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January-February 2021 Boise Newsletter

From the Desk of Chandra Zenner Ford

Welcome back colleagues and Vandal friends —

With the launch of spring semester underway, I hope you can begin to feel a sense of optimism about a future with more in-person interaction. In the meantime, we will be operating much as we did in the fall as the pandemic continues to take its toll.

I look forward to sharing more details in future communications to highlight a refreshed SW Idaho Strategic plan. We are gathering information and interviewing leaders in a number of academic areas identified for targets to grow enrollment and serve the Treasure Valley market.

As you can see from the following highlights, despite the current environment, a lot is still happening in SW Idaho. Just this week, President Green and I had a chance to visit the team at our Ada County Extension Office in Garden City. Our Extension team is busy and making an impact on our community. Very impressive!

Finally, I want to congratulate all of the employees who reached milestones and recognition for longtime service to the University of Idaho. You will see acknowledgements below of some of our loyal employees from Parma, Kimberly, Caldwell and Twin Falls who have given 25 years or more of their time and talent. Thank you!

I so look forward to the time when this new normal is an old memory. I know you do too. In the meantime, stay healthy and Keep Calm and Vandal On.


News and Announcements

Thank You for Supporting the Boise GPSA School Supply Drive

GPSA members transport school supplies.
The school supplies collected by GPSA.
GPSA members meet via Zoom.

Thanks to everyone who donated to the Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA) school supply drive. We delivered boxes of much needed to supplies to Syringa Middle School and they sent a big thank you to all of our students, faculty and staff who made this donation possible.

College of Art and Architecture Updates

Portraits of Kelsey Ramsey and Reggie Mace
  • University of Idaho Boise College of Art and Architecture graduate students Kelsey Ramsey and Reggie Mace each received a $1,500 American Institute of Architects (AIA) scholarship award for academic year 2021-22 for their outstanding studio work. The awards were announced at a public lecture given by internationally renowned Architect Bryan Cantley to the AIA Central Idaho membership and the U of I community on Nov. 12, 2020. Annual AIA U of I Boise scholarships and public lectures are made possible by the continuing support and commitment of AIA Central Idaho to architectural education at U of I Boise.
  • The Integrated Design Lab received a $30,000 gift from the Bews family foundation to continue their research. They also received a contract from Idaho Power for 2021 on Advanced Energy Efficiency research and outreach for a total of $322,000. Some of this money will fund research on the energy impact on buildings from COVID-19 precautions.

College of Engineering Updates

  • Elowyn Yager, University of Idaho Boise Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering professor and Center for Ecohydraulics Research director, earned $540,000 in Department of Energy funding toward preserving Idaho River systems. Elowyn is part of a team working to better understand variations in riverbed nutrients and predict problems in Idaho river systems. Read more about the grant.
  • Civil engineering Research Assistant Professor Andrew Tranmer’s research is helping mitigate flood risk in Boise, one of the fastest-growing populations in the country. At the U of I Boise Center for Ecohydraulics Research (CER), Tranmer has spent the last four years analyzing sediment size, areas of erosion and deposition and vegetation density along the Boise River in the Boise area and nearby communities. Learn more. about Andy’s research.
The Boise River

Rangeland Center Updates

A paper published this month by University of Idaho’s Tracey N. Johnson, director of research at the Rinker Rock Creek Ranch, describes for the first time how sage-grouse nests in southern Idaho may be parasitized by quail. Parasitism occurs when one species lays its eggs in the nest of another species with the goal of having the host rear the parasite’s chicks.
The paper in Western North American Naturalist titled “Brood Parasitism of Greater Sage-Grouse by California Quail in Idaho” describes a case of brood parasitism of a greater sage-grouse nest by California quail in southwestern Idaho during 2019. This is the first case ever reported of parasitism of a sage-grouse nest by quail.

The greater sage-grouse, the largest grouse in North America, is considered a species at risk in Canada and although not listed as endangered in the U.S., it is confined to remnant populations in the West including in Idaho.

Johnson, an assistant professor in the College of Natural Resources Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, recommends additional monitoring of sage-grouse nests for parasitism by other gamebirds to better understand its prevalence and any reproductive consequences for sage-grouse.

Updates From the McClure Center

  • After 18 months of hard work, the Governor’s Salmon Workgroup submitted their consensus-based policy recommendations to Governor Brad Little on Dec. 31, 2020. The McClure Center had the honor of serving as Workgroup facilitator. Read the report.
  • Applications for the Idaho Science and Technology Policy Fellowship (ISTPF) are open for the second cohort of fellows through Sunday, Feb. 28. This nonpartisan program, led by the McClure Center, in partnership with Boise State University and Idaho State University, connects science with policy by fostering a network of science, social science and engineering leaders who understand government and policymaking and are prepared to develop and implement solutions to address societal challenges. The ISTPF provides opportunities for outstanding scientists, social scientists and engineers to learn firsthand about policymaking while using their knowledge and skills to address pressing challenges facing Idaho. Fellows support decision makers in the Gem State, serving in yearlong assignments across state agencies. Fellows address challenges facing Idaho such as water, energy, fire, public health and economic development. Learn more and apply.
  • The first two Idaho Science and Technology Policy fellows are learning about policymaking and using their knowledge and skills to address pressing challenges facing Idaho. Sarah Hendricks, a University of Idaho alumna, is spending her fellowship year in the Governor’s Office of Species Conservation. Veronika Vazhnik, the ISTP CAES fellow, is spending her fellowship year in the Governor’s Office of Energy and Mineral Resources.

ECHO Updates

In November 2020, ECHO Idaho launched a virtual tele-mentoring series designed to help combat COVID-19 preparedness, safety and infection control in nursing homes. ECHO recruited over 70 organizations to participate in this 16-week series, which concludes in March.

Participants in this program comprised almost two-thirds of Idaho’s skilled nursing facilities and additional assisted living facilities. A total of 243 people from these organizations have received 1,191 continuing education hours.

Extension Updates

  • Kimberly Tate and Ronda Hirnyck, with the U of I Extension Pesticide Safety Education Program, conducted 12 pesticide recertification webinars between Oct. 20-Dec. 22, 2020, which resulted in 2,600 pesticide credits issued. Each webinar fulfilled one pesticide recertification credit and, due to COVID-19, replaced all of the scheduled 2020 in-person Extension workshops. Licensed pesticide applicators are required by the State of Idaho to complete a certain number of hours of recertification education in order to maintain their license. Each webinar featured a different topic and speaker. The webinars were scheduled around four themes: safety first, urban pest management, weed management and environmental impacts of pesticides.
  • The 4-H Know Your Government youth met virtually with the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office during a “Prosecutor for a Day” program for the second year on Jan. 6. There were 10 participants aged 13-16 years old. They met with Jan Bennetts and the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office team to learn about what it’s like to be a prosecutor. They also learned about the local judicial system and met with Yuko the Ada County Courthouse dog (see the picture from the Zoom meeting). This was all in preparation for the 4-H Know Your Government conference, which will be held virtually this year over President’s Day Weekend in February.
A class watches a presentation.

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