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NIFA Update — June 1, 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.


  • Message from NIFA’s Acting Director
  • Program Specialist Joins Division of Nutrition
  • New Program Assistant Joins IYFC
  • NIFA in the News
  • NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications  



  • USDA Highlights the Launch of Let’s Move! in Indian Country
  • USDA Officials to Visit Southern States Affected by Natural Disasters



  • NIFA’s Family and Consumer Economics Programs Featured in Online Publication
  • NIFA’s RRDCs Release 2010 Annual Reports
  • Thai Leaders Visit NIFA’s Center for International Programs



  • eXtension Hosts Final Webinar on Building Strong Community Economic Development



Message from NIFA’s Acting Director

I am so honored to have been selected as the Acting Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. I want to introduce myself to you and let you know how much I look forward to working with NIFA’s leadership and our partners to keep the agency’s momentum going on the mission we share: doing the research and education that makes a difference to our nation.

Though I am new to many of you, I’m not new to NIFA. I started my career with USDA in 2002 as a national program leader in the National Research Initiative and co-chaired the USDA NIFA Launch Committee in 2009. During that time I gained a great appreciation for the impact that USDA research and education has had and will continue to have in tackling many of our greatest societal challenges. Since that time, I worked in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, supporting the President’s science advisor and others on a variety of agricultural scientific activities, including working to raise agricultural science visibility and its importance to the federal R& D portfolio. From there, I came back to USDA as the first director of the Office of the Chief Scientist and working closely with Under Secretary Cathie Woteki on the Department’s scientific agenda. 

Being back at NIFA is extremely important to me because of my sincere fondness for the agency, my colleagues here in NIFA, and for our mission. Together, we will work to keep the agency’s science agenda moving forward through a smooth, well-managed transition period. My work will initially focus on filling key leadership vacancies and working with you to lay a solid foundation so that the new director can hit the ground running when he/she comes aboard. Dr. Woteki has already engaged scientific leaders across America in casting a wide net to find a scientific leader who can take NIFA’s helm and sustain the excellence for which it has become known.

The agency, my NIFA colleagues, our mission, and the role we play in improving the quality of life for all Americans will forever be dear to me.  I look forward to doing my part to advance that agenda and to working with you during this time of transition.

Chavonda Jacobs-Young
Acting Director
National Institute of Food and Agriculture


Program Specialist Joins Division of Nutrition

Amanda C. Ewing has joined NIFA’s Institute of Food Safety and Nutrition, Division of Nutrition, as a program specialist. She graduated cum laude from Tuskegee University with a bachelor’s degree in didactic program for dietetics. Ewing is from Chicago, IL, and was a USDA 1890 Scholar and interned with the former Nutrition and Family Sciences section for four consecutive summers. While attending Tuskegee University, she participated in the Student Government Association as the events coordinator and a member of Alpha Kappa Mu Honor Society and the Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences, to name just a few activities. She will pursue her master’s of public health and was accepted into the Johns Hopkins Peace Corps Program. Ewing is located in the Waterfront Centre in Room 2361 and can be reached on 202-720-2088.

New Program Assistant Joins IYFC

Jesse Stevens joined NIFA’s Institute of Youth, Family, and Community (IYFC), Division of Family and Consumer Sciences, in the new position as a program assistant. Stevens is from Detroit, MI, and lived there until he graduated from high school. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps and served his first 2 years overseas in Okinawa, Japan, and the Republic of South Korea. Upon completion of his overseas tour he went to a very small Marine Corps Detachment that served as a schoolhouse with the National Geospatial Agency at Fort Belvoir, VA. Stevens began his civilian career in 2010 with the U.S. Department of State as a visa specialist with Consular Affairs, Public Inquiries. He will complete his bachelor’s degree in business administration from University of Maryland University College this fall. Stevens is located in the Waterfront Centre, Room 4461, and can be reached at 202-720-3401.

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.

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

June 1, 2011

Irma Lawrence

Renewable Resources Extension Act-National Focus Fund Projects

June 6, 2011

Eric Norland

Rural Youth Development Grants Program

June 10, 2011

Nancy Valentine

New Technologies for Ag Extension, Smith-Lever 3B, 3C, and 3D Programs

June 17, 2011

Gregory Crosby

Integrated Research, Education, and Extension Competitive Grants Program: Methyl Bromide Transitions Program

June 22, 2011

Kitty Cardwell

Integrated Research, Education, and Extension Competitive Grants Program: National Integrated Food Safety Initiative

June 27, 2011

Jan Singleton

Integrated Research, Education, and Extension Competitive Grants Program - Organic Transitions (ORG)

June 30, 2011

Mary Monnig Peet

Rural Health and Safety Education Competitive Grants Program

July 1, 2001

Aida Balsano

Rangeland Research Program

July 6, 2011

James P. Dobrowolski

Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education

July 14, 2011

Rob Hedberg

Integrated Research, Education, and Extension Competitive Grants Program: National Integrated Water Quality Program

July 15, 2011

Michael P. O'Neill

Biomass Research and Development Initiative

Invited Full Application Date
October 31, 2011

Carmela Bailey

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.

