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Spring 2016 Volume 7, Issue 1

Natural Resources & Environmental Science Fall 2012 Volume 3, Issue 2

Biannual Newsletter Letter from the NRES Steering Committee Chair Sometimes it can feel like the world is changing faster than we can keep up with, and indeed, there

INSIDE THIS Internship ISSUE: Highlights

is evidence that it’s true. Scientists have defined 2

Research Highlights


Alumni Highlights


Faculty Highlights


Course Highlights


Study Abroad Paris Climate Talks Farewell to Dr. Stainback; Wilderness First Responder

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thropocene, or “human-influenced” period. They have noted the rapid rise in human population, increasing use of and impacts to natural resources, and globalization, with resulting major alterations of ecosystems, the spread of invasive species, and adverse effects on biodiversity, to name a few. This dramatic acceleration in human impacts to earth system processes requires that we bring together sophisticated knowledge and understanding of both the natural sciences and the social sciences, to understand how human systems influence and shape global systems. The need for people trained as natural resource and environmental science professionals, one could argue, has never been greater. The NRES program, with its twin grounding in the natural and social sciences, continues to be well-poised to prepare undergraduates for


varied careers in research, conservation, and management of natural resources and the environment. Talented, bright students with a passion for understanding and improving the environment are earning their degrees in NRES, finding diverse pathways to make

The Food Connection


Spotlight on Sustainability


NRES Steering Committee; In Memoriam

the most recent geologic time period as the An-

contributions to improved stewardship of land, water, soil, and biota. If you have news you would like to see included in the newsletter, or other comments or information, please email me at We aim to keep you informed of our activities and engaged in the success of our current students and alumni.


Photo credits: Lexi Neukirch from her Study Abroad trip to New Zealand (see page 11 for more information).

Dr. Mary Arthur


NRES Newsletter

Spring 2016

Internship Highlights

By: Katie Morrison and Jad Husayni


Jeremy Scherer is an NRES senior scheduled to graduate in December of 2016. With focus areas in Geospatial Analysis and Soil Science, the internship he chose was a perfect fit! Jeremy completed his internship requirement this summer at the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Snyder, Texas, where he worked in the Pathways Program as a Soil Conservation Trainee. He was tasked with making maps in ArcGIS, taking GPS points in the field, and plant collection and identification. His daily duties also included environmental education, working with land owners to address natural resource concerns, and riding an ATV across large rural areas to mark points on properties to record completed work, such as brush removal or fence construction, or to mark areas for work that was being planned. This internship offered Jeremy the perfect combination for his interests and simultaneously guaranteed him two summers of work and a job with the NRCS after he graduates. Jeremy would strongly recommend this internship to NRES students, as he found it to be the right balance of office and field work and he learned a lot while also having fun. Working in a landscape that is so different from Kentucky gave Jeremy a new perspective on people and opened a door to new interests Jeremy never realized he had. In the future, Jeremy hopes to continue to work for the NRCS and eventually return to school to earn his Master’s degree. For Jeremy, this experience confirmed that he made the correct choice in working for the NRCS, as well as choosing a degree in NRES. For information on how you can apply for this internship, go to NRCS’s website at: Pictured above: Jeremy Scherer holding a tumbleweed that he came across during his internship. Below: Lunch view during mapping work.


completed his internship this previous summer with TerraCycle Inc., located in Trenton, New Jersey. TerraCycle is a relatively new company that is revolutionizing the world of recycling by repurposing waste to use it in innovative ways. For example, the company’s first product packaged liquefied “worm poop” in used soda bottles, and then sold them as fertilizer. John worked for the company as a Business Development and Account Management Intern, which consisted of a wide range of responsibilities. John hopes to eventually work for a renewable energy corporation or in the investment-banking sector, so it was important for him to find an internship that introduced him to the various business-related aspects of an environmental career. This internship provided him that introduction by requiring him to conduct research and perform data collection and analysis for potential new clients, interview companies about their sustainability goals, and travel to various companies to conduct store audits and better understand marketing campaigns. His favorite part of the internship was experiencing how much preparation goes into presenting business deals to potential new clients. John said that often times, rejected proposals had to be refined or re-started from scratch, and that it was always a rewarding experience when they were finally accepted. Instances like these demonstrated that failures occur quite frequently in the business world, but they also showed him how to overcome those failures and to constantly adjust his approach to eventually succeed. This internship did not change his future plans, but instead reinforced his desire to continue on his current path. For more about TerraCycle visit: Pictured above: John Garlasko in front of the Terracycle Building, where he interned.


NRES Newsletter

Spring 2016

Research Highlights

By:: Lexi Neukirch and Katie Morrison

Michaela Rogers, an NRES Senior with emphasis areas in Field and Lab Analysis of Ecosystems and Conservation Biology, took a unique college pathway that led to researching dung beetles in Spain. While studying abroad at Lancaster University in England, Michaela successfully applied to their undergraduate research course. After perusing the list of mentors and their topics for one that interested her, she met with Dr. Menéndez, an ecologist who piqued her curiosity about the impacts of climate change on the range shifts of dung beetles inhabiting mountainous terrain. Although Michaela had previously worked as a lab assistant in an Entomology Lab at UK, she felt that she was on a steep learning curve while working independently, learning new statistical methods and meeting the challenges of a demanding final writing project. Over the course of a year in England, Michaela’s study involved classifying and quantifying beetle samples previously collected across a three-month span at ascending points along the Picos de Europa Mountain Range in Spain. She compared dung beetle community diversity and location data to the literature to assess how the insects relocate along the elevational gradient due to climatic sensitivity. Michaela spent the first semester conducting lab work, and the second semester writing, always working closely with Dr. Menéndez to improve her research skills. Michaela presented her research at the NRES Internship Forum last fall. Michaela’s advice to those interested in research, whether at UK or abroad, is to “find a mentor who is studying something you are interested in. Not only will you be more motivated to work on a project that you actually care to learn the results from, but you may make a connection that can help you later on in your professional career.” Michaela has stayed in touch with Dr. Menendez, and looks forward to pursuing entomology work after she graduates. Pictured above: (top) a dung beetle, (bottom) Michaela Rogers sorting beetle families in the Entomology Lab where she completed her internship.

