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

NIFA Update — April 14, 2010

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


  • Jeanne Priester, Retired NPL
  • Financial Literacy Day on the Hill
  • NIFA News
  • NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications


  • USDA Announces Nutrition Assistance for Indian Tribal Organizations and States Operating the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
  • USDA's Open Government Plan: A Commitment to Transparency and Openness
  • USDA/Navy Launches Effort to Encourage the Development and Use of Renewable Energy
  • USDA Announces Resources to Improve Emergency Food Assistance Programs and Infrastructure


  • 4–H National Headquarters/NAA Partnership
  • Rural Youth Development Grant Program

Awards and Recognition

  • WSU 4–H Eco-Stewardship Program Award Recipient


Jeanne Priester, Retired NPL

Jeanne Priester, retired USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Service (NIFA) national program leader (NPL) for aging, died April 13. Priester began her career as a home economist for Alabama Gas Company in Opelika, AL. In the early 1960s she became an Alabama Extension state specialist, where she led a USDA pilot project to reach young homemakers in low-income rural areas in five pilot counties. That project became the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). She worked with the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service and spent most of her career in Washington, DC, where she worked as an NPL for EFNEP with the Federal Extension Service in the Home Economics and Human Nutrition Unit. Her responsibilities as a NPL included being the national advisor to the National Extension Homemakers Council, a membership organization of Extension clientele which became the National Association of Family and Community Education Clubs. She was the agency's liaison to the National Safety Council and the National Poison Prevention Council for many years. She was also involved with the creation of the 1972 Mulligan Stew 4–H nutrition TV series that reached millions of youth. Priester helped design Team Nutrition with USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service to support child nutrition through nutrition education for children and caregivers and community support for healthy eating and physical activity. The annual National Priester Health Conference and award remains an ongoing tribute to her and her work. She was a 53-year member of the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences and their 1993 Distinguished Service Award recipient.

Upon retiring in 1997, she was an active volunteer at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Newseum, Library of Congress, Smithsonian Institution, Washington’s Reagan National Airport, and in her church. She was an international board member of People To People for many years. 

She is survived by her sister, Ruth Priester Spencer and husband Ed, of Auburn, AL; sister-in-law Barbara Little Priester, of Opelika, AL; and many great and great-great nieces and nephews. Memorial contributions can be made to the Jeanne Priester Scholarship fund at the Auburn University Department of Human Sciences, the East Alabama Medical Center Foundation of Opelika.


Financial Literacy Day on the Hill

NIFA, the federal partner in the nationwide Cooperative Extension System, will highlight its Financial Security program at the 2010 Financial Literacy Day, April 27, at the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill, in Washington, DC. Honorary co-hosts include Senators Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) and Michael Enzi (R-Wyoming). In addition, members from the House of Representatives are invited to speak. Convening organizations are the Jump$tart Coalition, JA Worldwide, and the Council for Economic Education. Exhibitors include a mix of government, not-for-profit, and corporate organizations that promote financial literacy across the country. Financial Literacy Day on Capitol Hill is part of Financial Literacy Month. The financial education work of eXtension also will be highlighted. President Obama has released a proclamation regarding Financial Literacy month.


Researchers Unlock Secrets Behind Pathogen Evolution

An international team of scientists funded by NIFA has learned remarkable things about how fungi evolve to cause disease on crop plants. This novel information will help develop new ways to protect plants from these pathogens. The team was led by researchers at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, the Broad Institute, and the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Their results were reported in the March 18 issue of the journal, Nature.

The researchers unlocked genetic secrets of the plant pathogenic fungi in Fusarium oxysporum, which causes a variety of diseases in economically important crops. Some of the fungi within this species cause disease on bananas, while others infect tomatoes, canola, melons, or cotton. Not only do these fungi cause plant diseases that decrease crop productivity, they also produce toxins that threaten the health of animals that eat the infected plants. Visit the NIFA Newsroom to read Researchers Unlock Secrets Behind Pathogen Evolution.

