CALS Perspectives Magazine Summer 2011

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Just ahead: A dairy technology showcase



his past spring the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences experienced the untimely loss of two former associate deans, Dr. Jon Ort and Dr. George Barthalmus. Jon, who came to N.C. State as a poultry science faculty member in 1979 and later served as director of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service from 1995 until his retirement last year, passed away in April. George, who joined the CALS Zoology Department in 1970 and later served as director of the College’s Academic Programs until his 2001 retirement, passed away in May. Both deaths were sudden and unexpected and are greatly mourned by our College. As CES director, Jon led the way in ensuring that citizens in rural, suburban and urban communities had direct access to the research-based knowledge of N.C. State University. Under his watch, North Carolina Cooperative Extension emerged as a leader in educational and applied research programs for alternative agricultural crops and enterprises, childhood nutrition and physical activity, school-age care and disaster preparedness. His emphasis on partnerships, entrepreneurship and results-oriented programming allowed Cooperative Extension to sustain a network of some 1,300 staff members and upwards of 80,000 volunteers and 20,000 advisers, making 2.5 million face-to-face contacts annually to enhance the state’s economy, environment and quality of life. A member of N.C. State’s Academy of Outstanding Teachers, Jon, with his family, created the Dr. Jon Ort Family Scholarship Award in the College. George was a distinguished teacher and scientist who made immense contributions to N.C. State and the College. During his career at N.C. State, he taught more than 16,000 students. He won three University Outstanding Teaching Awards, the NCSU Distinguished Alumni Undergraduate Professor Award and the CALS Outstanding Academic Adviser Award. Even after George retired in 2001, he didn’t stop work-

Dr. Jon F. Ort

Dr. George T. Barthalmus

ing: He served as interim director of the University Honors Program in 2002-2003, spent 2005-06 in the role of interim department head of Zoology and then fashioned and directed a new university Office of Undergraduate Research. He published dozens of research articles and book chapters, as well as mystery novels. Royalties from the novels support the George T. and Marina T. Barthalmus Life Sciences Scholarship Endowment in the College. George and Jon were extraordinary university leaders and colleagues who will be missed. They both also were instrumental in the creation of this magazine and were consistent supporters of and contributors to its mission of sharing the news of the College’s research, extension and teaching activities. We thus dedicate this issue of Perspectives to their memory.

Johnny Wynne, Dean College of Agriculture and Life Sciences


On the Web:


The Magazine of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Summer 2011 Vol. 13, No. 2 Managing Editor: Terri Leith Design and Layout: Karl E. Larson Staff Photographers: Becky Kirkland, Marc Hall, Roger Winstead Staff Writers: Dave Caldwell, Natalie E. Hampton, Terri Leith, Dee Shore, Suzanne Stanard

Printed on recycled paper. 37,500 copies of this public document were printed at a cost of $20,482, or $.55 per copy.

2 Real Results for Real People CALS brings North Carolina the AgAdvantage.

8 Rising to the Top A new ‘showcase for the modern dairy industry’ adds luster to the FBNS Department’s golden anniversary.

Contributors: Erin McCrary, Rhonda Green, Jeanne Marie Wallace, NCSU News Services

13 Unleashing the Power of Extension

Perspectives is published by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at North Carolina State University.

15 Choice Cuts

Third Class Postage paid at Raleigh, NC 27611. Correspondence and requests for change of address should be addressed to Perspectives Editor, Box 7603, N.C. State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7603.

Printed by TCGLegacy, Garner, N.C.


William R. “Randy” Woodson, Chancellor Johnny C. Wynne, Dean and Executive Director for Agricultural Programs Kenneth L. Esbenshade, Associate Dean and Director, Academic Programs Joe Zublena, Associate Dean and Director, North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service David Smith, Associate Dean and Director, North Carolina Agricultural Research Service Sylvia Blankenship, Associate Dean for Administration Keith D. Oakley, Executive Director, Advancement 919.515.2000 W. Scott Troutman, Executive Director, Alumni and Friends Society

Joe Zublena brings experience and strategy to bear as state Extension director. Concord conference serves up lessons in niche meat handling.

17 College Profile Whether he’s the ‘cockroach guy’ or the ‘bed bug guy,’ entomologist Coby Schal is the go-to guy in the battle to control insect pests.

NOTEWORTHY 21 N E W S Extension’s 4-H team perseveres in robotics competition • Award-winning 4-H agent creates civics program to introduce high-school students to local government • Library exhibit tells the story of 4-H • Animal Science Club builds good fence for good neighbor • NUTS for nutrition • Better berries for a better economy • Gould elected to National Academy of Sciences • CALS will support agricultural education in Liberia • International AgriBusiness Law course launched • BritParis trip is a special spring break experience • Low-impact development project wins state award • New degree program focuses on business … and land • Graduate student examines invasive fish species and their ecosystem impacts • Surry County’s Pilot Mountain Pride successfully markets local produce • Faithful Families program promotes healthy lifestyles • Family and Consumer Sciences celebrates 100 years of service to N.C. families

35 A L U M N I Stone balances family life, farm work and community involvement • Alumnus Raymond Schnell maps cacao genome, leads international research • Off to great places: World travels lead Caitlin Lowe in new directions

39 G I V I N G May Day arboretum gala celebrates spring in Raleigh • Resource Development Awards presented, new endowments celebrated at 2011 joint foundations spring event • Carlson Endowment created to fund annual award for outstanding ARE dissertation

The Cover: Gary Cartwright, director of the CALS Dairy Enterprise System, is shown at the Lake Wheeler Road Dairy Educational Unit, which is being modernized and expanded. (Story, page 8.) Photo by Marc Hall

summer 2011


CALS brings North Car

Real Results for Real People


By Dee Shore

xtension and research:

You could call them North

Carolina’s AgAdvantage. Because that’s what North Carolina’s producers are saying. Whether they are operating in the mountains, piedmont

or coast; whether they’re involved in growing traditional crops or trying something new; and whether they grew up on a farm or

2 perspectives

got into the business some other way — these factors matter little. Because together, these farmers are saying things like “Researchers solve production problems,” “We need North Carolina Cooperative Extension now more than ever,” and “I wouldn’t have a successful operation if it were not for N.C. State.”

olina the AgAdvantage

Here we bring you a few of their stories — stories of farms being started, production problems being solved and dreams being fulfilled. And these are no small matters for North Carolina. Agriculture and agribusiness — food, fiber and forestry — account for almost a fifth of the state’s income and employees.

John (left) and B.B. Griffin

University helps farmers stay ahead of emerging pests

W Photos by Dee Shore

(Clockwise from top left) B.B. Griffin, Kristi Marshall, John Hoffman, Bryan Cash, John Griffin, Joey Baker, Jill Hoffman, Paul Marshall

orking on Bertie County land that their family has farmed for generations, cousins B.B. and John Griffin know a thing or two about growing cotton. But when it comes to staying a step ahead of pests, diseases and other production challenges, they say, they’ve come to rely on their CALS agents and scientists for timely solutions. To explain what they mean, the Griffins cite stink bugs, which have in recent years emerged as one of the most economically important

cotton pests. Today, virtually all N.C. cotton is genetically engineered with the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis to control caterpillars. As caterpillars have declined, so has the need to apply insecticides — but with the drop in spraying has come a rise in stink bugs and other insects that aren’t susceptible to Bt. To help farmers address the problem, agricultural scientists from land-grant universities in the Carolinas, Virginia, Georgia and Alabama began working together. They found that stink bugs are

summer 2011


most likely to cause economic yield losses during a relatively narrow window in the growing season — the third through fifth week after cotton plants bloom. NCSU entomology Extension specialist Dr. Jack Bacheler and technician Dan Mott developed a tough plastic field card that growers and crop scouts can use to figure out whether to spray. It illustrates how the boll damage threshold changes according to week of bloom. The card has pictures illustrating the type of damage that stink bugs do and explains the use of the new “dynamic,” or changing, threshold. It also includes holes that growers and scouts can use to more accurately gauge the size of vulnerable bolls on which the new threshold is based. Bacheler estimated that at least 20 percent of North Carolina cotton growers use the cards, potentially saving themselves a total of $8 million a year by limiting yield loss and eliminating unnecessary sprays. These cards are being evaluated throughout the remainder of the cotton belt in 2011. As B.B. put it, “You don’t want to spray when you don’t have to. And you certainly need to spray when you need to. Now, thanks to scientists working together across state lines, we have a way of knowing when it’s the right decision.” It’s just one example, John added, of the many ways that Extension and research help farmers get timely answers to problems that threaten their livelihood. “Some people say that the large farmers are beyond Extension. But that’s not true,” John said. “We need them as much or more than anyone else, and we need them as much now as we ever have.”

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Paul and Kristi Marshall

Extension helps Rockingham farmers fulfill retirement dreams


hen Paul and Kristi Marshall imagine their retirement, they see a farmhouse overlooking a thriving muscadine vineyard, a pear orchard, a field of Christmas trees, a juice processing plant and perhaps even bed-and-breakfast cabins. Fifth-generation farmers, the Marshalls bought a tobacco farm near Reidsville in 1989. Though both left farming for what they call “public jobs” – she as a systems analyst and he as a designer for an electronics manufacturer – they always hoped to return to the land. Among their goals: giving their children and grandchildren the kind of intangible quality-of-life benefits they enjoyed while growing up and providing themselves with a fruitful retirement. As the two have worked to turn their dreams into reality, they’ve often enlisted the help of agents with Cooperative Extension’s Rockingham County Center and of agricultural Extension specialists with CALS. Agriculture agent Kathryn Holmes has often been at their right hand, delivering advice on everything from farm business planning to pest management to safety. “Over the years, Kathryn has advised us on the more progressive ways, or the better ways, of doing things,” Paul said. “And also

the most economical, the most efficient,” Kristi added. Holmes also helped the Marshalls write a grant proposal that allowed them to establish North Carolina’s largest pear orchard. They are growing 140 pear trees — 10 each of 14 different European and Asian varieties — and testing the survival rate, fire blight resistance and marketability. They want to determine whether dessert pears can be a viable alternative to traditional crops such as tobacco. The pear project is supported by a grant from the nonprofit organization Rural Advancement Foundation International, or RAFI, and the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission. The Marshalls are also experimenting with Christmas trees with the help of Dr. Dennis Hazel, an Extension Christmas tree specialist. As for the future of the farm they call Riverbirch Vineyards, the Marshalls hope to get into beekeeping. They plan to build a home on the farm and move there. They recently won a RAFI grant to get into juicing and fruit processing. They see a day when they might make gift baskets for sale through a local foods organization. And they want to convert two barns into a bed-and-breakfast. (continued next page)

On-farm research leads to solutions for Bertie County farmer


hen it comes to growing crops like peanuts, cotton, corn and soybeans, knowing the latest research-based recommendations can mean the difference between making a profit or racking up losses. And there’s no faster way of getting that information, said Bertie County farmer Joey Baker, than by having researchers conduct trials on your farm. Baker farms more than 3,000 acres in northeastern North Carolina and is president of the N.C. Peanut Growers Association. He said he depends on the university and Cooperative Extension for answers to some of his most vexing issues. And for the past six or seven years, he has hosted NCSU experiments on his farm. Cooperating with the university gives Baker early and firsthand insight on questions ranging from how new corn varieties perform under real-world conditions to when is the best time to apply disease-preventing fungicides on peanuts. As an example, he points

Joey Baker

to a trial that plant pathologist Dr. Barbara Shew conducted to determine the optimal timing and number of fungicide applications for Sclerotinia blight, one of the worst peanut diseases. “Spraying is expensive, and so spraying at the wrong time can take the profit potential out of peanuts real fast,” Baker said. Based on what Shew learned

Marshalls (continued) The plans are big, but, as Holmes has advised, the Marshalls are taking it one step at a time. “We just keep putting one foot in front of the other,” Paul said. “And Extension has been with us since day one on everything we’ve done. The hours that Kathryn and all of her cohorts at the Extension office in Rockingham have put in and the support we’ve gotten from

N.C. State University – we never can pay that back. There’s no dollar amount you can put on that.” The Marshalls said that participating in research and demonstration efforts is a way to return to the farming community what Extension has provided them. And, Paul said, it is a way to encourage farmers to work together and improve the local economy.

at Baker’s farm and elsewhere, scientists developed a weather-based Scleronitia blight advisory system that alerts growers when it’s time to take action. They found that late-season sprays don’t have much benefit, but early-spraying according to the advisory or at the first sign of the disease is cost-effective. Shew said that conducting trials on Baker’s farm has given her insights she might not have reached by working solely in a laboratory. “Seeing tiny Sclerotinia infections during severe drought … really stands out,” she said. “With just one rain, I’m sure an epidemic would have exploded overnight. Another lesson was seeing the fungus actively growing in 100-degree heat. That’s not supposed to happen. Weather models and lab studies showed the same thing, but I would not have believed it if I hadn’t seen it myself on several occasions.” Shew is just one of the university scientists and Extension educators who’ve assisted Baker. Dr. Alan York has been an asset when it comes to weed control in cotton, Dr. Tom Isleib has developed soonto-be-released peanut varieties that Baker is eager to use on his farm and Dr. David Jordan has been helpful with tomato spotted wilt virus on peanuts, Baker said. He also cites Extension agents Richard Rhodes of Bertie County and Craig Ellison of Northampton County, which is where the farmer lives. “I stay in contact with my … Extension agents, and they can usually answer my questions right off the top of their head,” he said. “There’s nothing like having a firm answer that you can depend on.”