Chloe Vorseth

is a junior in the NRES major with emphasis areas in Environmental Policy and Economics and Human Dimensions and Natural Resource Planning and is working in South Africa this semester. Last semester, Chloe conducted a research project with Dr. Andrew Stainback that examined the management of an area of mountainous rainforest in Africa that contains endangered primates, orchids, and birds (some of which can’t be found anywhere else in Africa!). Her project explored the potential collaboration between the management of this rainforest throughout adjoining protected areas, Nyungwe National Park in Rwanda and Kibira National Park in Burundi. The results of her research could support conservation professionals and policymakers from both countries in more effectively collaborating to protect this important ecosystem. To conduct this research Chloe reviewed the peer-reviewed literature on trans-boundary conservation in Rwanda and Burundi, and other conservation efforts around the world. Chloe and Dr. Stainback met frequently to discuss her findings and help shape the research paper she collaborated on with several other authors that details the findings of this research project. Chloe’s interest in studying abroad this semester in South Africa was piqued by her research. She is currently working for the Western Cape Primary Science Programme (PSP) in Cape Town, an organization that has been working since 1985 to address the inequalities in education in South Africa. The PSP aims to improve the quality of teaching and learning in South African primary schools in the critical fields of mathematics & numeracy, natural sciences and technology, environment, language and literacy development and social sciences. When Chloe first arrived at UK she had no idea that her path through college and the NRES degree would lead to this exciting opportunity to study abroad in South Africa! Her research project with Dr. Stainbeck opened the door to new opportunities she never previously imagined. Pictured above: A photo of Nyungwe National Park in Rwanda (from Dr. Andrew Stainback).


NRES Newsletter

Spring 2016

Alumni Highlight: MS Student and Staff Member

By: Jad Husayni

Nic Williamson

graduated from the NRES program in spring 2013 and is currently working toward his graduate degree in Forestry at UK. In addition to being a full-time student, Nic is also a cofounder of the Urban Forest Initiative (UFI) with Drs. Mary Arthur and Lynne Rieske-Kinney. UFI is a working group on campus whose goal is to raise awareness about the ecological, social and economic benefits that urban trees provide to the UK campus and greater Lexington community. When Nic is not busy studying or attending class, he can be found promoting UFI through outreach and education events. You can explore the UFI and all of its components by visiting their website at Long before graduate school, working for UFI, and college in general, Nic knew he was interested in pursuing a career that promotes environmental stewardship. Growing up a Lexington native, Nic loved everything about the outdoors as a kid, especially hiking and rock-climbing in the nearby Red River Gorge. After attending Bluegrass Community and Technical College for two years, Nic decided to take a year off, before enrolling at UK, to do something unconventional. For the following fourteen months, he lived off the grid at Turtle Island Nature Preserve in North Carolina and worked as an intern for Eustace Conway, a renowned naturalist and main character of the History Channel hit series Mountain Men. Nic was not featured on the show, but several of his fellow interns were given their fifteen minutes of fame throughout the series. While living at Turtle Island, though, Nic learned a lot about forestry and the importance of maintaining a harmonious relationship

with nature, which he said contributed to his current academic and professional pursuits. Nic’s experiences at Turtle Island cemented his desire to major in NRES, and so he went on to complete his degree with a minor in Sustainable Agriculture. While a student in the program, he worked a vast assortment of jobs to hone in on his personal interests. Some of his jobs included working with Dr. Barton on mining reclamation activities, helping PhD students in an entomology lab, and learning about organic vegetable farming at the UK Organic Farm. Nic said the diversity of classes in the NRES program and his involvement around the major provided an avenue for him to formulate his own opinions and ultimately pick out the aspects of environmental science that he enjoys the most. After a brief stint fighting forest fires in Washington state, Nic’s interests led him to enroll at UK as a Forestry graduate student the following year. What Nic finds most interesting about his current position is his opportunity to promote the importance of urban trees to a wide range of people, and he attributes much of his success to his time in the NRES program. Learning to collaborate, share ideas with people, and think critically about natural resources allows him to communicate his message in a way that makes people care about the issues at hand. In the future, Nic hopes to continue his work with UFI and extend it to other cities and universities, where it can be used as a blueprint for generating awareness and support for urban tree programs.

Pictured above: (top) Nic Williamson, along with Amanda Williams (Urban Forest Initiative Intern) and Sam Waltman (Bluegrass Youth Sustainability Council member and Sayre High School Student) planting trees in Lexington’s Brighton East neighborhood; (bottom) Nic with the Adopt-aTree display board.


