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NIFA Update — March 24, 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

  • Intent to Issue RFA for Extension Project in Afghanistan
  • New Program Specialist Joins IYFC
  • “JH” Bahn Retires
  • McLaren Joins USDA’s Office of Advocacy and Outreach
  • USDA Awards Temple University Grant to Reduce the Prevalence of Childhood Obesity
  • USDA Awards Grant to Michigan State University Researchers
  • USDA Awards University of Michigan Grant to Help Reduce Childhood Obesity in Preschool Children
  • NIFA in the News
  • NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications

USDA

  • Agriculture Secretary Signs Agreement with HACU
  • USDA Sets New Standards for Reducing Foodborne Pathogens in Chickens and Turkeys
  • USDA Launches Database for Public to Sign-up and Show their People's Gardens
  • Secretary Vilsack Releases Report Showing the Recovery Act Is Providing Jobs and Benefiting America's Rural Communities

Partners

  • Lighari Named TSU Associate Dean for Extension
  • Jones Named Associate Dean/CE Director at Virginia Tech
  • 100th FCS Anniversary Celebrated at Auburn and North Carolina State Universities
  • Kentucky Extension Agents Use NIFA/AOM Tools to Help Families Get Moving
  • Plant Management Network Offers Online Grant Outreach Platform

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Intent to Issue RFA for Extension Project in Afghanistan

In collaboration with USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, NIFA intends to issue a Request for Applications (RFA) in April to engage American universities in a project designed to strengthen extension services in Afghanistan. The overall objective is to build the capacity of Afghanistan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock to more effectively deliver extension services to rural clientele. The initial focus is on training for provincial and district-level extension staff in the provinces of Balkh, Herat, and Nangarhar, and later expanding to include additional extension personnel nationwide before the project concludes in September 2014. NIFA is seeking applications from U.S. land-grant universities to form and lead a consortium of three additional land-grant institutions. To benefit from the wealth of knowledge and experience at universities nationwide, at least 20 percent of the proposed personnel budget for this project should be devoted to obtaining faculty with relevant expertise from any U.S. university or college not included in the consortium. The lead institution may also subcontract with other institutions/organizations as necessary to achieve project objectives. Although subject to change, NIFA anticipates that approximately $10 million will be available to support this project. Contact Michael McGirr, NIFA national program leader with the Center for International Programs, for more information.

New Program Specialist Joins IYFC

Ahlishia Shipley recently joined the Institute of Youth, Family, and Community’s Division of Family and Consumer Sciences. She will provide leadership and program support in the areas of military families and veteran’s affairs; public policy, diversity, and urban affairs; sustainable farm enterprises; and regional rural development. She is also the division’s communications lead.
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Before joining NIFA, Shipley worked as a student and professional at the University of Kentucky. During her tenure there, she had the opportunity to work in all three components of our land-grant mission: teaching, research, and extension. She is a native of Louisville, KY. Her education includes a master of science degree in career and technical education and a bachelor of science degree in family and consumer sciences education. She is the recipient of the Southern Regional Education Board Doctoral Scholars Fellowship. She expects to complete her doctoral degree in family studies from the University of Kentucky in May. Shipley is located in the Waterfront Centre in Room 4414, and can be reached at 202-401-6854.

“JH” Bahn Retires

Henry M. “JH” Bahn, senior advisor for global food security at USDA, is retiring the end of March after 33 years of federal service. Bahn helped develop USDA’s Global Food Security Action Plan by contributing to proposals for extension and youth development, developing a partnership between USDA and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, and managing the Natural Resources Environment Resource Team. As a national program leader in NIFA’s Division of Agricultural Systems, Bahn provided national leadership in research, education, and extension outreach needs and designed agricultural markets and trade portfolios of approximately $40 million. As a senior economist, Bahn was also responsible for strategic planning, accountability, and evaluation of $1.2 billion in federal investments in higher education, research, and extension in the food and agricultural sciences by academia, industry, state and local government, and nongovernmental organizations. Early in his career, he worked as an associate professor and extension economist at the University of Massachusetts and Montana State University. Bahn is a consummate professional and tirelessly sets an example for others to challenge standard assumptions and find solutions. His service as a first responder during last year’s Haiti disaster personifies his strength of character and selfless dedication. Bahn can be reached via email.

