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NIFA Update — February 23, 2011

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.

NIFA

  • NIFA Announces Assistant Director Position
  • NIFA Appoints Diversity Officer
  • Toombs Becomes Interim Division Director of Nutrition
  • Whittet Named New Management and Policy Specialist
  • Presidential Management Fellow Joins NIFA
  • USDA Celebrates America Saves Week with Personal Financial Programs Offered Through State and Local Partnerships
  • NIFA Announces Grant to Study the Effects of Climate Change on Agricultural and Forest Production
  • Agriculture Deputy Secretary Announces Childhood Obesity Prevention Grant to NCSU
  • NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications

USDA

  • Statement from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on the Proposed FY 2012 Budget
  • Agriculture Secretary Announces Renewable Energy Program Changes to Promote Biofuel Production and Create Jobs
  • USDA Forest Service Unveils Proposed Planning Rule

Partners

  • Agricultural Water Security and Changing Climate

Opportunities

  • Nominations for the National Medal of Science or National Medal of Technology and Innovation
  • EDEN’s ‘Ready Business’ Train-the-Trainer Webinars
  • WRDC Seeks Research Abstracts on Climate Change

Awards and Recognition

  • Dorsey Receives First Tri-State Diversity Conference Award

Mailbox

NIFA Announces Assistant Director Position

NIFA recently reorganized to a structure with four institutes. Each of the institutes is co-led by an Assistant Director and a Principal Scientist. The Assistant Director provides leadership for the administration of programs that comprise the institute. The Principal Scientist provides the scientific leadership to programs assigned to the institute. More NIFA information can be found on the NIFA website.

NIFA is seeking to fill the position of Assistant Director of the Institute of Food Safety and Nutrition (NIFA: SES: 10-14).This is a Senior Executive Service (SES) position. The salary ranges from $119,554 to $179,700, commensurate with experience.

A copy of the job announcement is located on the Office of Personnel Management website. As specified in the job announcement, applicants must meet mandatory qualifications and address specific executive core and technical qualifications. Veterans’ preference applies.
All applications must be received by February 28, 2011. Contact Deborah Crump (301–504–1448) for information about the application process. Contact Betty Lou Gilliland (202–720–5506) to learn more about NIFA.

NIFA Appoints Diversity Officer

Maurice Dorsey was appointed Diversity Officer for NIFA. Dorsey has been a leader of diversity and inclusion for the agency for over two decades, and was instrumental in writing one of the first national strategic plans for diversity, published by the agency in 1990, Pathways to Diversity. He has also written and published numerous articles on diversity and social justice. He has provided agency training and led numerous concurrent sessions at national meetings. He is the recipient of NIFA’s 2006 A. J. Dye Award for Diversity and he most recently received the first Tri-State Diversity Award for Distinguished Service for Cultural Diversity. The USDA’s Diversity Road Map will further define NIFA’s strategic focus to cultivate a diverse and inclusive work environment that ensures equality of opportunity and inclusion through national policy development, diversity programs, workforce analysis, and education and training to best serve NIFA customers and key stakeholders. 

Toombs Becomes Interim Division Director of Nutrition

Dionne F. Toombs was selected as the Interim Division Director of Nutrition in NIFA’s Institute of Food Safety and Nutrition. Toombs was a national program leader for NIFA and its predecessor agency since 2006. Prior to that, she spent 3 years as a program specialist in food science and nutrition. She brings a wealth of experience that ranges from high school and community college teaching assignments, to research on drug abuse, to nutrition education at the Barney Neighborhood House Project in Washington, DC. Toombs received her B.S. degree in biology from Bethune-Cookman College, her M.S. degree in food science from Alabama University, and her Ph.D. in nutritional sciences from Howard University, where she was an Edward W. Hawthorne Doctoral Fellow.

Whittet Named New Management and Policy Specialist

Kimberly Whittet was selected as the new management and policy specialist in NIFA’s Office of the Director, effective February 28. Whittet will work closely with Betty Lou Gilliland, management and policy officer, on human resources, travel, ethics, and other administrative and financial management issues as well as special projects for the Office of the Director.

Whittet joined NIFA in January 2005 as a program specialist in the Competitive Programs Unit. Her primary responsibility was to provide program support for multiple AFRI program areas and animal science programs. She also worked on project director workshops, AFRI regulations and Requests for Applications, annual reports, and the AFRI information for the NIFA website. In February 2009, Whittet completed the Executive Leadership Program training program. As a part of this program, she served a 4-month development assignment with the U.S. Agency for International Development. Prior to joining NIFA, she was a senior agriculturalist at Oklahoma State University and supervisor of the Ruminant Nutrition Laboratory at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln. She holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in animal science from New Mexico State University and the University of Nebraska - Lincoln, respectively.