NRES Newsletter

Spring 2016

Alumni Highlight: Botanist

By: Katie Morrison

Ryan Quire, Frankfort, KY native, was initially unsure where she wanted to attend college, but with family who graduated from UK, Ryan was ultimately drawn to the diversity of educational opportunities the school provides. She began her college career with majors in Biology and History before learning about the NRCM (now NRES) major during the first semester of her sophomore year. In her words, enrolling in the NRCM major was one of the best decisions she ever made. Ryan graduated in the spring of 2009 with a focus area in Botany. Following graduation, Ryan worked for a year at Floracliff and Raven Run Nature Sanctuaries, then attended graduate school for Botany at Montana State University in Bozeman, where she focused on plant biodiversity of the sagebrush steppe biome. After graduate school she worked for a year as a botanist and range specialist for a consulting firm traveling to sites throughout Montana, Wyoming, and Nevada. Being required to work up to 100 hours per week and getting 6 days or fewer off per month was not the work environment Ryan wanted to be in, so she left the position and worked as a botanist for a year with the Helena National Forest in Montana. She loved the position, getting to search for new sensitive plant locations, monitor previously located populations, create the first plant database for the forest, revamp and add to the very untidy forest herbarium, and create a Flickr website for the appreciation of plants found in the forest, among other duties. While this position was very rewarding, she wanted to move back to Bozeman and began exploring her options. She took a chance and called Confluence Consulting, based in Bo-

zeman, in March 2015. They told her to come in for an interview and hired her the following week! Ryan is currently working as a botanist and wetland scientist for Confluence, focusing on restoration and monitoring of wetlands, streams, and fisheries. She is constantly seeking opportunities to conduct rare plant surveys, provide plant identification trainings, and continue her professional development. Ryan’s favorite part of her job is getting to be outside and travelling to many places throughout Montana and Wyoming, learning about new plants associated with wetlands and streams, and learning to be the best wetland scientist she can be. Ryan’s experience in the NRCM major and her focus in botany helped prepare her for graduate school, which she highly recommends if you are considering a career in botany. Ryan recommends that current NRES students “take a class from Dr. Mary Arthur, Rob Paratley, and Dr. Dave McNear, all amazing professors and people. Their classes inspired me to become a better scientist and to go after my dreams. Go to summer camp, work in a cool lab on campus, do field work, and do something totally wild for your internship!” To find out more about Confluence Consulting go to:

Pictured above: (top) Ryan Quire in Thailand with the rare and very unusual Rafflesia kerrii; (bottom left) Ryan in Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica, an amazing plant and biodiversity hotspot!; (bottom right) Ryan at Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park.

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NRES Newsletter

Spring 2016

Faculty Highlight: Herpetologist and Urban Ecologist

By: Lexi Neukirch

Dr. Steve Price

has influenced many NRES students during his three years at UK, often through connections initially made with students through courses he teaches. He teaches Herpetology (FOR 510) every spring semester, Urban Ecology (FOR 540) alternating fall semesters including Fall 2016, and soon-to-be offered Freshwater Ecology (FOR 530) alternating Fall semesters beginning Fall 2017, as well as NRES camp in Costa Rica with co-instructor Rob Paratley. When asked about his teaching, Dr. Price said: “My best experience involved co-leading the NRES camp in Costa Rica. The students learned so much about conservation biology, sustainability, biodiversity, tropical ecology, etc. There’s nothing more exciting than night hikes through the rainforest at La Selva Biological Station. Also, I worked alongside an awesome teacher [Rob Paratley] who taught me a lot about instruction and professionalism. Many of the students in the Costa Rica class enrolled in my other courses and several participated in independent study in my lab.” Before becoming the Assistant Professor of Stream and Riparian Ecology at UK, Dr. Price earned his B.S in both Biology and Environmental Science, followed by an MS degree in Environmental Science and Policy from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. As a student he gained experience working for the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Richter Museum in Green Bay, the Milwaukee Public Museum, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. He earned his Ph.D. in Biology from Wake Forest University in 2011 while working at Davidson College in North Carolina as a research coordinator, adjunct teaching faculty member, and then, with PhD degree in hand, as

a post-doctoral fellow. Interested in finding a tenure track faculty position in the southeastern US, Dr. Price was thrilled to come to the University of Kentucky in 2012 where he could work with his focal species, reptiles and amphibians. He enjoys the opportunity to work with students and faculty in a department that values applied research. While a faculty position comes with many responsibilities and opportunities, Dr. Price’s first passion is working with students on research projects: “I love teaching students the art (i.e., asking interested questions, study design, analysis, etc.) of conducting a scientific investigation.” Dr. Price’s strongest advice to students is to work hard, take school seriously, and always seek out and take advantage of opportunities. He recommends that students get to know NRES faculty, and gain experience in a lab setting if possible. While Dr. Price enhances the lives of all of his students through classes, camp, and research, he is also the father of four boys, which he says is his most important and time-consuming job. To learn more about the Dr. Price’s work visit:

Pictured above: (top) Dr. Price feeding a green iguana potato chips during the NRES field course in Costa Rica; (bottom left) Dr. Price holding a hellbender, an imperiled salamander found in Kentucky streams and rivers; (bottom right) Dr. Price showing a frog to students in Costa Rica.

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By: Katie Morrison

NRES Newsletter

Spring 2016

Faculty Highlight: Bat Expert drome.” Renewable Natural Resources in a Global Perspective, or FOR 602, is a global overview of problems in Forestry, with multiple faculty members contributing lectures on different topics. In the past years, Dr. Lacki has concentrated on forest management in the Pacific Northwest, where he has been conducting research on bats since 1999. More recently, his lectures have consisted of the global and regional impacts of white-nose syndrome and its role in causing wide-spread fatalities in bats. Dr. Lacki says, “It is always hard for me to talk about WNS (whitenose syndrome), because of the crippling effect it has had on our bats.”

