HomeAbout UsGrantsFormsNewsroomHelpContact Us
Search NIFA
Advanced Search
Browse by Subject
Agricultural Systems
Animals & Animal Products
Biotechnology & Genomics
Economics & Commerce
Environment & Natural Resources
Families, Youth & Communities
Food, Nutrition & Health
Pest Management
Plants & Plant Products
Technology & Engineering

CSREES Update - October 29, 2008

CSREES Update, from the Office of the Administrator, is a biweekly newsletter for research, education, and extension partners at land-grant universities and other cooperating institutions.


  • Sheely Becomes Deputy Administrator for CP
  • CSREES Partnership and Hall of Fame Awards
  • eXtension Earns Secretary’s Honor Award
  • Knighton Receives President’s Volunteer Service Award
  • CSREES Names New Forest-Based Bioenergy NPL
  • PAS Gains New Program Assistant
  • CSREES, OSU Complete Nutrition and Exercise Science Programs Assessment
  • Ag in the Classroom Features Bio-Based Fuels Learning Resources on PBS
  • New Curriculum Helps Students and Parents Transition to College
  • CSREES News
  • CSREES Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications


  • Farm Bill Implementation − Progress as of October 2008
  • USDA Announces Cooperative Agreements with Four Tribal Organizations for National Animal Identification System Education and Outreach


  • KSU Names Benson Interim Dean of New College of Agriculture
  • Multistate Team Awarded $1.2 Million for 5-Year Project

Awards and Recognition

  • Southern Region IPM Center Presents Award for Outstanding State IPM Program



Sheely Becomes Deputy Administrator for CP

Dr. Deborah L. Sheely is the new CSREES Deputy Administrator for Competitive Programs (CP). She has been serving as the Interim Deputy Administrator for CP since March 2008.

Sheely has been director of Integrated Programs in CP since 2002. She also serves as the CSREES Research Integrity Officer. She joined the Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1997 as an assistant program director for the Plants Division and then became a program director responsible for the administration of several competitive grant programs. Before joining USDA, Sheely worked with the U.S. Agency for International Development as a diplomacy fellow through the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Sheely received her Ph.D. degree from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey with a major in plant biology. She received her B.S. degree from the University of Missouri majoring in horticulture. She is a native of Missouri and currently resides in Maryland.

CSREES held its annual Day of Appreciation on October 21.  At the awards ceremony, the agency awarded 3 Employee of the Year Awards, 3 Partnership Awards, a Diversity Award, and inducted 11 individuals into the CSREES Hall of Fame.

The Employee of the Year Awards were presented for three categories: science and education, administrative and technical, and administrative support.

Jill Auburn, CSREES national program leader, is the Employee of the Year in the Science and Education category.  She was recognized for her outstanding leadership of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, championing the goals of CSREES, and dedication to achieving more sustainable agriculture across America. 

Ellen Danus is the Employee of the Year in the Administrative and Technical category for her unwavering and outstanding policy, oversight, and funds management expertise.  The annual Administrative Officers Conference with its high state attendance and the popularity of her workshop sessions is evidence of this.  In recent months, she has been instrumental in the implementation of the 2008 Farm Bill.  Danus has built a reputation of anticipation of needs, responsiveness to issues, and integrity.

David Sosa is the Employee of the Year in the Administrative Support category.  As the lead program assistant in the Science and Education Resources Development (SERD) Unit, he is responsible for providing leadership to other SERD program assistants and guiding the process and budgets for SERD peer panels.  Sosa has been instrumental in providing leadership to the Committee for Administrative Support and transitional leadership in forming the new CSREES Committee for the Advancement of Persons in the Sciences, Technology, and Administrative Roles.

The Partnership Awards recognize exemplary work from a team or individual at a land-grant university or other cooperating institution or organization that is supported by CSREES and furthers the agency’s strategic goals and USDA mission.   The 2008 awardees include Louisiana State University AgCenter, University of Nevada, Reno Living on the Land Team, and Cornell University’s Soil and Water Group.

The 2005 hurricane season brought unprecedented devastation to the U.S. Gulf Coast, and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita were the most destructive storms in U.S. history.  The LSU AgCenter put their know-how on the front lines almost immediately to help the recovery and rebuilding process begin.  AgCenter staff took to the streets and fields with information about safe food and shelter, salvaging crops, saving livestock, cleaning up homes, coping with stress, and rebuilding lives.  Two hurricane task forces combined resources, disciplines, and expertise, while strategically addressing the needs of their clientele.

