from the Dean

Solutions through Science

Dr. Nancy Cox
When the college name changed in 2013, the words “environment” and “food” were included to make it clear these two topics are important parts of our programs. This issue of the magazine focuses a lot on our work to create solutions for the natural environment.

There are huge, complicated environmental issues out there and many opinions. Our role, as a land-grant college of agriculture, is to work toward solutions by providing the best scientific information. In many cases, CAFE researchers’ monitoring of environmental quality impacts not only agriculture, but also all life in the commonwealth and beyond. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s invitation to the college to participate on the Gulf hypoxia task force is a perfect example.

Kentucky’s agricultural and forest producers face a complex array of changing regulations. There are state and federal laws and regulations on water quality that are the subject of much political debate. Where does CAFE fit in? We fit in ways that reflect our tripartite land-grant mission: teaching, research, and extension.
Any time regulations evolve, there is a need for educating producers on compliance. County agents work with state specialists to provide cost-efficient solutions. Research and extension personnel conduct demonstrations and advise on cost-share opportunities.

One example concerns the disposal of animals that die on the farm. When federal regulations reduced the availability of renderers to haul off fallen animals, extension and research teams developed on-farm large animal composting projects. CAFE experts take issues like these seriously, and they take pride in finding solutions.

CAFE engages a variety of students in environmental education, using the Robinson Forest in many teaching activities. Undergraduate students from the interdisciplinary major Natural Resources and Environmental Science learn about science, technology, and policy issues regarding the environment. And many other students consider environmental topics in their horticulture, animal, crop, and social sciences classes. This broad educational experience starts with 4-H and its programs on the environment.

We are part of a network of state and federal agencies as well as consumer and producer organizations. CAFE experts communicate frequently with agency personnel. The success of any land-grant college depends on trusted relationships with the “regulators,” and that trust rests on the land-grant quality of producing the scientific basis for those regulations.

The College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. Our science makes the world better.

Nancy Cox
Dean, College of Agriculture, Food and Environment