McLaren Joins USDA’s Office of Advocacy and Outreach

Antonio McLaren, NIFA program specialist, will join USDA’s Office of Advocacy and Outreach on March 28. In his new position, McLaren will serve as the USDA 1890 Program manager for Virginia State University. His introduction to agriculture began when he received a full scholarship through the National USDA/1890 Scholars Program, which provides students the opportunity to pursue a 4-year degree program in agriculture, and the opportunity to work for USDA.  He began his career in 1997 as an intern with NIFA working during school breaks. He earned his bachelor’s degree in agricultural business/economics in 2001, and his master’s degree in economics/finance in 2003, both from Virginia State University. He was promoted to a program specialist supporting a variety of areas, such as farm financial management, agricultural markets and trade, beginning farmers and ranchers, agriculture and food research initiative, and global food security. McLaren can be reached via email.

USDA Awards Temple University Grant to Reduce the Prevalence of Childhood Obesity

PHILADELPHIA, March 22, 2011 – Agriculture Secretary Vilsack announced a grant to Temple University to prevent obesity among low-income preschoolers by teaching mothers simple strategies to promote healthy food choices and portion sizes to their children. Roger Beachy, director of NIFA unveiled the grant on behalf of Secretary Vilsack at Temple University.

NIFA awarded the $3.7 million grant to support the work of Jennifer Orlet Fisher, associate professor of Public Health and director of the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University. Elena Serrano, associate professor of Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise at Virginia Tech, will partner with Fisher on the grant. The project’s goal is to develop obesity prevention strategies that focus on adjusting portion size to lower the amount of fat and sugar in children’s diets.

Fisher’s project consists of three parts: the researchers will talk with mothers to learn how various factors — socioeconomic, socio-cultural, and structural – influence parental strategies for establishing portion size for their children. They will then develop and clinically test a behavioral intervention for mothers and their children. The project will ultimately be implemented in an urban community in Virginia as part of the SNAP-Ed program, an extension of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which provides schools with nutrition education. Visit the NIFA Newsroom to read the full release USDA Awards Temple University Grant to Reduce the Prevalence of Childhood Obesity

USDA Awards Grant to Michigan State University Researchers

EAST LANSING, Michigan, March 14, 2011 – Roger Beachy, NIFA director, announced a research grant award to Michigan State University to reduce “shedding,” or the release of E. coli from the digestive tract, of shiga toxin-producing  E. coli (STEC) from cattle. The project, led by Shannon Manning, will study shedding from cattle and develop strategies to reduce the shedding, with the intent of decreasing the number of illnesses caused by STEC.

STEC is a leading cause of foodborne and waterborne infections. Most outbreaks are caused by contact with fecal materials from cattle and other ruminant animals, yet little is known about shedding from these animals. With the $2.5 million grant from NIFA, Manning and her team of researchers will examine the host as well as genetic, microbial, and environmental factors associated with STEC shedding.

The grant was awarded through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), the flagship competitive grant program, which was established under the 2008 Farm Bill. Visit the NIFA Newsroom to read USDA Awards Grant to Michigan State University Researchers.

USDA Awards University of Michigan Grant to Help Reduce Childhood Obesity in Preschool Children

ANN ARBOR, Michigan, March 14, 2011 – Roger Beachy, NIFA director, announced a grant award to Julie Lumeng of the University of Michigan to explore steps to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity among Head Start preschoolers in Michigan. Beachy also highlighted USDA's work in recognition of National Nutrition Month (March) and emphasized the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.   

With the $4.9 million NIFA grant, Lumeng and her team will develop a program to study the complex relationship between stress, children’s eating habits, and obesity. The team will use two previously standardized programs to examine the potential benefits that different stress management strategies can offer children’s eating behavior. Michigan State University Extension and Head Start educators who collaborate on the project will receive nonformal training and educational curricula to assist in determining the effectiveness of the program. If successful, the results will be widely disseminated to teachers around the country.

The grants are awarded through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). The long-term goal of this program is to reduce the prevalence of obesity among children and adolescents ages 2 to 19 years. Visit the NIFA Newsroom to read USDA Awards University of Michigan Grant to Help Reduce Childhood Obesity in Preschool Children.

NIFA in the News

 

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.