summer 2011


Nursery collaborates with N.C. State to solve production challenges


rom its greenhouses and farm in Rougemont, Hoffman Nursery sells ornamental and native grass liners — or starter plants — wholesale to customers all across the United States and Canada. But when the company’s owners need solutions to production problems, they frequently look much closer to home — to the agricultural research and Extension experts at N.C. State. CALS scientists are conducting three research projects in collaboration with the nursery and its owners, John Hoffman and Dr. Jill Hoffman. The experiments are designed to create a superior cultivar of a popular ornamental grass and to solve problems related to pest and weed management. The work has the potential to benefit not just the Hoffmans but the entire nursery industry, one of the most valuable sectors of North Carolina agriculture. In 2009, greenhouse, nursery and floriculture crops generated more than $900 million in cash receipts. One of the NCSU projects involves developing a seedless cultivar of the ornamental grass Miscanthus sinensis. Sometimes called silvergrass, this perennial grass is among the most popular in U.S. landscapes, but in some places, it has a tendency to reseed and cause problems in the landscape. To get around that problem, Drs. Tom Ranney and Darren Touchell, plant breeders stationed at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center in Mills River, are using biotechnology tools to create cultivars that won’t reseed and spread. They are testing plant material in the mountains, while the Hoffmans are conducting field trials at their piedmont location. John Hoffman said the nursery helped fund the Miscanthus research because he expects there to be strong interest in cultivars that don’t reseed. “We think it’s certainly a worthy 6 perspectives

tacted Dr. Steven Frank of CALS’ Department of Entomology for advice on how best to use the plant. Because no research had been done on the topic, he enlisted one of his graduate students to find answers. Sarah Wong, a master’s degree student, is comparing greenhouses with banker plants and pirate bugs to houses without them. The third research collaboration between Hoffman Nursery and N.C. State is also focused on controlling pests – specifically, weeds. With funding through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Interregional Research Project No. 4, most often referred to as John and Jill Hoffman IR-4, Dr. Joseph Neal of the Department of Horplant for the landscape,” he said. ticultural Science is studying herbi“We thought if we could come up cides for ornamental grasses. with something that wouldn’t reRight now, few herbicides are laseed, it could go nationwide and, beled for pre-emergence and postepossibly, worldwide.” mergence weed control in ornamenIn a second project, the nursery tal grasses, mainly because pesticide has partnered with N.C. State to manufacturers have little incentive consider ways to encourage bento invest in the expensive process of eficial insects – ones that prey on developing and testing products for pests – to thrive in greenhouses. use in such minor crops. Specifically, they are looking at the Neal’s research is designed to Black Pearl pepper plant as a sohelp fill that gap by identifying new called banker plant to support the pest management tools for ornasurvival and reproduction of the mental growers. minute pirate bug. These ongoing research projects The bug is sometimes used to are just the latest efforts linking control thrips, spider mites and N.C. State and Hoffman Nursery. aphids, three of the most economiJill earned her master’s and cally damaging pests of ornamental Ph.D. in toxicology from the plants grown in greenhouses. UsCollege of Agriculture and Life ing beneficial insects provides an Sciences in the 1980s, and John alternative to chemical pesticides, took courses with the late Dr. J.C. but the insects can be expensive and Raulston, a CALS professor and aren’t guaranteed to persist in green- namesake for its JC Raulston Arhouses after their initial release. boretum. Wendy Trueblood, a nursery emWhile operating a landscape ployee, had heard about using Black business he started in 1981, John Pearl in greenhouses, and she con(continued next page)

Bryan Cash

Anson County farmer starts with Extension to get on award-winning track


ryan Cash is justifiably proud of his cattle herd in Anson County. When he bought his first cows more than a decade ago, he knew very little about what it took to raise them. But now, he has a herd of close to 70 healthy cows, plus 42 calves that are thriving. “Everything that you see out there today, I wanted it, and I did it, but without my Extension agent Richard Melton, (the farm) wouldn’t be where it is today,” said Cash, Anson County’s Outstanding Farmer of the Year in 2008.

“Everything I learned, I learned from Richard.” And by everything, Cash means solid practices related to nutrition, record-keeping, reproduction, genetics, health, marketing and more. Cash began cattle farming in 1999 to supplement his earnings as an N.C. prison correction officer. “I didn’t know anything when I first started. I got to the point where I would sell some calves, and they would be a year old but they wouldn’t weigh but about 400

Hoffmans (continued) noticed a growing interest in using ornamental grasses and thought he could create a business to capitalize on that interest. His hunch was confirmed by Raulston, who told his students that grasses were, along with aquatic plants and bamboo, the plants of the future. In 1986, the Hoffmans bought 45 acres in rural Durham County. Since then, Hoffman Nursery Inc. has matured into a successful horticultural business with more than 60 greenhouses and 35 full-time employees. They constantly strive to improve their efficiency and to be

good environmental stewards, Jill Hoffman says, exploring ways to recycle water, make the best use of energy, mechanize production and shipping, and more. The nursery’s Director of Sales and Marketing Shannon Currey said that collaborating with N.C. State researchers also leads to more efficiencies. Not only that, collaborative research is a mutually beneficial: NCSU has a chance to stay in touch with the industry and be aware of real-world problems it faces, while the nursery gains access to leading-edge solutions.

pounds,” Cash said. “I knew that wasn’t right. I didn’t know where to go, but I wanted to get better.” On other farmers’ recommendation, Cash turned to Melton. The day they met, the agent listened and advised Cash about nutrition and genetic improvements. He also encouraged Cash to buy a good bull. In months and years to come, Melton – now Extension director in nearby Union County – would be there when Cash castrated his first animal and the first time the farmer artificially inseminated a cow. Today, Cash relies exclusively on artificial insemination for his herd, and fellow Anson County farmers often call him for help. He estimated he’s artificially inseminated 300 cows in the past year. Cash makes time every day to look after the herd, and he believes in taking good care of what he calls his momma cows. “You need to keep her in good shape. If you do, she’s going to work for you,” he says. “If not, she can’t give you but so much.” From Melton, Cash learned that 30 days before they are expected to deliver their calves, it is important to give cows vitamin E and a vaccine to prevent reproductive and respiratory diseases. He also learned that when each calf is born, they should get vitamin E and their umbilical cords should be sprayed with a solution that prevents infection. “I don’t know where else I would have gone to get to where I am today. When I made the phone call to the Extension office, things started shaping up,” Cash said. “Richard’s knowledge pushed me and got me to where I am today.”

summer 2011


Marc Hall

Rising to the Top


By Terri Leith

here’s a new milking center under the last stages

of construction at N.C. State University’s Lake Wheeler Road Dairy Research and Teaching Farm, to be joined Marc Hall

by a new heifer raising facility, classroom pavilion and a visitor center/museum. All are components of the Dairy Enterprise System, a vertically integrated university approach to all aspects of the dairy commodity, from milking to market, from cow to consumer. That system is housed in the Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences, in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The FBNS department, formerly known as Food Science, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. And it is fitting that the modernized dairy unit is the newest milestone in the department’s history – because it all started with a creamery, well before the department’s official creation in 1961. Food science at N.C. State 8 perspectives

evolved from the work in the dairy technology field on the N.C. State campus in 1918, pasteurizing milk for soldiers based near the college. This also was the first milk pasteurized in the state. By the early 1920s, Professor William L. Clevenger was on campus as dairy W.L. Clevenger manufacturing and Extension specialist, teaching courses and working to develop the state’s cheese and dairy industry. The details of all this were

A new ‘showcase for the modern dairy industry’ adds luster to the FBNS Department’s golden anniversary. The framework for the new Lake Wheeler Road milking facility has taken shape (above). At top is Gary Cartwright, director of the Dairy Enterprise System.

A bottler works at the N.C. State dairy plant in Polk Hall in the 1950s.

Courtesy FBNS

recalled by Dr. W.M. Roberts, who in 1961 became the first head of the new Food Science Department, in an interview with Dr. Dean W. Colvard. (Colvard, who served as CALS dean from 1953 to 1960, spoke with Roberts in 1979 as part of his research for Knowledge Is Power, a history of N.C. State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Colvard later turned over all interview transcripts and other pertinent papers as a gift to the College’s former Department of Communication Services.) When Roberts came from Tennessee in the early ’40s to visit N.C. State about a dairy-related position in the college’s Animal Industry Department, it was Clevenger who met his train and hosted a tour of dairy operations around the state. “I could see the relationship that Professor Clevenger had with these people and the confidence they had in him,” Roberts told Colvard. And when N.C. State offered Roberts a job, he was told “it was the first state appropriation that had ever been given for work in this particular area. This was the beginning.” Roberts said that he was “quizzed very critically and in detail about what I thought it would take to build a dairy manufacturing department of the type that was needed and wanted,” and Roberts laid out what he envisioned. “We had rather quickly one of the best staffed departments in the South” Roberts told Colvard. In fact, Roberts recalled, by 1952, North Carolina State College conferred, “as far as we can determine, … the first Ph.D. in dairy manufacturing in the South to Dr. R.B. Redfern.” Among the college units and departments that make up the cross-curricular origins of the food science/food processing curriculum at N.C. State is Horticultural Science. In 1930, Dr. Ivan Jones joined the (then) Horticulture Depart-

ment, where he was instrumental in enlarging the food preservation program and conducted N.C. State’s first research on the commercial processing of fruits and vegetables. In 1961, having led the committee to develop a food processing curriculum, he became a professor in the newly created Food Science Department. Going into the 1960s, food processing had been recognized as a viable economic player in the state’s economy. By 1961, the state’s Ivan Jones legislature had before it the request to start a new Department of Food Processing at N.C. State. Jones, also interviewed by Colvard in 1979, offered his recollection of the department’s creation: “I think of Governor [Terry] Sanford as being the man who was really responsible for getting a food processing department started,” Jones said. “Not only Governor Sanford, but Ralph Scott, … who, I think, deserves the recognition for being responsible for starting the present food science program on the campus.” (Scott, N.C. State class of 1924, who served as a state senator and university trustee, was one of the organizers of the Dairy Foundation at NCSU.) “I was told that he specified that a certain amount of money be

set aside for possibility of making preliminary steps to a Department of Food Science in 1959 or 1960,” Jones added. “The amount of money was a nominal sum, but it did serve as seed money and with the backing of Gov. Sanford, there was a Department of Food Science established. The faculty was formed from various departments.” Thus in 1961, the department was established to house the university’s academic curricula and research and extension programs related to food processing. The department was first called “Food Processing,” then became “Food Science” and is now the Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences. There are, of course, numerous historic events that mark the way from 1961 to 2011 for the department. And in this anniversary year, there’s an event in the making: the modernized Lake Wheeler Road Dairy Farm.


hat a farm it will be. The construction started in December 2010, with completion to be in late fall 2011. When all modernization is complete, the Lake Wheeler Road Dairy Educational Unit will include a new milking center, freestall facility, heifer raising facility, classroom and pavilion — and a visitor center/museum to teach visitors about the dairy and the property’s Randleigh Farm connections and history. “The Randleigh Farm, which was donated by William Kenan to the university in the ’60s, was sold, and a significant part of the proceeds was set aside for a new milk

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Courtesy FBNS

In 1964, ground for Schaub Hall was broken by (from left) UNC system President Bill Friday, NCSU Chancellor John Caldwell, N.C. Gov. Terry Sanford, CALS Dean H. Brooks James, Food Science Department Head William Roberts and N.C. Sen. Ralph Scott.

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in North Carolina view these new dairy facilities as being the showcase for the modern dairy industry in North Carolina. Since many of our dairy farmers provided input into the design and construction of these facilities, they also feel ownership and great pride in the revitalization of our dairy teaching and research programs at the university. “Extension agents and FFA vocational agriculture instructors, as well as 4-H and FFA members, will utilize these new dairy facilities to learn more up-to-date information to share with dairy farmers and the general public across the state,” Hopkins said, adding that “the

Marc Hall

ing parlor,” said Gary Cartwright, director of the Dairy Enterprise System. “This all represents a 20-year master plan,” he said. “We want this to be the farm of 2050, not the farm of 2010.” Currently, the farm has more than 300 total cows, about onequarter Jerseys and the rest Holsteins. The milking herd has been as low as 125 animals but is currently at 165, Cartwright said. “Our target is to be between 160 and 180 to be an efficient operation and have sufficient numbers for valid research trials.” In oversight of the herd, he said, “We absolutely depend on the Department of Animal Science to define the direction we want to go. The operation is under FBNS, but Animal Science is the driver of teaching and research and collaborative efforts with the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM).” Animal Science Professor and Extension dairy specialist Dr. Brinton Hopkins said, “While several university dairy teaching and research herds across the country have been closed in recent years, N.C. State University had the great foresight to do just the opposite and expand and improve our dairy facilities. This puts N.C. State University in the forefront as the primary dairy teaching and research location in the Southeast United States.” Hopkins said that “dairy farmers

Cartwright says the new facility will be an environment that truly represents the region’s dairy farms.

general public will gain a greater, more positive appreciation for the North Carolina dairy industry by visiting our new dairy facilities and museum at the Lake Wheeler Road Dairy Educational Unit.” According to his animal science colleague Dr. Vivek Fellner, the key advantages of having the new dairy unit facilities are “an improved facility to showcase newer technology to students; new degree programs that combine pre- and post-harvest technologies; increased cow comfort and well-being of animals; enhanced waste management by streamlining housing, milking and feeding areas; and improved nutrient capture, to minimize environmental impact of the farming system.” Moreover, he said, the expansion of the facility “will allow us to propose a new degree program outlined for students who want technical expertise in dairy management with pre-harvest and postharvest technologies. “The future of the dairy industry lies in a better understanding and close link between production practices at the farm and milk handling, processing and marketing of dairy products. The new milking parlor, improved calf housing modules and on-site pasteurizer units give us an edge over other campuses in the United States for highly focused and specialized research projects.” Anthony Chesnutt, dairy farm manager, shares his colleagues’ enthusiasm about the new milking parlor, which, he said, “will host numerous milking labs associated with the NCSU animal science and the Agricultural Institute curricula that afford students the opportunity to get hands-on experience in the

try supported us and supports us in this new direction,” Cartwright said. “The legislature gave us the ability to sell dairy products produced in FBNS to the general public, which

