Experiment Station Announces New Team Members
How to Grow a Gardener
He'll Pick Up His Award at the White House
Bolstering a 4-H Tradition
An Honor for Dr. Sorghum
The House that UK Built
Always More to Learn
Experiment Station Announces
New Team Members
Steve Workman, a faculty member in biosystems and agricultural engineering since the 1990s, has been named assistant dean for research and associate director of the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station.
Lesley Oliver, who has more than a decade of agricultural administrative experience at Purdue University, has joined UK as the experiment station’s assistant director.
Workman said he sees his job as “trying to make sure faculty and departments are well-served by the research office. We want to streamline as many research administrative activities as we can so that faculty can maximize their research time.”
He also expects to focus on “looking for more research opportunities—making sure funding agencies are aware of the College’s abilities.”
Workman’s own research has been in the area of understanding soil-water interactions, especially how streams and wetlands interact with nearby underground water.
He recently edited and wrote a substantial portion of a textbook that is becoming the standard in college soil and water management courses across the country, and in 2007 he coordinated the College’s interdisciplinary water quality program.
Workman’s experience also includes Lead21, a one-year leadership development program for faculty, administrators, and other professionals at land-grant universities.
Oliver most recently has been managing director for the Center for the Environment at Purdue, an interdisciplinary center for environmental research, education, and outreach. It is part of the university’s Discovery Park, which has been a national model for how to encourage cross-disciplinary collaboration in research and education.
Prior to her work at the center, Oliver was assistant director of agricultural research programs in Purdue’s College of Agriculture, where she helped expand sponsored program activities and interdisciplinary grant applications, both of which led to an increase in funding.
“I hope to serve as a resource for faculty and administration, particularly in helping to increase sponsored program activity of the College,” Oliver said.
“The College is lucky to have the talents of Steve and Lesley to advance research,” said Nancy Cox, associate dean for research and director of the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station. “Our team will work with faculty and staff to continuously improve our funding and compliance with our increasingly complex research programs.”
Cox said “the new structure for the office was planned carefully with input of a distinguished external advisory team aided by a survey of other experiment stations. We believe we are well-positioned to support modern agricultural research programs.”
How to Grow a Gardener
Bridget Fox is one of the youngest gardeners at The Arboretum in Lexington.
When The Arboretum’s Kentucky Children’s Garden is complete, she and other children ages 2-10 will be able to dig and plant in its nearly 2 acres as well as experience a thumbnail version of Kentucky’s physical landscape and history.
Some $250,000 is needed to complete fund-raising for the $1.3 million garden.
For more information, contact The Arboretum at (859)257-6955.
He'll Pick Up His Award
at the White House
All David McNear wanted to do was work hard in a career he loved. Little did he know that his hard work would receive national recognition.
The scientist, who is an assistant professor in the College’s Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, recently was named one of three USDA recipients of the prestigious Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.
The award is given to young scientists who demonstrate great potential for leadership in their specialty.
McNear is to receive the award at the White House this fall and meet President Obama. In addition to the trip, he’ll receive a citation, plaque, and funding from the USDA for continued research.
“It’s a pretty special thing and very humbling,” he said. “It’s nothing I ever expected.”
McNear was nominated by Nancy Cavallaro, manager of the soil processes program with the USDA National Research Initiative. She recognized his abilities from a grant proposal he wrote about a fungal endophyte that lives in the shoots of tall fescue. McNear’s proposal explained how the endophyte affects compounds released into the rhizosphere— the area where the soil, water, and plant meet and interact—and then influences carbon and nitrogen cycling in agricultural fields through the Southeast.
McNear was awarded the grant and is in the first year of research on the project. UK forage researcher Rebecca McCulley and microbiologist Noah Fierer at the University of Colorado are co-investigators. “At UK, my job description has afforded me that luxury of having a broad fan of focuses that suit my interests, which are varied. I was fortunate enough to have good collaborators here, and our ideas just melded together,” McNear said.
