NIFA Update — October 12, 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 2011 Director’s Awards for Excellence
- Ebodaghe Receives 2011 A.J. Dye Award for Diversity
- NIFA 2011 Partnership Awards
- NIFA Releases First Three FY 2012 Requests for Applications to the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative
- Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Major Investments to Spur Innovation and Job Creation in Research, Development, and Production of Next Generation Biofuels
- Agriculture Deputy Secretary Merrigan Announces Assistance to Help Raise New Crop of Farmers and Ranchers
- NIFA in the News
- NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications
- Obama Administration Announces Job-Creating Grid Modernization Pilot Projects
- Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Community Facilities Investments to Create Jobs and Boost Economic Development in Rural Communities
- Statement from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Submission of Korea, Colombia, and Panama Trade Agreements
- USDA Launches MiPlato: A Visual Reminder to Help Spanish-Speaking Consumers Make Healthier Food Choices
- Forest Service Report Documents Environmental Benefits of Wood as a Green Building Material
- Public and Private Sectors Applaud USDA Announcement to Spur Job Creation in Research, Development, and Production of Next Generation Biofuels
- FCS Leaders Annual Meeting
- NCRCRD Hosts Webinar on Indian Men’s Health Project
- Next Issue Scheduled October 26
NIFA 2011 Director’s Awards for Excellence
The NIFA Director’s Awards for Excellence recognize employees for their outstanding achievements and significant contributions in supporting the mission of NIFA and its client organizations through actions that clearly exceed normal job responsibilities. There are awards in 3 categories: Administrative Support, Administrative and Technical, and Science and Education.
Doris Perry, secretary for the Plant Systems – Production & Protection Divisions in the Institute of Food Production and Sustainability (IFPS), received the 2011 Director’s Award for Excellence in Administrative Support. Perry provided outstanding service to NIFA and its customers by being proactive and solving problems to ensure customer expectations are met or exceeded. Throughout the year, she provided administrative support assistance in a positive and cheerful manner for the 37 staff assigned to the two IFPS divisions. She not only got the job done, she took care of her responsibilities with enthusiasm, dedication, and professionalism. She provided suggestions on how to make the office more efficient and productive. She also documented a new process within IFPS for hiring panel managers and documented the procedure used for review and approval of department review reports. Her attention to detail, timeliness, and willingness to solve problems and get the job done make her a great team member and a tremendous asset to her colleagues and to the agency.
The 2011 Director’s Award for Excellence in Administrative and Technical was given to Falita Liles, information technology specialist in the Planning, Accountability, and Reporting Staff. Liles was recognized for her outstanding customer support in assisting with querying data and preparing reports of NIFA programs and progress. She has become one of the most indispensible persons in the agency. The efficiency in which she accesses, mines, and completes requests for information from the CRIS system for the Office of the Secretary, NIFA’s Office of the Director, Budget Office, national program leaders, and NIFA’s land-grant university partners is unparalleled. She processes and delivers these reports within tight deadlines, often within the same day, and provides information to individuals at all levels with precision. She documents complex search strategies, methodologies, and reports so that future financial requests will be accurate, reproducible, consistent, and relevant. She produced 977 reports during FY 2010 and was on track to surpass that for FY 2011.
This year there were two exceptional nominations for the 2011 Director’s Award for Excellence in Science and Education. The first recipient, Ed Kaleikau, is a national program leader for the Division of Plant Systems–Production in the Institute of Food Production and Sustainability. He was recognized for his exceptional strategic national and international leadership and visibility for plant genomics. His commitment to coordinating plant genome research across the federal government was outstanding. He served as the USDA liaison for the federal partnership that sequenced the first model plant species and led to USDA’s participation that resulted in the complete genetic sequence of rice. He was often the first to perceive and articulate the big picture for science challenges and to understand how to identify and implement sequential steps that solve problems. He had the foresight to develop a grant program that provided a 5-year plan to focus plant genome research on a particular species each year. He is recognized internationally for his leadership, impact, and knowledge about plant genomics. His commitment to excellence for his programs, and his program teams, makes him an asset to this agency.