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

Critical Issues: Emerging and New Animal Pests and Diseases Program

April 25, 2011

Gary B. Sherman

Women and Minorities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Fields Grant Program

May 10, 2011

Jermelina Tupas

Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education

July 14, 2011

Rob Hedberg


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 Signs Agreement with HACU

WASHINGTON, March 18, 2011 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) to provide a cooperative framework that will develop and maintain a partnership between the USDA and Hispanic-serving institutions to enhance educational opportunities for Hispanic Americans, and prepare and encourage America's young people to pursue careers in agriculture-related fields.

This agreement establishes a framework that will be used to build programs and related activities within USDA to create and expand opportunities for Hispanic students. To help students achieve excellence, the MOU encourages Hispanic-serving schools and USDA to work side-by-side to better prepare students, and increase employment and educational opportunities within USDA for faculty, students, and staff at HACU-member institutions. These opportunities include targeting USDA resources for strengthening the research, teaching, and outreach capacities of Hispanic-serving institutions, colleges, and universities. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release Agriculture Secretary Signs Agreement with HACU.

USDA Sets New Standards for Reducing Foodborne Pathogens in Chickens and Turkeys

WASHINGTON, March 16, 2011 – Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced implementation of revised and new performance standards aimed at reducing the prevalence of salmonella and campylobacter in young chickens and turkeys. The improved standards are effective July 2011. With the new standards, FSIS is encouraging establishments that slaughter chicken and turkey to make continued reductions in the occurrence of pathogens—namely salmonella and campylobacter—in the products they produce.

“These improved standards are a stronger buffer between foodborne illnesses and our consumers, especially our most vulnerable consumers—children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “There is no more important mission at USDA than ensuring the safety of our food, and we are working every day to lower the danger of foodborne illness. The new standards announced mark an important step in our efforts to protect consumers by further reducing the incidence of Salmonella and opening a new front in the fight against campylobacter.” Visit the USDA Newsroom to read USDA Sets New Standards for Reducing Foodborne Pathogens in Chickens and Turkeys.

USDA Launches Database for Public to Sign-up and Show their People's Gardens

WASHINGTON, March 11, 2011 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack urged people across the nation to start People's Gardens in their communities and to register their gardens in the new People's Garden database, a tool for USDA partners to showcase their People's Gardens on an interactive map. This past year, thousands of USDA employees and partners heeded Secretary Vilsack's call to give back to their communities by volunteering their time to participate in the department-wide People's Garden initiative. “Real and effective change starts small and it starts in our own communities, and through the People's Garden initiative, people can be engaged in their own towns and neighborhoods to promote access to fresh, healthy food, as well as sustainable practices,” said Vilsack.

With the opportunity for the people to enter their People’s Gardens into the database, they will be able to describe each garden, identify who is involved, and where it is located as well as attach photos and add the contact information for their partners. For those who start a People’s Garden, they can ask to have a People’s Garden sign shipped to them. To view the interactive People’s Garden map and access the database, go to http://www.pubinfo.usda.gov/garden. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release USDA Launches Database for Public to Sign-up and Show their People’s Gardens.

Secretary Vilsack Releases Report Showing the Recovery Act Is Providing Jobs and Benefiting America's Rural Communities

WASHINGTON, March 9, 2011 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued a report that shows that Recovery Act investments are renewing our nation's rural areas and providing benefits to the 50 million people who live there. The report, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: Working for Rural Communities, shows federal investments under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) are helping rural communities in all 50 states and in territories.

“Not only are Recovery Act projects breathing life into rural economies and putting rural residents back to work, but they are laying a new foundation for growth and economic competitiveness,” said Vilsack. “The investments made in rural America will help ‘win the future.’ While these Recovery Act efforts proved vital for the health of our national economy as a whole, they were especially vital to the residents of rural America.” Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release Secretary Vilsack Releases Report Showing the Recovery Act Is Providing Jobs and Benefiting America's Rural Communities.

 

Lighari Named TSU Associate Dean for Extension

Latif Lighari is the associate dean for extension at Tennessee State University (TSU). Lighari served as the TSU associate administrator/associate director of the Cooperative Extension program from 2000 to 2008. He brings a strong history of leadership in extension programming, extension administration, community engagement, and team building. He has held positions in Connecticut, Tennessee, and South Dakota that include county extension agent, extension center coordinator, district extension director, and the associate dean and director of South Dakota Cooperative Extension Service.