NIFA-funded Researchers Analyze the Pea Aphid Genome

Producers have long been fighting off pea aphids, which are small, green insects that feed on the sap of several legumes, such as peas, alfalfa, and other forage crops. These aphids cause direct plant damage while also transmitting viruses, causing significant crop losses.

NIFA funded a team of researchers at the University of Miami to collaborate on the annotation of the pea aphid’s genome, which was recently sequenced with funding from the National Institutes of Health. Gene annotation studies help scientists determine the location of genes and understand what these genes do. Once the genes relevant to pest control have been identified, studies on gene function become possible. These genes can then be manipulated for future development of novel methods to control aphids. Visit the NIFA Newsroom to read NIFA-funded Researchers Analyze the Pea Aphid Genome

NIFA 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.

New Era Rural Technology Competitive Grants Program (RTP)

April 14, 2010

Gregory Smith

Supplemental and Alternative Crops Competitive Grants Program

May 6, 2010

James Parochetti

Food and Agricultural Sciences National Needs Graduate and Postgraduate Fellowship Grants Program

May 10, 2010

Audrey Trotman

Food Aid Nutrition Enhancement Program (FANEP)

May 13, 2010

Edwin Lewis

Rural Health and Safety Education Competitive Grants Program

June 1, 2010

Shirley Gerrior

Smith-Lever Special Needs Program

June 3, 2010

Dennis Kopp

Decadal and Regional Climate Prediction using EarthSystem Models (EaSM)

June 25, 2010

Louie Tupas

NIFA 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 email notification service based on these parameters.

USDA Announces Nutrition Assistance for Indian Tribal Organizations and States Operating the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations

Washington, April 8, 2010 - Agriculture Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon announced that Indian tribal organizations and states operating the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) have received over $4.5 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding appropriated for the purchase of equipment and the improvement of facilities needed to provide food assistance to low-income families on and near Indian reservations. Through FDPIR, USDA purchases food that is provided to low-income households, including the elderly, living on Indian reservations, and to Native American families residing in designated areas near reservations and in the state of Oklahoma. Currently, there are 271 tribes receiving benefits under FDPIR through 98 Indian tribal organizations and 5 state agencies. Almost 90,000 low-income individuals receive a monthly FDPIR food package. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release USDA Announces Nutrition Assistance for Indian Tribal Organizations and States Operating the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations.

USDA's Open Government Plan: A Commitment to Transparency and Openness 

Washington, April 7, 2010 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture released its Open Government Plan, formalizing plans to integrate openness, transparency, participation, and collaboration into the department's every day operations. When Abraham Lincoln founded USDA in 1862, he referred to and labeled it as "The People's Department." It is a description that is as true today as it was then. The department touches the lives of Americans every day, in every way. The department's core values of accountability, customer focus, and professionalism are critical to the success of fostering greater participation, being more transparent, and collaborative. To efficiently meet the requirements of the Open Government Plan, USDA established a unique governance structure comprised of three levels of leadership and direction that came together to form working groups, an advisory council, and steering committee. Representatives are from every level of USDA, including information technology partners, data owners, public affairs, and senior leaders. The plan is a dynamic document and will be updated regularly to reflect the current needs and priorities of the department and the public. To review the plan or share comments, questions, or ideas, visit the USDA Open Government Web site. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release USDA's Open Government Plan: A Commitment to Transparency and Openness.  

USDA/Navy Launches Effort to Encourage the Development and Use of Renewable Energy

Honolulu, April 6, 2010 - Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan and Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Installations and Environment Jackalyne Pfannenstiel kicked off the first of several energy forums to look at ways to increase biofuels production and meet the Navy's renewable energy needs. The forum comes as a result of the Memorandum of Understanding recently signed by the USDA and the Department of the Navy to encourage the development of advanced biofuels and other renewable energy systems.

The departments will work together to support President Obama's initiative to make the United States a global leader in developing a renewable energy economy, reducing energy consumption derived from fossil fuels, and increasing energy production from renewable energy sources. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release USDA/Navy Launches Effort to Encourage the Development and Use of Renewable Energy.