The Soil and Water Group at Cornell University led basic and applied research that has led to paradigm shifts in land and water management for protecting water quality.  The Soil and Water Group is a highly collaborative team of researchers, extension specialists, and teachers who work on a variety of environmental topics with particular emphasis on water flow and the associated transport of dissolved and particulate matter. 

The University of Nevada-Reno’s Living on the Land Team empowers small acreage farmers to be responsible stewards of the land.  As communities in the West grow, land on the urban fringes is being rezoned to small parcels owned by a diverse population supporting high-value niche agriculture, micro-enterprise, or lifestyle farmers.  The Living on the Land team, a group from eight Western states, developed a curriculum that offers information small landowners need to manage their wildlife, land and water resources.  The curriculum crosses disciplines and addresses a multitude of community concerns, such as economic and social issues related to natural resource protection and quality of life.

The CSREES Diversity Award went to Mark Poth, Director of Research in the Competitive Programs Unit. Poth’s leadership resulted in a nearly 250 percent increase in panel participation by 1890 faculty. This increase in panel experience had direct influence on the 1890 universities achieving their most successful year in National Research Initiative, earning competitive awards of over $1.6 million in 2007.

The CSREES Hall of Fame recognizes outstanding work by an individual who has advocated and supported the fundamental efforts of CSREES to integrate research, education, and extension in fulfilling the agency’s mission to advance knowledge for agriculture, the environment, human health and well-being, and communities. Inductees are nominated by their peers. The 2008 inductees include:

  • Christina C. Buch, Budget Officer, CSREES
  • Curtiland Deville, Director of Equal Opportunity Staff, CSREES
  • Elbert C. Dickey, Dean and Director of Extension, University of Nebraska
  • Betty Lou W. Gilliland, Assistant Administrator for Management and Policy, CSREES
  • Debora L. Hamernik, National Program Leader, CSREES
  • Peter J. Johnson, National Program Leader, CSREES
  • Larry R. Miller, retired Acting Associate Administrator, CSREES
  • Arthur L. Pridemore, Information Technology Specialist, CSREES
  • Alton Thompson, Interim Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Programs, North Carolina A&T State University
  • Dennis C. Unglesbee, Director of Applications for Information Systems and Technology Management, CSREES
  • L. Benjamin Young, Jr., Assistant General Counsel and Director of the General Law Division, USDA

eXtension Earns Secretary’s Honor Award

The Secretary's Annual Honor Awards are the most prestigious awards given at the Department of Agriculture. The Honor Awards recognizes deserving USDA employees at all grade levels and private citizens who have made outstanding contributions supporting USDA's mission.

Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer presented a 2008 Honor Award to the eXtension team for it’s excellence in leadership and commitment to bringing Americans the best research-based, objective, and reliable information and educational resources 24/7/365 online through eXtension and the Cooperative Extension System.

Knighton Receives President’s Volunteer Service Award

Ray Knighton, CSREES national program leader, received the President’s Volunteer Service Award, honoring him for 4,000 or more hours of volunteer service over his lifetime.

CSREES Names New Forest-Based Bioenergy NPL

Daniel Cassidy is the new CSREES national program leader (NPL) for Forest-Based Bioenergy. Cassidy served since 2006 as a program specialist in the CSREES Natural Resources and Environment Unit, focusing on forestry, rangelands, grasslands ecosystem services, and supporting the Renewable Resources Extension Act and McIntire-Stennis programs. Prior to joining CSREES, Cassidy served in a post-doctoral research and extension position at the University of Georgia, where he helped manage the Sustainable Forestry for Bioenergy and Biobased Products program with the Southern Forest Research Partnership, the Southern Regional Extension Forester, and other university partners. Cassidy is a graduate of the USDA executive leadership program, and recently completed a detail with the USDA Forest Service as the deputy team leader for Woody Biomass Utilization. He has a B.S. in forestry from Mississippi State University, and a master’s degree in forestry and a Ph.D. in natural resources from the University of Tennessee. You can reach Cassidy at dcassidy@csrees.usda.gov, or 202-401-6444; his office is located in Room 3210, Waterfront Centre.