USDA Highlights the Launch of Let’s Move! in Indian Country

WASHINGTON, May 25 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack applauded The Office of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative and the launch of Let’s Move! in Indian Country (LMIC). LMIC is an effort designed to support and advance the work that tribal leaders and community members are already doing to improve the health of American Indian and Alaska Native children. As a part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative, LMIC brings together federal agencies, communities, nonprofits, corporate partners, and tribes to end the epidemic of childhood obesity in Indian Country within a generation by everyone playing a role. The launch was held at the Menominee Nation in Keshena, Wisconsin.

USDA continues to work with tribal governments to expand their access to the full range of USDA programs by supporting and establishing local and regional food systems. USDA is helping build strong and resilient American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian farming and ranching enterprises that will create jobs and strong economies in Native communities across the country. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the release USDA Highlights the Launch of Let’s Move! In Indian Country.

USDA Officials to Visit Southern States Affected By Natural Disasters

VIDALIA, La., May 19 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager and Acting Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse toured Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Missouri, to meet with those affected by recent disasters.

“With assistance from USDA and other Federal agencies, the Obama Administration is working to help residents, farmers, ranchers and businesses that have been hard hit by recent floods and tornadoes,” said Tonsager.

USDA agencies have been working for weeks with state and local officials, as well as individuals, businesses, farmers and ranchers, as they begin the process of helping to get people back on their feet. USDA offers a variety of resources for states and individuals affected by the recent disasters. Individuals can also apply for other types of federal disaster assistance at the DiasterAssistance.gov web site. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release USDA Officials to Visit Southern States Affected By Natural Disasters.


NIFA’s Family and Consumer Economics Programs Featured in Online Publication

NIFA was the Jump$tart national partner featured in their Financial Fridays e-newsletter. Financial Fridays is designed to familiarize and connect Jump$tart national partners with each other, to facilitate collaboration, and cooperate in the financial literacy efforts. The newsletter reaches more than 800 youth financial education partners. The publication highlighted NIFA’s Family and Consumer Economics Program with respect to its mission and scope, programs offered, and related efforts among our land-grant partners. Susan Shockey, a national program leader in the Division of Family and Consumer Sciences, provides national leadership for NIFA’s Family and Consumer Economics. To receive a tweet about each issue of Financial Fridays, with a link back to the full, online article, follow NatlJumpStart on Twitter.

NIFA’s RRDCs Release 2010 Annual Reports

The 2010 NIFA Regional Rural Development Centers (RRDC) Annual Reports are now available on online. The reports highlight USDA’s leadership for regional rural innovation programming, such as Stronger Economies Together, National e-Commerce Initiative, the eXtension Entrepreneurs and Their Communities Community of Practice. The RRDCs play a unique role in USDA’s service to rural America. The centers bring together innovative minds from inside and outside universities to focus on cutting-edge issues without regard to state boundaries. Much of the work is national in scope and each center tailors programs particular to regional needs. Specific programs and focus areas for each center are described in the annual reports. Below are links to each RRDC’s annual report.

Contact Sally Maggard, national program leader for the Regional Rural Development for more information on the RRDCs.

Thai Leaders Visit NIFA’s Center for International Programs

Napavarn Noparatnaraporn, director of Thailand’s Agricultural Research Development Agency (ARDA) and several ARDA board members visited with Hiram Larew, director of NIFA’s Center for International Programs. ARDA promotes agricultural research in Thai academic, government, and private sector organizations. Discussions focused on ways that ARDA could promote collaboration with American agricultural scientists. ARDA leaders are interested in how Thai scientists could cooperate with U.S. scientists on NIFA programs such as the International Science and Education competitive grants program (for classroom enrichment) and/or global climate change research under the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative. Contact Hiram Larew for more information.


eXtension Hosts Final Webinar on Building Strong Community Economic Development

The eXtension Community of Practice (COP) on “Entrepreneurs and Their Communities” is concluding its webinar series that focuses on economic development. Sam Cordes, Purdue University, will close the series on June 9 with a webinar introducing data-rich sites that educators and others can use to access data, compile information, and assemble the knowledge needed to better inform economic development decision-making. The webinar will showcase new web-based tools and analytics, including industry and occupational clusters and an innovation index.  

The webinar begins at 2 p.m. eastern time and last for 1 hour. About 10 minutes prior to the start time, go to the Adobe Connect Pro meeting room. Newcomers to online learning are welcome. The webinars will be recorded and available for on-demand viewing at ETC Webinar Archive. Contact Mary Peabody, associate director, Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development, or Sally Maggard, NIFA national program leader for Regional Rural Development, for more information about the series and COP.

For a plain text copy of this newsletter, please contact Judy Rude. NIFA UPDATE is published biweekly. The next NIFA issue is planned for June 15. Submit news items to: newsletter@nifa.usda.gov by June 8, 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.

 Chavonda Jacobs-Young, Director

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