Becky Kirkland

Dairy Enterprise System puts into place is “implementing entrepreneurial and economic feasibility into the whole operation. Our mission is research, teaching and extension, but paying for it is paramount. Our ultimate goal is being totally self-sufficient. The dairy processing plant has always been totally selfsupporting,” Cartwright said. “All participants – students, researchers, instructors and staff – have the opportunity and the responsibility to contribute to a continuously improving operation. There are finite resources, so decisions must be made as to the best way to invest for maximum return. However, in our environment those returns are not measured just by dollars, but elements of cow comfort, genetic quality, teaching efficiencies and capabilities, feed and metabolism, breeding, etc., are considerations of value.” And while the dairy farm construction is funded by proceeds of the Randleigh Farm sale, “right now money is flowing from our operation in Schaub back to the farm,” said Cartwright. “The system can balance itself out.” Students work in the current milking parlor, which will The operasoon relocate to the more spacious, modern facility nearby. tion in Schaub, Adjacent will be a classroom pavilion and labs. of course, prohands-on large animal and dairy cesses and markets N.C. State dairy experience to enhance their educaproducts, particularly ice cream, tional endeavors.” now branded as Howling Cow FBNS’ Cartwright is equally products. “We’d always been N.C. excited about what the new faciliState ice cream, N.C. State milk,” ties mean to the Dairy Enterprise explained Cartwright. “We decided System, which integrates the Lake we wanted to brand it, so in 2008, Wheeler Road Dairy Farm with we came up with ‘Howling Cow.’” the Schaub Hall Dairy Pilot Plant. It was in 2004 that the depart“We wanted to have an operation ment went to the legislature and large enough to have valid research asked for an exemption from the and teaching applications,” he said. Umstead Act, which prevents uni“This model allows us to do that.” versities from competing with the The main change to the departprivate sector. “The legislature supment’s dairy operation that the ported us, and the state dairy indus-

Marc Hall

milking process.” Furthermore, he said, both CALS animal science and CVM faculty and students will have opportunities to take part in researchrelated activities, such as milk sampling, teat scoring, mastitis management and milk data collection. “A new calf milk pasteurizer will be located in the new facility for research and teaching purposes,” he said. Groups associated with 4-H, YMCA, Ag in the Classroom, elementary and middle schools, dairy industry and private farms will be touring the facility under strict bio-security guidelines, said Chesnutt. “Biosecurity will be a major emphasis and teaching aspect of this facility.” And, as always, he said, “N.C. State students will continue to work in a flexible capacity in the new facility, which will afford them

Dr. Keith Harris and FBNS students scoop ice cream for State Fair customers.

we could not do previously. But we must sell it on N.C. State’s campus.” As for the ever-popular ice cream venue at the N.C. State Fair, he said, “We sell the ice cream to the Food Science Club students, and they sell it at the fair.” The FBNS dairy operation can also claim credit for enhancing the university’s participation in the local foods movement — which emphasizes the support of the state’s growers via consumption of locally grown products — as campus student food venues have traditionally sold the department’s milk and ice cream. And there are more products to come, said Cartwright. “With the popularity of our ice cream, we knew the future of our operation and the best template for educating students was a much more diverse fluid line than plain milk,” he said. “We want to do more diverse, value-added dairy products and integrate the students into what we do. It is an incredible teaching tool: From bench-top ingredients to processing to labeling and marketing, all those things have to be put together, and this gives our students significant realworld experience and advantage.” And, he added, “This also creates a pipeline that perhaps the next Gatorade comes from N.C. State and will be a milk product. But ev

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r. Christopher Daubert, interim head of FBNS, called the Creamery “a significant part of our departmental history: Food Science was born from the Dairy Manufacturing program within dairy husbandry. The formation of the vertically integrated Dairy Enterprise System, through adoption of our research and teaching farm on Lake Wheeler Road, is a natural extension of an already successful function. The farm provides our scientists with the opportunity to extend research all the way back to the crops grown for our cows, availing the opportunity to observe and see impacts on food quality and nutrient value. We essentially have command and control of the production pipeline, from the crops to cow to cream.” Daubert added that “as far as we know, N.C. State is the only major university to integrate all 12 perspectives

aspects of dairy production under one system, with the goal of approaching operational self-sustainability.” At the same time, he said, “by keeping education through research, teaching and extension as our driving mission, N.C. State is producing dairy professionals who are skilled in science and have practical experience in every facet of the dairy business. We are already hearing from industry leaders — not only in North Carolina, but nationally — that students exposed to all levels of farm-to-fork production are in high demand.” As the function and operation of the facilities expand, he said, “Our vision is for this N.C. State farm to represent a model for the future of dairy farming. We feel an obligation to instruct the next

LET’S CELEBRATE 50 YEARS! The FBNS 50th Anniversary Celebration events take place Sept. 22-24. For information: Call 919.513.2388 or email:

Marc Hall

erything will be education-based. “The need to do all this,” he said, “meant we needed to have an outlet to showcase. All of these concepts culminated in the Schaub annex.” That’s another milestone event coming: N.C. State is to have the Creamery, an on-campus dairy retail operation/ice cream parlor addition planned for the north side of Schaub Hall.

generation of leaders in the dairy industry with the next generation of technologies that address issues of concern, like waste and water management, animal health and welfare, and energy conservation to name a few.” Said Cartwright, “From my perspective, the impact to the dairy program within our department is the ability to vertically integrate and stabilize financially for perpetuity and be here for future generations.” And appropriately enough, this vision takes shape during the FBNS anniversary. “We are celebrating 50 years of achievement by our faculty, staff and students,” said Daubert. “This department is the key engine that drives innovation and entrepreneurship for food manufacturing in North Carolina.”

Courtesy FBNS

The planned annex to Schaub Hall will house an on-campus dairy retail operation and an ice cream parlor.

Unleashing the Power of Extension Joe Zublena brings experience and strategy to bear as state Extension director.

Dr. Joe Zublena Marc Hall


poster on

By Dee Shore

Dr. Joe Zublena’s office wall describes the

power of a leader. “By the strength of the leader’s commitment,” it says, “the power of the team is unleashed.”

Today, Zublena’s challenge is unleashing the power of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, the largest extension program at N.C. State University and one of the largest in the country. In December, Zublena was named Extension’s director, as well as associate dean for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Zublena brings more than 30 years of experience with extension and a passion for its ability to bring

about positive changes for farmers, families and young people. He hopes to help the organization focus its programs, defining those areas in which it can make the strongest impact and making those areas the highest priorities when it comes to funding and staffing decisions. Zublena describes himself as a “product of Extension.” His first brush with the organization was as a student at Rutgers University, the land-grant university of New Jersey.

He’d earned a bachelor’s degree in botany and a master’s degree in soils and crops when he landed an assistantship with Extension specialist Jim Justin. “Through him, I learned there’s something about an extension personality. He knew the issues, and he knew how to do things to impact the issues,” Zublena recalls. “I knew I liked extension because it was changing things. And the other thing is, it was fun. It wasn’t boring — every day was something new, a new issue or a new concern. “I just knew it was me.” After earning his Ph.D. in 1979, Zublena took a job as an assistant

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ate director position in charge of Extension’s agricultural, natural resources and community and rural development programs. Melton is a plant pathologist who had served as Extension’s assistant director for agricultural programs. Rounding out the administrative team is Dr. Marshall Stewart, an agricultural educator who has for six years been associate director of 4-H youth development and family and consumer sciences. Zublena sees the team’s task as one of rebuilding – of helping to lay a foundation of strong, focused programs that have a meaningful and deliberate impact on the lives of North Carolina’s people.


he organization, he says, has an outstanding faculty and staff dedicated to the mission of empowering people and providing solutions through research-based knowledge and technology. It has a rich, century-long history of improving the state’s economy, the environment and the quality of life. And it has a committed network of partners and volunteers who amplify Extension’s efforts. But in today’s competitive environment and tight economic times, Extension needs to get serious about being strategic, Zublena says. “We are very scattered,” he says. “Everyone is doing good stuff, but that good stuff is going in all directions. It’s not focused. What I’d like for everyone to do now is to just face north and start doing good things facing north. And then we’ll try to slowly pull things in to be more focused – to go from a shotgun approach to that of a rifle – something that’s narrower and more well-defined.” And that, he says, means deciding which programs Extension should focus on and then defining what success in those program areas will look like. Once that’s decided, he says, it’s time for action: putting the processes and people in place to achieve

that success. “Whenever we fund something or hire a new position, we have to know how it builds toward that defined success,” he says. While Extension has in the past talked about taking a strategic approach, years of budget cuts and the lack of prioritization pulled the organization off track, Zublena says. “We need to prioritize so that when we have to make cuts, we cut things that aren’t that rifle point,” he says. “Right now, we don’t know what the rifle point is, so it’s hard to be discriminating. I’ve been talking a lot with the new administrative team about this – defining what we really need to be working on and what we need to be changing. “My role as the leader is to make sure that we have those critical conversations and dialogues – and that we act on them,” he says. “I’m really excited about the first meetings we’ve had. The administrative team members are expressing their ideas. They are all challenging each other in very positive ways to make the organization better. They really want to move this organization forward.” Moving ahead, he says, requires more than conversations with a small team. It means hearing what faculty and staff have to say, as well as listening to those outside the organization – funding stakeholders, leaders of partnering organizations, volunteers and clients, among them. Having such feedback is vital to Extension’s future, Zublena says. “Cooperative Extension is one of the jewels in the N.C. State family. It is the conduit into every county, and we need to keep building that connection,” he says. “We are looking to strengthen, improve and, we hope, keep this organization as a strength not only for the university but for the state for years to come.”

professor and extension agronomist at Clemson University. There, he specialized in corn and sorghum. But in 1988 a career that had to that point been focused on crop production took a turn. Hired as N.C. State’s Extension leader for the Department of Soil Science, he soon found himself leading programs in the area of waste management. At the time, waste management was emerging as a key issue in North Carolina, and Zublena helped develop a comprehensive train-the-trainer program related to waste management on farms. He was also one of the first extension specialists nationwide to conduct a nutrient mapping effort to identify areas where waste production was most likely to push soil nutrient levels too high and thus create problems in the environment. “It was a wild ride, but it was also a great time for educational opportunities and for addressing an important societal issue,” he said. “I like helping people, solving problems and making things more efficient. And that’s exactly what Extension was doing at that time — and what it continues to do.” Zublena’s leadership skills factored into Extension’s success in helping North Carolina address waste management issues, and in 1995 he began putting those skills to use as Extension’s associate state program leader for natural resources and community and rural development. The next year, he was named assistant director of Cooperative Extension and director of county operations. Zublena’s first order of business as state Extension director has been to assemble a top-notch administrative team. To fill the associate director and director of county operations position he previously held, he appointed Sheri Schwab, a lawyer who most recently served as the college’s assistant dean for personnel. Zublena also appointed Dr. Tom Melton to fill the associ-

Choice Cuts Concord conference serves up lessons in niche meat handling.

Becky Kirkland


n one room of the

By Natalie Hampton

Cabarrus Event Center, Dr. Gregg

Rentfrow of the University of Kentucky is cutting a side of

At a popular conference workshop, Dr. Gregg Rentfrow demonstrated specialty meat cuts.

beef into pieces, demonstrating where to find value-added

cuts like a flat iron steak, chuck tender or a Denver cut. Later, N.C. State University’s Dr. Dana Hanson tries to debunk some myths about meat production, while across the way, a group of would-be butchers learn where meat comes from by cutting down half a pork carcass. This was the scene in March at the Carolina Meat Conference in Concord, which brought together more than 250 players in the meat industry from 13 states. The event, coordinated by NC Choices, a Center for Environmental Farming Systems’ program, drew meat producers, butchers, processors, retailers, regulators and chefs from

as far away as Texas, California and Vermont. NC Choices promotes the production and sale of locally raised and niche meats. Such products are defined by a range of production practices and marketing strategies that consumers increasingly value. Production methods that define niche meats include organic, grassfed, pasture-raised, cage-free, freerange and heritage breed, as well as meat raised with humane husbandry practices and without antibiotics or added hormones. “We were just thrilled and excited with the diversity of individu-

als who came to the conference,” said Jennifer Curtis, NC Choices project director. Curtis said the conference was the first of its kind in the country. “I think it was the right time to do it, because of the growth and demand for niche meats,” said Casey McKissick, NC Choices’ coordinator. “Did it work? Yeah, I think people were very excited, reinvigorated and inspired.” It was so successful that McKissick is already planning a focused workshop series in 2012 and a repeat statewide conference in 2013. Curtis, who has worked with NC Choices for five years, says it’s difficult to track exactly how

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Becky Kirkland

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Becky Kirkland

beef and lamb with her husband, Howard, at McAdams Farm. McKissick hopes that the butchery parts of the workshop will help encourage newcomers to the field of artisanal butchery. Most retail outlets now sell meat that is processed offsite, Curtis said, and there is little role for store-based butchers anymore. “More and more young people

CALS’ Dr. Dana Hanson was the meatprocessing myth buster.

are interested in working in butchery shops,” she said. “They’re anxious for more information on the art of butchery.” Artisanal butchery promotes meat sales to restaurants by providing chefs with options for utilizing a

Butchers-in-training worked in teams to practice cutting and processing carcasses.

whole meat carcass, rather than just buying select cuts. Farmers benefit when they can sell the whole carcass, McKissick said. During the conference, a chef workshop on whole animal utilization was filled and had a waiting list, showing the meat industry’s interest in learning more about buying, selling and processing whole carcasses. Rentfrow of the University of Kentucky provided a workshop for meat processors on optimizing carcass utilization. He demonstrated the labor-intensive nature of some specialty meat cuts. Rentfrow said the meat processing industry is looking for ways to reduce the labor involved in those specialty cuts. Meanwhile, N.C. State’s Extension meat specialist Dr. Dana Hanson addressed “meat-processing myth busters,” explaining some common misconceptions about the cost of meat processing equipment, maintenance and the profit margins of meat processing. During the first afternoon of the conference, home chefs grabbed some very sharp knives and tested their skill at butchery to see firsthand where various cuts of meat are found in a whole carcass. Tia Harrison of the Butcher’s Guild and executive chef of Sociale in San Francisco has been offering a consumer class for several years, “so people will know where their meat comes from.”

