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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

Email: ag@uidaho.edu

Location

Catching Up with CALS — March 23, 2022

Dean's Message — 1,889 Minutes to Make a Difference

CALS is gearing up for Vandal Giving Day on April 5-6, 2022 — 1,889 minutes dedicated to building capacity for needs like student scholarships, student travel support and programmatic excellence funds.

Although we proudly announce that the University of Idaho is the No. 1 best value public university in the West, the cost of getting a great education at our university is not insignificant for many students and their families.

At the U of I, 53% of incoming students take out a loan to help defray freshman year costs, averaging over $5,000 apiece. This results in approximately $25,000 after four years, including both private and federally funded student loans.

Considering the median household income in Idaho in 2019 was $61,000 and many freshmen are the first in their family to attend college, incurring debt to attend even a top-ranked best value school is not trivial.

According to the Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities (APLU), individuals with a bachelor’s degree will earn approximately 47% more during their employment lifetime than those with a high school diploma. However, this does not take away the distress associated with student debt.

The cost of tuition highlighted in this message is not the only expense students will incur when on campus. There are many student activities that are critical to the overall university experience and these activities cost money.

The CALS Excellence Fund is a key area of emphasis for our annual giving day activities. We rely on this resource to help meet student needs collegewide regardless of their area of study. This fund allows students the opportunity to gain industry knowledge outside the classroom, the ability to bring world-renowned agricultural professionals and alumni to campus and provides much-needed scholarship support.

Since 2016, nearly $30,000 from this fund has been used to assist 88 CALS students in attending conferences, national competitions, professional meetings and trainings, and international events. These opportunities allow our students to broaden their skill set while meeting potential employers and showcasing the work being done in CALS.

Vandal Giving Day for CALS this year will also include opportunities to make gifts to departmental excellence funds and support University of Idaho Extension 4-H Youth Development programming at the state or individual county level.

Mark your calendars for Vandal Giving Day on April 5-6, 2022, sign up to be a Vandal Giving Day Ambassador and visit the CALS and 4-H pages to learn more about the significant impact your gift can have.

Michael P Parrella, dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

Michael P. Parrella

Dean
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences


By the Numbers

545 unique participants attended 6 webinars offered by the University of Idaho Sandpoint Organic Agriculture Center as part of their Heritage Orchard Conference. Participants represented 13 countries, 46 states and 4 Canadian Provinces.


Avelardo Vargas with a cow.

Our Stories — Access to the Future

Working from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. every day while in high school isn’t conducive to completing college applications.

But that’s what Avelardo Vargas did.

“There were a lot of things that could have impeded me from continuing my education,” Vargas said. “But most of those problems were resolved because I met the right people.”

It was those people — his family, a University of Idaho recruitment specialist and scholarship donors — who opened the door to an education for the junior. Vargas is earning his degree in animal and veterinary science so he can help the dairy industry — the work in which he was raised — find solutions to problems the industry faces.

And Vargas hasn’t let the door close behind him. He’s holding it open for others.

The Vargas family has worked in the Idaho dairy industry for more than 20 years.

“I always said I wanted to go into dairy, just like my dad. He brought me to work with him,” said Vargas, who helped his dad with chores on a small 200-cow dairy. “The work taught me a lot of discipline and responsibility while growing up.”

Although he toyed with other career options during middle school, the Rupert native quickly returned to his original goal, mostly due to his coworkers.

“The people within the dairy industry are extremely hard working,” Vargas said. “I realized that my true passion was here in the dairy industry, and I wanted to stay close to the family roots and continue my education.”

Vargas’s parents, who are from Mexico, didn’t have the opportunity to attend high school, a fact that led them to push their children to complete their schooling, he said.

“I think part of the reason my dad would take me to work with him was to show me that life isn’t easy and that the real path to success is education,” Vargas said. “And my mom, she got her GED during my senior year. She wanted to show us how important education is.”

Read the full story.


Invention Convention

Willy Wonka’s inventing room was the inspiration for a workshop provided by CALS microbiologist Barbara Nielsen at the Idaho Invention Convention state competition held recently on the University of Idaho Moscow campus.

The Idaho Invention Convention (formerly Invent Idaho) provides a forum for young inventors to present their creations for a chance to participate in the National Invention Convention. Workshops on a variety of STEM based topics are offered by U of I faculty and staff for participants to attend in between competitions.

Nielsen has provided a workshop on the invention of candy at the event for the past several years. Nielsen works with Associate Professor Gulhan Unlu as a research support scientist in the Department of Animal, Veterinary and Food Sciences.

“I developed the workshop to pair food science with invention because as food scientists, one of the things we do is product development, which is basically inventing food,” Nielsen said.

After a discussion on the history of candy making and how the steps of invention apply to food, participants are challenged to invent their best Willy Wonka-inspired candy in 15 minutes. Working in pairs, participants must decide what ingredients their candy will have, how they would package it, and flavors and textures. The teams then present their ideas to the rest of the participants.

This year, a candy eraser for math class that was one-part actual eraser, one-part candy, was invented.

“It appeared to be somewhat soft, eraser texture, so they could use it to erase their math and then suck on it. It sounded like it could have come straight out of Willy Wonka,” Nielsen said.

For Nielsen, working with the young inventors is the best part of the experience.

“I like working with the kids and seeing what they come up with,” she said. “I think outreach is a very important thing because we need more food scientists. I try to plant the seed while they are there so maybe they’ll come back and major in food science.”


Faces and Places

You’re Invited! Join CALS in Moscow on March 29 for a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the new Seed Potato Germplasm Laboratory at 1:30 p.m. (875 Perimeter Drive).

Kayla Hurl, a junior studying animal and veterinary science: production option from Shandon, California, recently placed first in the 2022 Hooey Jr. Patriot 19 and Under Pole Bending competition. She ran a 20.4 and walked away with $16,436.

CALS students in the Young Farmers and Ranchers Collegiate Chapter recently visited a local Moscow second grade class to teach students about agriculture.

University of Idaho Extension was recognized by the CDC for COVID-19 vaccine education efforts.

The new Seed Potato Germplasm Laboratory building.
Kayla Hurl, a junior studying animal and veterinary science: production option from Shandon, California, recently placed first in the 2022 Hooey Jr. Patriot 19 and Under Pole Bending competition.
CALS students in the Young Farmers and Ranchers Collegiate Chapter recently visited a local Moscow second grade class to teach students about agriculture.

Events

Feedback or suggestions? Please pass them along through calsnews@uidaho.edu

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Contact

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

Email: ag@uidaho.edu

Location