Catching Up with CALS — Oct. 21, 2020
Dean's Message — Life Sciences
In the University of Idaho College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, the diversity of our many varied disciplines is a great strength. Colleges of science or natural resources often focus on their disciplines, but CALS added Life Sciences to the college’s name to better reflect our reach.
As the century-old College of Agriculture evolved, so did our name. We did so to include faculty who work in areas related to, but not strictly of, agricultural sciences.
While the name College of Agricultural and Life Sciences may not encompass all of the teaching, research and extension that CALS faculty engage in, it does reflect our broader reach.
The Life Sciences part of our name describes much of what we do and is an important part of our mission as a land-grant university.
In academics, life sciences are typically associated with basic science disciplines like biology, microbiology and physiology.
Indeed, we have faculty in multiple departments who focus on advancing basic science, but given our mission as a land grant university, this basic information must be of value to our stakeholders. Yet such a strict definition for life sciences fails to recognize that sciences more generally related to life and living are also captured in that term.
This includes the teaching, research and Extension programs of the faculty in the Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences. What they do is critically important to life and living for all of Idaho and beyond.
The Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences is one of CALS’ largest academic units and addresses areas from nutrition and dietetics to personal finance to early child development and to apparel, textiles and design.
The FCS faculty, students and alumni help people live fuller, healthier and more prosperous lives. Our faculty help students understand the relationship between nutrition and health. Faculty help students prepare for careers in design working with textiles and apparel, such as fire-retardant apparel for our important wildland firefighters. Faculty help students learn about early childhood development and prepare for careers helping nurture our future generation.
As faculty and staff, we are proud when our graduates succeed. Joey Peutz earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from U of I in home economics education and in family and consumer sciences with an emphasis on at-risk youth. Then she went to work for UI Extension.
We learned recently that the National Extension Association for Family and Consumer Sciences honored Joey as its National and Western Region Extension Educator of the Year award at the virtual conference last month.
Her fellow alumna Lori Wahl, who teaches in the school’s apparel, textiles and design program, won this year’s Outstanding Service Award from the Idaho Family and Consumer Sciences Educator Association.
The award recognizes Lori’s efforts to organize the Idaho Textile’s Industry Summit in 2019. She also helped to develop the school’s dual credit program to ensure high school students attain skills and more easily go on to higher education.
Their honors reflect well on the school and its faculty. FCS Director Shelley McGuire made her own contribution this month, too, as a member of a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine committee that published a consensus study report on human milk.
The committee released its report, “Scanning for New Evidence on the Nutrient Content of Human Milk: A Process Model for Determining Age-Specific Nutrient Requirements,” last week. It is good to see U of I on the contributors’ list along with universities such as Cornell, UC San Diego, Brown, Cincinnati, and Manitoba.
Any time a faculty participates on a National Academy of Sciences effort, it is a win for U of I. Certainly, the timing is right. We meet with the CALS Advisory Board at week's end, and it's always great to have good news to share.
We are proud of the faculty and staff in the Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences and the strengths they bring to CALS. What the faculty do in the school today is more important than ever — all their efforts are magnified in importance given the global pandemic.
Michael P. Parrella
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
By the Numbers
3,235 Instagram accounts got word that CALS’ Ag Days was on last week. It made an impression — 64,581 to be precise and generated 523 interactions including answers to questions. The COVID-19-prompted move to an online event drew 26 new followers and 247 profile visits for CALS. The top post was the first photo of campus on Oct. 5 that reached 741 and drew 102 likes. The top story was a Welcome to Ag Days slide that reached 401.
Our Stories — Child Centers Merge Efforts
The two early childhood centers on the U of I campus now operate as one with different missions but the same goal: providing young children with safe, nurturing environments.
The centers also offer U of I students studying childhood development and early childhood education opportunities for hands-on learning and faculty opportunities to conduct research.
The U of I Children’s Center along Sweet Avenue now administers the Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences Child Development Laboratory based in the Niccolls Building. The lab continues to provide a living classroom for undergraduate and graduate students and an important research facility to faculty.
“We wanted to find a way to make sure the Child Development Laboratory remains sustainable in these challenging times, and we found an ideal partner in the Dean of Students office and the U of I Children’s Center,” FCS Director Shelley McGuire said. “It’s a reorganization that really makes sense. We’re a perfect match.”
The synergy between the two early childhood facilities met the FCS and U of I goals to serve students, faculty and community. “It’s such an important facility for education and research and to provide a high quality preschool experience that we had to find a long-term solution,” McGuire said.
Both the center and the lab remain focused on students, prioritizing U of I students’ young children and offering their services to the wider university and regional community as openings are available.
The merger of the two centers earlier this year reflected a desire to ensure children in both campus facilities continue to receive the best care, said Megan Robison, who now directs both.
The center and the lab are both accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children — the only two early childhood centers in Moscow to boast this fact. Both will continue to operate as they have in the past, she said.
The lab’s daily operations are overseen by lead teacher Justin Tatham, who recently graduated from the Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences early childhood education program.
The merger at the beginning of fall semester occurred when uncertainty about the COVID-19 pandemic led FCS to set a limit of 12 children in the lab. Experience since then showed the limit can be expanded to 15, McGuire said.
“Because there’s such a huge need in our community right now for high-quality preschool experiences, we decided to open it up a little more,” she said, because several child-care options in Moscow suspended operations because of the novel coronavirus.
This is clearly a win-win solution to an ongoing need for both the UI and Moscow, and a real silver lining in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, McGuire said.
Faces and Places
CALS has two spots on the U of I crowdfunding platform seeking contributions for worthy projects. The Canyon County Idaho Master Gardeners and Center for Health in the Human Ecosystem campaigns wrap up Oct. 23. Find out more about the Idaho Master Gardeners campaign and the CHHE campaign.
Lori Wahl, who teaches design, apparel technology and industry-aligned courses with emphasis on applied learning in the Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences, received the 2020 Outstanding Service Award from the Idaho Family and Consumer Sciences Educator Association.
Shiyi Chen, an assistant professor of child development in the Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences, is seeking teachers and parents of children ages 3 to 7 to participate in a Grow to Learn program. Children will learn to communicate and improve their science competence over four months by growing sweet peas. Teachers will qualify for one college/Idaho STARS credit. Chen’s email is email@example.com.
Idaho Public Broadcasting’s “Outdoor Idaho” included CALS’ iconic barns in a program broadcast Oct. 15. A segment features the U of I beef barns and includes interviews with Beef Center Manager Zane Garner and agricultural economics junior Garrett Barnes. The U of I segment starts at 4:28..
“Igniting Agricultural Innovation,” the CALS Speakers Series presentation by Scott Hutchins, USDA deputy under secretary of agriculture, is now available online on YouTube.
- Nov. 11 — Heritage Orchard Conference, Apples and their Uses — Past and Present, 10-11:30 a.m. PDT
- Nov. 23-27 — Fall recess
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