Becky Kirkland

much North Carolina’s niche meat industry has grown in the last 10 years, but it’s safe to say that it is in pace with what has happened in national markets. Comments from conference participants outside the state indicate that North Carolina is nationally recognized for its progressive work in the area of local food systems, especially locally produced meats. Across the United States, sales of natural and organic red meats have grown by 15 percent, compared with growth of 1.7 percent for all red meat sales. Poultry sales overall increased 7.8 percent, while sales of natural and organic poultry have grown by almost 14 percent. Curtis says the best way to get a picture of how North Carolina’s niche meat industry has grown is by the growth in the number of meat handlers’ registration in the state since 2007. The number of registered meat handlers in the state has grown by 187 percent over four years, while the number of farmer-registered meat handlers has grown by 321 percent, she said. Curtis hopes conference participants got a sense of being part of a growing industry. Producer Karen McAdams of Orange County said it was unusual to have both producers and processors at the same conference. “I think it was a step in the right direction, addressing some of the issues with marketing local meats,” said McAdams, a former livestock Extension agent, who now raises

College Profile Whether he’s the ‘cockroach guy’ or ‘bed bug guy,’ entomologist Coby Schal is the go-to guy in the battle to control insect pests. By Suzanne Stanard

Marc Hall


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Marc Hall

Dr. Coby Schal provides a closer look at the pest that’s been plaguing homes, hotels and hospitals.



Coby Schal of N.C. State University’s College

of Agriculture and Life Sciences is getting used to being known as “the bed bug guy.”

Schal has made the rounds in local and national media over the past year, from an interview on NPR’s “The People’s Pharmacy” to a talk at the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Bed Bug Summit. His work also is featured in a new National Geographic documentary. “Nothing surprises me anymore about bed bugs,” Schal says with a chuckle. He fields requests from all sorts of people, including those in medicine, construction, furniture and textiles. “We’re working with North Carolina companies quite a lot now, especially furniture makers,” Schal says. “They’re working to prevent their furniture from harboring bed bugs, and they’re interested in our help primarily because we raise bed bugs. “We probably raise more bed bugs in our lab than anyone in the world, so we’re able to test these companies’ products here in our lab.” Indeed, it’s difficult to miss the “Bed Bug Containment Area” sign on the door to Schal’s lab. His lab raises 40 different strains of bed bugs that they’ve collected from all over the country, including about 10 strains from North Carolina. “Different strains have unique 18 perspectives

features and different genetics, so it gives us a range of different populations to test our strategies on,” Schal says. “We’re working hard to find solutions for bed bug control.” Before he became renowned for his work on bed bugs, Schal was (and still is) known as “the cockroach guy.” He says that his work with cockroaches continues at full steam, and his lab has made some recent discoveries that could prove to be ground-breaking. “Almost 20 years ago, my colleague Jules Silverman discovered that there are cockroach populations that refuse to eat certain sugars,” Schal says. “This is fascinating because almost all animals like sugar, especially glucose. The taste of sweet is almost universal in its acceptance.” Schal thinks Silverman’s discovery means that some cockroaches have evolved to resist insecticide baits that combine glucose with poison. “By avoiding glucose, they’re

avoiding insecticide,” Schal says. “Not much has happened with this discovery over the last 20 years because the mechanism has not been understood.” Until now. Using a combination of behavioral and neurophysiological studies, Ayako Katsumata, a postdoctoral researcher in Schal’s lab, has discovered that these cockroaches have a genetic mutation that makes glucose taste bitter, so they avoid it. “This opens up a whole new area of molecular biology for us, and I believe it may turn out to be a textbook example of understanding the molecular mechanisms of behavioral resistance,” Schal says. The discovery is new because most well-known cases of insecticide resistance are purely physiological: a change in the insect’s metabolism renders poisons ineffective. But with behavioral resistance, insects evolve new habits to avoid insecticides entirely. Now Schal’s lab has found sensory underpinnings of one of these behavioral changes. He describes his work with cockroaches as an “arms race” and says, “We keep hitting them with different insecticides and other control strategies, and they continue to evolve ways to evade them.” Schal lights up when he talks about bed bugs and cockroaches. He’s fascinated, not grossed out, as evidenced by the wall behind his desk that is plastered with photos of different roaches. But it hasn’t always been that way. “I think I’m different from

many entomologists, because I don’t remember playing with insects as a kid,” Schal says.


orn in Poland, he moved with his family to Israel at the age of 2. His parents, who were Holocaust survivors, moved the family to the United States when Schal was 15, seeking better education for him and his older sister. The family settled in New York City, and many years later, Schal has discovered that he grew up mere miles from a number of his fellow N.C. State colleagues. After graduating from high school – the first in his family to do so – Schal enrolled at the State University of New York in Albany. On track for medical school, he decided to change careers when he fainted at the sight of a spinal tap as a volunteer at an Albany hospital. “I took it as a sign from above that this is not what I should be doing,” he says with a broad smile. He became interested in zoology and ecology and took a number of graduate-level courses as an undergraduate. Bypassing a master’s degree, Schal enrolled in a Ph.D. program in entomology at the University of Kansas, during which he spent more than three years immersed in the rainforests of Costa Rica. “That’s what really got me hooked not only on cockroaches, but also on natural history and behavior and ecology,” Schal says. To really understand “what makes tropical cockroaches tick,” Schal even became nocturnal and slept during the day, like the creatures he studied. Describing the cockroaches as “incredible” and “amazing,” Schal discovered and named several

new species in the rainforest and also became interested in chemical ecology. “These cockroaches live in a huge, dark jungle,” he says. “I wanted to know how they find each other, how these insects use chemicals to mediate interactions between the sexes. “That experience was my real falling in love with insects,” Schal says. “It also set the stage for me wanting to combine lab work with field work throughout my career, and also not to be constrained by disciplinary boundaries.” Schal doesn’t consider himself an ecologist, a behaviorist, a molecular biologist or the like. He prefers the term “integrative biologist,” one who integrates different areas of biology to solve problems. After earning his Ph.D. in 1983, Schal accepted a post-doctoral position in chemical ecology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. “I was really comfortable with ecology, but had very little experience with chemistry and combining chemistry with the behavior,” Schal says. Specifically, he wanted to learn the procedure of fractionation, by which a scientist whittles down a collection of chemicals to a single chemical, such as a pheromone, that is responsible for a particular behavior in the opposite sex. “Once the chemical is identified, then we try to synthesize it,” Schal says. “And if the male responds to the synthetic chemical, we’ve successfully closed the loop, and that chemical can be used for pest control.” For example, a chemical that attracts the opposite sex can be used to draw pests into traps either to detect a new infestation or to monitor the number of pests in an apartment, restaurant, school or

business. After a year and a half studying the chemical ecology of moths, Schal accepted a position at Rutgers University in 1984 as assistant professor and extension specialist in urban entomology, the study of pests that infest human structures. Although he had never heard of urban entomology, he embraced the new opportunity. “New Jersey was absolutely the perfect place to be for urban entomology,” he says. “It has the highest density of people in the country, with proximity to New York City and Philadelphia, and a lot of low-income housing that basically became my field sites.” Ten years later, by then a known expert in urban entomology, Schal accepted the first Blanton J. Whitmire Distinguished Professorship in the CALS Entomology Department at N.C. State. “I was thrilled,” Schal says. “N.C. State has one of the best entomology departments in the country, and I had tremendous respect for the faculty here. Plus, the opportunity to grow the urban entomology program was very appealing.” Other schools have tried to lure him away over the years, but Schal says he has no intention of leaving. “The College’s forward-thinking integration of agriculture and life sciences is unique, and it really suits my style of work,” Schal says. “I’m in a building that houses plant people, geneticists, microbiologists, plant pathologists … the biology and chemistry departments are a stone’s throw away, and poultry science is right next door. “This is precisely the type of environment that fosters the collaborative style of work I enjoy,” he says. Schal cultivates that same in

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‘The College’s forward-thinking integration of agriculture and life sciences is unique, and it really

20 perspectives

many of these communities simply can’t afford to control the bed bugs. “I don’t see the problem subsiding anytime soon,” Schal says. “The magnitude and frequency of bed bugs’ resistance to insecticides is huge, no new insecticides are due to hit the marketplace soon, and no cost-effective strategies for bed bug control have been developed. So we really don’t have a good way to control bed bugs right now, especially in lowincome situations.” His goal? Develop the strategies. Find solutions. For example, Alvaro Romero, a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow in Schal’s lab, is exploring what physical and chemical cues humans emit that excite hungry bed bugs. These cues—heat, carbon dioxide and a host of human body odors—can be used to lure bed bugs to traps and insecticides. “The key for us in the next five

Schal says he and his team are committed to solving the bed bug problem.

years is to develop better tools for bed bug control,” Schal says. “We’re committed to helping solve this problem.” And the university backs them in that commitment. It was announced in July that, for his development of a new bed bug baiting system, Schal is among the N. C. State University researchers who are the first recipients of N.C. State’s Chancellor’s Innovation Fund awards. The awardees’ projects will receive seed money that will be used to make the technology more marketable, such as by gathering additional data, conducting market research and building prototypes.

terdisciplinary approach in his classes, which include a graduatelevel course in insect behavior and seminars in chemical ecology and urban entomology. His lab buzzes with three busy graduate students, six postdoctoral fellows and a research specialist. The value of Schal’s work is also recognized well beyond N.C. State. He is a fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Entomological Society of America, and this summer Schal received the silver medal from the International Society of Chemical Ecology for his career accomplishments. As for bed bug mania, Schal says it’s a long way from dying down. “Bed bugs have experienced a resurgence, not only in the United States but globally, for at least 10 years or longer,” Schal says. “Only recently has the problem become so severe that the media have caught up to it.” Schal explains: A decade ago, bed bugs were a nuisance mostly for the traveling community and hospitality industry. And when travelers picked up bed bugs in hotels and brought them home, they typically had the means to take care of the problem. But now, because bed bugs have established themselves so well in residential communities, they’ve started moving into low-income houses, shelters and theaters — pretty much wherever humans are. And

Marc Hall

suits my style of work.’



Extension’s 4-H team perseveres in robotics competition A robot is assembled by members of the N.C. 4-H teams participating in the event.

Becky Kirkland

Deep in the “pit,” beneath the windowed dome of Raleigh’s Dorton Arena, throngs of middle- and high-school aged robotics teams drilled, sawed, wired, secured bolts and sweated on a sunny April afternoon, preparing their creations for competition. Among the chaos of the pit were 10 teams of 4-H’ers from throughout North Carolina, competing for the very first time in the North Carolina Regional FIRST Robotics Competition. After passing inspection, these rookie teams placed their creations into the “playing field” to battle other robots — and youth drivers — from all over the state. While none of the 4-H teams advanced to the next round of competition, the Iredell County 4-H team became the only rookie team in the entire competition to win an award, taking home honors for “most perseverance.” And for all of the youths involved, the experience would last a lifetime. “My favorite part of all this is figuring out how to do things I didn’t think I could do,” said Rachel Borders, 15, of the Winston-Salem based Yellow Jackets 4-H robotics team. Teammate Naikeesha Poe-Smith, 14, said, “A lot of girls don’t get this kind of experience.” The national 4-H organization partnered with NC FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) and JC Penney to support pilot robotics programs in a number of states. North Carolina was one of the pilots chosen for participation, thanks in large part to the efforts of Dr. Kate Guerdat, 4-H Extension associate, and Chris Caveny-Cox, former 4-H Extension agent. “This seemed like a great fit for

our science-based curriculum, and the partnership with NC FIRST has been terrific,” Guerdat said. “Our kids have gained not only content knowledge, but a whole new experience in community involvement. “Connecting to something larger —that’s what 4-H is all about,” she said. For this first year of involvement, JC Penney covered all registration costs for the 4-H teams ($6,500 each). The company will continue to chip in, covering partial registration costs for the next two years. “This is not a one-shot thing,” Guerdat said. “We’re trying to stretch

these resources as far as possible.” The process leading up to April’s competition began in January, with a kick-off event during which the teams were given a bag of parts and sent off to build their robots. The completed robots had to be shipped by the end of February, so these 4-H’ers, many of whom had never worked in robotics, didn’t have a lot of time. They came faceto-face with their creations again on April 7, for the first time since sending them away in the winter. A few of the teams encountered problems that they had difficulty solving, but true to the nature of 4-H, these youngsters quickly befriended veteran teams who helped them out. “It’s a FIRST philosophy called ‘gracious professionalism,’” said Caveny-Cox. “There is no failure here. It’s all about everyone working together and helping each other.” 4-H is N.C. Cooperative Extension’s youth education program. — Suzanne Stanard

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Award-winning 4-H agent creates civics program to introduce high-school students to local government

Lance L. Haith

Cabarrus teens learn the workings of government via role-playing activities.

