Flexible Classroom, Engaged Students
SPOTLIGHT: Bruce Webb
Ka-Pow! Take That Bullies!
He's All About People
Leave the World a Little Better
This spring, students in one agricultural economics class will take the same exams at the same times in the same location, but how they learn the material may be very different. Agricultural Economics Professor Roger Brown and graduate student Sara Williamson embarked on a creative approach to teaching Agricultural Economics 305 as a hybrid-style class. When students enroll in “Principles of Agricultural Marketing,” where they analyze the market’s role in agricultural and food systems, they choose to take the class in a traditional classroom setting or online via their home computer.
“We wanted to appeal to students’ different learning styles. Some students need a more structured experience, while others do better with more flexibility,” Brown said.
Students in the traditional class must participate in weekly class discussions and peer-assisted writing exercises. The online students must write a 20-page term paper on a market they choose with Brown’s help.
“It’s a different approach,” Brown said. “By letting students choose the delivery method, we hope they will be more engaged. The more options students have to learn the material the better. This is just another step in that direction.”
SPOTLIGHT: Bruce Webb
In 2004, Bruce Webb, UK professor of entomology, co-founded ParaTechs, a Lexington-based business that offers several scientific products, including patented technology to speed up protein production for medicines and biological pesticides that will help both human health and the environment.
Q: How do you keep the business separate from your University work?
A: Easily. ParaTechs is off-campus, 15 minutes away. I give it one morning a week. Anything else I need to do, such as writing grant proposals, is in the evening hours. I've deliberately restricted my work there, because I have to protect my primary responsibility, which is to the University.
Q: What has been most gratifying about the business?
A: I'm proud that we've been able to provide good jobs for five full-time employees. And I've been introduced to the community of small businesses, often funded by venture capitalists. I love being around people who are so positive, who are looking for ways to go forward. Business has to make money of course, but it's also about doing societal good.
Q: You serve as the College's commercialization executive. What do you hope to accomplish in that job?
A: Part of the job is reviewing patent activity. I want to demystify the patent application process, so faculty can recognize when something has commercial potential. The other part of the job is mentoring, taking the lead in the College's entrepreneurial activity. There's some thought in academia that commercialization is selling out. It's not that clear-cut, in my opinion. Taking part in economic development is another way of accepting responsibility. It's not for everyone, but it's important that some of us do it.
Ka-Pow! Take That Bullies!
Simpson County 4-H'er Allyson Wilkerson saw national news reports of teen suicides because of bullying and knew something had to be done. Once a victim of bullying herself, she bravely stood up at a meeting of the 2010 4-H Teen Council and suggested the group target the issue. The nearly 60 other teen council members agreed.
The teen council members collected and received training on existing 4-H bullying resources with the goal of educating others in their county.
Wilkerson started an I Resist Bullies program with two other Simpson County teens, who were also victims and working on bullying awareness. Through I Resist Bullies, they took their personal stories to seventh-graders at Franklin Simpson Middle School. After their program, 15 students received follow-up counseling for bullying-related issues.
"In middle school, we start seeing the long-term effects of kids who have been bullied since kindergarten. They're depressed, suicidal, and even homicidal," said Todd Hazel, the school's social worker. "The teens contacted us about their program, and we welcome anyone that can assist us with bullying education."
The teens also have taught the program outside of Simpson County, reaching a total of 700 young people. They began training a new group of Simpson County 4-H'ers to teach bullying education in fall 2011.
"Our goal was not to change lives or minds, but to let them see what we're seeing," said Wilkerson, who's now a theater major at UK. "It's surreal that our program has helped change people's lives."
Bullying has been a problem among young people for years. The issue has risen to the forefront in the past five years as cyberbullying has skyrocketed.
In Muhlenberg County, Tommy Harrison, 4-H youth development extension agent, said bullying caused young people in the county to be home schooled, and families have left the county so their children could escape bullies.
It was no surprise to him that community leaders identified bullying as the top pressing issue they'd like to see a group of teens address as part of a National 4-H Council Engaging Youth, Serving Community grant the county received from UK.
Teens Alivia Conkwright, Connor Cooper, Sam Culton, Dillan Edmonds, Dylan Simmons, and Brooklynn Yountz and their adult leader Vicki Yountz decided to target fourth- and fifth-graders based on survey results 4-H'ers in Students Teaching Against Negative Decisions received from elementary principals.
To do this, they created and transformed into super heroes, each combating a different type of bullying. The super heroes were unveiled during an assembly for all the fourth- and fifth-graders in the county and cardboard cutouts of the students were placed in each of the county's elementary schools. They also went into all fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms to discuss the issue.
For some of the teens, it was a chance to share their personal story.
Simmons thought he was only joking with one of his friends and didn't realize the effect it was having on him.
"Once he finally told somebody about it, they came to me and said 'This is hurting his feelings, would you stop?'" he said. "After that, I stopped."
While the 4-H'ers may not be able to stop all cases of bullying, they are raising awareness of the issue with young people across the state, with the goal of making young people think twice before they say, post, or act with the intent to hurt others.
