do to reduce breeding activity of these "container mosquitos" around your home. More ...


UT Schedules Horse Hay Field Days

Ever wonder what you are feeding your horse every time you throw a flake of hay? The UT Equine Extension Program invites all horse owners, horse farm owners or operators, horse industry members, trainers, and anyone with an interest in horses to "Oh, Hay" field days that will cater specifically to their information needs. The events are scheduled for September 8 and 22 at two separate locations in Tennessee.


At each location, the field day will run from 4:00-8:00 p.m., and the evening will be dedicated to learning about the forages that fuel our horses. The first event will be September 8 at the Middle Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center in Spring Hill. The second, September 22, in East Tennessee at the AgResearch and Education Center at Greeneville. More ...


Producing Excellent Hydrangeas
Focus of Multi-University Workshop

Hydrangeas are popular throughout much of the U.S., so the shrub is a natural choice for nurseries to produce for wholesale markets.

In July and August, faculty from four regional universities will present day-long workshops for nursery professionals on how to produce excellent hydrangeas. "Hydrangeas from A to Z" will feature educational sessions on potting substrates, fertilizers, and bluing; pruning; propagation and breeding; disease management; and more. The Tennessee workshop occurs July 21 in McMinnville. More ...


I AM UTIA—
In Jackson, Meet Angela McClure, Assoc. Professor,
UT Extension Corn & Soybean Specialist



What do you do as corn and soybean specialist?

I am a state crop specialist, which means I provide support to county agricultural agents and growers by staying current on trends and issues, sharing the latest research results, and searching for commonsense solutions to grower problems. My official area is agronomy, which means I cover the basic "nuts and bolts" of production, such as when to plant or what seeding rate to use, and I am also a backup source of information for general pest management questions. I have a 100 percent Extension appointment, but spend a good deal of time conducting on-farm, AgResearch Center, and sometimes greenhouse research to generate data that I hope will ultimately be useful to growers.

How long have you been with the Institute?

I began my Extension career in June 2002, so I'm now in my fourteenth year with UTIA.

What is the best part of your job?

Probably the most enjoyable part of my job would be the relationships I have developed with county agents over the years. When I started working with UT, I drove around to several county offices to meet agents and try to gain perspective on production issues and basically figure out how to do my job. I quickly realized that each agent was unique in his or her perspective and skillset, and not everyone did their job in the same way. But, each unique style seems to work very well, and growers have a tremendous appreciation for our county agents. I enjoy being a part of that system. Working in Extension at the county and farm level is exciting because every year has different challenges, and, fortunately, I am never too old to learn!

Other thoughts?

In recent years, I have been directing graduate students. This has turned out to be a great joy. Helping a student decide on a "useful" project and working through the necessary details can be hectic at times, but when I run into a former student who is happy and engaged in his or her career, it makes me proud to have contributed in some small way to the future of local agriculture.




Some pets are notorious for swallowing things they aren’t supposed to eat. Sometimes that can turn into a life-threatening situation. Dr. Christian Latimer, a surgical resident at the UT College of Veterinary Medicine, was a guest on WBIR's Live at Five at Four. He talked about Beo, a recent surgery patient who had ingested a foreign body. Click here to watch the interview.


In Memoriam

Names link to obituaries.

Houston "H.Y." Beeler, 96. Beeler was a retired Extension agent, Williamson County, and father of Mark Beeler, retired Extension agent, Trousdale County.

Paul E. Carr, 83. Carr retired as Extension director in Franklin County in 1992 with thirty-two years of service.

Marilee Cavender, 94. Cavender was a county home economist with UT Extension in her early career and widow of G.W.F. "Dutch" Cavender, former director of Communications for UTIA. An endowment they established provides annual awards for best publications at the UTIA awards and promotions luncheon.

Lyle Donaldson, 83. Donaldson was a retired Extension director in Pickett County and brother-in-law of Jackie Donaldson, who retired in 2001 as Extension director in Putnam County.

Mary Ruth Hudson, 92. Hudson was former secretary in CASNR and Extension Agricultural Education, working for Bob Dotson. At the age of 67, she obtained her lifelong dream of earning a college degree, receiving a BS in human services on December 15, 1990, from UT Knoxville.

Troy Lynne Justice, 66. Justice was a farm service worker at the AgResearch Center at Greeneville, serving there many years, as did his father, Luke Justice.


UTCVM Offers Stress Lowering Class for Humans

Elizabeth Strand, director of Veterinary Social Work, a program at UTCVM, will teach a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course starting Tuesday, July 12. The eight-week MBSR course teaches mindfulness practice techniques for the alleviation of accumulated daily stress, chronic pain, anxiety, high blood pressure, depression, and other conditions worsened by stress.


MBSR has accumulated thirty years of research supporting its effectiveness in stress management and health promotion. The set of techniques is designed to increase participants' awareness so they can respond to situations with choice rather than automatic reactions. The class meets one night a week. The cost to attend is $275. More ...


A Community-Wide Victory Garden

In Shelby County, Memphis area Master Gardeners pass on the joys of gardening and UT Extension horticultural knowledge at the Collierville Victory Garden and Butterfly Haven. Through the generosity of the Collierville Christian Church and the Master Gardener program, this Plant-A-Row for the Hungry garden donates its vegetables to the Collierville Food Pantry, Resurrection Catholic School, and Fayette County Project Outreach, and its flowers to Page Robbins Adult Day Center and Habitat for Humanity.

Since the year began, donations from the garden have totaled 1,239 pounds of mustard and collard greens, sweet potatoes, turnips, red romaine lettuce, mini bok choy, radishes, strawberries, and a whole bunch of other enticing veggies. (Read the full list at the garden’s website.) The Collierville Victory Garden assisted by Tennessee Master Gardeners has been educating the public with gardening information for close to a decade. UT Extension agent Chris Cooper, in blue shirt, back row, is coordinator of the Shelby County Master Gardener program. (Photo by Brandon Dill.)




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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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