on the move Preparing. Finding. Implementing solutions.
Robeson County Siblings Take Home Dudley Award
“Farming to me is ... planting seed in the ground ... watching it grow. It’s just a miracle to watch that seed transform into a plant. That’s what farming means to me.” — Any Locklear-Cummings
Their combined ages don’t even add up to a Jubilee season, which in farm speak refers to a banner harvest that takes 50 years to cultivate. Nonetheless, Ellery Locklear, 23, and his sister Amy Locklear-Cummings, 21, have their own combination of experience, commitment and passion for farming that is reaping distinction for this unique sibling team. The two are the Gilmer L. and Clara Y. Dudley Small Farmers of the Year for 2003, a designation conferred during a Small Farms Day luncheon held March 26 at N.C. A&T State University. This 17th annual Small Farms Week was coordinated by the Cooperative Extension Program at A&T. Locklear and LocklearCummings were chosen for their prudent stewardship of the land while utilizing resources and enhancing farm operations through Cooperative Extension programs. The Robeson County siblings operate Locklear Farms,
which harvests more than 20 kinds of fruits, vegetables and flowers on eight acres just south of Pembroke. In addition to their youth, their willingness to try new farming techniques, their success at doing so, as well as their adherence to a work schedule that includes holding down fulltime jobs outside the farm, have garnered them many admirers. Two of their biggest supporters are Nelson Brownlee, Robeson County area farm management agent, and Martin Brewington, Robeson County agricultural technician. The two nominated the brother and sister for the award. Locklear-Cummings, is a bubbly, assertive, adoring younger sister to Locklear’s steady, assessing, man-of-fewwords demeanor. Locklear doesn’t talk much, but when he does speak, it’s mostly about the land — his love of it, his commitment to it. “I’ve loved this ever since I can remember,’’ Locklear says.
For Locklear-Cummings, her devotion to the family farm is fueled by legacy. Their mother, Vernon Hazel Locklear — a retired teacher who still lives on the farmstead — and their late father, Willie Sanford Locklear, diligently worked the farm they bought in 1969. The couple passed on their moral code, their work ethic and farming to their children. “Daddy taught Ellery,’’ Locklear-Cummings says, “and Ellery taught me.” Locklear Farms is in the Cooperative Extension Program’s Small Farmer Outreach Training and Technical Assistance Program and the Farmers Adopting Computer Training Project. Locklear Farms was also a site on the Small Farmer Alternative Research Tour and was a recipient of a grant provided by the A&T Golden Leaf Project, through which Locklear was able to pay for plasticulture, a method by which crops are seeded and grown underneath plastic sheaths. Locklear learned about the system three years ago when he was on an agricultural tour with the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service. The Small Farmer of the Year Award was established by North Carolina entrepreneur Joseph L. Dudley, president of Dudley Products Inc., as a tribute to his parents’ commitment to higher education and appreciation of farming.
North Carolina A&T State University School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Newsletter
April 2003 • Vol. III, No.1
Dr. T’s Moment Say “March Madness” and people automatically think basketball. In SAES we relate to the term for some greatly justified reasons of our own. We have our own custom-made, homegrown version of March Madness. March is our busiest month of the year, when so many of our outstanding teams are in the spotlight. March in SAES is a time when: • We embrace our agricultural roots, exalting a fowl rather than abhorring one. • We display such research as reed cultivation, which allow us — literally — to make baskets. This past March, the SAES team played to win. We started March with the statewide Cooperative Extension Conference, where our corps of specialists, administrators and agents convened with our N.C. State peers for intensive training in Raleigh. On March 6, the momentum continued with the SAES Career Expo 2003. The event attracted 35 businesses from the food, agriculture, environmental, and family and consumer science industries, which were visited by 231 students. Small Farms Week was held March 23-29, offering a statewide look at small-scale agriculture. At the last of March our researchers and their top students headed to Atlanta to showcase their work as part of the Association of Research Directors Conference. Congratulations SAES, we have performed with professionalism and grace. Now that the madness has abated, it doesn’t mean we rest. We celebrate our achievements, assess where we need to improve, and build on what we have. We are on the move. — Dr. Alton Thompson
inside • Research impacts our day-to-day lives • New biotech courses added to SAES lineup
on the move Better Living Through Agricultural Research care policy. Research has also just wrapped up on a nationwide study of public attitudes about globalization, findings that could have implications for economic policies far into the future.