Students interested in Wildlife Management may already know Dr. Mike Lacki who teaches the Wildlife Ecology and Management course and serves as an academic advisor for NRES students interested in wildlife. Having been a faculty member here at UK for nearly 26 years, Dr. Lacki fills many roles including assisting in advising undergraduate students in Forestry and NRES; directing Masters and PhD students; conducting research on forest wildlife, emphasizing threatened and rare species, particularly bats; serving on numerous committees at the University; being a member of the University Senate; and teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in wildlife. With a BS in Biology, an MS in Zoology, and a PhD in Zoology and Forestry, Dr. Lacki is highly qualified for the job. Dr. Lacki currently teaches the undergraduate course Forest Wildlife Management, assists in teaching at the NRES Robinson Forest Summer Camp, and contributes lectures to the graduate course Renewable Natural Resources in a Global Perspective. Dr. Lacki describes Forest Wildlife Management, or FOR 370, as “a crash course in wildlife management and science, combined with an emphasis on forest ecosystems and wildlife species.” In the NRES Summer Camp, held at Robinson Forest, his role is to introduce students to techniques used in the wildlife management field, with a focus on “the capturing and handling procedures associated with bats, including protocols for preventing the spread of the fungal spores that contribute to the disease white-nose syn-

One of the most memorable experiences Dr. Lacki has had during his time at UK is publishing his first research papers on bats, including two in the Journal of Wildlife Management. “These were early, significant contributions on the ecology of the endangered Virginia big-eared bat.” He also very fondly remembers catching his first pallid bats, a species of bat that ranges from western Canada to central Mexico, in Oregon in the summer of 2003. “I’ve always liked them because they fly low to the ground, even using clicks audible to human ears, and hunt large invertebrate prey, including scorpions. Anything that can take down scorpions is OK by me. I remember most how awful they smelled. Worst of any critter I have ever handled, including many snake species I handled while working on endangered copperbelly water snakes in southern Indiana.” Dr. Lacki’s best advice to students: “Believe in yourself - especially when others appear not to - and treat all living things with dignity and respect.”

Pictured above: (top) Dr. Mike Lacki hiking in the High Tatras in Slovakia; (bottom) a western long-eared bat held by Dr. Lacki during pro-



NRES Newsletter

Spring 2016

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Course Highlight: NRE 355

By: Katie Morrison and Lexi Neukirch

Introductory Geospatial Applications for Land Analysis (NRE 355), is one of the NRES core requirements students typically take their junior year. This course is an introduction to the concepts and methods of compilation, management, analysis, and display of spatially-referenced and tabular data. Two hours of lecture per week are complemented by four hours per week of computer-based laboratory work. There are two sections of this course, taught by Dr. Brian Lee and Boyd Shearer, each highlighted below.

Boyd Shearer

enjoys making maps that help people better understand and appreciate the natural environment. As he sees it, “A map is a measurement of human use, expectations, and hazards of the environment as much as it’s an artistic rendering of place.” Boyd loves teaching this course because he sees GIS and mapping as tools that span many disciplines. During his offering of NRE 355, which is taught in the fall, his goal is to have students recognize that the maps they make are of real places and real people and can have real impact on the areas they are mapping. They learn how to do spatial analysis and cartography that culminates in the use of their map in the field. During the Fall 2015 class, the students used digital elevation models (DEM) and infrared aerial photography to predict where scenic vistas were located on Pine Mountain. They then took these maps to the site to field test their results, and found that the projections they created in the classroom were useful guides for hiking and camping on Pine Mountain. Boyd is excited for future projects, which he designs intentionally to help students overcome the steep learning curve and “click” with the understanding of GIS. Boyd is very receptive to student questions and concerns, and can be reached at

Pictured above: (left) The NRE 355 Fall 2015 class; (right) Dr. Brian Lee.

Dr. Brian Lee’s section of NRE 355 is taught every spring with a focus on learning the fundamentals of GIS technology and how it can be used in a natural resource context. Dr. Lee feels students need the space to make their own decisions in the course so he recently modified the format to a “flipped” classroom in which he records the audio and video from his lectures during class and uploads them to Echo360 for students to access later from Canvas or Blackboard. Attendance is encouraged but optional, which allows students to watch and review lectures, notes, demos, and even complete assignments from home, as a CD copy of the program used in class, ArcGIS, is provided for every student. This class format allows him to spend more time with students that need it and less time helping students who missed previous classes. One of Dr. Lee’s goals with this course is for it to complement the information students have learned in other NRES courses. Taking this course earlier in their college career, either sophomore or junior year, will allow students to think spatially about all of the NRES topics that will be presented to them. Dr. Lee hopes students will gain an appreciation for working with GIS technology and the wide variety of subjects to which this knowledge can be applied. Dr. Lee says, “GIS can be a scary subject for a lot of people,” but this course will leave you with confidence. For more information on this course and the more advanced GIS course he teaches, Dr. Brian Lee can be contacted at


NRES Newsletter

Spring 2016

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Course Highlight: PLS 366

By: Lexi Neukirch and Katie Morrison

Fundamentals of Soil Science (PLS 366) is one of the NRES core course requirements, recommended for students to take in their junior year. This course involves the study of the physical, chemical and biological properties of soils and how they relate to plant nutrient availability and plant growth, land-use planning and management, and soil and water quality issues. Three hours of lecture per week are complemented by three hours of laboratory. The prerequisite for this course is CHE 105. There are two sections of this course, taught by Dr. Chris Matocha and Dr. Dave McNear, each highlighted below.