For the second recipient for the 2011 Director’s Award for Excellence in Science and Education is Rick Meyer, national program leader for the Division of Plant Systems - Protection in the Institute of Food Production and Sustainability. He was recognized for his superior contributions that demonstrate innovation, excellence, and direct impact to the agency’s research, education, and extension missions. As a national program leader supporting entomology programs, his outstanding achievements and personal commitment have resulted in programs and tools that are exemplary. He is known as “a virtuoso at bringing people together and facilitating partnerships, and knows how to lead a response to new challenges and emerging opportunities.” Stakeholders hold him in high regard because he took more than a passing interest in their work; he passionately fostered a partnership atmosphere among the entomology community. He also played a major role within NIFA as he was instrumental in the development of the Leadership Management Dashboard, volunteered his expertise and time for the CRIS Classification Board, and partnered to author the “Guidelines for Institutional Program Review.” He has mentored and nurtured new NPLs and has been a sounding board of extreme objectivity and proven accuracy of the years for NIFA and our partners.
Ebodaghe Receives 2011 A.J. Dye Award for Diversity
NIFA presented Denis Ebodaghe the 2011 AJ Dye Award for Diversity for enhancing NIFA’s ability to address the needs of its diverse stakeholders. Ebodaghe, a national program leader in the Institute of Food Production and Sustainability, is responsible for small farm research and extension program development. For the A.J. Dye Award, Ebodaghe worked with stakeholders to build their capacity to access agency programs and by create new coalitions, programs, and partnerships in support of diverse target populations. He stands out among his colleagues because he has enhanced NIFA’s ability to address the diverse needs of our stakeholders and because he has helped to build capacity among these stakeholders to access our programs through promoting and encouraging their development of coalitions and partnerships. Some examples of his performance demonstrating his outreach to a diverse constituency include:
- He provided leadership, coordination, and guidance to the NIFA Small Farm Program since 1994 by facilitating small farms research, education, and outreach to diverse groups.
- From 2003-2009, he worked with outreach and assistance for the Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers competitive program and managed the Farm Efficiency and Profitability Program under the Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems from 2000-2006.
- He actively recruits for NIFA panelists and panel managers who represent the diversity that our programs are intended to serve.
- He established a grant writing workshop committee that consisted of nine USDA agencies to address the low success rate of the underserved and minorities in obtaining USDA grants. “USDA Grant Writing on Wheels” has conducted grant writing workshops across the nation in minority-serving institutions and major cities to ensure that diverse groups, including the underserved, acquire the skills of effective and successful grant writing.
- He served as the acting director of the USDA Small Farm Coordination and as the deputy director of the Center for Minority Famers while on detail within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights. In these positions, he ensured that USDA programs and services had increased visibility and equitable access among limited resource, socially disadvantaged, and underserved constituents.
As a result of his work in reaching out to diverse communities, there is an increased level of cooperation with underserved and minority-serving communities, limited resource and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, and in turn, more efficient and effective delivery and sustained commitment to diversity and inclusion in USDA programs.
NIFA 2011 Partnership Awards
NIFA honored four grantees with Partnership Awards for their exemplary work and outstanding contribution in support of the USDA mission and for their positive impacts on agriculture. There are four categories of Partnership Awards: mission integration, multistate efforts, innovative program models, and effective and efficient use of resources. The 2011 Partnership Awards were presented to the lead institution for each project:
- Mission Integration: Oklahoma State University, Biobased Products and Energy Center. Through research and product development, the team explored diversified bioenergy solutions to help decrease the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.
- Multistate Efforts: Washington State University, Horizons Program. This program assists rural communities to create prosperous and sustainable communities by helping residents understand poverty, build leadership skills, develop community action plans, and receive peer coaching.
- Innovative Program Models: Rutgers University, Get Moving Get Healthy New Jersey. The program is helping New Jersey families improve their eating behaviors and increase their physical activity in the fight against obesity.
- Effective and Efficient Use of Resources: Pennsylvania State University, National 4-H and EFNEP Research Database Team. This team located, analyzed, and uploaded nearly 4,000 research studies representing a century of research into youth development and consumer science programs.
NIFA Releases First Three FY 2012 Requests for Applications to the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative
WASHINGTON, September 28 – USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) released the first three requests for applications (RFA) to the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) funding opportunity to support research, education, and extension in fundamental and applied food and agricultural sciences.
The newly released RFAs are for the Agriculture and Natural Resources Science for Climate Variability and Change and Sustainable Bioenergy challenge areas and the NIFA Fellowships Grant program. NIFA anticipates releasing the Food Security RFA within the next 10 days. Additionally, NIFA will release three more AFRI RFAs during the next several months, including the Childhood Obesity Prevention and Food Safety challenge areas and the AFRI Foundational Program. AFRI is NIFA’s flagship competitive grant program and was established under the 2008 Farm Bill. It is anticipated that up to $264 million will be available in FY 2012 to support the AFRI program. Go to NIFA’s Website for more information on AFRI. Visit the NIFA Newsroom to read the full release.
Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Major Investments to Spur Innovation and Job Creation in Research, Development and Production of Next Generation Biofuels
WASHINGTON, September 28 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced five major agricultural research projects aimed at developing regional, renewable energy markets, generating rural jobs, and decreasing America's dependence on foreign oil. Altogether, the 5-year program will deliver more than $136 million in research and development grants to the public and private sector partners in 22 states. University partners from the states of Washington, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Iowa will lead the projects, which focus in part on developing aviation biofuels from tall grasses, crop residues, and forest resources. Vilsack made the announcement with partners from private industry, research institutions, and the biofuels industry. The projects will address needs across regional supply chains and will complement existing bioenergy efforts across government, academia, and the private sector. Visit the NIFA Newsroom to read the full release.
Agriculture Deputy Secretary Merrigan Announces Assistance to Help Raise New Crop of Farmers and Ranchers
WASHINGTON, September 30 – Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded 36 grants totaling $18 million to organizations that will provide training and assistance to beginning farmers and ranchers to help them run successful and sustainable farms. As the average age of America's farmers and ranchers increases, and with traditional rural populations in decline, Merrigan said that now is a critical time to train the next generation of American producers.
NIFA awarded the grants through its Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP). Under BFRDP, which was established through the 2008 Farm Bill, NIFA makes grants to organizations that implement education, training, technical assistance, and outreach programs to help beginning farmers and ranchers, specifically those who have been farming or ranching for 10 years or fewer. At least 25 percent of the program’s funding supports the needs of limited resource and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, as well as farm workers who want to get a start in farming and ranching. Visit the NIFA Newsroom to read the full release.
NIFA Small Business Grants Support i6 Green Challenge Investment to Promote Clean Energy Innovation and Job Creation
WASHINGTON, September 30 –The Obama Administration has announced the six winners of the i6 Green Challenge, an initiative to drive technology commercialization and entrepreneurship in support of a green innovation economy, increased U.S. competitiveness and new jobs. Projects in Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, New England, and Washington will each receive up to $1 million from the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration and up to $6 million in additional funding and technical assistance from NIFA, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, and Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, and United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Winning i6 Green applicants will support emerging technology-based businesses as they mature and demonstrate their market potential, making them more attractive to investors and helping entrepreneurs turn their ideas and innovations into businesses. Visit the NIFA Newsroom to read the full release.
NIFA in the News
NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications
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.
Obama Administration Announces Job-Creating Grid Modernization Pilot Projects
Washington, October 5 – Demonstrating its commitment to job creation and modernizing America's infrastructure, the Obama Administration announced it would accelerate the permitting and construction of seven proposed electric transmission lines. This move will speed the creation of thousands of construction and operations jobs while transforming the nation's electric system into a modern, 21st century grid that is safer and more secure, and gives consumers more energy choices.
"Building a smarter electric grid will create thousands of American jobs and accelerate the growth of domestic clean energy industries translating into more energy choices and cost savings for American consumers, and a more secure energy future for our country," said Nancy Sutley, chair of the Council on Environmental Quality. These projects will serve as pilot demonstrations of streamlined federal permitting and increased cooperation at the federal, state, and tribal levels. Project developers expect that the streamlined projects will increase grid capacity and create thousands of jobs in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Minnesota, New Mexico, Nevada, Wyoming, Utah, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Oregon, and Wisconsin. “USDA's collaboration with other agencies to build electric transmission will help to meet our country's electric needs in the 21st century," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “These infrastructure projects will also create jobs and opportunities that will strengthen our economy to benefit households and businesses throughout the country." Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release.
Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Community Facilities Investments to Create Jobs and Boost Economic Development in Rural Communities
WASHINGTON, October 4 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced investments in 33 states and one territory that will create jobs and improve the quality of life in rural communities across the nation. "These projects not only provide needed infrastructure in rural communities, they contribute to the Obama administration's continued efforts to create quality jobs and improve the nation's economy," Vilsack said. "The projects announced will help strengthen facilities and amenities in rural towns and small cities."
For example, the city of Blockton, IA, was selected to receive a $50,000 grant that will be used to purchase a fire truck. Currently, the fire department has just one pumper truck to cover a 70-square-mile area. Also in Iowa, the city of Akron was selected to receive a $4 million direct loan that will be used to help build a 45-bed nursing home. In addition to the jobs created as a result of the construction, the project will save 60 existing, permanent jobs. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release.