A North Carolina Cooperative Extension 4-H agent recently won the N.C. Center for Voter Education’s Outstanding Citizen Award for 2011 for her role in creating an innovative citizenship program for Cabarrus

County 10th graders. Students, teachers and elected officials have praised Heather Jones’ Cabarrus 4-H Citizenship Focus program for its role in giving students a hands-on way to learn more about

Library exhibit tells the story of 4-H


s North Carolina 4-H wound down its centennial celebration of 2009, an exhibit at N.C. State’s D.H. Hill Library was teaching visitors about the links between N.C. State and 4-H, while showing how today’s 4-H continues the traditions of service through head, heart, hands and health. Thearon McKinney and Mitzi Downing of the 4-H Youth Development and Family & Consumer Sciences Department worked with designers Lincoln Hancock and Tania Allen to create the exhibit that ran through July 24, the close of State 4-H Congress. The exhibit included 4-H memorabilia, such as project books, pins, even uniforms worn by 4-H’ers of bygone days. Each piece — such as the signature hat worn by L.R. Harrill or the green jacket worn by a man from Caldwell County — came with a story. Among exhibit contributors was Dr. Jim Clark, author of Clover All Over: North Carolina’s First 4-H Century. —Natalie Hampton

22 perspectives

the principles they study in their semester-long civics classes. Nearly 90 percent of students who have taken part say it has instilled in them a better understanding of their duties as citizens. The program has grown rapidly since its launch in 2009 with two high schools. Now, Citizenship Focus is held four times a semester, reaching hundreds of students with seven of the county’s eight high schools. During the day-long program, students take part in three activities: They get to ask questions of a panel of elected officials, including county commissioners, school board members, mayors, the sheriff and town and city council members. They break into small groups and interview government employees. And they take a crack at balancing a $100 million budget. The program is most often held at the Cabarrus County Governmental Center, but it’s also taken place at a high school and at Concord’s operations center. Jones created the program in 2009, after meeting two local teachers at a statewide N.C. Civics Education Consortium training program. She handles the logistics, and Cabarrus County 4-H has paid for buses, bus drivers and substitute teachers. But Jones says the program wouldn’t be possible were it not for the support and commitment of civics teachers, high school administrators, government employees and elected officials. Northwest Cabarrus High School teacher Daniel Helms has been involved with the program from the start. In a video put together to honor Jones and the program, Helms says (continued next page)

When College of Agriculture and Life Sciences student Izah Gallagher learned that a local non-profit needed help funding and building a fenced arena where at-risk girls could ride rescued horses, she knew just the group to help: N.C. State University’s Animal Science Club. Each semester, the club takes on four or five service projects, usually with a tie to agriculture. This spring, the club donated money to farmers hurt by tornadoes, made valentines for nursing home residents and spent one spring Saturday building a 700foot fence for the CORRAL Riding Academy in Cary. CORRAL — which gets its name from the phrase “changing lives through riding rehabilitation and learning” — pairs horses acquired through the U.S. Equine Rescue League with teens who are referred by social services, police departments, school counselors and others. The academy’s founder and president, Joy Currey, operates CORRAL on her family’s farm. Her goal: to promote healing, growth and lasting life change through horseback riding, vocational training, tutoring, equineassisted learning and equine-assisted psychotherapy. Girls must apply to the program, and those selected must commit to being involved for at least

Courtesy Izah Gallagher

Animal Science Club builds good fence for good neighbor

CALS Animal Science Club members and CORRAL Academy riders proudly present the new fence.

a year. Gallagher used to teach horseriding lessons under Currey when they both worked at another equestrian center in Raleigh. After Currey left, Izah kept in touch with her and learned that CORRAL needed a fence – and not just money to buy the fence, but the manpower to install it. As president-elect of the Animal Science Club, Gallagher was in charge of the spring semester service projects, so she proposed using some of the funds that the club raised during the

Civics program (continued) that the goal is to help students understand how they can become involved in their communities. “Whether or not they go into politics is a moot point. It’s more about ‘Will they be active? Will they get involved and vote and be a citizen in the community?’” he says. Jones, who visits each civics class to help students understand what will happen on the day of the program, says the most rewarding part of the program for her has been seeing the students’ knowledge grow by leaps

and bounds. “It really brings real-life meaning to their civics standard course of study objectives,” she says. “They are learning these things in their textbooks, but this way they get to see it and they get to interact with local government. “It gets them in the door, more comfortable speaking with elected officials. They go home and talk about what they’ve learned. And they realize they have a role as a citizen in the community.” —Dee Shore

N.C. State Fair to buy lumber and screws. And, with the other club officers’ approval, she set up a work day in late March. About 40 club members came out and completed the fence in a day. CORRAL’s participants also got to help out; they were each paired with a club member for the day. Gallagher said it was a good day for all. “The people that run CORRAL have really good hearts, and they are trying hard to make it successful. They are helping girls while they are helping horses. They are making a difference,” Gallagher said. “Building the fence was something that the club could contribute, and we knew that it was for a good cause.” —Dee Shore

summer 2011


NUTS for Nutrition

As Alice Raad pulls a fresh bunch of carrots from her bag, the gaggle of 4-year-olds sitting in a circle around her squirm to get a better look. Same goes for the leafy green spinach, colorful bell peppers and tangle of sprouts that make their way around the circle. The children hold the vegetables to their noses, use tiny fingers to explore different textures, and in some cases, wrinkle their noses at a “funny” smell or speck of dirt. The lesson on eating healthy hardly seems like a lesson to these kids, who, after getting acquainted with the vegetables and singing a veggie song, devour the fresh produce wrapped simply in whole-wheat tortillas. No ketchup. No dipping sauce. And many of the kids asked for seconds. Mission accomplished for Raad, a first-year master’s student in nutrition science and volunteer with the College’s Nutrition NUTS program. She, along with seniors Musa Koroma and Harrison Riggs, spend nearly every Friday at Telamon NC Crosby Head Start Center in Raleigh, educating youngsters on the value of eating fresh, healthy foods. Developed by Suzie Goodell, assistant professor of food, bioprocessing and nutrition sciences, Nutrition NUTS (which stands for “Nutrition Understanding Through Service”) focuses on obesity prevention for low-income, low-resource parents and their preschool-aged children. Goodell launched the program in 24 perspectives

Spring 2009, just after joining the College. “I really want my work to embody the College’s land-grant mission of research, service and academics,” Goodell says. “I also want my students to become more connected to their community and build important leadership skills.” The Nutrition NUTS program has two parts: “PEANUTS,” which is geared toward preschool-age children, and “WALN UTS,” which targets parents. “Initially, our students went out and read to the kids,” Goodell says. “But the program has evolved to include handson lessons on everything from cooking to composting. Reading is still a major component, but not the only one.” Led by one of Goodell’s doctoral students, Virginia Carraway-Stage, student volunteers design the curri-

Suzanne Stanard

Suzanne Stanard

CALS students Harrison Riggs, Alice Raad and Musa Koroma provided nutrition education to Raleigh youngsters.

The program leaders captivate their young audience with a healthy foods presentation.

cula and conduct all of the in-school lessons. Students also created the program’s name and logo. Their 45-minute lessons are built around four concepts: illustrate, investigate, illuminate and integrate. Each student conducts a weekly lesson, and some teach twice a week. They’re also responsible for their own transportation. It seems like a lot of work. But these students say they’re learning as much as they’re teaching. And being with the kids is the ultimate reward. “Seeing them learn a lesson that you actually created is just awesome,” says volunteer Sydney Riggsbee, a junior nutrition sciences major. Allison Dipper, a junior majoring in nutrition sciences and human biology, says, “We’re learning so many techniques for interacting with children. And I read kids’ books all the time now!” Many of the preschoolers with whom they interact have never been exposed to people outside their families or their teachers, Goodell says. “Our hope is that through this program, we’re getting kids interested in nutrition and healthy eating, as well as social interaction and literacy. “The biggest thing we want out of it is for these children to know they’re loved, that the world is a good place and that there are people out there who care,” she says. Funded through grants, private donations and Goodell’s faculty startup funds, Nutrition NUTS programming is delivered to a number of Head Start and preschool locations in the Triangle and in Siler City. Plans are in the works to expand the program through partnerships with UNCGreensboro and East Carolina University, Goodell says. She also hopes to partner with Smart Start locations next year. —Suzanne Stanard

Better berries for a better economy

food microbiologist Dr. Jim Oblinger and communications specialist Leah Chester-Davis — said that students and faculty at Johnson & Wales are giving the university valuable information about what culinary professionals and high-end restaurants look for in strawberries. Because chefs can serve as intermediaries between farmers and consumers, their insight can be especially valuable, Chester-Davis said. To gather and analyze their feed-

Marc Hall

As Jeremy Pattison works to build a better strawberry for North Carolina, the N.C. State University plant breeder isn’t focusing solely on what would make a new cultivar attractive to farmers. Through a unique arrangement with a leading culinary school, he’s also looking closely at traits that might matter most to consumers – things such as flavor, color, size and texture. Pattison is at the center of the N.C. Strawberry Project, a joint venture of N.C. State’s Plants for Human Health Institute at the N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis and Johnson & Wales University, an internationally recognized culinary institution with a campus in Charlotte. Funded by a grant from Golden LEAF, a nonprofit organization devoted to strengthening North Carolina’s economy, the strawberry project is believed to be the first project to connect university plant breeders, researchers and producers with the culinary world. Through the one-year project, Pattison is gathering information he hopes will lead to a tastier strawberry that’s especially suited to North Carolina’s growing conditions. “We want a North Carolina brand that is clearly different than those that were developed for the mass market,” he said. “Ultimately, we want to increase the economic value and impact of N.C. strawberries while enhancing the eating experience.” If all goes well, the varieties that Pattison comes up with will also extend North Carolina’s strawberry harvest season, which typically lasts five to eight weeks in April and May. Project organizers are hoping that they can help grow the market for N.C. strawberries 25 percent, to about $26 million annually, through efforts involving research, education and outreach. Pattison and other project leaders —

Marc Hall

Jeremy Pattison keeps consumer preferences in mind as he develops strawberries.

Pattison and Chef Mark Allison display the fruits of the project that connects producers and the culinary world.

back on their preferences, N.C. State University hired Sensory Spectrum, which is also based at the N.C. Research Campus. The company conducts research into how consumers experience food and other products. In May, it led tests with produce buyers, chefs, JWU students and faculty and consumers. Having Sensory Spectrum’s input in the early stages of a breeding program distinguishes the effort from traditional university breeding projects. Pattison said it could ultimately amplify the edge that North Carolina strawberry growers have when it comes to meeting local needs — and possibly lead to more national interest in North Carolina-grown strawberries. “I feel that land-grant university research and extension has an excellent track record addressing the needs of the farmer,” Pattison said. “In this project, we are taking a more systematic approach to breeding fruit for quality — for consumer-preferred traits.” The project has other goals, as well: Through a series of farm tours, it is helping tomorrow’s chefs and their instructors better understand the science and business of food production — particularly as it relates to local agriculture. Oblinger, who is in charge of the project’s educational component, said that at the start of the project, JWU students were asked what industry leads North Carolina’s economy. (continued next page)

summer 2011


Gould elected into the National Academy of Sciences Fred Gould is the ninth current N.C. State faculty member to be elected to the NAS.

Herman Lankford

fied mosquitoes that have reduced capacity to carry and spread dengue fever. He has received funding from the National Science Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, among others, for his work. In 2007, he won the George Bugliarello Prize from Sigma Xi for his article on genetic manipulation of pests for control of human disease vectors. In 2004, Gould received the Alexander von Humboldt Award, which is presented annually to the person judged to have made the most significant contribution to American agriculture during the previous five years. This year, Gould received N.C. State’s Holladay Medal, the highest award presented for faculty achievement.

Dr. Fred Gould, William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor of Entomology at N.C. State University, has been elected into the National Academy of Sciences, one of the world’s most important scientific societies. Gould becomes the ninth current N.C. State faculty member to be elected into the august scientific society. He is one of 72 new members and 18 foreign associates elected this year. Gould studies the ecology and genetics of insect pests to improve food production and human and environmental health. One of his research projects involves genetically modi-

Better berries (continued)

26 perspectives

Allison (right) and his Johnson & Wales students use the strawberries in new recipes.

Marc Hall

“They thought that banking is the leading industry, and information technology is up there,” Oblinger said. “But they think agriculture is not really all that important to the economy of North Carolina.” The project teaches those students that agriculture and agribusiness — food, fiber and forestry — is actually the leader, generating $70 billion in value-added income for North Carolina each year. And strawberries — seen as a high-risk but also high-value alternative to tobacco — are an increasingly important part of that. North Carolina ranks fourth among the states in terms of the amount of strawberries produced, and most of them are sold locally. The message was reinforced as the students travelled to local farms, met local farmers and saw university

He has served on National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council committees to study the environmental effects of the commercialization of genetically modified plants and develop recommendations on genetically modified pest protected crops. He has also served on Environmental Protection Agency panels on genetically modified crops. He has supervised 31 master’s degree and Ph.D. students at N.C. State, served on the thesis committees of more than 40 other students, and mentored 16 post-doctoral researchers. He is a member of the Entomological Society of America, the Society for the Study of Evolution and Sigma Xi. Born in New York, Gould earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from Queens College and a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He came to N.C. State as an research associate in 1978, was named full professor in 1990, and was named Reynolds Professor in 1993. —NCSU News Services

research at the Piedmont Research Station in Salisbury. Chef Mark Allison, the dean of culinary education at Johnson & Wales in Charlotte and one of the project’s leaders, said that having this familiarity with local agriculture will help the students in their culinary careers. In addition to enhancing the JWU students’ education and laying the

groundwork that will lead to a better N.C. strawberry, the project also has a public education component, led by Extension media specialist Chester-Davis. She and her team of Kristen Bright and Justin Moore developed a website and a Facebook page for the N.C. Strawberry Project and have worked with news media representatives locally and nationwide to tell them about the project, to promote the students’ award-winning recipes and to spread the word that buying local produce guarantees the freshest product and keeps more food dollars in the local community. — Dee Shore

CALS will support agricultural education in Liberia

Courtesy David Jordan

Project partners gather at the market near Liberia’s Cuttington University, home of much of the country’s agricultural education.

Faculty members in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will share their teaching expertise to help the West African nation of Liberia rebuild its agricultural education system following almost two decades of civil war and unrest. CALS is one of several partner agencies participating in the Excellence in Higher Education for Liberian Development (EHELD) project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. The entire project will receive nearly $18 million over five years to help Liberian universities rebuild their teaching capacity in agriculture and engineering. Approximately $600,000 will be associated with CALS. Dr. David Jordan, Extension specialist in the CALS Crop Science Department, represented N.C. State University at a recent meeting of other partner institutions in Monrovia, Liberia. Research Triangle Institute is coordinating the EHELD effort. Other collaborators include the University of Michigan, Rutgers University and Associates in Rural Development. The team will also utilize regional universities such as the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana as resources. Other CALS faculty who will participate in the project are Dr. Rick Brandenburg and Dr. Clyde Sorenson, entomology; Drs. Charlotte Fa-

rin and Sung Woo Kim, animal science; Gary Bullen, agricultural and resource economics; Dr. Bir Thapa, crop science; and Dr. Jay Jayaratne, agricultural and extension education. The program focuses on building local capacity at two Liberian partner institutions—Cuttington University and the University of Liberia. Cuttington, one of Africa’s oldest universities, provides much of Liberia’s formal education in agriculture. Jordan said that N.C. State will help evaluate Cuttington’s agricultural curricula and provide faculty members there with the most up-to-date information for teaching agriculture. Liberian universities have limited resources, including textbooks, because of the cost, but Jordan said N.C. State also will look for classroom resources that could boost agricultural teaching. Those may include materials like PowerPoint presentations and other resources often taken for granted by U.S. universities. “Our role is to review their curriculum, develop short-term training for educators, and provide students and faculty with educational resources,” Jordan said. “USAID and other funding agencies have made considerable investments in primary and secondary education throughout Liberia. The EHELD project will focus on the next step – higher education.” The 15-year Liberian civil war interrupted education for most people. So many students in secondary schools, similar to U.S. high schools, are actually in their 20s and 30s.