Dr. Dave McNear is an Associate Professor Dr. Chris Matocha of Rhizosphere Science in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, and teaches PLS 366 every fall semester. He has been interested in soil chemistry since he first began his education with an Associate degree in Life Sciences. He earned both his B.S and M.S from Penn State, in Environmental Resource Management and Environmental Pollution Control with a focus in Soil Chemistry, respectively, followed by a PhD in Environmental Soil Chemistry from the University of Delaware. The fall section of PLS 366 usually includes 40-60 students divided into four labs. Dr. McNear enjoys teaching Fundamentals of Soil Science because of its broad applicability to a wide array of students. He encourages students of all disciplines to enroll in the course, and hopes that they will leave with a greater appreciation for soil and an understanding of how it must be managed correctly. Dr. McNear looks forward to getting to know his students each semester and seeing what roles the students take on in the lectures and labs. He knows that many students find PLS 366 to be daunting, but he says that the class is structured to keep everyone caught up and encourage critical thinking. While the course is a lot of work, it may be the only soils course that many students take, so it is important that everyone understands broad concepts from soil formation to growing crops. Dr. McNear advises students to remember that they will get out of the class what they put in, and that interaction in labs and outside of class is the key to success. Dr. McNear can be contacted for more information at Pictured above: (left) Dr. Dave McNear and (right) Dr. Chris Matocha.

first developed an appreciation of soil science growing up on a farm in Texas and participating in 4-H. He earned his B.S. in Plant and Environmental Soil Science and M.S. in Soil Science (both from Texas A & M) as well as his PhD in Plant and Soil Sciences from the University of Delaware. Dr. Matocha’s section of PLS 366 is offered every spring semester, accepting approximately 65-75 students with lab sections capped at 15 students due to space constraints. Dr. Matocha encourages all students to enroll in this course, even those without any background awareness of the importance of soil as a natural resource. “Even those students who might have some exposure to soil might be surprised at how diverse it is, providing a wide array of goods and services.” With these two topics as main goals of the course, Dr. Matocha hopes students will learn in this class why it is essential that soils be conserved. Dr. Matocha finds studying soils interesting because of the “interconnected functions between soil and food production, the water cycle, and cycling of atmospheric gases.” The lecture for this course provides an introduction to concepts in this field, with the lab reinforcing the lecture and allowing students an opportunity to gain hands-on experience with soil. Dr. Matocha says, “(everyone) has to eat so an understanding of how food is grown in soil, and the properties that promote sustainable food production, is paramount.” For more information on this course and the more advanced Soils classes he teaches, Dr. Matocha can be contacted at


NRES Newsletter

Spring 2016

Page 10

Emily Godfrey Studies Abroad in America

By: Jad Husayni

This semester we have the fortunate opportunity to highlight a different type of education abroad experience. Typical highlights feature NRES students who have traveled abroad to gain educational experience at foreign universities, but this semester’s highlight does the exact opposite. Emily Godfrey is a foreign exchange student who is spending a year here, at the University of Kentucky! Originally from Essex, England, located about forty-five minutes northeast of London, Emily attends college at Lancaster University in northern England. Another NRES student, Michaela Rogers, studied abroad at Lancaster University last year, but the two did not meet and become friends until Emily came to UK. She lived in New Jersey as an infant, and while growing up in England Emily always knew that she wanted to return to the United States. After learning about her school’s education abroad program, and that it offered programs in the U.S., she knew right away that it was an ideal opportunity to do just that. Emily was impartial about which American university to enroll at because she thought all of them were culturally identical, and she ultimately chose Kentucky because it was the most affordable of the bunch. Back home at university, which is the only term English students use to describe college, Emily’s major is Earth and Environmental Sciences. Since the NRES program has similar coursework, she had no problem finding classes that were applicable to her degree at Lancaster. Despite these similarities, Emily said the NRES major is very different from what she was used to back at school. She said all of her classes at Lancaster are in lecture halls with over 150 students each, and it is always a big deal if the professor knows someone’s name. She was surprised to come here and

have it be the norm for professors to know the names of every student in their class, and for them to expect the students to participate and visit their office hours, which is something that she found to be very helpful when adjusting to life at UK. What Emily likes most about taking classes in NRES is the wide variety of courses and the diverse educational approaches that the courses provide. For example, she enjoyed the hands-on learning during Forest Ecology labs, but also appreciates the difficulty of using technology to tackle natural resource issues in GIS class. After finishing her year at Kentucky in May, and then one more at Lancaster, Emily hopes to go to graduate school and eventually work for the European Space Agency. When asked about her most influential learning experience thus far, Emily said that adjusting to American culture is the biggest one. Growing up watching American movies offered her a glimpse, but it also created a number of stereotypes that she said were true in some respects but not in others. For example, the hysteria and pageantry surrounding American football is certainly real, but red solo cups are not the hallmark of every social gathering. Now that she has experienced both countries Emily finds it humorous to compare the stereotypes between the two. Emily’s year abroad has already proven to be an incredible opportunity for her to learn about herself and the world in general, and she would highly recommend other students travel abroad as well. Her advice to any students considering studying abroad is to, “just go. Your experiences will undoubtedly differ from your expectations, but you will learn from and adapt to every single one of them.”

