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College of Agricultural & Life Sciences

Physical Address:
E. J. Iddings Agricultural Science Laboratory, Room 52
606 S Rayburn St

Mailing Address:
875 Perimeter Drive MS 2331
Moscow, ID 83844-2331

Phone: 208-885-6681

Fax: 208-885-6654



Catching Up with CALS April 19, 2017

Dean's Message — Growing Clovers

We are very proud of the rich history that 4-H has in Idaho. In fact, many programs that developed here preceded the formation of 4-H at the national level.

As noted in Clifton Anderson’s “History of the College of Agriculture at the University of Idaho,” in the early 1900s, neither the name “4-H” nor the youth group’s distinctive four-leaved symbol were known in Idaho.

Schools in various parts of the state sponsored clubs that involved boys and girls in useful learn-by-doing projects, but there was no organized, statewide youth program until 1911. In that year an attempt was made to have all schools participate in school garden programs.

Altogether, 64 school gardens were planted in 1911. The following year, there were 466 school gardens planted and cared for by students. In 1912, a statewide program was organized jointly between the UI College of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It generated 30 potato clubs. Nineteen sewing clubs were organized throughout the state of Idaho.

By 1914, more than 6,500 boys and girls participated in potato, corn, poultry, swine, bread, sewing and canning clubs. Please keep in mind that the national 4-H organization was formed in 1914 when the United States Congress created the Cooperative Extension Service of the USDA by passing the Smith-Lever Act.

Because the College of Agriculture simultaneously was organizing the UI Agricultural Extension Service, the State Board of Education in 1914 transferred the boys’ and girls’ club program to the college.

Later, with the program under the college’s direction, county and district 4-H agents were appointed. The UI Extension Service considered 4-H club work to be extremely important but recognized that a statewide program would require increased State Board of Education support.

A 1915-16 report stated, “This branch of the Extension service has never had the financial support its importance warrants, and it is impossible to give the necessary assistance to the large number of boys and girls in Idaho who desire this work.” Budgets were a concern in 1915, and they remain a concern today.

An overall effort to raise funds for 4-H began in 2015 with the development of a license plate option when vehicles are registered in the state. I chose that option personally to demonstrate my support for 4-H.

In addition to carrying the 4-H clover and slogan, “To Make the Best Better,” far and wide, the plates also help fund the activities that support youth statewide. Each plate sold returns $22 to the state 4-H office, half of which goes back to the county where the vehicle was licensed.

The Moscow campus hosts one group of vehicles with 4-H plates, but one is apt to see them throughout the state from populous Ada County to those with plenty of elbow room and a long history of 4-H involvement.

The time has come to find ways to grow the clover’s reach. State law requires that we have at least 1,000 4-H plates issued by the end of 2019, or the plate will be discontinued.

One idea is to ask each county to strive for 25 plate sales. Do the math and that puts annual sales at 1,100 statewide. That’s a financial windfall to the program, too, generating $24,200.

That’s one idea. What’s yours?

Kootenai County, the sales leader statewide, found a niche market. Non-buyers at the 4-H Stock Sale liked the chance to buy the plates because they were an economical alternative, and the licenses showed their support for 4-H year around.

Let us know your ideas. Consider supporting 4-H when registering a vehicle. And pass the word about a worthy initiative.

Dean Michael Parrella

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

By the Numbers 

46 4-H specialty license plates sold in Kootenai County lead sales statewide. Canyon County places second with 44, followed by Ada, 39; Twin Falls, 21; and Latah, 16. Gem’s 9 sales mean it’s poised to bust into double digits. Elmore claims 8 and 7 sales in Blaine and Nez Perce tie for 8th, followed by Bonneville’s 6 plates, good for 10th among Idaho’s 44 counties, all of them at least on the leader board with 1 sale.

Our Stories — Dressing a Puccini Princess

It turns out it takes a lot of process to properly present a Puccini princess.

Joyce Sun of FCS won first prize in the graduate student artistic and creative category during the Innovation Showcase April 13 on campus

CALS students in the Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences Apparel, Textiles and Design program spoke April 13 during the UI Innovation Showcase with music and engineering students about their work together to create opera costumes.

ATD students Sabrina Rice, Corey Ena, Treva Moekli, Clyde Mooney and Meghann Hester, joined engineering student Autumn Pratt and music student Erika Whittington to present their interdisciplinary project to create costumes for the Lionel Hampton School of Music opera.

The costumes were used at a recent opera performance on the Moscow campus featuring two of composer Giacomo Puccini’s works, “Gianni Schicchi” and “Suor Angelica.”

Pratt took a digital body rendering of five performers using a handheld 3D scanning device, then used a laser cutter to create custom dress forms.