Most faculty teaching agriculture in Liberia probably hold bachelor’s degrees, so another challenge is helping agricultural faculty to earn advanced degrees. Most will pursue degrees at other universities in Africa. But a few will come to study at N.C. State and other U.S. institutions, Jordan said. The idea is to assist as Liberia creates centers of excellence for training in agriculture and engineering. The engineering component of the program will be fulfilled by the University of Michigan and Rutgers University. N.C. State and Rutgers also will partner in the agriculture component of EHELD. The ultimate goal is to help Liberia grow its agricultural industry, Jordan said. Agriculture has been perceived as hard work and therefore an undesirable occupation. The grant also seeks to encourage excitement about agriculture and to prepare students for opportunities in the agricultural sector as the economy and infrastructure in Liberia improves. EHELD also will focus on increasing involvement of women and girls in both agriculture and engineering fields. “While Liberia continues to face serious challenges as it emerges from two decades of war, Liberians are ready for relief to give way to development,” said RTI’s Nathaniel Bowditch, the project’s director. “EHELD is taking a step in that direction as we work to prepare a workforce ready for the next stages of growth in infrastructure building and agricultural productivity.” — Natalie Hampton

summer 2011


New International AgriBusiness Law course launched

Suzanne Stanard

Lynn Clark, a junior business administration major (with a minor in agricultural business management), already has traveled several continents in his lifetime and, as a result, has developed an interest in learning about different cultures, customs and laws. So enrolling in Dr. Ron Campbell’s new International AgriBusiness Law course was a no-brainer. And somewhat of a life-changer. “Because of the excellence of the course, I have become significantly more aware of and engaged in global and international issues … more than I could have ever imagined,” Clark said. The course, which he completed in the spring, inspired him to pursue studies in Japan, South Korea and China this summer. His experience in the course also has opened doors for Clark “to ex-

Dr. Ron Campbell (left) leads an International AgriBusiness Law session.

plore areas that I might want to pursue in future graduate studies,” he says. The experimental distance education course ARE 495 is delivered through “Elluminate Live” technology, which allows live participation by nearly two dozen students scattered throughout North Carolina. “We designed the course to give students a new perspective,” Campbell said. “In addition, this course is meant to hone the students’ skills in

learning and communicating through modern technology.” The topic also is timely, Campbell said. “Last year, North Carolina exports jumped to an all-time high, with more than $3 billion of our state’s agriculture being sold overseas,” Campbell said, citing data from the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA&CS). “I believe it’s critical to teach students, especially those interested in agricultural business and law, about North Carolina’s participation in the world market.” Students participated in the live, online course sessions by using headsets equipped with microphones. They (continued next page)

BritParis trip is a special spring break experience

Courtesy Ron Campbell

The tour group displays Wolfpack colors in London.

This past March, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences faculty members Melissa Hendrickson and Ron Campbell led a group of 35 participants, mainly CALS students, for a European spring break to remember in London, Paris and the countryside of England. BritParis ’11 was the first of a new annual trip open to CALS 28 perspectives

students, parents, alumni, faculty and staff. Aimed at giving the travelers lessons in international agribusiness, the trip also included famous attractions, like the Eiffel Tower and the Tower of London. Hendrickson is an agribusiness instructor, and Campbell is an instructor of agricultural business law, both in the

CALS Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ARE). Prior to the trip, students studied the significance of the destinations in a three-hour credit course. Tour activities included agricultural events at London’s New Spitalfield Market, an international fruit and vegetable distribution center; the Clyne Farm Center, an agritourism operation; the National Botanical Gardens of Wales; and Writtle College, with its equine and swine studies specialization. There will an opportunity for a group of 44 participants to replicate the experience with Britain Paris Edinburgh ’12. “We’re taking reservations for the next adventure in 2012,” Campbell said. For information, go to http:// ALS494/index.html. —Terri Leith

Low-impact development project wins state award An N.C. Cooperative Extension-led educational project on development practices to protect water quality recently won a top award from the N.C. Chapter of the American Planning Association. The collaborative project, called Low Impact Development (LID) Multimodal Planning Resources for North Carolina, won the Marvin Collins Outstanding Planning Award. The award recognizes innovative and highly successful efforts to create sustainable communities. The project resulted in a 310-page low-impact development guidebook, an online curriculum and three workshops that reached about 120 people with information on how to protect the state’s environment during times of growth. Christy Perrin, of N.C. State University’s Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, says that the concept of low-impact development is gaining attention across the country, and the LID group wanted to make sure that N.C. developers and local

AgriBusiness Law (continued) also formed break-out groups for problem-solving exercises and worked in pairs to complete research projects and presentations that they delivered to the class through the web. The course was offered one night a week, making it accessible to nontraditional students, many of whom work full-time day jobs. Two special guests delivered presentations through online video technology last semester, and students were able to ask questions and contribute to the dialogue through their computers. Fresh from a visit to China, Peter Thornton, assistant director of international marketing for NCDA&CS, gave a talk on North Carolina’s international agriculture. And earlier in the semester, Dr. Ron Schrimper, a popular instructor and former head of the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, gave a lecture on the North American Free Trade Act. —Suzanne Stanard

government officials had resources that took into account the state’s geography, its regulatory environment and what local governments are already doing to encourage low-impact development. “We found that it’s helping advance the conversation among local government,” she said of the guidebook. “It’s a tool that can be put in planners’, stormwater managers’ and elected officials’ hands, so it’s not just an abstract concept. The guidebook has a lot of tools and checklists that will help local governments with how to look at low-impact development in a practical manner.”

The project editors from N.C. State were Perrin; Dr. Lee-Anne Milburn, former faculty member in landscape architecture; and Laura Szpir, of the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering. They worked with partners from the University of North Carolina Coastal Studies Institute, Upper Neuse River Basin Association, Tetra Tech, PLS, N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, McKim and Creed, City of Raleigh and Land of Sky Regional Council. For more information, the project website is —Dee Shore

New degree program focuses on business ... and land A new degree program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is designed to give soil scientists the business acumen they need to succeed in the world of real estate. The first students are expected to begin working toward a bachelor’s degree in soil and land development this fall (2011), said Dr. Michael Vepraskas, William Neal Reynolds Professor of Soil Science. “We will train students to evaluate land for real estate development,” said Vepraskas, who was instrumental in developing the program along with Dr. Joseph Kleiss, professor and academic coordinator for the Department of Soil Science. Vepraskas said soil scientists have long been involved in assessing land being considered for development and making determinations related to whether a potential building site is suitable for a septic system, is in a wetland or presents other hazards to construction. Yet soil scientists have typically been limited in their involvement in real estate development to, well, the soil. Vepraskas said the new degree program is designed to give students a background in the business and financial aspects of land development as well as soil science. He pointed out that

North Carolina requires land evaluation by a state-licensed soil scientist for real estate developments such as housing, golf courses and shopping centers. The new degree program will give students the training they need to become licensed as well as the knowledge they need to become more involved in real estate development. “We want our students to know how to run a business,” said Vepraskas. “We want our students to start their own companies.” Vepraskas said there was considerably more demand for soil scientists with business training in the land development industry a few years ago during the housing boom. With the housing bust, employment opportunities in the industry have dimmed. Vepraskas pointed out, however, that the first graduates won’t enter the job market for four years, and in that time, the real estate market may well have rebounded, opening new employment and entrepreneurial opportunities. Graduates of the new degree program will be prepared to pursue careers such as consulting soil scientist, real estate developer, regional planner and entrepreneur. They will also be well-prepared to enter master’s programs in business administration or soil science. — Dave Caldwell

summer 2011


Graduate student examines invasive fish species and their ecosystem impacts A project designed to quantify the impact that introduced fish species can have on a lake’s ecosystem earned Marybeth Brey the top prize in the natural resources category of this spring’s Graduate Student Research Symposium at N.C. State University. Scientists know that an invasive species can destroy habitat, push down populations of native species and alter an entire ecosystem. But what Brey, a Ph.D. student in biology, is trying to unravel is what happens when multiple species are introduced at the same time. Specifically, do the effects on the food web add up in a linear way? Or is it more complicated than that? And based on what’s known about both the native and introduced species, can you predict what might happen? Brey’s advisers are Drs. Derek Aday and Jim Rice of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Department of Biology. Her project focuses on Lake Norman, a large manmade lake north of Charlotte, and four fish – white perch, alewife, flathead catfish and spotted bass – that have been introduced there. Fish are introduced into North Carolina’s lakes in two ways, Brey says: Sport fishermen intentionally add food fish, thinking they will increase the size and abundance of the fish they want to catch. And they unintentionally introduce new species when they dump buckets of live bait into the water. For the past four or five years, Brey has been sampling in Lake Norman to find out which kinds of fish and how many live in different areas of the lake and how those populations have changed over the past four or five years. She’s also been learning what those fish eat. To do so, she’s been using a technique known as direct diet 30 perspectives

Brey studies the stomach contents of fish from Lake Norman.

analysis – basically, putting the fishes’ stomach contents under a microscope to see what they are eating, whether it be plants, zooplankton, insects, other fish or something else. At the same time, Brey is considering overlap indices – quantitative measures of how much overlap there is between diets of the various fish. “With overlap indices, we have this quantitative measure of what a fish is eating and how much overlap there is with what other fish are eating,” she says. “That’s very useful for comparing, for example, introduced and native or established species, so we can see how much they might share food resources.” She’s also using stable isotope analysis, which involves sending pieces of muscle from the fish to a Cornell University lab to determine the relative amounts of nitrogen and carbon in them. That gives her an idea of the

amounts of plants and other fish that the species in question consumes, and it tells her whether they are feeding near shore or out in open waters. Finally, she’s putting all the data she’s collected over the years into the computer modeling program Ecopath with Ecosim in an attempt to make predictions Becky Kirkland about how future introductions might impact the population levels of the fish she’s studying. The program has been used before to predict how fishing pressures will affect fisheries, Brey says, “but it’s rarely been used to ask questions about introduced species and specifically multiple introduced species.” So far, she has found in Lake Norman that there’s been a rapid increase in the amount of white perch, introduced in the reservoir around 2001, and that the perch may be competing for food with black crappie, an established sport fish. She’s also seen that the forage fish alewife, another introduced species, have become an important part of the diet of several fish in the lake, but they aren’t increasing in number as much as the white perch. Brey thinks that because the alewife seems to occupy a unique niche in the food web – eating fly larvae as they emerge in a particular area of the lake – they have been able to become established with few consequences to native prey species. As she wraps up her dissertation (continued next page)

Surry County’s Pilot Mountain Pride successfully markets local produce

Becky Kirkland

Bryan Cave (right) and Bill Imus stand by the PMP truck that delivers local produce to markets.

When Pilot Mountain Pride opened its doors in May 2010, organizers of the produce marketing initiative were conservatively hoping to bring in $30,000 to $50,000 in sales for the first year. But last year’s sales greatly exceeded those expectations, coming in at more than $250,000. Bryan Cave, Surry County Extension director, was heavily involved in getting PMP off the ground. Like others, he was pleased and surprised by the first year sales. In early June, PMP

Marybeth Brey (continued) in hopes of graduating in December, Brey is focusing on the modeling work and determining whether the approach she’s taking is an effective way to quantify the effects of introduced species on a reservoir food web. Because she has funding from the Sport Fish Restoration Funds, which come from an excise tax on fishing rods, reels, creels, lures, flies and artificial baits, Brey hopes the research she’s done at N.C. State will help address sport fishermen’s questions about fish introductions and will contribute to fisheries management decisions. — Dee Shore

was off to a somewhat slower start in its second season, due mainly to wet, cool conditions that had kept farmers out of the fields in the spring. In Surry County, like other parts of North Carolina, former tobacco growers are seeking new ways to diversify production. Pilot Mountain Pride helps local farmers to earn a living raising produce, while establishing the organization as a regional model for produce sales. Cave described PMP as an “aggregation center,” where growers bring produce to be washed, graded, packaged, marketed and delivered to buyers. “Pilot Mount Pride is a venue for accessing markets for smaller growers,” said Tony Cave, a Surry County PMP grower and board member, no relation to Bryan Cave. The program was developed through the efforts of the N.C. Cooperative Extension’s Surry County center, along with support from county government and granting agencies. As early as 2003, PMP was just an idea shared by Bryan Cave, then a livestock agent, and Chris Knopf, then a county planner, now assistant county manager. Agriculture accounts for nearly

a quarter of the county’s economy. Bryan Cave and Knopf knew that many of the county’s tobacco farmers were retiring, had decided to leave farming or were looking for crops to diversify their production. At the same time, there were few younger growers coming into farming. In 2006, the idea for a shared marketing facility emerged when three Surry County communities — Pilot Mountain, Dobson and Elkin — received an N.C. STEP grant for Small Town Economic Prosperity, which included plans for some type of value-added agricultural center. Two years later, Surry County government provided funding to study the concept. The study found a strong desire for local foods, and Winston-Salem – less than 30 miles away – had no coordinated local food marketing operation, Bryan Cave said. Potential clients didn’t show a preference for organic over conventionally grown produce but had a strong interest in buying locally. Though Surry County has two farmers’ markets of its own and others nearby, Extension found that the growers in those direct sales markets wanted to stay there, while newer produce growers weren’t interested in getting into direct sales, Bryan Cave said. They wanted someone to market produce for them. With the help of Golden LEAF funds, Pilot Mountain Pride renovated and moved into an old textile facility that provided space for a grading and packing line and large storage coolers. In addition to Golden LEAF and N.C. STEP, grant funding has come from the N.C. Department of Agriculture (continued next page)

summer 2011


and Consumer Services, Tobacco Trust Fund, the N.C. Rural Center and the local Farm Bureau board. In addition, the Wake Forest University law school proved to be an invaluable resource, helping PMP to establish itself as a single-member LLC, under the county’s economic development agency. That legal status allows PMP to operate as a non-profit for the benefit of receiving grants, while still earning money to operate and pay the growers for produce. When the facility needed a system for cooling produce quickly, Dr. Mike Boyette of N.C. State University’s Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department came to the rescue, developing a simple, large, forced-air cooler that can cool large amounts of produce at one time. Pilot Mountain Pride held its grand opening on May 20, 2010, with more than 350 people in attendance. “There was excitement in the air that day,” said Bill Imus, (then) PMP facility coordinator. Imus, a grower and former chef, has been a real asset to the project, said Bryan Cave, because he knows quality produce and is good at marketing it. “Bill’s background as a farmer and chef has just really paid dividends for us,” Knopf said. Imus spent a great deal of time between growing seasons seeking new markets for PMP produce. Last spring, Lowes Foods, a grocery store chain, came to Pilot Mountain Pride, asking to buy produce to distribute to its stores. The stores even provided photos and descriptions of Pilot Mountain Pride growers whose produce they now sell. In addition, higher end restaurants in Winston-Salem also buy from PMP, as well as several universities and school systems in Surry and Stokes counties. Institutions like area hospitals also have expressed interest in sourcing produce from PMP. PMP even holds a community market on Fridays, selling whatever produce it has on hand. Still, new clients would