Pictured above: (top) Emily Godfrey spent her first birthday away from home hiking Kentucky’s Red River Gorge with friends; (bottom left) Emily and friends hiking in Gatlinburg, TN; (bottom right) Emily and a friend on top of Pilot Knob in Kentucky State Nature Preserve.

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NRES Newsletter

Spring 2016

The Scarfie Life: Lexi Neukirch Takes New Zealand

By: Grace Coy

The beauty and biodiversity of New Zealand is something that is truly a privilege to experience. Last semester, NRES senior Lexi Neukirch, did just that. Going through Arcadia University’s study abroad program, Lexi and other students from universities across the United States attended the University of Otago in Dunedin. Her courses included Environmental Management, Freshwater Ecology, International Marketing, and Biostatistics, each contributing to both her NRES major and International Business minor. Having studied in Iceland in the summer of 2014, Lexi is well on her way to becoming a seasoned world traveler, which has given her an open mind and a distinct appreciation for cultural and ecological diversity. Her academic and recreational pursuits in New Zealand contributed to this mindset greatly and gave her the opportunity to fully immerse herself in a different culture. Lexi’s position as a university student earned her the title of “Scarfie” which entails what some might perceive as a double life, with one side spent on intense research and study and the other focused on enjoying the many outdoor recreational opportunities. Her professors came from a range of backgrounds and teaching styles. Most notable was her experience in her International Marketing class, in which Lexi and fellow students partook in the launching of the New Zealand-based men’s clothing line, I Love Ugly, to Swedish markets. A lot of Lexi’s most valued lessons came from outside the classroom. In her free time, Lexi took every opportunity for adventure, whether it be the simple enjoyment of local produce from the farmers market or the high-adrenaline rush of skiing and jet boating with friends. Her time spent exploring the urban and natural landscapes of Dunedin, backpacking the Kep-

ler Great Walk, and taking a spring break road-trip across the southern island were some of the richest experiences of her time in New Zealand, for it allowed her to take full advantage of the landscape and form lasting bonds with fellow students. One might wonder, how is being a “Scarfie” different from being a university student in the U.S? The answer to that is one that strongly helped Lexi gain a new perspective on her current worldview. While the landscape, the lifestyle, and the students present different opportunities and interests, Lexi notes that the most valuable takeaway from her semester abroad was not in these differences but in the similarities that students around the world share. This came in her realization that adventure can be found anywhere, and that each place has its own unique characteristics that instills it with value. Lexi has used this shift in perspective to motivate herself to continue to pursue opportunities both internationally and locally. She strongly encourages that all students study abroad in hopes that they also gain this important worldview, which promotes a love for learning, acceptance, and exploration, whether it’s across the ocean or in their own backyard.

Pictured above: (top) Lexi and a friend celebrating making it to the top of Roy's Peak, a four hour climb! ; (bottom left) Lexi and her best

friend on a rock beach in Milford Sound; (bottom right) Lexi and two friends posing with the Wanaka Willow, a living tree in lake Wanaka, while on their Spring Break road trip.


NRES Newsletter

By: Caroline Engle

Spring 2016

Paris Climate Talks

In December, 2015, NRES Senior Caroline Engle had the opportunity to attend the COP21 Sustainable Innovation Forum in Paris, France. She highlights her experience of that historic event below.

After attending the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) in Lima, Peru I was not expecting to return to international climate work due to the large time commitment it required. However, I was selected to serve as the Sierra Student Coalition International Committee Delegation’s Policy and Lobby Fellow for the 2015-2016 term. Leaving COP20 I was feeling the centrality and urgency of climate change stronger than ever before. Like many believed and as President Obama said, COP21 was the “best chance we have to save the one planet we have.” After 21 year of negotiations the UNFCCC hosted COP21 to develop a treaty to comprehensively address anthropogenic climate change. COP21 was supposed to be the historic moment in which the world would come together and finally “solve” climate change. While in Paris I helped lead the multi-delegation youth lobby of the U.S. State Department in hopes that the U.S. would definitively act as a world leader for climate action. I set up meetings with U.S. negotiators and other high level stakeholders such as the chair of the EPA, members of the Department of Energy, and members of the Obama administration. I truly learned how international diplomacy works by using tactics such as bargaining and leveraging policy points. I cocreated a U.S./China bilateral agreement with our youth Chinese partners which called for far more ambitious goals and standards compared to the standards in the bilateral agreement that was signed by President Obama and President Jinping. While not in lobbying meetings, I spoke at press conferences, took part in actions, worked the Sierra Student Coalition informational booth, and created policy videos which relayed policy updates to networks in the U.S.

On December 12, 2015, 195 countries signed the 31-page Paris Agreement which was agreed to as “Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 ° C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels.” Many praised this agreement calling it a victory. It might have been a political victory to get countries like the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Australia to all sign the document, but I cannot overlook its weak commitments, unjust foundation, and lack of financial support for those front-line communities facing the most debilitating climate impacts. I realized through this experience that the true solutions to our shared climate change disaster are found within local communities. Climate change is the biggest threat to our generation, but the biggest opportunity to combat it lies in places like Kentucky. The U.S. disproportionately produces greenhouse gas emissions, so by having strong domestic policy and engaged citizens demanding climate action, the international conversation completely shifts. I encourage students to get involved locally at the school, county, and state levels. UK is one of the last universities in the state to adopt a climate action plan, so having a university that takes climate change seriously is a great place to start.