USDA Announces Resources to Improve Emergency Food Assistance Programs and Infrastructure 

Washington, April 1, 2010 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the availability of resources to strengthen the capacity of the nation's emergency feeding network to meet the needs of the increasing numbers of people who are turning to food pantries and soup kitchens to feed their families. USDA's Food and Nutrition Service plans to award up to $6 million to emergency feeding organizations, such as food banks, food pantries, and soup kitchens, participating in the Emergency Food Assistance Program. At least $3 million is expected to be awarded for projects that improve the emergency feeding infrastructure in rural communities. Projects that benefit or serve Native American communities will receive priority consideration. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release USDA Announces Resources to Improve Emergency Food Assistance Programs and Infrastructure.

4–H National Headquarters/NAA Partnership

4–H National Headquarters has partnered with the National Afterschool Association (NAA) for many years to increase the quantity and quality of afterschool programs across the country.  NAA is the largest professional organization in the country that serves afterschool staff. Approximately 3,000 afterschool providers, program directors, and staff from youth development organizations participate in a variety of professional development opportunities during the NAA Annual Convention.

The NAA Convention is April 19–21, at the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center, in National Harbor, MD. 4–H National Headquarters staff coordinated 35 workshops for presentation by 15 land-grant universities and National 4–H Council. A team of extension 4–H professionals from the University of California-Davis and the University of Nevada-Reno is presenting a pre-conference train the trainer series to help afterschool providers learn how to “Inspire Young Minds to be SET (science, engineering, and technology) Ready for Life” program. 4–H National Headquarters is also coordinating an exhibit booth representing multiple extension programs that contribute to the afterschool arena. Contact Nancy Valentine, 4–H national program leader, or Lindsey Jewell, 4–H program specialist, at NIFA 4–H National Headquarters for more program information.

Rural Youth Development Grant Program

The Rural Youth Development Grant Program brings youth and adults together in local communities to identify significant, long-term, complex community issues and is administered by NIFA’s 4–H National Headquarters. Approximately 70 program grantees from The Girl Scouts of the United States of America, National 4–H Council, and the National FFA Organization will meet in San Francisco, May 3–4, for a training program sponsored by NIFA.

NIFA’s Lisa Lauxman, director of Youth Development, Nancy Valentine, 4–H national program leader, and Amy McCune, 4–H program specialist, are coordinating the training and will present sessions on program philosophies, grant management, and budgeting. Extension faculty from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Iowa State University, University of Wisconsin, University of Missouri, Mississippi State University, and Oregon State University will also present sessions. Professional staff from the three organizations will conduct workshops and share program examples. Following the 2-day training, grantees will participate in the annual Children, Youth and Families at Risk (CYFAR) conference. Contact Nancy Valentine or Amy McCune, for more information on the grant program.

WSU 4–H Eco-Stewardship Program Award Recipient

4–H National Headquarters and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service jointly presented the 2010 Connecting Youth with Nature through Natural Resources Conservation Education Award to Washington State University’s 4–H Eco-Stewardship Program at the 75th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Milwaukee. This 4–H Program of Distinction engages youth in outdoor classrooms through innovative school-based and summer programs. Youth work directly with natural resource professionals to complete service-learning projects that benefit local watersheds and fish and wildlife habitats. The program’s experiential education model connects youth with nature while developing critical life skills and supporting academic and career choices in natural resources management. “Exposing young people to natural resource restoration, conservation, and management also contributes to creating a 21st century workforce. It was a critical part of my own engagement with nature and led to my career in science,” said Roger Beachy, NIFA Director.

For a plain text copy of this newsletter, please contact Judy Rude. NIFA UPDATE is published biweekly. The next NIFA issue is planned for April 28, 2010. Submit news items to mailto:newsletter@nifa.usda.gov by April 21, 2010.

Editor:  Judy Rude, public affairs specialist, NIFA Communications Staff. If you have questions about Update, please contact her.

To subscribe or unsubscribe to this newsletter, please send an e-mail message to Judy Rude. In the body of the message, type: subscribe nifa-update OR unsubscribe nifa-update.  Back issues of NIFA UPDATE are available on the NIFA Web site.

Roger Beachy, Director

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.