Statement from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Submission of Korea, Colombia, and Panama Trade Agreements
USDA Launches MiPlato: A Visual Reminder to Help Spanish-Speaking Consumers Make Healthier Food Choices
WASHINGTON, September 30 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin honored National Hispanic Heritage Month by joining with key Hispanic leaders to celebrate the federal government's new Spanish-language food icon, MiPlato, which serves as a reminder to help consumers make healthier food choices. MiPlato is a new generation icon that prompts consumers to think about their food choices before they eat, to build a healthy plate at meal time, and to seek more information by going to ChooseMyPlate.gov. MyPlate and MiPlato emphasize the five food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy and are supported by consumer messages including “Make Half Your Plate Fruits and Vegetables.”
MiPlato will complement the MyPlate image as the government's primary food group symbol, an easy-to-understand visual cue to help consumers adopt healthy eating habits consistent with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release.
Forest Service Report Documents Environmental Benefits of Wood as a Green Building Material
WASHINGTON, September 29 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the findings of a new Forest Service (FS) study indicate that wood should factor as a primary building material in green building. The authors of “Science Supporting the Economic and Environmental Benefits of Using Wood and Wood Products in Green Building Construction” reviewed the scientific literature and found that using wood in building products yields fewer greenhouse gases than using other common materials.
"This study confirms what many environmental scientists have been saying for years," said Vilsack. "Wood should be a major component of American building and energy design. The use of wood provides substantial environmental benefits, provides incentives for private landowners to maintain forest land, and provides a critical source of jobs in rural America." The FS report also points out that greater use of life cycle analysis in building codes and standards would improve the scientific underpinning of building codes and standards and thereby benefit the environment. A combination of scientific advancement in the areas of life cycle analysis and the development of new technologies for improved and extended wood utilization are needed to continue to advance wood as a green construction material. Sustainability of forest products can be verified using any credible third-party rating system, such as Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Forest Stewardship Council or American Tree Farm System certification. Visit the USDA newsroom to read the full release.
Public and Private Sectors Applaud USDA Announcement to Spur Job Creation in Research, Development, and Production of Next Generation Biofuels
WASHINGTON, September 28 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced five major agricultural research projects aimed at developing regional, renewable energy markets, generating rural jobs, and decreasing America's dependence on foreign oil. Altogether, the 5-year program will deliver more than $136 million in research and development grants to public and private sector partners in 22 states.
Leaders from academia and the public and private sectors praised the efforts as an opportunity to create thousands of new jobs and drive economic development in rural communities across America by building the framework for a competitively-priced, American-made biofuels industry. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release.
FCS Leaders Annual Meeting
The 2011 Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) Leader's Meeting was held September 28-29 in conjunction with the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences Annual Session in Albuquerque, NM. Hosted by NIFA, the FCS Leaders Meeting brought together administrators from land-grant universities around the nation working in Family and Consumer Sciences. The meeting is held annually for FCS leaders to network and share strategies, research, and programs that address contemporary and emerging FCS issues. Family & Consumer Sciences Alliance organizations announced the results of the Family & Consumer Sciences Branding Initiative, which includes messages to clearly communicate the value of the family and consumer sciences field and an icon that conveys the essence of the field. Next year's FCS Leaders Meeting will be held during the 2012 NEAFCS Annual Session, September 24-28, 2012, in Columbus, OH.
NCRCRD Hosts Webinar on Indian Men’s Health Project
In partnership with NIFA’s North Central Regional Center for Regional Development (NCRCRD), Paul Lachapelle, assistant professor and extension community development specialist of Montana State University-Bozeman, will present a webinar, “Crow Men’s Health Project” on October 26, at 3 p.m. Eastern time. This project is a collaborative research initiative between the Crow Indian Reservation and Montana State University. Lachapelle will describe the foundation of the project, which focuses on using a research method called Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) to address health care issues for men.
A five-member Crow Advisory Council was formed and is targeting focus groups toward Crow youth and elders, numerous community groups, and has received support and formal endorsement from the Crow tribal chairman. Focus groups and survey results will be presented, as well as a general discussion of how trust and relationship building were established and now flourishing by using this CBPR collaborative approach.
There is no fee for attendance. After opening the webinar link, type your name and enter as a guest. You will be in the meeting room for this webinar and the facilitator will guide you with any next steps. Contact Rosa Soliz, communications and logistics associate, NCRCRD, or Sally Maggard, NIFA national program leader for Regional Rural Development, for information about the webinar.
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Chavonda Jacobs-Young, Acting Director
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