PAS Gains New Program Assistant

Juli Obudzinski joined the Plant Staff of the CSREES Plant and Animal Systems Unit as a program assistant. She will work with competitive grants programs, prepare information for portfolio reviews, and develop materials for outreach activities. Obudzinski received an undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin with a double major in English and Women’s Studies. Her work experience includes positions with several nonprofit organizations, where she developed outreach materials, including publication layout and production scheduling. She is interested in sustainable farming issues; she recently completed an internship with an organic farm and volunteers at a local community garden. You can reach Obudzinski at jobudzinski@csrees.usda.gov, or 202-402-4939; her office is located in Room 3465, Waterfront Centre.

CSREES, OSU Complete Nutrition and Exercise Science Programs Assessment

An assessment of nutrition and exercise science programs at land-grant universities was recently completed as part of an agreement between CSREES and Oregon State University. Dr. Melinda Manore, professor and extension specialist at Oregon State University, conducted the assessment.  Manore benchmarks successful land-grant university nutrition and exercise programs from a national perspective. She identified those programs in the land-grant system that integrate nutrition and exercise science into one program, are rigorous in science, and provide an opportunity for the American Dietetic Association’s Didactic Program in Dietetics. She also addresses other programs that prepare for the American College of Sports Medicine certification or other degrees. A summary report and program guidance are available and may be of interest to nutrition department chairs, family and consumer science program directors, and faculty in nutrient, kinesiology, and related fields. The assessment and related materials are located on the CSREES Health Web site.

Ag in the Classroom Features Bio-Based Fuels Learning Resources on PBS

Virginia’s Ag in the Classroom program released bio-based fuels video lessons, “ABCs of Agriculture: R is for Renewable Fuel.” The video lessons for educators and youth are available for viewing via the Internet, on e-klips. Other Ag in the Classroom programs have learning resources for use with K-12 youth to learn about the transition from carbon-based to bio-based energy alternatives.  Minnesota’s Ag in the Classroom offers the “Fields of Energy” video series via DVD and a companion teacher’s guide. South Carolina’s Ag in the Classroom developed lessons plans to advance bio-based fuel teaching. All learning resources are available on the Ag in the Classroom Web site.

New Curriculum Helps Students and Parents Transition to College

To better prepare students and parents for the transition to college, county educators at University of Wisconsin-Extension developed a research-based curriculum to help students and parents plan and anticipate potential problems during post-high school education. With academic goals set high and a new social scene to navigate, the adjustments to college life can be daunting.  The “Are You Ready? The College Transition” curriculum emphasizes academics, finances, relationships, and healthy choices. The curriculum is designed to improve the likelihood of a positive experience for incoming freshmen and returning students. It is available on the university’s Web site.  Contact Dianne Weber, family living educator, University of Wisconsin, or Brent Elrod, program specialist for Family Science in the Families, 4–H and Nutrition Unit.


Scientists Examine the Impact of Increased Carbon Dioxide on Plants

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that may raise global temperatures. In the past 200 years, carbon dioxide has increased by 35 percent. Scientists are working with natural resource managers to better understand how plants respond to changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide to maximize plant productivity. With funding from CSREES’ National Research Initiative, scientists in Texas examined how carbon dioxide affects water retention in tallgrass prairies. Visit the CSREES Newsroom to read Scientists Examine the Impact of Increased Carbon Dioxide on Plants.

CSREES Awards $2.2 Million for National AgrAbility Project

WASHINGTON, October 15, 2008 − CSREES announced that Purdue University, in partnership with Goodwill Industries and the Arthritis Foundation of Indiana, will receive $2.2 million for the National AgrAbility Project, which helps thousands of disabled individuals overcome barriers to continuing their chosen professions in agriculture. "Producers should have every opportunity to stay involved in agriculture, no matter what obstacles they face," said Gale Buchanan, USDA Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics. "AgrAbility enhances the quality of life for farmers with disabilities and their families and provides them with the tools they need to be successful." AgrAbility supports training for state and regional projects. AgrAbility has become one of rural America's most valuable and cost-effective resources, having provided on-farm assessments to more than 15,000 farmers and ranchers with disabilities since it was funded in 1991. Visit the CSREES Newsroom to read CSREES Awards $2.2 Million for National AgrAbility Project.