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Bolstering a 4-H Tradition
More than 9,000 Kentucky kids enjoyed 4-H camp this year, continuing a tradition that’s been in place since 1950. They swam, fished, canoed, played sports, created crafts, and sat around the campfire, much like thousands of kids before them. Earlier this year, the camps got a vote of confidence from the Kentucky Legislature when it authorized sale of a bond that will provide $2 million for camp improvements. Debt service (interest) on the bond will be paid by the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board. You can help financially with the improvements. The Kentucky 4-H Foundation is offering prints of each camp, based on original paintings. They are $35 each and are available online at
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for Dr. Sorghum
Sweet sorghum production is in Morris Bitzer’s blood. For more than 37 years, the UK extension grains specialist, known on campus as “Dr. Sorghum,” has taught others how to grow, cook, and market the crop. Recently, he was honored for his continuous enthusiasm and dedication by having a hybrid variety named after him.
“It was a great honor to have this variety named after me for the work I’ve done with sweet sorghum syrup,” Bitzer said.
The variety, KNMorris, was developed by researchers at the University of Nebraska and tested by UK researchers. The hybrid is male sterile, which means it does not produce seeds. This increases stand strength.
“We only began our sweet sorghum breeding program here about five years ago, so we are excited about being part of the development of this variety,” said Todd Pfeiffer, chair of UK’s Department of Plant and Soil Sciences and the agronomist who worked on the hybrid’s development.
UK studies show the variety yields 25 percent more juice than the Dale variety, which is a parent of this hybrid and the most common variety grown. Earlier this year, syrup produced from KNMorris received the top award at the annual meeting of the National Sweet Sorghum Producers and Processors Association.
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That UK Built
UK is competing in the Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon this fall with a solar–powered house designed and built over the past year by students from six colleges, including the College of Agriculture. The house, shown below, will go up against entries from 19 other universities in the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Europe in October competition on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. At the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games next year, the solar house will serve as the welcome center for the Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau.
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Always More to Learn
Daniel and Alison Smith, husband and wife, are all about ag. They both grew up in farming families and graduated from the College, and both have ag careers—Daniel as a beef producer in Scott County and Alison as director of consumer affairs for the Kentucky Beef Council.
Enough ag? No way. That’s why both of them jumped at the chance to enroll in what is now the Kentucky Agriculture Leadership Program, which has a new class beginning in January.
Alison and David Smith with their son Creighton and dog Pete.
“Farming is a constant challenge,” said Daniel, a graduate of the program’s 2005 class. “The program helps prepare you, sharpens your skills. You don’t learn to grow a better crop; you learn to be a better farmer.”
The program is 18 months of seminars and study tours for young producers and agribusiness people. It is a successor to the Philip Morris Agricultural Leadership Program.
Alumni and friends are among those supporting it—the College is seeking to match funds provided by the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board, which set up an endowment to provide support over the long term.
For Alison, who completed the program in 2008, its greatest benefit was “the networking, by far. I can tap into these people across the state and use their expertise.”
Both Daniel and Alison said they gained a lot from trips, including one to Washington D.C., where they learned about trade and state and federal farm policy, and another to South America.
“It helps us to be aware of how other countries are handling agriculture,” Alison said.
The travel, Daniel said, “is an investment in your business. The dividends it pays far outweigh the time away in the short term.”
For more information, go to http://www.uky.edu/Ag/KALP or call Will Snell at 859-257-7288. If you would like to support the program financially, contact the College’s Office for Advancement at 859-257-7200.
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Plan to get off the couch, into your sneakers, and out of the house on Oct. 11, when Kentucky will again celebrate Second Sunday.
This statewide event, first held last year, will give you a chance to enjoy all kinds of physical activity on wide-open, vehicle-less streets that will be cordoned off for the occasion.
Second Sunday showcases programs that are positively affecting the health, economy, and environment of local communities.
For more information about Second Sunday in your county, contact your local office of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.
Be there. Be healthy!
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