He's All About People
Building relationships is what Larry Grabau is about. You can see it in his smile as he interacts with students. You can hear it in his voice when he describes working with department chairs. And it's even more obvious when he asserts, "I have really enjoyed working with the people in the Office of Academic Programs."
Grabau was named associate dean for instruction in August after his predecessor, Larry Jones, retired. He brings to the office years of experience as a teacher, researcher, and former director of the University's Teaching and Learning Center.
"Mostly this job is about interactions with people, about relating to faculty and to students and staff," he said.
Grabau joined the College in 1984 in what was then the Agronomy Department. His assignment leaned more toward research, but it wasn't very long before he'd convinced the powers-that-be to give him more classes to teach.
It makes sense that now the man who loves teaching oversees instruction in the College. Among other tasks, Grabau works closely with department chairs to manage curricula, and he and Dean Scott Smith are working to achieve an academic enrichment experience for every College of Agriculture student, whether that would be study abroad, an internship, or a research project.
As for growth? Grabau cited the rapidly growing human nutrition and equine science and management majors as success stories, as well as the social sciences in general. However, in keeping with someone who has held a role in the development of the natural resources degree program, Grabau would like to see other areas of the College expand.
"Forestry, natural resources, landscape architecture, sustainable agriculture, biosystems and ag. engineering— those programs are growing," he said. "I'd like to see more growth in [these] environmental areas, and I think we have that space."
Mark Coyne and Yvonne Giles are "leaving the world a little better"
by helping restore African Cemetery No. 2 in Lexington.
Leave the World a Little Better
Yvonne Giles '67, '77g started coming to Lexington's African Cemetery No. 2 as a way to find her roots. Now, more than 10 years later, she can easily recite a little nugget of information about nearly each of the 1,132 visible markers at the cemetery—46 of which mark the graves of her family members.
Established in 1869 by members of the Union Benevolent Society No. 2, the cemetery is believed to be the final resting place of more than 5,000 individuals, some of whom were prominent figures in the state's early horse racing history.
"If we didn't have cemeteries, we wouldn't have a history, particularly African-Americans, because not a lot of our history is written down," said Giles, a member of the cemetery's board of directors and a former Cooperative Extension agent for home economics in Oldham County.
Aware of her knowledge of the cemetery's history, fellow board member and University of Kentucky College of Agriculture soil scientist Mark Coyne approached Giles about helping UK students conduct genealogical research on notable individuals interred at the cemetery. The Young Equine Scholars Initiative was part of a UK Commonwealth Collaborative in 2010 and 2011. Former UK President Lee T. Todd, Jr. started the collaborative to draw on UK's resources to address issues that were keeping the state from making cultural and economic progress. Coyne, fellow UK employee Allan Hetzel, and Anne Butler from Kentucky State University were the initiative's primary investigators.
Since 1995, Coyne has worked to improve the cemetery's grounds, which through the years have seen periods of neglect.
"I have always been interested in the look and feel of cemeteries as places out-of-step with the pace of modern life," he said. "I started at the cemetery through a work day sponsored by the Bluegrass Chapter of the Soil and Water Conservation Society. Continuing to be involved in its restoration was a way of actively promoting the goals of that society."
In fall 2011, Coyne received a grant from the UK Ag and HES Alumni Association to make additional cemetery improvements. With this funding, he involved UK students, who volunteered a day of community service through UK FUSION to help weed and mulch the grounds. He also partnered with UK's Forestry Club to remove two dead trees.
"I think it is important as individuals that we leave the world a little better than the way we found it," Coyne said. "Restoring the cemetery is my contribution to that effort."
Ah, the dreaded tick, no doubt luxuriating in humid spring weather and the increased activity of humans and animals as warming temperatures draw us into woods and fields. Want to send them scurrying? Keep those pastures trimmed and brush cut back, said UK entomologist Lee Townsend. "Direct sunlight and low humidity are their enemies."
Among Us Gourmets
Small-scale producers looking for marketable products might want to consider shiitake or oyster mushrooms. The market is growing like fungus on a damp log, said Deborah Hill, forestry extension professor emeritus. Restaurants, organic and whole food markets are the main outlets for the log-grown mushrooms, but other options include smaller local food stores and pizza parlors.
Plate It Abate It
One way to decrease blood glucose levels, reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, eye disease, and other complications from diabetes is by "thinking your plate," according to UK nutrition and food scientist Ingrid Adams. It's all in food choices and portion size.
Not Always Better
Ray Smith, UK forage extension specialist, is a proponent of rotational grazing. He recommends using portable fencing to divide large pastures so the farmer, not the animal, decides when, where, and what plants get consumed. What difference does it make? Smith said rotational grazing, also known as intensve grazing, has the potential to increase profit margins by increasing the yield of animal products per acre and cutting costs in a number of other areas as well.
It's spring, and nothing announces that fact better than the sunny-faced daffodil. Sharon Bale, UK extension floriculture specialist, recommends these yellow, pink, or white perennials for any landscape or home décor. They're easy to grow and exceptionally long-lived. Blooms on ancient plantings often mark the existence of old homesteads and the people who tended them, long after they and their buildings are dust.