32 perspectives

Becky Kirkland

Surry County (continued)

Extension Agent Joanna Radford works with grower Tony Cave in implementing good agricultural practices.

help PMP diversify its marketing, Bryan Cave said. In its first season, PMP received produce from 84 growers in seven counties adjacent to Surry County, including two in Virginia. Broccoli was a big seller, along with fall cabbage and greens, squash and cucumbers. To meet the produce standards for Lowes Foods and other commercial buyers, PMP decided to have all its growers receive training in GAPs – good agricultural practices. GAPs training focuses on strategies that growers can use to ensure that their produce is safe for consumers to eat. Agricultural Extension Agent Joanna Radford helps arrange the GAPs training for growers. Beyond the training lies GAP certification, where a third-party auditor visits a farm to check on how GAP strategies are being implemented. Produce growers have to plant crops in succession, so the crop is ready to harvest at intervals, not all at once. Access to labor for harvesting produce is another big issue, Radford said. Growers struggle with weed and pest management, particularly whether to rely on conventional controls or try new strategies like growing under plastic.

Grower Tony Cave agrees that transitioning from tobacco to produce is a challenge. “I’ve farmed all my life, but this produce farming is a whole new thing,” he said recently while showing his potato crop to Radford and Bryan Cave. “Everything is brand new here.” Tony Cave is experimenting with a new tractor that will create plasticcovered rows, complete with drip tape for irrigation. He will try it in his home garden this year, hoping to use it for commercial crops next year. He hopes the equipment – though expensive – will help him to better manage weeds and provide water for thirsty plants. “You’re pretty much limited by how much you can afford to lose,” Tony Cave said. In spite of the newness and challenges, Tony Cave is committed to Pilot Mountain Pride as both a board member and grower for the organization. “We’re in the second year, and it’s already mind-boggling what we’ve done. Who knows what’s in store for this year?” Bryan Cave said, “Pilot Mountain Pride has re-energized this community. It’s given Pilot Mountain a lot of hope.” —Natalie Hampton

Faithful Families program promotes healthy lifestyles

Marc Hall

Shown are (from left) Debbie Stephenson, Stephanie McDonald, Annie McIver and Sheilneil Feaster.

At the Cameron Grove AME Zion Church in Broadway, N.C., church dinners once consisted of fried foods and vegetables seasoned with fat. But things have changed, thanks to the efforts of N.C. Cooperative Extension’s Faithful Families Eating Smart and Moving More program and two dedicated church lay leaders, Annie McIver and Sheilneil Feaster. Faithful Families works with faith communities to teach healthy eating and good physical activity practices. Program associates work hand in hand with lay leaders, who help their members decide what positive changes they want to make for the whole community, as well as for themselves as individuals. For Cameron Grove Church, changes included new items on the church menu: more baked foods, fresh fruits, seasonal vegetables sauteed or grilled and water to drink. There are fewer desserts. Sunday morning’s honey buns have been replaced by quiche. And children of the congregation enjoy yogurt and applesauce for snacks. It wasn’t always easy, but McIver and Feaster believe these positive changes will help their members to be healthier. In addition to the nutrition changes, the church is encouraging members to be more physically active by taking advantage of the large church parking lot as a walking space. As a career nurse, McIver saw the devastating effects of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. She wanted to see her congregation make changes that would impact members’ health in a positive way. “It took some getting used to,”

said Feaster, the church cook, of the menu changes. Church members had some trouble adjusting to new foods at first, but now, she reports, they ask for seconds on some new dishes. Faithful Families Coordinator David Hall said the partnership between the program and Cameron Grove Church is exactly what Faithful Families strives for. “We’ve seen great success through our lay leaders,” he said. “They can help decide what changes can have the greatest impact on their members.” The program started in 2007 and is supported in the South Central District by N.C. Cooperative Extension program associate Debbie Stephenson and by Erin Roberts in the North Central District. Stephanie McDonald, South Central District EFNEP Extension associate, also has been involved with Faithful Families since the beginning. The program is a partnership between Cooperative Extension and the N.C. Division of Public Health’s Physical Activity and Nutrition Branch. Funding is provided by the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust. Faithful Families seeks out faith communities that are interested in improving the health practices of their members. Faithful Families also ensures that the program has the support of the community’s leader. The program has served nine counties in central North Carolina. Faithful Families program associates strive to have 10 faith communities complete the program each year. The success of the program is directly related to the partnership between program associates and lay leaders, Hall said. The program includes a member health assessment, nine nutrition and physical activity education lessons and

adoption of policy and environmental changes for the faith community. Faithful Families uses the curriculum of the Expanded Foods and Nutrition Education Program. The program associates and the lay leaders share responsibility for teaching the nine EFNEP lessons. Lay leaders help guide congregations in deciding on policy and environmental changes their faith community will make to help members become healthier. Policy changes could be as simple as offering water as a beverage at church meals. Environmental changes could include Cameron Grove’s initiative of letting members know the walking distance around their parking lots. Some congregations have developed community gardens. Faithful Families encourages faith communities to make at least one policy change, though congregations may go even further. Congregations are asked to write formal policy changes that their leaders can endorse, explaining how the policy will be carried out, communicated to members and sustained. In addition, members of Faithful Families communities are encouraged to make personal changes, like becoming more physically active or sharing family meals at home. At Cameron Grove, weight loss was a big motivator for the 17 congregation members who signed on and completed the program, McIver said. McIver hopes to go further, maybe offering fitness classes at Cameron Grove. She’s noticed other congregation members watching her plate at church gatherings or examining her cart in the grocery store. She thinks the message of healthy eating is starting to take hold. Even the church’s traditional “Soul Food” dinner included some healthier alternatives this year. A bul(continued next page)

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As the lights rose on the 100th anniversary of North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service’s Family & Consumer Sciences program, four women dressed in period costume from the 20th century described how their home demonstration program had helped them meet their families’ needs. Through pandemics, the Great Depression and two world wars, these women explained, the instruction they had received in their clubs had led to better times for their families and their communities. Beginning with home demonstration canning clubs, the FCS program has addressed needs of North Carolina families since 1911. The centennial celebration events, which took place May 25 at the Jane S. McKimmon Center on the N.C. State campus, opened with the unveiling of Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Service, a book on North Carolina FCS’s history. A celebratory dinner began with a dramatic reading by women represent-

Faithful families (continued) letin board outside the church kitchen offers information on recipes, food safety and healthy eating. McIver’s influence has extended beyond her own congregation. At AME Zion church conferences, she brings her message of healthy eating. Lee County Extension Director Susan Condlin shared with McIver nutrition materials and vials of fat, sugar and salt, representing the amounts found in certain foods to use in demonstrations. McIver believes she’s reached more than 2,000 people at conferences. She also spoke at the Seventh Annual Pediatric Health Weight Summit at East Carolina University. Over the next five years, Faithful Families will be part of a study by N.C. State University sociologist Dr. Sarah Bowen. The study, “A Community-Based Approach to Reducing Childhood Obesity in Low-Income 34 perspectives

ing four decades in the 100-year history of family and consumer sciences: the 1920s, 1940s, 1960s and 1980s. Afterward, F CS inducted 25 inaugural members into the Jane S. McKimmon Hall of Fame for significant contributions to FCS at N.C. State. “Since 1911, before the country’s extension system Jan Christensen leads the players who described early FCS programs. was even started, Today, FCS professionals serve FCS has been committed to positive change for the families of North Caro- citizens in all the state’s 100 counties lina,” said N.C. State Chancellor Randy and the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation. Woodson. “Through FCS, N.C. State As families have grown more comUniversity is able to influence the lives plex, so has Extension’s approach to of North Carolinians who will never set family and consumer issues. Today, foot on this campus.” FCS programs help families better understand budgeting, credit use, economic loss protection, health care Communities: Research to Action,” is costs, financial planning and economic supported by a $3 million grant from choices. Food quality and safety prothe Agriculture and Food Research grams give food-service personnel, Initiative of the United States Depart- dietary managers, community volunteers and care givers the knowledge ment of Agriculture National Institute and resources they need for safe food of Food and Agriculture. preparation. “We will work with community FCS Extension agents also work to groups in Durham, Harnett and Lee improve people’s awareness of health, counties in order to understand how community ‘food environments’ safety and environmental issues; to affect patterns of childhood obe- reduce household wastes, to expand sity. We will track limited-resource support for groundbreaking rural health initiatives, to address elder care families over a 5-year period, asking them about their eating and cook- and aging issues and to help families ing habits and beliefs,” Bowen said. learn about the importance of nutrition Faithful Families lay leaders will and physical activity for better health. The FCS history book may be participate in the research and will help facilitate community-driven, ordered for $47 (includes shipping) culturally-appropriate environmental from the N.C. FCS Foundation, Box and policy changes that increase ac- 7645, N.C. State University, Raleigh, cess to healthy foods and safe places N.C., 27695-7645. Call Susan Brame at 919.513.7989 for information. for physical activity. — Natalie Hampton —Natalie Hampton

Becky Kirkland

Family & Consumer Sciences celebrates 100 years of service to N.C. families



Stone balances family life, farm work and community involvement

Courtesy Bo Stone

Bo Stone was named Southeastern Farmer of the Year in 2010.

When Michael “Bo” Stone talks about his approach to farming, he calls upon a quote from the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences graduate says it’s an attitude he picked up from his dad – and one that was likely instrumental in his being named the 2010 N.C. winner of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year. Stone farms about 2,000 acres of row crops in Rowland, in southern Robeson County. He’s proud to be a sixth-generation farmer, producing wheat, corn, soybeans and strawberries, finishing about 10,000 pigs per year and managing a 70-head beef herd. “We try to do the very best job we can with everything that what we do. That idea follows through from the

crops to the livestock,” he says. “We try to be the best environmental stewards that we can, growing the best crops.” Stone grew up on the family farm and has been involved in farming since he was 8. His first job was picking up tobacco leaves from a custom-made harvester seat. But when he went away to college, he did so with an eye toward a career in corporate America. At N.C. State, Stone earned his bachelor’s degree in agricultural business management in 1993, then a master of agriculture degree in 1995. He joined the Gold Kist cooperative in Georgia but nearly immediately felt the tug of the farming life he’d left behind. His father, Tommy Stone, agreed to make room for him on the farm, and Stone was back home by February 1996. He bought his first farm the following year, then a second one in 1998, the year he got married. In the years since Bo joined his

father in managing their P&S Farms, the operation has doubled in size, and it’s become increasingly diversified. In addition to the crops and livestock, the Stones sell produce at a roadside stand and through a you-pick strawberry operation. The Stones took on the strawberries as a way to allow his wife, Missy, to stay at home while they raise their three children — 10-year-old Sarah Grace, 8-year-old Olivia Ann and 4-year-old Thompson Lyn. In years past, Stone has also planted a 5-acre corn maze, hosting 15,000 schoolchildren in hopes of giving them a chance to learn more about where food comes from. Tobacco was long the farm’s mainstay, but Stone no longer produces it. That’s because, as his children grew, he found it difficult to attend to both the demands of the labor-intensive crop and the responsibilities of raising a family. “Sarah Grace came home from school after summer break — I think she was in kindergarten or first grade — and she looked at me and she asked, ‘Daddy, why didn’t we get to go to the beach like all the other kids in my class?’” he recalls. “That was a big factor.” Today, Stone strives to balance his family and farming responsibilities with community involvement. He serves as chairman of the deacon board at the First Baptist Church, on South(continued next page)

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Alumnus Raymond Schnell maps cacao genome, leads international research

Courtesy Raymond Schnell

Schnell (right) and his fellow collaborators recently sequenced the cacao genome.