Pictured above: (top left) COP21 logo; (top right) The SSC posing for 100% renewable energy with their Chinese partners; (bottom left) Caroline Engle after being interviewed by BuzzFeed about her Kentucky organization; (bottom middle) Pushing for fossil fuels to stay in the ground with other U.S. youth after their press conference; (bottom right) Caroline after an action which called for the U.S. to be a renewable energy leader.

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By: Katie Morrison

NRES Newsletter

Spring 2016

Farewell to Dr. Andrew Stainback

Late last fall, Dr. Stainback accepted a new position at the Everglades Foundation in Palmetto Bay, Florida, where he works as an economist tasked with providing economic and social science expertise to the Everglades Foundation and other NGOs working to restore the greater Everglades ecosystem. He will be developing and executing research projects directed at quantifying the economic and social value of the ecosystem services provided by the Everglades. “The restoration of the Everglades is the largest ecological restoration project undertaken in history. The Everglades and surrounding areas consist of a diversity of land, freshwater, and marine environments challenged by a fast growing population, invasive species, and climate change. In many ways it is a microcosm of the environ-

By: Grace Coy

mental issues we face on a planetary scale.” Dr. Stainback hopes to play a meaningful role in the conservation of this unique ecosystem and to continue learning about human and ecological interactions. We are excited for Dr. Stainback’s new role, and the significant work he will be able to do in contributing to the restoration of this critical ecosystem, but he will be very missed by students and faculty in the NRES program, and the feeling is mutual. Serving as a professor in the Department of Forestry for the past six years, and playing a significant role as an instructor, advisor, and member of the NRES Steering Committee, has been a very rewarding experience for Dr. Stainback. Dr. Stainback shared that the opportunity to work with students both in and out of the classroom will be the part that he misses most about leaving UK. The Everglades Foundation funds internships and graduate study for students, however, and he hopes to be able to provide a few students at UK an opportunity to work on conservation issues involving the Everglades.

Wilderness First Responder Course

Of the vast array of skills that NRES students gain through time spent in the classroom, adequate experience in outdoor safety and emergency procedures is something that often requires a special type of hands-on training. The Wilderness First Responder (WFR) program is one that sets out to achieve this type of preparation, as its purpose is to give students the medical and decision-making tools to assess and respond to a range of outdoor emergency situations. The program, offered through Landmark Learning for the National Outdoor Leadership School’s Wilderness Medicine Institute, is an 80-hour curriculum that focuses on a series of topics that prepare the student to manage and treat outdoor injuries and to evaluate and act during environmental emergencies.

extremely helpful, as the skills and information built on itself in a way that proved beneficial to retaining the knowledge.

The students who elect to undergo this training receive both WFR and CPR certification, yet the true value of the course is derived from the student’s individual experience and their ability to apply the knowledge in future settings. When asked about their involvement, students clearly attained the goals of the course and recognized its value. Sarah Peter, a first-year NRES student who took the course this past January, appreciated the use of the mock scenarios the most, noting that the best way to learn these skills was in the safe, controlled environment that the trainers created. She also found the structure of the course

NRES plans to offer the WFR again in January 2018.

Looking into the future, students who have taken this course see how this type of training can be used to their advantage, both in the wilderness and the workforce. Keegan Smith, another NRES student and recently certified WFR, sees the course not only as a significant addition to his skillset, but for his resume as well. “This opens up so many more options for me,” he says, as he reflects on how this type of training will aid in his future job pursuits. Overall, it is clear that the WFR program equips individuals with the means and the mindset to benefit both themselves and society.

Pictured above: (top) Dr. Andrew Stainback; (bottom) The 2016 Wilderness First Responder class.

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The Food Connection at UK

By: Lilian Brislen and Katie Morrison

ish barriers to participating in wholesale food markets generally, and UK Dining in particular.

The Food Connection, which took root in 2014, is a new academic center established through a unique publicprivate partnership between UK and Aramark. Located at The 90 in the heart of UK’s campus, The Food Connection offices and Learning Kitchen are home to Lilian Brislen (Executive Director), Scott Smith (Faculty Chair), and a rotating cast of interns, graduate fellows, and faculty and community partners. Their mission is to “promote a vibrant, sustainable and healthy food and farm economy in Kentucky” through research, outreach, and instruction. Food Connection initiatives provide opportunities for UK students, faculty, staff, and the broader off campus community to explore the many ways that the food on their plate impacts, not only their lives as individuals, but the life of our entire community. The Food Connection conducts research that evaluates opportunities and challenges for growing our region’s food systems. Food Connection team members conducted an in-depth assessment of local and KY Proud purchases by UK dining, determining ways to best utilize products grown or produced in Kentucky. They currently serve as the research consultant for Bluegrass Farm to Table and Community Ventures in a project that aims to identify gaps in our produce value chain (the chain of food business facilities and services from field to fork), and assess need for additional processing capacity in the region. They are also spearheading a task force to research the Kentucky beef value chain, and identify ways to efficiently integrate Kentucky beef into campus dining options. The Food Connection also engages in a diverse array of community outreach by developing and delivering professional development trainings, educational workshops, and other programs to strengthen our food system. Cultivate Kentucky, one such initiative, is a diverse partnership that involves multiple university, state, and local leaders with the shared goal of working directly with farmers to diminPictured above: The Food Connection classroom, located in The 90.