Scientists Model the Scaling Laws of Water Uptake by Plant Roots

With changes in climate, farmers and ranchers must contend with diminishing water resources. One of the best ways to deal with this challenge is to maximize the efficiency of plant root systems, and researchers in North Dakota are taking steps to do just that. With funding from CSREES National Research Initiative, Mario Biondini at North Dakota State University found a way to more accurately predict water uptake from plant roots by improving upon the West, Brown, and Enquist general model for scaling laws in biological networks. Visit the CSREES Newsroom to read Scientists Model the Scaling Laws of Water Uptake by Plant Roots.

USDA Awards More Than $10 Million in Water Resource Projects

WASHINGTON, October 17, 2008 − Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer announced that USDA has awarded more than $10 million through the National Integrated Water Quality Program (NIWQP) to address critical water resource issues, including water quality protection and water conservation. The NIWQP supports research, education and extension projects and programs in agricultural, rural, and urbanizing watersheds. These projects reflect the growing need to combine knowledge from biological and physical sciences with social and economic sciences to address complex water issues. Visit the CSREES Newsroom to read USDA Awards More Than $10 Million in Water Resource Projects.

Adding Value to Biofuel Waste

What do you get when you cross E. coli with biofuel waste products? A new process that may revolutionize the economic development of the growing biofuel industry. Biofuels represent the best sustainable, secure, and renewable alternative to fossil fuels. Unfortunately, biofuel production is beset by the same problem as traditional petroleum refining – excess waste. In traditional refining, only about 60 percent of crude oil becomes gasoline, the rest is used to make other products. Similarly, as biofuel production increases, the market is being flooded with its waste byproducts, specifically glycerin, also known as glycerol. Glycerin is cheap and abundant in the current marketplace. Although there are many potential uses for the substance, it is difficult to break it down into products with greater economic value. With funding from CSREES, Ramon Gonzalez and William Akers at Rice University developed a new fermentation process that uses E. coli to convert glycerin into high-value chemicals, like succincte. Visit the CSREES Newsroom to read Adding Value to Biofuel Waste.

CSREES International Science and Education Awards Advance the United States-India Knowledge Initiative

Through the International Science and Education (ISE) competitive grants program, CSREES awarded nearly $400,000 in four grants in support of the United States-India Knowledge Initiative (AKI), a partnership between the two countries to strengthen the Indian agricultural knowledge system in areas of mutual interest. Launched in June 2005, AKI recognizes the long history of cooperation in agriculture and the success of India’s Green Revolution launched 40 years ago with United States assistance.
With the involvement of universities and the private sector, the initiative focuses on building human and institutional capacity, promoting sustainable use of water resources, effectively applying biotechnological approaches, and ensuring strong markets and processing chains.  Development of effective policy, regulatory and institutional frameworks will contribute to increased prosperity for farmers and agricultural growth. Visit the CSREES Newsroom to read CSREES International Science and Education Awards Advance the United States-India Knowledge Initiative.

CSREES Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications

Funding Opportunity

Closing Date


Secondary Education, Two-Year Postsecondary Education, and Agriculture in the K-12 Classroom Challenge Grants Program

December 15, 2008

 Gregory Smith

Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Competitive Grants Program

December 12, 2008

 Dionne Toombs

Regional Integrated Pest Management Competitive Grants Program - Western Region

November 17, 2008

 Michael Fitzner

Regional Integrated Pest Management Competitive Grants Program - Northeastern Region

November 17, 2008

 Michael Fitzner

Regional Integrated Pest Management Competitive Grants Program - Southern Region

November 17, 2008

 Michael Fitzner

Regional Integrated Pest Management - North Central

November 17, 2008

 Michael Fitzner

CSREES advertises all of its funding opportunities through "Find Grant Opportunities" on the Grants.gov Web site. This site is searchable and contains summary information on all federal funding opportunities with links to the full announcements. Users can search announcements by topic, funding agency, and date, as well as subscribe to an e-mail notification service based on these parameters.

FARM BILL IMPLEMENTATION −  Progress as of October 2008

Check here to see the latest information on USDA’s progress toward implementing the new Farm Bill.