The next time you tear into a candy bar or sink your teeth into a brownie, consider this: Most of the world’s chocolate comes from cacao produced on small family farms in developing countries. And one man, plant geneticist and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences grad Raymond Schnell, is helping lead an international effort to make better cacao, which in turn not only bolsters an industry but also helps improve the livelihood of millions of small farmers. Schnell, who earned master’s

and doctoral degrees from the Department of Crop Science (in 1979 and 1984, respectively), is largely responsible for creating a cacao research program in the United States that has had significant global impact. And he recently collaborated with a team of scientists to sequence the cacao genome, which unearths vast potential to better understand and improve this crop. “With the help of a few grants, I started a very modest cacao project in Miami in 1990,” Schnell said. But then Hurricane Andrew swept through the area in 1992, destroying Schnell’s quarantine house and plants. In 1993, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) abolished his program. But just a few years later, the

USDA contacted him again, “since I was pretty much the only person working on cacao in the United States,” to re-start the project, with a focus on improving disease resistance in Central and South America. At that time, candy maker Mars Inc. had been purchasing most of its cacao beans from Brazil. But a disease called witches’ broom surfaced in the country and quickly decimated the cacao industry there. So Mars turned to Schnell in 2000, launching what would become one the world’s largest cacao research programs, in partnership with the USDA Agricultural Research Service. Then the U.S. Agency for International Development approached him in 2001 to expand the cacao program into West Africa. Today, the international breeding project features collaboration with national agricultural research organizations in Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Malaysia and Papua (continued next page)

story that’s being told is actually what’s happening out on the farms. This is where we live. This is where I will always live. We need to make sure we are doing what we can to ensure that our community is what it needs to be.” Stone says he’s glad that his alma mater pursues science-based answers aimed at making farming both economically and environmentally sustainable. In his activities, he strives to ensure that such research – and not emotion – inform the development of public policies affecting agriculture. From N.C. State University researchers and Cooperative Extension agents and specialists, Stone has sought guidance on such things as transitioning to narrow-row corn and installing subsurface drip irrigation. He’s also employed global posi-

tioning system technology to cut down on the cost of fertilizer, applying it only where it’s needed. In addition, he diligently scouts his crops for pests, targeting problems as needed. As for the future, Stone sees opportunities to continue to grow his farm as older producers retire. His goal: “to keep farming and to leave the farming operation in such a way that if any or all of my children decide to make this a way of life that they’ll have that opportunity,” he says. “I like to say that my parents gave me the opportunity to the farm, and Missy and the kids give me a reason to keep farming. And for that,” he says, “I’ve been blessed.” —Dee Shore

Bo Stone (continued) eastern Regional Hospital’s executive committee and on the boards of the private Christian school his children attend, the county Farm Bureau and Cape Fear Farm Credit. He hopes his service will make agriculture and his community stronger. “One of the reasons I am as active as I am in some of these organizations is one of the first things Dad told me when I came back — that decisions would be made that affected our farming livelihood: ‘Nobody knows what’s going on here any better than you do. You need to make sure your voice is heard,’” Stone recalls his father saying. “And that was a very important lesson,” he adds. “Sure, it’s taken away from our farm and family to be as active as we are, but at the same time somebody needs to make sure that the 36 perspectives

Off to great places: World travels lead Caitlin Lowe in new directions

Marc Hall

Lowe is interested in the economic impacts of international food aid and development work.

When Caitlin Lowe came to N.C. State University four years ago, she never imagined the places she’d go or how those travels would influence her future. But now, with her head full of brains and her shoes full of feet, as Dr. Seuss would put it, the new alumna is off to graduate school with the determination to make a difference when

it comes to agricultural policy and international development. A native of rural Liberty, Lowe started her undergraduate studies in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences with an eye toward becoming a plant geneticist working for a major U.S. agricultural company. As a freshman, she traveled extensively as state FFA president, getting

to see the variety of North Carolina agriculture. And in coming years, thanks in part to travel stipends offered through the N.C. State Caldwell Fellows program she was part of, she had the chance to help build a house in the Dominican Republic, to study plant biology in China, to visit farms and agribusinesses in Europe and to experience subsistence agriculture in Zambia. Her globe-trotting experiences, plus her coursework in agricultural economics and agricultural business, led her to refocus her studies. She became interested in agricultural and trade policy, particularly in international development. In May, she graduated from N.C. (continued next page)

Schnell (continued) New Guinea, as well as in Hawaii and Puerto Rico in the United States. “We’ve been working with breeders in all areas to improve efficiencies and make the crop as profitable as possible for these farmers,” Schnell said in an article published by the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden magazine. “The program combines traditional breeding and new biotechnology-based techniques towards the long-term goal of genetically improving this important tropical tree crop.” One of the first goals of the new program was to “clean up the germplasm collections, which were a mess,” Schnell said. Then he and his team developed genetic recombination maps and started using markers as selection tools. “But the research wasn’t moving fast enough,” Schnell said. At that time, second-generation genome sequencing was coming online, and, according to Schnell, it was

affordable, available and the quickest way to generate a slew of new markers. By September 2010, a team of scientists, including Schnell, publicly released a preliminary sequence of the cacao genome, which contains all of the tree’s hereditary information. At press time, the genome map was about 92 percent complete. “This marked a milestone in the scientific understanding of this crop,” Schnell said, using a street map analogy to describe the significance and quantity of the new data. “It’s like going from having street signs in a square mile area to having addresses for each house,” he said. The genome sequence “helps us identify genes involved with the expression of important traits, like disease resistance,” Schnell said. “It also enables us to pinpoint the location of specific genes and creates opportunities to look for novel genes.”

Further, he said, being able to select genes early in the cultivar development process will save significant amounts of time and money. Discoveries being unlocked by the genome sequence can be applied, through traditional breeding, to genetically improve a crop “that provides environmentally sustainable income for millions of small farmers in developing countries,” Schnell said. The genome sequence data is public information, available on this website: Schnell credits much of the success of the program to the productive collaboration between industry, government, scientific institutions and producers. And with a nod to his roots, he said that his experience in the Department of Crop Science also has played a role in his success. —Suzanne Stanard

summer 2011


State with honors and with majors in plant biology and agricultural business management, as well as a minor in economics. This fall, she plans to begin work toward a master’s in agricultural economics at Kansas State University. Lowe isn’t yet sure what career path she will take, but she said, “my interest within agricultural economics is in regards to a developing country’s market structure and its ability to withstand commodity price shocks, its willingness to open itself up to free trade, and its agricultural and trade policy both domestically and abroad — as well as biotechnology adoption. I also have a strong interest in analyzing the impact that food aid and development work have on economic growth.” Lowe first experienced the developing world when she traveled on a spring break trip to the Dominican Republic. The experience made a profound impression on her. “Before I went to the Dominican Republic, I always focused on the differences among people. But I came to appreciate the things I had in common with the people I met,” she recalled. “Yes, we are different, but we are all people and we have so many things that actually draw us together.” When she went back to the Dominican Republic the following year, she saw the difference the home she’d helped construct made for a family. And she continued to build upon the friendships she had made the previous year. She found her next overseas experience equally rewarding. With others in the Plant Biology Department, she traveled to China for three weeks to study that country’s flora. There, she was paired with a Chinese student

38 perspectives

whom she’s still in touch with. “We not only had the opportunity to learn about the native plants and to work in the lab, we also had the chance to learn about the culture,” she said. Lowe also got a chance to get off the beaten tourist track when she spent a month in Zambia during the summer following her junior year. There, she worked at an agricultural center sponsored by the government and the United Methodist Church. It was her first up-close look at subsistence agriculture and at the problems faced by farmers in developing countries. “I’d seen agriculture in the United States and in the Dominican Republic and China, but I had never been on a working farm in a developing country for an extended period of time,” she said. “It gave me new perspectives. I actually was able to see the challenges in the developing world’s agricultural systems that I’d learned about in classrooms on campus. I saw it, and I could understand and relate.” Said Lowe, “I had the opportunity to experience things that I never imagined I would, and I was pushed outside my comfort zone. “These experiences humbled me and allowed me to learn things I’d never expected. They were eyeopening and life-changing, and I’ll always be grateful for that.” — Dee Shore

Marc Hall

Caitlin Lowe (continued)

The recent N.C. State graduate heads to Kansas State this fall to pursue her master’s degree in agricultural economics.



Becky Kirkland

Becky Kirkland

May Day arboretum gala celebrates spring in Raleigh

(Clockwise from top left) Susan Woodson, Ruby McSwain, and Dean Johnny Wynne and Jackie Wynne enjoy the 2011 gala and its May Day decor.

Becky Kirkland

annual fund-raising event, but it also serves as opportunity to celebrate and thank the donors, sponsors and volunteers whose generosity and support help the arboretum to continue in its efforts as a teaching and research garden, serving students, the green industry and the local community. This year,  Jere Stevens, a landscape business owner, Wake County Extension Master Gardener and wife of state Sen. Richard Stevens, was event chair and leader of the gala committee. Susan Woodson, a graphic artist and first lady of N.C. State University, served as 2011 honorary chair. They joined Dr. Johnny Wynne, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences dean; Dr. Randy Woodson, N.C. State chancellor; and Dr. Ted Bilderback, JCRA director, for an evening program at the York Auditorium in the McSwain Center. Chancellor Woodson called the arboretum “a vital community resource that serves as a tranquil green space families of all ages can enjoy” and said that the facility’s research, education, extension and public outreach “are legendary and of course vitally

Terri Leith

The annual Gala in the Garden fundraiser at JC Ralston Arboretum is traditionally a beautiful herald of the spring season in Raleigh, whether the weather is fine, rainy, sweltering or windy. For this year’s May 1 festivities, it was more than fine: Gentle breezes and intermittent sunshine-and-clouds made for a comfortable and relaxing time for visitors to the renowned gardens at N.C. State University. And it was a day bursting with color, flavors, scents and music in this garden of earthly delights for the more than 500 guests in attendance. This year, the silent auction tents were arranged around the perimeter of the arb’s central Ellipse, a large ovalshaped greenway that was formerly the site of the trial plant beds. At the heart of the ellipse, in observance of May Day, stood a May pole, beautifully festooned with rainbow-colored ribbons and flowers. Here, gala guests enjoyed garden drinks and locally grown buffet treats, while the soft sounds of live music by the Southern String Band drifted from the vicinity of the Japanese Garden. The gala not only is the JCRA’s

important to our community and even our nation. The arboretum serves as a living laboratory for our students and is committed to its mission to train (continued next page)

summer 2011


The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences presented its 2011 Resource Development Awards April 13, during the annual joint luncheon of the N.C. Agricultural, Dairy and Tobacco foundations at the N.C. State University Club. The awards, sponsored each year by the N.C. Agricultural Foundation Inc., recognized CALS faculty and student organizations for efforts in raising funds to benefit College programs, as well as volunteer, corporate/foundation and commodity organization support activities. Dr. Carolyn Dunn and Dr. Wayne Skaggs were winners of the Faculty Resource Development Award. The Student Organization Award went to the Alpha Zeta North Carolina Chapter. The 2011 Outstanding Volunteer Award winners were Judi and Frank Grainger. The Outstanding Corporate/ Foundation Partner was the Weyerhaeuser Corporation and Weyerhaeuser Foundation. And the 2011 Outstanding Commodity Organiza-

Marc Hall

Resource Development Awards presented, new endowments celebrated at 2011 joint foundations spring event

Shown are (front, from left) Alpha Zeta’s Lauren Mabry, Lindsay Pitts, Matt Greene, Cortney Freeman and Scott Whisnant; (back) Wayne Skaggs, Weyhauser’s Frank Rackley and Zakiya Leggett, N.C. SweetPotato Commission’s Sue Johnson-Langdon, Judi Grainger, Frank Grainger and Carolyn Dunn.

tion winner was the N.C. SweetPotato Commission. Following the awards presentations, two new endowments were established in support of the N.C. SweetPotato Commission Campaign

Carlson Endowment created to fund annual award for outstanding ARE dissertation

Becky Kirkland

From left are Barbara Carlson, Dr. Ying Zhu, Dr. Keri Jacobs and Dr. Gerald Carlson.

Dr. Gerald Carlson and his wife, Barbara, have created an endowment in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, where Carlson spent 35 years as a faculty member. The Barbara E. and Gerald A. Carlson Endowment — 40 perspectives

to fund the annual Gerald A. Carlson Outstanding Ph.D. Dissertation Award in Agricultural and Resource Economics — was established April 29. At the same time, the inaugural Carlson awards were presented to Dr. Keri Jacobs and Dr. Ying Zhu, honoring their outstanding dissertations in pursuit of their 2010 doctoral degrees from N.C. State. —Terri Leith

for Excellence. These were the Tull Hill Farms Endowment and the Nash Produce Endowment. — Terri Leith

Arb gala (continued) the next generation of horticulturists, while supporting the economic growth of the state’s nursery and landscape industries.” The chancellor then introduced his wife, Susan, who called the gala a May Day to remember. She announced that the event was “over our net profit goal of $80,000,” including pre-gala plant sales, with the total to grow with the finalized auction tallies. According to Anne Porter, JCRA development director, the auction sales came to nearly $33,000. Those funds will go toward the continued support of the 10.5-acre research and teaching garden. As Bilderback, the arb director, put it, “We are Raleigh’s garden – a special green space that is admired and enjoyed by visitors from all over the country and the world.” — Terri Leith

2011 CALS Alumni and Friends Society hosts the

20th Annual CALS Tailgate Come celebrate the CALS Tailgate tradition! Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011 Dorton Arena, N.C. State Fairgrounds Five hours before N.C. State vs. South Alabama game Free parking available

• Live entertainment • An all-you-can-eat catered barbecue meal from

McCall’s • Exhibits from various CALS departments • N.C. State pep band and Mr. and Mrs. Wuf to start a pep rally — and plenty more!

For information, go to: Ask us how to be an Event Sponsor, Exhibitor or Volunteer! To contact the CALS Alumni & Friends Society office: Call 919.515.6212 or email

M ar k y 2011 CALS Career Expo

our cale n


“Bright Futures, Big Opportunities”


or 20 years, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has offered alumni and friends a way to connect their organizations with CALS students, recent graduates, fellow alumni and industry colleagues.

The CALS Career Expo affords participants exposure to approximately 1,500 students and colleagues, strengthening brand loyalty and educational goals. Hosted by CALS Career Services, this event provides an environment to showcase full-time job opportunities, internships, volunteer organizations, graduate and professional school programs, and professional development opportunities. Whether you have jobs to fill or career advice to share, consider registering today. To reserve an exhibit booth, visit the 2011 CALS Career Expo link on our website:

When: Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011 from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm Where: Talley Student Center Build relationships with current students and alumni. Advertise job and internship opportunities within your company. Alumni may also attend the Career Expo as job seekers. Report with resumes in hand to the Talley Student Center. We expect more than 100 employers from career fields in agriculture and life sciences. Event details and information on registered companies can be found on our website.

PERSPECTIVES College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Campus Box 7603 North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC 27695-7603


Prize catch

Courtesy Marybeth Brey

Graduate student Marybeth Brey caught this bass at Lake Norman as part of her research on the ecosystem impacts of changing fish populations – a project that was a top award-winner at N.C. State’s 2011 Graduate Student Research Symposium. (Story, page 30.)

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