Catching Up with CALS — Jan. 15, 2020
Dean's Message — Moving Forward
2020 promises to be a productive year. Despite dealing with the real and dismaying budget challenges we face in the short term, CALS continues to prepare for the future.
We begin the year by reaping the rewards of past efforts focused on our overall goal to modernize the research infrastructure in CALS.
This spring we plan to celebrate the successful completion of our new administration/classroom/office building at the Nancy M. Cummings Research, Extension and Education Center (NMCREEC) near Salmon.
The new building, completed and occupied late last year, will reinforce the activities of our faculty at what is our primary cow-calf operation in Idaho.
The grand opening celebration will allow us to invite the upper Salmon River Valley community to make use of the building — a key reason the Auen Foundation and H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation provided substantial support for the project.
In December, the Idaho State Board of Education gave the greenlight for two new significant projects.
The board approved design work and gave approval for us to seek bids in coming months for construction of the new Seed Potato Germplasm facility on the west farm along Perimeter Drive. The $5.2 million project won broad support from the Idaho Legislature, which gave $3 million; Idaho Potato Commission, $1.25 million, and Northwest Farm Credit Services, $250,000. Individual donors also supported this project.
The board also approved U of I’s request to proceed with planning and design for the research dairy that is the heart of the Idaho Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (CAFE).
The board’s action provides a major step in the more than decade-long effort to create the nation’s largest research dairy. CAFE is necessary to ensure that dairy and its associated industries remain robust and continue their critical role in keeping Idaho agriculture strong.
U of I and CALS were able to move all three projects forward based by listening to agricultural and community leaders. The projects benefited from years of careful deliberation and conversations that allowed broad-based support to build.
At the NMCREEC, Ron and Sherrie Auen and Catharine Reed of the Auen and Berger foundations first began discussions with CALS nearly 20 years ago to transfer ownership of the former Hot Springs Ranch. The goal was an innovative cattle research and outreach center to meet industry and community needs.
The loss of Ron Auen in 2019 will not diminish the passion he had for the Salmon community and for NMCREEC. A passion shared by Sherrie and Catharine. We plan to celebrate Ron’s life and enormous contribution at the opening of the facility this spring.
Our efforts to create the new Seed Potato Germplasm facility and CAFE have taken a parallel approach — slowly building stakeholder support. We are following a similar pathway and are making significant progress on the new Agri Beef Meat Science and Innovation Center Honoring Ron Richard.
Later this month, U of I and CALS will meet with the Idaho Legislature’s Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee to provide an overview of our efforts to meet the state’s needs as Idaho’s land grant institution.
We were pleased to host JFAC members last spring at the Parma Research and Extension Center to give them a chance to see another key facility in need of upgrades. Strong community support from a variety of stakeholders guided development of a proposal to create upgraded facilities for research, education and outreach.
We are eager to update legislators on the announcement of a $1 million investment by the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation in the Parma proposal that is in addition to pledges of significant support from others.
Most of all, we hope these successes will breed more success and ultimately will show that the future is bright for the university as it continues move forward on issues critical to the success or our great state.
Michael P. Parrella
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
By the Numbers
300,000 cattle were inventoried on large Idaho feedlots Dec. 1, 10,000 or 3% more than on Nov. 1, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. The Dec. 1 tally beat by 15,000 head or 5% the 285,000 cattle inventoried a year earlier on Dec. 1, 2018. The national inventory grew by nearly 300,000 head or more than 2% to 12,031,000.
Our Stories — Albertson Gift Lifts Parma
A new University of Idaho facility at Parma, designed to support the fundamental elements of Idaho agriculture, is one step closer to becoming a reality thanks to a $1 million investment by the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation.
The $7 million project will establish the Idaho Center for Plant and Soil Health at the U of I’s Parma Research and Extension Center. Faculty and students at this location conduct research and Extension programs addressing the region’s many specialty crops, as well as issues that are relevant to all of Idaho agriculture — creating a foundation for healthy plants and soil.
“We invest in leaders and programs that provide new learning opportunities for Idahoans. We support innovative organizations that focus on continuous improvement and strive for meaningful results. By providing this resource, the Parma Research and Extension Center will continue to support an important agricultural region in our state.” said Roger Quarles, the foundation’s executive director.
“This partnership with the Albertson Family Foundation is pivotal in helping Idaho farmers become even more competitive in their industry,” said University of Idaho President Scott Green. “I appreciate their ongoing support of the University of Idaho and especially of College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Dean Michael Parrella’s vision for how best to support Idaho agriculture.”
The project includes construction of a new building with state-of-the-art laboratories and equipment to conduct research in agronomy, entomology, nematology, plant pathology and pomology. In addition, these improvements will enhance the university’s ability to recruit and retain world-class faculty and graduate students. The university anticipates adding four new faculty positions at the center including an irrigation/soil scientist, a weed scientist, a pollination specialist and an Extension fruit/viticulture specialist.
Agricultural commodity groups, allied industry and private individuals have shown interest in supporting the project financially. To date, $2.87 million has been committed to the project including internal funding from the university.
The U of I has served the agriculture industry through the Parma Research and Extension Center for more than seven decades. With more than 40 different kinds of crops, the Parma region leads the state in crop diversity. The region’s unique microclimate makes it an ideal location to conduct research that will impact many of the 185 different commodities Idaho growers produce statewide.
Peer Leaders Connect Students, Stock Pantry
Students in the CALS Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology peer leaders program helped boost a fledgling food pantry and clothing bank last semester.
The seven peer leaders met weekly for a one-credit class taught by Gayle Gleason, the department’s student advisor. Each student also holds one office hour per week.
“We want them to be there to talk with other students about things they may be concerned about during the semester,” Gleason said.
“We’re trying to get students more involved with the department through channels other than their instructors,” she said.
The CALS Food Pantry occupies cupboards in the Agricultural Biotechnology Laboratory kitchen. The peer leaders stationed a wagon outside the dean office in the main Iddings Agricultural Sciences Building foyer as the fall semester ended.
People filled the wagon up twice, Gleason said, and students began using the pantry as soon as it was stocked. A sheet asks students to record what they’ve taken to help ensure popular items are replaced.
The Idaho Farm Bureau donated $1,100 to buy food for the pantry, largely through the efforts of the Collegiate Young Farmers and Ranchers Club, Gleason said. "Everyone has been so generous; I'm very thankful." Faculty members and staff also contributed money to the pantry.
The clothing bank will help students find clothes suitable for job interviews, Gleason said. The peer leaders program seeks donated clothing from faculty, staff, students and others. So far, clothing for women is better stocked than for men.
AERS launched its peer leader program last semester. CALS Academic Programs initiated a peer leaders program several years ago and Elizabeth Bullers coordinates it.
Other departments with similar programs include animal and veterinary science, food science, and family and consumer sciences.
Faces and Places
UI Extension Pesticide Program Coordinator Ronda Hirnyk received the Pioneer Award from the Idaho Pest Management Association.
- Jan. 15 — Classes begin for spring semester 2020
- Jan. 22-23 — Annual Idaho Potato Conference and Trade Show, Idaho State University Pond Student Union Building
- Jan. 21-23 — Annual Eastern Idaho Ag Expo, Idaho State University Holt Arena
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