LEA BEELINED DOWN THE HILL, deviated for an instant, and then shot back to her original path. Faster than seemed possible, she found the object—a small nugget of bone, bleached and smooth as a pebble on the beach, but still emitting the few scent molecules her remarkable nose had detected on the breeze.
The demonstration was too easy for a German shepherd of Lea’s talents, but it illustrated how valuable search-and-rescue dogs are when someone goes missing.
Lea is Melissa Newman’s own—one of her five search dogs. Newman and any one of her dogs spend long, cold nights and hot, steamy weekends pushing through thick underbrush, clambering over rubble, or searching rain-swollen streams. They find the drowned, the injured, the confused. Despite the demands of the job, Newman, an associate professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences, says she’s addicted to the work.
She began search-and-rescue work 11 years ago with her first search dog, a German shepherd named Gunnar. To date, Newman has participated in almost 400 searches, and Gunnar, who is still with her, has had an amazing 40 finds.
“The addiction that I have to this stems from watching the logic (these dogs practice),” she said. “I can’t take credit for anything. The only thing I teach them to do is to tell me when they find something; then they’ll be rewarded.”
Gunnar, who is cross-trained in three different search methods—air scent, trailing, and cadaver—does it all for a soft Frisbee.
“Gunnar will write bad checks for a Frisbee,” Newman said.
Just like her dogs, the hunt seems to be in Newman’s blood. In her UK lab she searches for natural antimicrobials to inhibit the growth of biological agents, such as anthrax. And she is part of a UK Ag team focused on agroterrorism and emergency preparedness. But when the call goes out to find a missing person, Newman the scientist becomes—well, pick one: Grant County K-9 deputy sheriff, HazMat team member in Erlanger’s fire department, state coordinator for the North American Police Work Dog Association, or a member of FEMA’S Ohio Task Force 1.
Search-and-rescue can carry a physical and emotional toll, but Newman keeps the families of the missing in mind.
“I had no idea how much these families could be tormented,” she said.
She and Gunnar searched for a woman’s remains for six years.
“The family could never let it go. And the rescue squads and the fire departments that had invested all the time into finding her, they couldn’t let it go until she was found,” Newman said. “It’s our job to help bring that closure.”
Paul Vincelli and Don Hershman, plant pathologists in the College, have helped establish a national U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded program to keep track of Southern corn rust, a disease that can cut into yield and profits.
Growers can go to http://www.ipmpipe.org/ to see up-to-date maps that track the disease. That information, factored into the crop’s stage of development, can help them make informed decisions about whether they need to spray.
Southern Corn Rust is not common rust, which doesn’t have a major impact on yield.
Growers who suspect Southern corn rust should have their corn analyzed in the lab, Vincelli said.
MOST PARENTS would like to see their children earn a college degree and get a good job in a stable career. Josh Kerber’s parents are no exception. But the UK College of Agriculture graduate isn’t cut from that cloth. Kerber’s parents took the traditional route: his mom, a teacher, his dad, a corporate attorney. But after graduating in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture, and with his parents’ support, Kerber chose the road less traveled.
“I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do,” he said. Volunteerism and community service define Kerber. After graduation, he worked in a volunteer exchange program in the U.S. Virgin Islands. He spent 2009 in Asia studying Chinese and teaching English.
“I wanted to better understand the Eastern mindset and philosophy,” he said. “They (the Chinese) are much more community- and family-oriented.”
His China experience prepared him for life’s next chapter. In 2010, he made a yearlong commitment to community service through the National Civilian Community Corps, an AmeriCorps program. NCCC is a full-time, residential program for young people ages 18 to 24. Its members, organized into teams of 10 to 12, travel the country responding to disasters and aiding communities and the nation as a whole. Kerber is a team leader.
“We live, eat, play, sleep, and work together essentially every minute of every day,” Kerber once blogged.
While Kerber nomads about doing community service, Human Environmental Sciences graduate, Michelle Smith Tipton, is making a difference right where she lives. Tipton, who earned a masters degree in Family Studies in 2004, is the executive director of Angels’ Place in Pittsburgh, Pa. Angels’ Place is an organization serving low-income, full-time student parents and their children.
“I tell everyone how meaningful it is to be a part of Angels’ Place,” said Tipton. “It really helps me see the importance of an education. Angel’s Place removes obstacles so these families can have a brighter future.”
Tipton believes she will always serve low-income families, while Kerber hopes life continues to bless him with lots of smiles from the people he helps.
You know the song. You hear it in television commercials. Spread seeds over little clay figures, water, and voila! Chia sprouts emerge, looking like green fur or hair.