A&T food scientists have developed low-fat, high protein meat substitutes from defatted peanut flour. The fish nuggets pictured above combine this byproduct from peanut oil processing with the byproduct of tilapia- and catfish-processing to produce a new value-added product.
A belief in the adage that “for every problem, there is a solution” sustains scientists everywhere, and SAES researchers are no exception. The work they do is painstaking, exacting — at times, heartbreaking: Science is often as much a matter of discovering what does not work, as it is about discovering what does. Yet they press on. Though researchers publish regularly, you’ll never find their greatest works on the New York Times best-seller list. Nevertheless, science and technology are among the most powerful forces shaping culture and society. In this respect, researchers in SAES are participating in a truly exciting adventure. Here, in brief are some of the impacts their work is making in the lives of everyday people: Spurring human and community development The Southeast’s shifting demographics and changing economic landscape means research-based information to inform public policy is increasingly important.
Some examples: • Minority-farmers, many from families who have been farming for generations, are finding it especially difficult to hold on to their land. • North Carolina is now the largest immigration state for Hispanics. • A global economy and NAFTA present new risks and opportunities for limited resource farmers. SAES researchers are
examining all these issues. As a result of one recently completed project, minority farmers have learned the economic potential of alternative crops, including such things as greens for fresh markets, which can net the small scale producer as much as $7,000 per acre. Another survey is gathering data about Hispanic diet and health practices — information that will be critical in the state’s efforts to develop culturally appropriate health
Advancing biotechnology and biodiversity Biotechnology promises answers to a plethora of issues facing the food industry, including mounting pressures to eliminate antibiotics in livestock, widespread lactose intolerance and high rates of cardiovascular disease. These and many other issues are being resolved through biotechnology research at SAES. Researchers here are using the latest tools in biotechnology to develop natural remedies as alternatives to antibiotics. They are also developing lactose free milk and dairy products, and seeking to understand how hydrogenated table spreads can contribute to cardiovascular disease. Plant biotechnology is also making progress, and has produced a hardier strain of aluminum-tolerant alfalfa that is being eagerly awaited by farmers in Appalachia.
Preparing. Finding. Implementing solutions.
Improving water and soil quality Farming should never be at odds with fisheries. After all, both industries have the same goal: feeding people. That’s one reason SAES researchers are intent upon finding practical techniques for farmers to treat animal waste or reduce runoff. They are doing so with constructed wetlands, which serve to filter and absorb pollutants. Another innovation is the use of duckweed, which can take a problem — phosphorus pollution — and convert it into a solution — phosphorus-rich animal feed. SAES research has also proven that cover crops of clover and rye can substitute for nitrogen fertilizer. Advancing agromedicine, nutrition and food safety Costly meat recalls and outbreaks of foodborne illness could one day be things of the past, thanks to innovations emerging from the SAES food science labs. A portable biosensor, an all-natural preservative, and functional foods designed to prevent disease are all under development here.
As exciting as these innovations are, none of them will ever replace safe food handling. That’s why SAES researchers are also examining food safety behavior and the effectiveness of food labeling. Such information will contribute to improved education and information for consumers. Informing small scale agriculture Research on alternative crops and livestock is helping small scale farmers minimize the risks of embarking on new ventures. This is particularly important to tobacco farmers. Some of the studies now under way on the University Farm are exploring organic fruit, pastured pork production, herd health in meat goats, medicinal herbs, aquaculture, and more. Publications on production, post harvest handling, marketing and budgeting will give nuts-and-bolts information that farmers can put to practical use. Mushroom cultivation is another promising alternative crop that researchers are introducing to struggling tobacco farmers.
faculty & staff notes
Promoting international trade and development What do chitlins have to do with the high-powered world of international trade? Quite a bit, as SAES economics researchers discovered. As it happens, the parts of the pig appreciated by only small numbers of Americans — intestines, stomachs, tongues etc. — are highly prized by the Chinese. Couple this fact with North Carolina’s efficient, low-cost pork production, and you have a new product ripe for export. Thanks to SAES agricultural economists, several North Carolina pork exporters have had the information they need to conduct market opportunity missions to China. More than academic These examples just scratch the surface of the research program in the School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. But they illustrate that agricultural research is more than an academic exercise. It is creating new knowledge that can be put to use for the betterment of us all.