Lighari earned his doctorate in agricultural education from the University of Missouri at Columbia. He has a bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering and master’s degree in agricultural extension from Sindh Agricultural University in Pakistan. His office is located in the James E. Farrell-Fred E. Westbrook Agricultural Research and Extension Complex, TSU, Nashville, Tennessee. Lighari can be reach via email or telephone at 615-963-5526.

Jones Named Associate Dean/CE Director at Virginia Tech

Edwin J. Jones was named associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director of Virginia Cooperative Extension. He will assume his new position on April 1. Jones has served as associate director and state program leader for agriculture, natural resources, and community and rural development at North Carolina Cooperative Extension since 2004, and is a professor of forestry and environmental resources at North Carolina State University.

He is recognized nationally for his knowledge and expertise in natural disaster education. He helped position the North Carolina Cooperative Extension locally and nationally to bring its vast network and educational resources to help families, communities, and agricultural businesses prepare and recover from disaster. He earned his doctorate and master’s degrees in fisheries and wildlife sciences from Virginia Tech and his bachelor’s degree in zoology from the University of Washington.

100th FCS Anniversary Celebrated at Auburn and North Carolina State Universities

2011 marks the centennial year for Extension Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) in North Carolina and Alabama. Beginning with home economics home demonstration programs in the early 1900s, women and girls in both states were taught how to preserve food and increase their family’s income. This knowledge empowered women to join together in statewide networks to learn, create camaraderie in their communities, and act as advocates for change in their respective states. Over the past century, extension FCS professionals in North Carolina and Alabama have worked to improve the well-being of individuals, families, and communities through programs that educate, influence public policy, and help people put research-based knowledge to work in their lives.

Several efforts are underway in North Carolina to mark the centennial, including an article in the Journal of Extension highlighting North Carolina Extension’s response to the needs of its citizens; a forthcoming proclamation from Governor Bev Perdue on the work of Family and Consumer Sciences; and several stories on public television featuring critical FCS programming. The FCS Centennial Celebration is May 25 at the Jane S. McKimmon Center on the North Carolina State University campus. The celebration will include the unveiling and signing reception for the book Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Service.

Alabama Cooperative Extension is celebrating their FCS Centennial on April 19 in Montgomery, AL.  Extension FCS in Alabama has a proud history, and home economics home demonstration agents have touched millions of Alabama families’ lives over the past century. The celebration will inform Alabamians about the innovative programs FCS Extension professionals have to offer, and honor former agents and specialists for their dedication and hard work through the decades.  

Kentucky Extension Agents Use NIFA/AOM Tools to Help Families Get Moving

Since 2007, America on the Move (AOM) has partnered with NIFA to support our strategic goal of improving the nation's nutrition and health behaviors. This goal is implemented by NIFA in partnership with the land-grant university system through educational outreach efforts conducted by the universities’ Cooperative Extension Service (CES) for individuals, families, and communities. CES educators work to improve Americans' health and the environment to support healthy food choices and increase physical activity. NIFA and AOM can effectively reach out as a national program to empower individuals, families, and communities to meet their nutrition and physical activity needs and goals, and to adopt positive behaviors to improve health and quality of life.

The University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension agents seized the opportunity to use the America on the Move program to engage families to participate in Get Moving Kentucky: Families on the Move. Thirty-two counties statewide chose to participate in the program involving more than 305 families, which includes 435 adults and 366 children. Within the Get Moving Kentucky: Families on the Move initiative, extension agents used the NIFA/AOM tracking database to monitor the families’ progress. During the 6-week program, families increased their physical activity by 2,000 steps per day (1 mile). On average, 15 percent increased their steps by 2,000; seven counties had significantly higher increases. This data and evaluation supports the efforts made to engage the family as a unit. This program had no weekly meetings and only small incentives to keep the family engaged. Get Moving Kentucky: Families on the Move is a “step” in the right direction. Contact Sylvia Montgomery, NIFA program specialists for the Division of Family and Consumer Sciences, for more information.

Plant Management Network Offers Online Grant Outreach Platform

The Plant Management Network (PMN) now offers an online platform in support of the outreach/communication component required by many granting agencies. The service provides for the production and hosting of educational webcasts (narrated presentations) and other resources in a centralized, interdisciplinary, and institutionally-neutral publication venue. Presentations are publicly available and reach PMN's audience of growers, agribusiness professionals, private and public researchers, educators, policymakers, and the public at large. A 1-page information sheet is available online.

 

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 6. Submit news items to: newsletter@nifa.usda.gov by March20. 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.