Catching Up with CALS — Oct. 30, 2019
Dean's Message — Valuable Advice
Another busy, important weekend awaits CALS and U of I. The CALS Dean’s Advisory Board (DAB) members visit campus Thursday and Friday, volunteering their time to help us fulfill our mission.
For many of us these are some of the moments when it becomes easiest to remember and recognize the importance of why we are here.
Like CALS itself, the Dean’s Advisory Board is diverse. It draws its members from the advisory boards of each of our academic departments and from UI Extension. In addition, the bylaws, which govern the DAB, make sure that all the diversity of Idaho agriculture is represented.
The Dean’s Advisory Board bylaws ask members first and foremost to offer advice and perspectives from outside our own experience and to serve as our ambassadors to their own communities and beyond.
The members serve as CALS liaisons learning about the college and communicating what they know. Members help us by educating the college about their realities and those CALS graduates will face.
Obviously, this week’s meetings will have some successes and challenges to discuss.
We will have much exciting news to share about the Idaho Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment since the departmental and dean's boards last met.
Our initiatives to improve facilities from Sandpoint to Salmon to Parma to the Moscow campus and within CALS show major progress. We are seeing some positives in student numbers and we anticipate that our overall efforts will bear dividends and will help us attract more students.
And we have challenges, and most are the sum total of one simple word: budget.
The budget is our largest challenge. President C. Scott Green must address this and the one thing most responsible for a repeated budget shortfall: enrollment.
The President must right a ship that took a wrong course in recent years. There is no question that he has the background and experience to get us back on the right track, but he will need time. In addition, all colleges must share in the burden of balancing budgets and increasing enrollment.
U of I, like CALS, needs more students to benefit from the opportunities we have the capacity to provide.
In CALS, we can educate more students for the jobs in food processing and agriculture that employers need to fill to help them meet demand.
We believe we are moving forward in CALS — with a second year of increasing the size of the freshman class. All the departments in the college are committed to continuing and expanding these positive numbers.
Our mission clearly aligns with the needs of students, communities, advisory board members and our own. We are doing great things in the college, and we’re proud of those successes.
We ask Dean’s Advisory Board members to donate their most important asset, their time, to help make us better. Our goal is to listen to what they have to say.
Michael P. Parrella
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
By the Numbers
95% of Idaho’s winter wheat crop was planted by Monday in line with last year’s 98% and the 5-year average of 96% by October’s end, the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service reported. The same goes for the proportion of winter wheat emerged, 72% this year, 75% last year and 74% for the 5-year average. This year’s potato harvest was right on the 5-year average, 96%. This year's sugarbeet harvest’s progress of 73% topped both comparisons of 64% last year and 69% for the 5-year average.
Our Stories — Sandpoint Apple Tasting Draws a Crowd
Hundreds of apple enthusiasts and the curious flocked to the Sandpoint Organic Agriculture Center Saturday for an afternoon of apple tasting.
The visitors to the newest U of I agricultural outpost in Sandpoint found more than three dozen varieties available for a taste test through time.
One of the most ancient varieties, the white pearmain, reaches back to the 1200s. One of the newest, the honeycrisp, goes back maybe 20 years.
The selection was just about half of the orchard’s 68 variety total. Some of the apples are biennial bearers and didn’t set enough of a crop to even sample this year. Others ripen so early that their time had come and gone.
Others occupy niches so rare that encountering them is memorable whether they taste good or not. Consider the Niedzwetzkyana, a Russian variety dating from the 1800s and ruby red from peel to core. It tastes too tart to please many palates but everyone loves it for the rosy tint it adds to the center’s cider.
The Wickson, small and crabapple-sized, provides tart, flavorful juice that reputedly yields champagne-like cider.
Some visitors like Jacob Soni, who lives near Sandpoint along the Pack River, heard about the open house and hustled over for a look. He’d seen the construction of the building years ago and the planting of a tree buffer along North Boyer Road but had never been inside.
The apple tasting was a bonus. “I’d always wondered what this place was like,” he said.
Mary Lin of Moscow drove up for a chance to taste some apples and an adventure. Both she and Soni arrived as the crowd thinned.
That might not have been a bad strategy. When the doors first opened, the crowd was so thick around the tables that the tasting test was as much about reaching the fruit as exploring its flavors.
More than 300 people turned out for the session, center superintendent and orchard operations manager Kyle Nagy estimated. More than 100 filled out sheets asking them to rate each variety’s taste and texture and to describe the flavor.
Many also took home jugs of the orchard’s cider that is a seasonal medley of diverse flavors from 30 or more apple varieties grown at the center.
Club's Haunted Museum Attracts Characters
And they did. There were plenty of other characters, too, traipsing through the William F. Barr Entomology Museum a week before Halloween.
It was a haunted museum night sponsored by the Aldrich Entomology Club. Club members wore butterfly wings. Professors often known for casual attire set the bar lower for the evening. Dozens of little visitors used the occasion as a test run for costumes.
There was fun and good humor with some treats and some close, maybe even slightly scary, encounters with some large insects.
Luc Leblanc, the Barr Museum’s curator, relaxed scientific protocols to give club members free reign and transformed into Dr. Madbug. The students transformed the 1-million specimen museum into a cobweb-draped pathway of shadowy twists and turns.
One station invited visitors to reach into a box and identify insects by touch alone. After the initial doubts, visitors often figured out first that the insects were plastic, then what they might represent.
Outside in the brightly lit hallway, many visitors young and older mastered their fears of the real things.
They cradled Madagascar hissing cockroaches, so tame they barely bothered to hiss when handled. Others let Vietnamese walking sticks take a stroll on their arms. A few took a turn carefully holding a tarantula.
Entertaining swarms of children is the norm for the museum staff. Dozens of small groups and school classes visit the museum each year to learn about insects. The Halloween theme added new dimensions to the experience.
Faces and Places
CALS alumna Anna Pratt (Ag Ed, ’17 ’19) won the 2019 Western Region Distinguished Manuscript Award at the 2019 American Association for Agricultural Education Western Region Research Conference. The award recognized her thesis, “Personas of Agricultural Education Supporters: A Q-Method Study.” Co-authors included U of I faculty Jeremy Falk, Kasee Smith and Sarah Bush.
- Oct. 30 — Charles R. Santerre, Purdue University professor of food toxicology, “A Scientist in the White House,” Bi-State School of Food Science Seminar, Ag Sciences 106, 4 p.m.
- Oct. 31 — Halloween Plant Sale, Plant and Soil Science Club, U of I Commons 2nd Floor, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Nov. 5 — All-College Meeting, Bruce M. Pitman Center Vandal Ballroom, Moscow, 8:30 - 10 a.m. PT
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