Students in FCS 424 designed and created the costumes, working closely with the Lionel Hampton School of Music for accurate historical resemblance.

Whittington, performing the character Suor Angelica, appreciated the authenticity her gown brought to the stage. Suor Angelica is the villain of the opera, and the dress was designed with black and purple velvet, denoting her affluence and dark nature. “The dress is true to my character while at the same time lightweight and easy to move in.”

For many costumes or tailored apparel, it is not uncommon for designers to need five fittings to get the right fit, requiring a significant investment of time and cost of material. The body scanning rendered exact measurements of the performers' bodies, cutting out the excess time and fabric. “I’m a busy student,” Whittington said. “It can be hard to find the time for several fittings. But I tried this gown on once, and it fit perfectly.”

“We can revolutionize the fashion industry by noticing the contributions of engineering,” said apparel, textiles and design senior Sabrina Rice, who was excited about the industry applications. “People can have a body scan done anywhere, and have clothes fabricated exclusively for them. It has the potential to change the way we think about sizes and make tailoring more accessible to more of the population.”

The Innovation Showcase winners from CALS included:

Graduate Disciplinary:

2: Children and Texture: Does Repeated Texture Exposure Increase Young Children’s Preference and Intake of Yogurts? By: Siew Guan Lee, Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences, $300

Graduate Interdisciplinary:

2: Feed Processing Affects Palatability of Ventenata-Infested Grass Hay by Dana McCurdy, Department of Animal and Veterinary Science, $300

Graduate Artistic/Creative:

1: Trash ‘N Fashion by Joyce Sun, Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences, $500

CALS-Company Pact Puts Rheometer to the Test

CALS food scientist Helen Joyner’s expertise in rheology led to an innovative agreement with high-precision laboratory instrument manufacturer Anton Paar.CALS Food Scientist Helen Joyner prepares to test the rheology of processed American cheese

Tuesday, Joyner’s students began training on the new rheometer to conduct a variety of food science experiments and to celebrate the arrival of a more sophisticated and versatile new piece of equipment provided by the manufacturer.

Food rheology is the science that explores how materials flow under certain conditions.

Think cheese, for example, smooth, velvety American processed cheese. If it’s missing that flow, the mac and cheese is probably a no go.

Or think fondue, a make-it-yourself exercise in rheology. Without gruyere’s pliable, creamy consistency, however, many a chef’s dreams would curdle.

The new piece of equipment, Anton Paar’s MCR 702-Twin Drive valued at more than $300,000 will significantly increase the workflow in her lab, Joyner said. She is training a post-doc researcher in addition to overseeing five graduate students and four undergraduate researchers.

With Anton Paar’s MCR-702 for the first time users can perform rheological tests with two torque transducers and drive units at once, said Abhi Shetty, Anton Paar’s lead scientist for rheology.

Shetty and Norbert Ponweiser, Anton Paar’s sales and marketing director for rheology, are visiting Moscow to work with Joyner and participate in the installation of the new machine and training.

Under the agreement with the company, Joyner and her students will use the equipment at a fraction of its cost. The company gains exposure and gets feedback from the academic researchers.

Joyner and Anton Paar will also collaborate on rheological research projects.

“We strongly believe in continuous innovation and working closely with research institutes,” Shetty said. The company has similar agreements with researchers at the University of Connecticut, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Purdue, among others.

Joyner’s lab had two other rheometers, but the number of projects sometimes overwhelmed their capacity, she said. The new equipment also greatly expands her research capabilities in terms of the tests she is able to perform on food products.

Speaker Tackles Mythology of the American Family

Author and scholar Stephanie Coontz has spent her career studying relationships and the family. One of her most popular books, “The Way We Never Were,” debunks the 1950s mythology of the American family as symbolized by popular television shows.Author Stephanie Coontz

Coontz will visit the University of Idaho campus Friday, April 21, to address the current nature of the family and trends in society that have shaped it in modern times as the Margaret Ritchie Distinguished Speaker. Her speech begins at 3 p.m. in the Agricultural Sciences Auditorium 106.

Sponsored by the Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences, the speaker series addresses topics relevant to society. The talk is free and open to the public.

Her talk, “Uncharted Territory: The Changing Landscape of American Families,” is an ambitious effort to make sense of the multitude of ways in which the forms, values and dynamics of families are being transformed.

The first step toward a realistic assessment, she said, is to forget the idea that television’s Ozzie and Harriet Nelson reflected actual family life in the early 1950s and ’60s.

Nostalgia is one of the biggest threats to creating a realistic understanding of who we are today, she said. By idealizing fictional portrayals, nostalgia leads us to ignore the fact that many of today’s challenges arose in the process of solving problems that were often worse.

