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CSREES Update - August 19, 2009

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.


  • New NPL for Organic Agriculture
  • Mertz New OEP Team Leader
  • CSREES News
  • CSREES Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications


  • Forest Service Celebrates Smokey Bear's 65th
  • Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Names Additional Staff at USDA
  • Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Proclaims August 23-29 as National Community Gardening Week


  • Preventing Obesity New eXtension Learning Environment
  • National e-Commerce Extension Initiative Releases New Curriculum
  • NERCRD Announces New Associate Directors


  • NCRCRD Offers New Grant Opportunities
  • On-Line Community Development Training
  • Sustainable Community Innovations 2009 Grants Announced

Awards and Recognition

  • Bobby Moser Receives ASAS Fellow Award


New NPL for Organic Agriculture

Mary Peet recently joined the CSREES Plant and Animal Systems Unit as the national program leader with responsibility for organic agriculture. She worked 5 years at Duke University before joining the North Carolina State University (NCSU) Horticultural Science Department in 1980. In 1990, she became interested in organic and sustainable agriculture and received Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education and American Society for Horticultural Science recognition for a 1996 book, “Sustainable Practices for Vegetable Production in the South,” as well as related Web sites and videos. She had extension responsibility for greenhouse vegetable production, received a State Friend of Extension Award, and has served on the North Carolina Greenhouse Vegetable Growers Board since the 1980s. She taught courses in field and greenhouse vegetable production and was active in local and national distance education initiatives before leaving NCSU and joining CSREES. Peet received a B.A. in biology from Hiram College in Ohio, an M.S. in botany from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and a Ph.D. in plant physiology from Cornell University. You can reach Peet at mpeet@csrees.usda.gov or 202-401-4202; she is located in room 3443, Waterfront Centre.

Mertz New OEP Team Leader

CSREES’ Office of Extramural Programs (OEP) announced Bruce Mertz as the new team leader in the Awards Management Branch. Mertz began work as a program specialist for CSREES in September 2005, and worked for the Science and Education Resource Development and Natural Resources and Environment Units. Prior to working at USDA, he served 7 years as the founding executive director of a nonprofit, Future Harvest—a Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, based in Stevensville, MD. While working at Future Harvest, Mertz was the primary fundraiser and worked in education, conservation, and marketing program areas. He is located in room 2174, Waterfront Centre; his email is bmertz@csrees.usda.gov, and phone is 202-401-5062.

Earthworm Tea Good for Plants

Lots of folks fancy a cup of tea when they need a pick-me-up—orange pekoe, Darjeeling, etc.  Not surprisingly, a spot of tea can help plants feel better, too. But not just any tea, if you want to share a pot with your plants, you’ll need to brew up some earthworm tea. This beverage, which has become all the rage in organic agriculture, is not made from earthworms. No, this tea is made from earthworm excrement steeped in liquid. Earthworm tea is easier to transport and apply to crops than other types of fertilizers, and plants love it. With funding from USDA’s Small Business Innovation Research program, administered by CSREES, scientists in Oregon and Ohio examined how plant compounds, incorporated into earthworm tea, affect plant growth and development and suppress diseases and pests. Visit the CSREES Newsroom to read Earthworm Tea Good for Plants.

Training Tomorrow's Food Safety Sleuths

O my jalapeños! These small hot peppers have joined the list of items in the fresh produce aisle to be contaminated with food-borne pathogens. And, scientific sleuths are mounting a valiant effort to identify and stop the next episode of contamination before it starts. With funding from CSREES, scientists in California are teaching the next generation of scientists to identify and predict the migration and fate of disease-causing pathogens.

Sharon Walker and colleagues at the University of California–Riverside established a water quality research program that offers under-represented students a chance to conduct research and build scientific skills. Every year, two students are selected from Riverside Community College. During the program, students spend the summer in campus dormitories and receive a salary to conduct guided research. Following their summer program, the students continue for a year-long part-time internship in Walker’s laboratory. Visit the CSREES Newsroom to read Training Tomorrow's Food Safety Sleuths.

Pathogen Responsible for Food Poisoning Wears a Protective Cloak

Clostridium perfringens, the second most common bacterial pathogen responsible for food poisoning in the United States, has been using a “secret weapon” to survive and sicken as many as 250,000 people every year at a cost of several hundred million dollars in medical care and lost productivity. Now, however, scientists have uncovered the secret behind the C. perfringens’ success. With funding from CSREES, scientists in Pennsylvania discovered an important mechanism that protects the bacterium from common food hygiene techniques, such as heat and cold treatment and chemical preservatives.