USDA Announces Cooperative Agreements with Four Tribal Organizations for National Animal Identification System Education and Outreach

WASHINGTON, October 20, 2008 − USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced a partnership with four tribal organizations for National Animal Identification System education and outreach. The four tribal organizations are Intertribal Agriculture Council, Indian Nations Conservation Alliance, Intertribal Council of Nevada and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Nation.

These cooperative agreements are part of an outreach effort to small and economically disadvantaged producers through 1890 historically black colleges and universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, 1994 Tribal Land-Grant Colleges and Universities, tribal organizations, and community-based organizations. In addition to the four partnerships announced, APHIS recently announced agreements with Langston University/Oklahoma Black Historical Research Project, and Operation Spring Plant. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release USDA Announces Cooperative Agreements with Four Tribal Organizations for National Animal Identification System Education and Outreach.

KSU Names Benson Interim Dean of New College of Agriculture

Kentucky State University (KSU) announced that Dr. Harold Benson is the new interim dean of its newest college, “College of Agriculture, Food Science, and Sustainable Systems,” which will open Fall 2009. With a formal instructional component, the College of Agriculture, Food Science and Sustainable Systems will enhance KSU’s long tradition of land-grant research and service. Benson, who received his doctorate from The Ohio State University, will continue as land-grant program director, a position he has held since 1985.

Multistate Team Awarded $1.2 Million for 5-Year Project

A Cooperative Extension Multistate Collaborative Team was awarded $1.2 million by the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families Children's Bureau to fund a 5-year project, “Child Welfare Training: Curriculum Development and Evaluation for Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education.” The project team includes extension specialists who are members of the National Extension Relationship and Marriage Education Network (NERMEN and from the University of Missouri, David Schramm and Kim Allen, lead principal investigators; University of Georgia, Ted Futris; Iowa State University, Anthony Santiago; North Carolina State University, Andrew Behnke; University of Arkansas, Wally Goddard and James Marshall; Auburn University, Francesca Adler-Baeder; Kansas State University, Charlotte Shoup Olsen; and University of Illinois, Angela Wiley. The project includes developing and pilot testing a marriage and relationship education curriculum as well as in-person and distance education trainings for child welfare professionals, graduate students, and other professionals, including cooperative extension educators, working with or preparing to work with adults and families. This curriculum will address healthy marriage and relationship skills for populations underserved in the general population and overrepresented in the child welfare system. Ultimately, the project will yield a research and evidence-based national training resource and curriculum that will promote the development of healthy relationships and marriages across the country. For more information about the project and other relationship and marriage enrichment resources from Cooperative Extension, visit the NERMEN Web site.

Southern Region IPM Center Presents Award for Outstanding State IPM Program

The Southern Region Integrated Pest Management Center (SRIPMC), one of four regional Integrated Pest Management (IPM) centers established by CSREES in 2000, recently presented their first Friends of IPM Award for Outstanding State IPM Program at the Texas Pecan Growers Association Conference in Houston. The SRIPMC established this award program to recognize statewide leadership in the field of integrated pest management. The Texas IPM program, an education and extension program recognized as “one of the best IPM programs in the country,” earned the inaugural award. Beginning as a USDA pilot program in 1972, the Texas program quickly shifted its focus under new leadership in 1994 to the evaluation of new IPM technologies to better benefit growers and producers in the region. SRIPMC presented two other Friends of IPM Awards as well: the IPM Teacher Award, to Dr. Marvin Harris, of Texas AgriLife Research, and Bill Ree, extension program specialist; and the Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. John Jackson, of Texas AgriLife Extension.

For a plain text copy of this newsletter, please contact Judy Rude. CSREES UPDATE is published biweekly. The next regular issue is planned for November 2, 2008. Submit news items to newsletter@csrees.usda.gov by November 5, 2008.
Editor: Judy Rude, writer-editor, CSREES Communications Staff. If you have questions about Update, please contact her at jrude@csrees.usda.gov.
To subscribe or unsubscribe to this newsletter, please send an e-mail message to jrude@csrees.usda.gov. In the body of the message, type: subscribe csrees-update OR unsubscribe csrees-update.
Back issues of CSREES UPDATE are available on the CSREES Web site.
Colien Hefferan, Administrator

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, and where applicable, sex, marital status, familial status, parental status, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, political beliefs, reprisal, or because all or part of an individual's income is derived from any public assistance program. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA's TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD). To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.