“That’s why I was critical of presidential campaign slogans like 'Make America Great Again,' and 'Make America Whole Again' that both sides used recently. 'Great' for whom? 'Whole' for whom? And could we really recapture the postwar period when every other industrial power had been crippled by WWII?” she said.

Another example is divorce. Strong families are important, Coontz said, but demonizing divorce as only a detriment to society ignores problems that resulted when divorces were more difficult to obtain.

With the adoption of no-fault divorces, the suicide rate for wives dropped between 8 and 16 percent, and the domestic violence rate within marriages dropped 30 percent. And counter to the idea that no-fault divorce laws would tear apart the nation’s social fabric, divorce rates now are actually falling, she said.

Coontz teaches history and family studies at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. She serves as director of research and public education for the Council on Contemporary Families. An award-winning author, she has appeared on many television and radio shows including “Oprah,” the “Today Show” and “The Colbert Report.”

Coontz will serve as keynote speaker during the FCS Alumni Brunch on Saturday, April 22 from 10 a.m.-noon at the University Inn Best Western Gold Room. Alumni, students, faculty and staff are welcome. Distinguished alumni and honorary alumni awards will be presented.

The Ritchie Fashion Show is also planned Saturday from 4-6 p.m. during Moms’ Weekend in the Bruce M. Pitman Center Vandal Ballroom. Admission is $8. Students in FCS 424, the apparel, textiles & design capstone course, will each set up their own gallery space to showcase at least three garments. The individual gallery spaces will also include concept and inspiration boards to provide insight into each student’s creative process.

The clothes will be displayed on dress forms and live models, including student designers. The gallery format allows students to directly interact with the audience, which helps to prepare them for future career situations.

Joyce Sun, apparel, textiles and design graduate student, will show her line “Trash ‘N Fashion,” which placed first in the Graduate Student Artistic/Creative category at the UI Innovation Showcase.

Students in FCS 224, the introductory course, also will display their work.

Faces and Places

Jennifer Spencer, a doctoral student in the Animal and Veterinary Science Department studying with professor Amin Ahmadzadeh, was named one of three Outstanding Graduate Students for 2015-16 by the UI Graduate and Professional Students Association. She was honored at the April 13 Innovations Showcase on campus.

CALS Animal and Veterinary Science department graduate students Kim Davenport and Anna Rodriguez won two of nine peer-reviewed International Society for Animal Genetics travel awards to attend and present their work at the group's meeting in Dublin, Ireland, July 16-21, 2017. Davenport’s topic is “Investigating genetic associations with meiotic recombination in rams” and Rodriguez’s is “Differences in meiotic chromosome pairing characteristics in spermatocytes of hybrid beefalo.”


  • April 21-23Moms' Weekend
  • April 21 — Author Stephanie Coontz, Margaret Ritchie Distinguished Speaker, “Uncharted Territory: The Changing Landscape of American Families,” Ag Sci 106. 3-4:30 p.m.
  • April 21 — Moms' Weekend Wine and Cheese Gala to benefit the Dean's Excellence Fund. $25. RSVP at 208-885-9056 or online. Shuttles from the VandalStore starting at 4 p.m. All ages welcome. Best Western Plus University Inn. 4-6 p.m.
  • April 22 — Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences Alumni Brunch. RSVP. University Inn Best Western, Gold Room. 10 a.m.-noon
  • April 22 — Ritchie Fashion Show. $8 tickets available at the door. Vandal Ballroom. 4-6 p.m. 
  • April 24 — CALS Awards Banquet. RSVP or email Anna Pratt Bruce M. Pitman Center Vandal Ballroom. $8 for students, $18 for non-students. Reception, 5-6 p.m. Dinner and awards ceremony, 6-8 p.m.
  • Apr. 25 — University Awards for Excellence. Bruce M. Pitman Center International Ballroom. 6 p.m.
  • Apr. 26 — Staff Awards Ceremony. Bruce M. Pitman International Ballroom. Open to all staff. Lunch provided. Opportunities to win raffle prizes. 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • April 28 — UI Engineering Expo. Bruce M. Pitman Center. 7 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • May 4 — Reception in honor of Larry Makus. Tom and Diana Nicholson Ag Biotech Interaction Court. Refreshments and no-host bar provided. 3-5 p.m.
  • May 12-14 — Washington FFA Conference. Pullman
  • May 13 — Commencement
  • June 7-8 — Idaho FFA Career Development Events. Moscow

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College of Agricultural & Life Sciences

Physical Address:
E. J. Iddings Agricultural Science Laboratory, Room 52
606 S Rayburn St

Mailing Address:
875 Perimeter Drive MS 2331
Moscow, ID 83844-2331

Phone: 208-885-6681

Fax: 208-885-6654