Bruce McClane and Jihong Li at the University of Pittsburgh identified a small acid-soluble protein, called Ssp4, which imparts heat and sodium nitrite resistance to spores of the bacterium. The gastrointestinal symptoms associated with C. perfringens food poisoning are caused by a toxin called enterotoxin that is produced by some strains of these bacteria. The enterotoxin gene can be carried on a chromosome or a plasmid, which is an extra segment of DNA. Visit the CSREES Newsroom to read Pathogen Responsible for Food Poisoning Wears a Protective Cloak.

CSREES Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications

Funding Opportunity

Closing Date


Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program (AFRI)

See individual grant program.

See individual grant program.

Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR)

See individual grant program.

See individual grant program.

Renewable Resources Extension Act-National Focus Fund Projects

August 27, 2009

Eric Norland

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.

Forest Service Celebrates Smokey Bear's 65th Birthday - New Bilingual Smokey Bear Story Mentors a New Generation

Washington, August 10, 2009 - The USDA Forest Service celebrated the 65th birthday of an American icon—Smokey Bear—and released the new Smokey Bear Story "big book." This bilingual (English and Spanish) illustrated educational book introduces Smokey Bear and fire prevention messages to a new generation of American children. Smokey Bear's trademark message, "only you can prevent wildfires," is one of the longest running PSA campaigns in U.S. history. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release Forest Service Celebrates Smokey Bear's 65th Birthday.  

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Names Additional Staff at USDA

Washington, August 7, 2009 — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the names of five additional staff who will hold positions at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These people will work in various agencies within the department.
  • Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services: Jim Monahan, Deputy Administrator of Commodity Operations
  • Office Of The Secretary: Carmen Jones, Special Assistant, Departmental Administration
  • Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization: Quinton Robinson, Director
  • Deputy General Counsel: Steve Silverman
  • Senior Advisor to the Deputy Secretary: Suzanne Smith Palmieri

Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Names Additional Staff at USDA.

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Proclaims August 23-29 as National Community Gardening Week

Washington, August. 6, 2009 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack encouraged Americans to connect with the land, the food it grows, and their local communities by proclaiming August 23-29 as National Community Gardening Week. A community garden is an opportunity to educate everyone about from where food comes, whether that is a farmer’s market or a garden, and is important to increasing generations of healthy eaters. Community gardens can be anywhere, whether it is in the country, a city, or a suburb. It can be one community plot or can be many individual plots. Resources available to community gardens through USDA include grants, site technical assistance, and informational materials on gardening and food production methods. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Proclaims August 23-29 as National Community Gardening Week.

Preventing Obesity New eXtension Learning Environment

Families, Food, and Fitness: Preventing Obesity, a new eXtension virtual learning environment, was recently launched by a nationwide community of land-grant university extension faculty with CSREES as the federal partner. It is targeted to families with young children and is organized around three goals: to improve diets, increase physical activity, and maintain body weight in a healthy range and avoid excess weight gain. Interactive content and learning materials support these three goals by focusing on six key behaviors identified through the literature to be associated with achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight:

  • move more every day;
  • tame the tube;
  • right size your portions;
  • enjoy more fruits and vegetables;
  • prepare and eat more meals at home; and
  • re-think your drink.

Contact eXtension Ask the Expert for more information.

National e-Commerce Extension Initiative Releases New Curriculum

The National e-Commerce Extension Initiative, in coordination with the Southern Rural Development Center, is pleased to announce the release of Marketing Food Specialty Products Online, an online learning module, and designed by the National e-Commerce Extension Initiative team. The learning module was developed for grocery store managers and marketers of specialty food products. Whether the food business is large with many employees or a small operation with very specialized sales, all can benefit from this self-paced learning module. With this new tool, food managers can evaluate the role of technology in their business, examine the strategies necessary to institute the technology, and weigh the cost/benefit measures. If the business is already using technology, the module also presents ideas on how to refocus and improve current uses. Contact Lionel Bo Beaulieu, at SRDC, or Sally Maggard, ECS national program leader, for more information.

NERCRD Announces New Associate Directors

The Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development (NERCRD) announces the appointment of two half-time associate directors: 

Mary Peabody is the Women’s Agricultural Network director and a community & economic development specialist with University of Vermont Extension. She has worked in agriculture since 1988, focusing on business development, feasibility studies, diversification, e-commerce, and small farm profitability. Her research interests include the sustainability of rural communities, sustainable development, and issues pertaining to social and economic justice for women.