Chia seeds are good for more than just a gag gift, though. They are a super food, being nutrient rich and high in omega-3 fatty acids. UK Ag researchers have been studying chia, which has low requirements for pesticides, fertilizers, and irrigation. It grows well in the Midwest and Eastern United States, including Kentucky, though here our fall frosts arrive before most varieties can set seeds. But UK plant and soil scientists have developed new lines that produce seeds earlier. That’s good news for Kentucky farmers looking for alternative crops.
Nutrition and Food Science students Beth Willett and Anna Rankin performed instrumental assessment, taste testing, and nutrient analyses on recipes for the Kentucky Proud Recipe Database.
It might not be a good idea to browse this database when you’re hungry, because with a click of the mouse, you can almost taste the butternut squash bread, Mays Lick cream of asparagus soup, or High Bridge blueberry crisp—just a few recipes you can find in the Kentucky Proud Recipe Database.
Kentucky Proud Recipe Database
(l-r) Sfc. Mildred C. Davis, Andrew Bates and Beth Bates prepare for a hot air balloon ride with pilot Bob Rhodenbaugh of Balloon Adventures of Cincinnati.
In 2003, Beth Bates’ husband, Major Fred Bates of the National Guard Recruiting and Retention Office in Frankfort, was serving a year in Bosnia. The Bateses had two children, Andrew, 5, and Tyler, 4. It was tough for a stay-at-home mom with two small children and her husband away for a year.
Fast forward to 2010. Bates is on another tour of duty, this time in Afghanistan, and the couple has one more child, David, 6. But this time, Beth says, it’s a little easier now that Andrew and Tyler are seven years older and can help watch the youngest one. So the Bates family, minus Dad, set out for a weekend of fun at Operation: Military Kids family camp.
Operation: Military Kids is a grant-funded program that strives to raise public awareness about issues and challenges military families face, especially those with a family member deployed. UK Cooperative Extension Service hosted 24 families at two family camps this year, in June at Lake Cumberland 4-H Camp in Nancy and in July at the Life Adventure Center in Woodford County, a 575-acre, hands-on learning farm. The camps are free of charge. The only requirements are that families have an Active Duty, National Guard, or Reserve service member and be stationed or live in Kentucky.
“We learned a lot about ourselves and the people who visited us,” Fulford said. “It’s a great way for us to connect and give back to the community.”
For more information about Operation: Military Kids
Born into farming families, they continue to farm a portion of the property that’s been in his family since the Civil War, and where he was born in 1917.
“I don’t know how to do anything else,” said Robert White. “If I ever get old enough, I’m going to retire,” he added with a smile.
But Ada White might have other ideas.
“I’m not one to sit in front of the TV and watch soaps. I’d rather be out doing something,” she said.
Retired Crittenden County ag agent Tom Moore knows that firsthand. One day he visited their farm to find only “Miss Ada” at home. Robert White was out on the property on his four-wheeler, but she loaned Moore hers to go find him.
“Well, I had a little trouble getting it started,” he said. “As she motioned for me to dismount, she said, ‘Let me show you how to do it.’ They were in their 80s then.”
“When I first started farming, everything was done by horses and mules,” said Robert White. “I can remember when we bought our first tractor in 1940.”
“Now all we farm with is tractors, and those boys won’t use them unless they’re air-conditioned,” his wife chuckled.
What has remained constant is they’ve always been progressive farmers on their 1,800-acre spread that includes cows, corn, soybeans, hay, and wheat. And they’ve had longstanding relationships with the UK College of Agriculture and Cooperative Extension Service.
“I’ve always used my county extension agent for information,” Robert White said.
Over the years, they hosted a field day with UK Research and Education Center specialists and participated in a program jointly run by UK and the Tennessee Valley Authority that sought to improve growers’ production and bottom lines. In return, the Whites allowed their land to serve as a demonstration farm for others.
They were also founding members of the Kentucky Farm Business Management program when it began in 1962.
“Even in their 90s, they’re always looking for something new to try,” said Jennifer Rogers, currently the couple’s farm business management specialist. “He’s recently begun pasturing some cattle for someone else, and it’s something he’s never done before. We worked through the logistics of him doing this beforehand.”
According to Moore, the Whites have always focused on the quality and efficiency of their operation while maintaining a strong focus on their family. During Moore’s tenure, Robert White participated in soybean disease studies conducted by the College, the Pennyrile Agents Hay Quality Project, a local Certified Pre-conditioned for Health cattle sale, and other extension activities.
It was their attention to detail that Curt Judy, a former Crittenden County extension agent who now works in Todd County, remembers most about them.
“They had a cattle herd, and Robert knew every calf that went with every cow almost instinctively. He has a really good eye for cattle,” he said.