Presidential Management Fellow Joins NIFA

Joel Larson joins NIFA’s Institute of Bioenergy, Climate, and Environment (IBCE) for a 4-month detail from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), where he worked to help BLM understand the human context and consequences of its decisionmaking. Larson is visiting NIFA through the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) program, which connects federal executive agencies with graduate students who recently completed their degrees. The fellowship includes rotations to other agencies, and at the end of 2 years PMFs can convert to a permanent position within the federal government. He is the first PMF to work with NIFA. With a B.A. in geography from Macalester College and an M.P.P. from the University of Minnesota, he will support the Institute of Bioenergy, Climate, and Environment in integrating human dimensions into existing climate science work.  He currently supports IBCE efforts to develop collaboration with the National Science Foundation’s Water, Sustainability, and Climate Program. Larson is located at the Waterfront Centre in Room 3120 and can be reached at 202-401-4318.

USDA Celebrates America Saves Week with Personal Financial Programs Offered Through State and Local Partnerships

WASHINGTON, February 23, 2011 – As part of a government-wide collaboration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is celebrating America Saves Week, February 20-27, to help all individuals learn more about personal finance so they can help build a secure financial future for themselves and their families. “The Cooperative Extension System (CES) helps families to learn from our consumer economics programs, which were designed specifically to help people living in rural and urban America manage their money,” said Roger Beachy, NIFA Director.

As part of the U.S. Financial Literacy and Education Commission (FLEC), the Division of Family and Consumer Sciences at NIFA partners with CES to deliver programming in local communities that focuses on five core areas: earning income, spending, saving and investing, borrowing and protecting finances. Understanding these five areas has a big impact on the nation’s financial stability, because financial literacy among individuals and families can dramatically affect the financial health of their local communities and regional markets. Financial attitude, behavior and literacy start at home, where families communicate and make informed economic decisions based on their own values. Children learn these values, attitudes, behaviors and money management practices from their parents and forge spending and saving habits early in life that set them on a path of financial success or failure. Visit the NIFA Newsroom to read USDA Celebrates America Saves Week with Personal Financial Programs Offered through State and Local Partnerships.

NIFA Announces Grant to Study the Effects of Climate Change on Agricultural and Forest Production

WASHINGTON, February 18, 2011 – NIFA awarded three Coordinated Agriculture Projects (CAP) representing a major scientific investment in studying the effects of climate change on agriculture and forest production. NIFA Director Roger Beachy made the announcement at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C. “Climate change has already had an impact on agriculture production. Going forward, agriculture producers need sound scientific information to plan and make decisions to ensure their economic viability,” Beachy said.

A research team led by Tim Martin, of the University of Florida, will receive $20 million over 5 years to study climate change mitigation and adaptation as it relates to southern pines, particularly loblolly pine, which comprises 80 percent of the planted forestland in the Southeast. The team of 12 institutions will establish a regional network to monitor the effects of climate and management on forest carbon sequestration. Research in the project will provide information that can be used to guide planting of pine in future climates, and to develop management systems that enable forests to sequester more carbon and to remain robust in the face of changing climate. The project will train seven postdoctoral associates and 29 graduate students and also deliver educational resources and training to landowners, resource managers and policymakers. Visit the NIFA Newsroom to read NIFA Announces Grant to Study the Effects of Climate Change on Agricultural and Forest Production.

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Announces Childhood Obesity Prevention Grant to NCSU

RALEIGH, N.C., February 9, 2011 – Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced a grant to North Carolina State University (NCSU) to develop an obesity prevention program that increases access to healthy food and safe places for physical activity. The announcement was delivered as part of the anniversary of First Lady Michelle Obama’s the Let’s Move! initiative.

NIFA awarded $3,026,939 to NCSU researcher Sarah Bowen, who will work to gain a better understanding of how the “food environment” — which includes social, cultural, political, economic, and environmental factors — affects patterns of childhood obesity. The project will interview low-income mothers about their food practices and perceptions to understand how they promote childhood obesity. The research will then be incorporated into the Faithful Families project, a special project of the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, to work with community leaders and organizations to develop community-driven, culturally appropriate environmental and policy changes that increase access to healthy foods and safe places for physical activity within communities. Visit the NIFA Newsroom to read Agriculture Deputy Secretary Announces Childhood Obesity Prevention Grant to NCSU.

NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications

Funding Opportunity Closing Date Contact

Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Foundational Program

See individual grant program.

See individual grant program.

Tribal Colleges Education Equity Grants Program

February 23, 2011

Tim Grosser

Tribal Colleges Research Grants Program

February 23, 2011

Saleia Afele-Faamuli

Plant Feedstock Genomics for Bioenergy: A Joint Research Solicitation - USDA, DOE

February 25, 2011

Ed Kaleikau

Special Research Grants Program: Potato Breeding Research

March 1, 2011

James Parochetti

Biotechnology Risk Assessment Research Grants Program

March 2, 2011

Shing F. Kwok

Special Research Grants Program: Pest Management Alternatives Program

March 3, 2011

Monte Johnson

Alaska Native-Serving and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions Education Grants Program

March 3, 2011

Saleia Afele-Faamuli

Disaster Resilience for Rural Communities

March 4, 2011

Siva Sureshwaran

Assistive Technology Program for Farmers with Disabilities: State and Regional AgrAbility Projects

March 10, 2011

Bradley Rein

1890 Institution Teaching, Research and Extension Capacity Building Grants (CBG) Program

March 15, 2011

Ali I Mohamed

Tribal Colleges Extension Program - Special Emphasis

March 16, 2011

Tim Grosser

Tribal Colleges Extension Services Program

March 16, 2011

Tim Grosser

Higher Education Program: Hispanic-Serving Institutions Education Grants Program

See Grant Program

Irma Lawrence

Extension Integrated Pest Management Coordination and Support Program

March 29, 2011

Martin Draper

Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Program (formerly Extension Indian Reservation Program)

March 31, 2011

Tim Grosser

Distance Education Grants for Institutions of Higher Education in Insular Areas (DEG)

April 8, 2011

Gregory Smith

Resident Instruction Grants Program for Institutions of Higher Education in Insular Areas

April 8, 2011

Gregory Smith

New Era Rural Technology Competitive Grants Program (RTP)

April 15, 2011

Gregory Smith


NIFA advertises all of its funding opportunities through “Find Grant Opportunities” on the Grants.gov website. 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.

Agriculture Secretary Announces Renewable Energy Program Changes to Promote Biofuel Production and Create Jobs

WASHINGTON, February 11, 2011 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced interim rule changes to three renewable energy programs that are intended to create jobs in rural areas and increase the production and use of renewable energy. The programs affected include the Biorefinery Assistance Program, the Repowering Assistance Program, and the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels. The programs, authorized in the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Farm Bill) are administered by USDA Rural Development.

The rule changes allow nonrural locations to be eligible for funding and remove prior citizenship requirements for borrowers. Complete details of the new rules for the Repowering Assistance Program and the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels are published on Page 7916 of the February 11, 2011, Federal Register. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release Agriculture Secretary Announces Renewable Energy Program Changes to Promote Biofuel Production and Create Jobs.

USDA Forest Service Unveils Proposed Planning Rule

WASHINGTON, February 10, 2011 – The USDA Forest Service unveiled its proposed Forest Planning Rule that would establish a new national framework to develop land management plans that protect water and wildlife and promote vibrant communities.

Forest Service land management plans guide management activities on the 155 national forests and 20 grasslands in the National Forest System. The proposed planning rule provides a collaborative and science-based framework for creating land management plans that would support ecological sustainability and contribute to rural job opportunities. The proposed rule includes new provisions to guide forest and watershed restoration and resilience, habitat protection, sustainable recreation, and management for multiple uses of the National Forest System, including timber. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release USDA Forest Service Unveils Proposed Planning Rule.

Agricultural Water Security and Changing Climate

Mike O’Neill, NIFA national program leader for water quality and water resources, and Jim Dobrowolski, NIFA national program leader for rangeland watershed management and restoration, recently had a paper accepted for publication in the February 2011 issue of HortScience. The paper is titled “Water and Agriculture in a Changing Climate” and was part of a colloquium sponsored by the Water Utilization and Management Working Group of the American Society of Horticultural Science. The paper describes NIFA’s ongoing work in agricultural water security and highlights a selection of NIFA’s competitive grant programs that address water issues for specialty crops and horticultural crops.