Heidi Mouillesseaux-Kunzman is community development coordinator and extension support specialist with the Community and Rural Development Institute (CaRDI) at Cornell University.  Her work has focused on sustainable food and agricultural systems, farm-to-school and nutritional science, environmental studies, and rural sociology. The associate directors will coordinate diverse rural development extension projects, research, e-learning opportunities, and project development as part of NERCRD’s commitment to providing research-based information to help create regional prosperity through entrepreneurial and cluster-based innovation while assuring balanced uses of natural resources and sustainable communities.

Visit the NERCRD Web site, or contact Stephan Goetz, director, and/or Sally Maggard, CSREES national program leader for Economic and Community Systems, for more information.

NCRCRD Offers New Grant Opportunities

Two new small grant opportunities are available through the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development (NCRCRD). Land-grant personnel in USDA’s 12-state North Central Region are invited to apply for small grants to conduct innovative research or extension projects, or for a “Virtual Visiting Fellow” grant for an individual. Proposals that bridge social and biophysical sciences are strongly encouraged as well as engaging both extension and agricultural experiment station personnel. The Virtual Visiting Fellow is expected to lead a highly visible program engaging others in the region in an initiative consistent with the goals of the NCRCRD to positively influence the quality of life in rural areas of the region. View the full announcement at the NCRCRD Web site. Proposals are due September 10, 2009. Contact Scott Loveridge, NCRCRD transition director, or Sally Maggard, CSREES national program leader for Economic and Community Systems, for more information.

On-Line Community Development Training

Want to better understand how communities work? Take a close look at a training opportunity being offered by a national team of extension specialists. “Level I Foundations of Practice in Community Development” focuses on understanding your communities and their dynamics. Extension specialists working in all extension fields can benefit from having a good pulse on the current and changing needs and conditions in their area, part of the training in this course. In addition, successful extension depends on the ability to recognize the breadth of resources and assistance that people and organizations can offer in support of a specialist’s work, another emphasis in Level I. Offered as a Web-based distance education program, this training is conveniently available in the office, meeting room, or home. Visit the new Foundations of Practice Web site for more information.

Sustainable Community Innovations 2009 Grants Announced

Linking farm and nonfarm economic development to natural resources management is the priority of the 2009 Requests for Proposals (RFP) recently released by the Southern Rural Development Center (SRDC) jointly with Southern-Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (S-Region SARE). In addition the SRDC/S-Region SARE partnership that established this “Sustainable Community Innovations” competitive grants program remains interested in entrepreneurship efforts and value-added activities that build on agricultural and non-agricultural assets of communities. These include efforts to establish entrepreneurship-friendly communities that help to support and sustain value-added entrepreneurship endeavors. Proposals are due October 5, 2009. To view the RFP, go to http://www.southernsare.uga.edu/callpage.htm . Contact Jeff Jordan , S-Region SARE coordinator, or Bo Beaulieu , SRDC director, for additional information.

Bobby Moser Receives ASAS Fellow Award

Bobby Moser was awarded the American Society of Animal Science (ASAS) Fellow Award in the Administration Category during the 2009 Joint ASAS, American Dairy Science Association, and the Canadian Society for Animal Science meeting held July 11-16 in Québec, Canada. This award recognizes the distinguished service and contributions to the animal sciences industry and is the highest award given to members of the ASAS. Moser serves as the dean and vice president for Agricultural Administration in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

Moser oversees one of the largest agricultural programs in the nation with over 2,200 faculty and staff statewide and 3,200 students. He also led the development of the ecological paradigm used by the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. His leadership in the field continues to influence and drive the future of U.S. agriculture and around the world. Moser received his B.S and M.S. degrees at Oklahoma State University. He received a Ph.D. in swine nutrition at the University of Nebraska where he eventually held a faculty member position in extension, teaching, and swine nutrition research. He later served as a department chair and agriculture extension program director at the University of Missouri. He left Missouri and joined The Ohio State University as director of extension and where he later served as the associate dean of CFAES. In 1991, he was appointed as CFAES lead administrator.

For a plain text copy of this newsletter, please contact Judy Rude. CSREES UPDATE is published biweekly. The next regular issue is planned for September 2, 2009. Submit news items to newsletter@csrees.usda.gov by August 26.

Editor: Judy Rude, public affairs specialist, 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.