Pictured are members of the Strategic Planning Council for the Cooperative Extension Program at North Carolina A&T. The council, composed of volunteers from across the state, meets to guide and direct the CEP toward realizing its mission, vision and goals. Front row, l-r: Lena Butler, Brunswick County; Perry Graves, Rockingham County; A.P. Coleman, Wilson County; Edsel Daniel, Wake County; Bill Jones, Yancey County; Allan Oocumma, Cherokee Reservation Middle row, l-r: William Owens, Vance County; Albert Brown, Duplin County; Marilyn Odom, Forsyth County; Barbara Fenner, Pitt County; Laree Cherry, Bertie County; Robert Fairley, Robeson County; Mary Gurley, Beaufort County; Mary W. Thompson, Cherokee Reservation Back row, l-r: Allen Childers, Watuaga County; William McCoy, Onslow County; M. Ray McKinnie, SAES Cooperative Extension; Johnnie Jones, Wake County; James T. Shackleford, Greene County Not pictured: Elizabeth Chase, Columbus County; James Dunn, Wake County; Helene Edwards, Hoke County; Pete Oldham, Forsyth County; James Pitt, Avery County; Darrel Williams, Mecklenburg County; Dean Alton Thompson, SAES
SAES students will be better prepared for careers in biotechnology, thanks to two new courses that will be offered in the spring of 2004 by Drs. Salam Ibrahim and Millie Worku. Ibrahim’s course, Food Biotechnology, is designed for undergraduate seniors or graduate students of nutrition and other related disciplines, including biology, chemistry and agriculture. Students will learn modern biotechnological techniques used in food processing and food safety. Worku’s course, Bioinformatics and Genome Analysis, is designed for graduate students of agriculture and other disciplines, including biology, math, physics, engineering and statistics. It will prepare them for careers or doctoral-level education in one of the fastest growing specializations within biotechnology. Bioinformatics uses computers and database technologies to analyze the growing volume of biological information being amassed by genomics researchers all over the world. Worku is developing the course in collaboration with researchers at the National Biotechnology Information Facility at New Mexico State University. Dr. Abolghasem Shahbazi, professor of bioenvironmental engineering at A&T, has been elected to chair the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association (NCSA). The NCSA educates and advocates for clean smokestacks and greater use of green energy, including solar, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric and biofuels. Three Cooperative Extension Specialists at A&T are among six people in the state recognized for work that has helped children breathe easier and live better. Dr. Jean Baldwin, family life and human development specialist; Dr. Ellen P. Smoak, textiles and apparel specialist; and Dr. Robert Williamson, natural resources specialist, were presented with the Grange Search for Excellence Award on March 3 during the 2003 State Extension Conference in Raleigh. The A&T trio was honored, along with team leader Dr. Sandy Wiggins and two other specialists from N.C. State University’s Cooperative Extension Service, for establishing a children’s environmental health institute conducted last May at the Caraway Conference Center in Asheboro. Through the institute, a multi-disciplinary team of experts and specialists trained staff members from 30 counties to teach families about environmental toxins affecting their children. Presenters particularly focused on teaching families about childhood asthma, a condition triggered by such environmental dangers as cockroaches, mold, mildew, and secondhand smoke.
on the move
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North Carolina A&T State University School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Newsletter Produced by the Agricultural Communications Unit
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Dr. James C. Renick, Chancellor Dr. Alton Thompson, Dean, School of Agriculture and Enivronmental Sciences Dr. M. Ray McKinnie, Associate Dean, Administrator Cooperative Extension Program Dr. Carolyn Turner, Associate Dean, Agricultural Research Station Dr. Donald McDowell, Associate Dean, Academic Programs
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North Carolina A&T State University is committed to equality of educational opportunity and does not discriminate against applicants, students, or employees based on race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, or disability. Moreover, North Carolina A&T State University is open to all people of all races and actively seeks to promote racial integration by recruiting and enrolling a large number of white students. Send change of address and correspondence to: on the move Newsletter Editor Agricultural Research Program CH Moore Agricultural Research Station Greensboro, NC 27411
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www.ag.ncat.edu MARK YOUR CALENDARS: National Institutes of Health NCBI Bioinformatics Workshop — April 22-23, 2003 SPA/EPA Non-Teaching Staff Summit for SAES — April 29 24th Annual Research Apprentice Program — June 22 - July 8 1890 Association of Extension Administrators Conference — Atlanta, June 23-26
The New Gene Discovery Workshop coordinated by Dr. Millie Worku, gave students, faculty and staff a week of training in the latest biotechnology research techniques used in plant, animal, microbial and biological sciences. Pictured above are Richard Mason (left) and Gregory Bernard, graduate students in the Department of Animal Health Sciences.