Through both community outreach and on campus initiatives, The Food Connection works to promote food system literacy across our community. Working with faculty from across the University, they engage “on and off campus eaters” through food events and cooking demonstrations at their Learning Kitchen to encourage healthy, local eating. For example, in November a group of patients and caretakers from the Markey Cancer center took part in a cooking demonstration with the chef/owner of Lexington Pasta Garage. This fall Food Connection partners also tested curriculum that teaches foundational cooking skills and nutrition knowledge to undergraduate students, and they look forward to developing that programing further. Food Connection even hosts a number of regular events, including First Friday Breakfasts, a monthly community breakfast and talk on food and agriculture themes. They also host the Food Connection Food Forum that involves scholarly presentations by UK faculty and students on food systems research on the third Thursday of each month. For those interested in arts and the humanities, the Rhizome Art Series, a twice yearly exhibition that engages Kentucky artists in dialogues on food, agriculture, and their intersection in the body. Their first exhibition showcases art by four artists from Latitude Artists Community, a local organization that works with differently-abled adults, and a meet the artist event is scheduled at the venue for March 8th. By enriching and expanding classroom experiences, Food Connection works to promote the professional development of UK students by connecting them with real-world work and learning experiences in Kentucky’s food systems. Through guest lectures, hands on activities, and by sponsoring class projects on sustainable food production, Food Connection works to facilitate student discussions on sustainable food. To further student professional development, Food Connection sponsors and supervises undergraduate internships and graduate fellowships, working to integrate them into their research and outreach. Their Student Opportunity Grant program, which opens for application early in the spring semester, is open to all majors and programs at UK, and invites proposals that relate to The Food Connection’s mission. For more information on Food Connection in general, or the Student Opportunity Grants, visit their website at


NRES Newsletter

Spring 2016

Page 15

Spotlight on Sustainability: Mulch Madness

By: Lexi Neukirch

The UK campus landscape is often noted for its beautiful fall colors and spring tulips, but many overlook the soil that nourishes these plants. Across campus, mulch is used around trees, big and small, to remediate soil compaction and help prevent mechanical damage to trees. To bring more attention to campus tree care, the Urban Forest Initiative (UFI) in partnership with the UK Physical Plant Division (PPD) hosted Mulch Madness on October 8th, 2015. During the event, student volunteers planted trees and applied several truckloads of mulch to trees in around the William T. Young Library. UK has earned the Tree Campus USA designation every year since 2011, a process that requires fulfilling five standards defined by the Arbor Day Foundation. Each year the school satisfies its standards with unique projects, and this year the Mulch Madness event supported the the Service

Learning Project requirement of standards. The Mulch Madness event targeted the entire student body while specifically reaching out to groups with specific interests in campus sustainability, such as Greenthumb, the Greenhouse Living-Learning Program, and Forestry and NRES majors. Correct mulch care is critical in developing healthy urban forests, but many people are unaware of how to correctly care for trees. Amanda Williams, a key facilitator of the event and an intern with UFI, elaborates, “We are the main drivers of the health, distribution, and care of the trees and plants which make-up the urban forest. One of the more simple and effective ways to provide protection is to create a mulch buffer around trees. If some mulch is a good thing, more is better – right? No!!! A mulch buffer can negatively affect the health of trees if it is too deep or piled against the trunk in a “mulch volcano.” This project gave students a handson learning experience in proper mulching and planting techniques. It was also a chance for members of the UK community to give back through environmental stewardship towards the trees that we enjoy every day on UK’s Campus. The upcoming Mulch Madness will be held April 5th from 2-6pm. More information about this event and how to get involved can be found at https://

Pictured above: (top) the Mulch Madness event volunteers; (bottom) volunteers planting a tree infant at the W.T. Young Library.


NRES Newsletter

Spring 2016

Six of the seven faculty who make up the NRES Steering Committee, which oversees all aspects of the NRES program. Picture from left to right: Dr. Jack Schieffer, Department of Agricultural Economics; Robert Paratley, Department of Forestry; Dr. Chris Matocha, Department of Plant and Soil Science; Dr. Brian Lee, Department of Landscape Architecture; Dr. Dave McNear, Department of Plant and Soil Science; and Dr. Mary Arthur, Department of Forestry. Not pictured: Dr. Kevin Yeager, Department of Earth and Environmental Science, College of Arts and Science.

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In Memoriam: Chase Parker Powell NRCM 2009 Chase Parker Powell, a 2006 graduate of Barren County High School, attended the University of Kentucky from 2006-2009. He received his degree in Natural Resources & Conservation Management in December 2009. He was a member of Farmhouse Fraternity. During his summers at home, Chase worked at Mammoth Cave National Park leading cave tours, including the strenuous 5-mile, 6-hour long Wild Cave Tour. He loved everything about nature especially water so it was only fitting that he chose a career as a water treatment operator at the Glasgow Water Company. Chase died in a car crash in August 2015. In his memory, the Chase Parker Powell Memorial Scholarship has been established in the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. This scholarship will be awarded to an incoming freshman from Allen, Barren, Metcalfe, Monroe or Warren County with a minimum high school GPA of 3.2 who wishes to major in Natural Resources and Environmental Science. If the student maintains a GPA of 3.0, he or she will receive the scholarship for up to 4 years. If you would like to make a contribution to the fund, please send a check to: Chase Parker Powell Memorial Scholarship, c/o Marci Hicks, E S Good Barn, 1451 University Drive, Lexington, KY 40546-0097. All gifts are tax deductible. If you have questions regarding how to make a contribution, please contact Marci Hicks at 859-257-8783. Pictured above: Chase Powell

University of Kentucky NRES Spring 2016 Newsletter  
University of Kentucky NRES Spring 2016 Newsletter