Nominations for the National Medal of Science or National Medal of Technology and Innovation

The USDA REE agencies have been invited to submit nominations for the National Medal of Science or National Medal of Technology and Innovation. The National Medal of Science and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation are the highest honors the President bestows in science, technology, and innovation. Help recognize the contributions of your colleagues by submitting a nomination for these prestigious awards before March 31, 2011. 

National Medal of Science

The National Medal of Science, established in 1959, is the Nation’s highest honor for American scientists and engineers. The Presidential Award is given to individuals deserving of special recognition by reason of outstanding contributions to knowledge, or the total impact of their work, in the chemical, physical, biological, mathematical, engineering, or behavioral sciences. It is administered by the National Science Foundation and, to date, has been awarded to 458 individuals. An independent 12-member presidentially-appointed committee of scientists and engineers reviews nominations and makes its recommendations to the President, who selects the laureates.

Program details, including the online nomination form, are available at the National Science Foundation website. Nominations and three letters of support must be submitted by March 31, 2011. Contact the Program Manager for the National Medal of Science or 703-292-8040, if you have any questions.

National Medal of Technology and Innovation

The National Medal of Technology and Innovation, first awarded in 1985, is the Nation’s highest honor for technological achievement. The medal is given to individuals, teams, companies, or divisions for their outstanding contributions to the nation’s economic, environmental, and social well-being through the development and commercialization of technology products, processes, and concepts; technological innovation; and strengthening of the nation’s technological workforce. An independent committee representing both private and public sectors evaluates the merits of all candidates nominated through an open, competitive solicitation process. The committee forwards its recommendations to the Secretary of Commerce, who makes recommendations to the President for final decision.

Program details, including the online nomination form, are available at U.S. Patent and Trade Office website. Nominations and six letters of support must be submitted by March 31, 2011. Contact the Program Manager for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office or 571-272-8333, if you have any questions.

EDEN's ‘Ready Business’ Train-the-Trainer Webinars

Extension educators, business leaders, government agency, nongovernmental organization representatives, and others are invited to take part to learn how to use the Extension Disaster Education Network’s (EDEN) resources to teach local businesses how to develop business continuity and disaster preparedness plans.

EDEN will offer “Ready Business” training to help leaders learn how to teach the program in their communities.  The training is scheduled via webinars on:

  • March 2 - 3 p.m. Central Standard Time; 
  • March 4 - 1 p.m. Central Standard Time; and
  • March 11 - 1 p.m. Central Standard Time.

 

The three webinars will cover the same information. No preregistration is required for the free webinars, which are made possible with a grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture to North Dakota State University (NDSU).

Visit the EDEN website for more details on how to join the webinar. Contact Becky Koch, NDSU agriculture communication director, 701-231-7875, for more webinar information.

WRDC Seeks Research Abstracts on Climate Change

The Western Rural Development Center (WRDC) is calling for abstracts for its flagship publication, Rural Connections, which will target climate change in its June edition. The topic will focus on challenges and opportunities facing the rural West relative to climate change and climate change policies. The deadline to submit abstracts is March 4. The WRDC is not interested in arguments for or against climate change; rather, it wants to share the research, community, and economic development activities underway in the region to address currently changing climates and how these changes are bringing economic opportunities and/or challenges to the West’s rural communities. Contact Betsy Newman, WDRC publications specialist, for more information.  Contact Sally Maggard, NIFA national program leader for regional rural development for more information on the four USDA Regional Rural Development Centers.

Dorsey Receives First Tri-State Diversity Conference Award

Maurice W. Dorsey, NIFA national program leader for public policy in the Division of Family and Consumer Sciences, received the first Tri-State Diversity Conference Award for “Distinguished Service for Cultural Diversity.” It was presented at the 7th annual Tri-State Diversity Conference - Lens of Diversity, on February 10. The conference is hosted by Purdue University Extension, The Ohio State University Extension, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Kentucky, and Kentucky State University. The overall goal of the conference is to network and link people and resources to better integrate diversity programs, policies, and practices for creating community well-being. Visit the new Tri-State Diversity Conference website and moderated blog, for more information. The Ohio State University will host the 8th annual Tri-State Diversity Conference February 16-17, 2012.

 

For a plain text copy of this newsletter, please contact Judy Rude. NIFA UPDATE is published biweekly. The next NIFA issue is planned for March 9. Submit news items to: newsletter@nifa.usda.gov by March 2.

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 website.

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 SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call 800-795-3272 (voice) or 202-720-6382 (TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.