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14 Reasons to Celebrate 2014 From the College of AGNR

2014: A Year in Review
Photo Credit: 
Katie Doherty

2014 was another banner year for the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Maryland! As the year comes to a close, we take a look back at just some of the many highlights from the last 12 months. Here, in no particular order, are 14 reasons for the College of AGNR to celebrate 2014:

1. Terp Farm Launches:The College of AGNR partnered with the university’s Department of Dining Services and the Office of Sustainability to launch Terp Farm – a sustainable vegetable farming operation located just 15 miles south of College Park at the College of AGNR’s Upper Marlboro research faculty. Students from the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture and the Institute of Applied Agriculture were involved in the planning, plotting, planting and harvesting of vegetables during Terp Farm’s first season. The produce grown on Terp Farm is being served to Terps in on-campus dining halls and excess food is being donated to pantries in the College Park community.

2. Two Thoroughbred Colts Born on Campus Farm: For the second consecutive year, students in the equine studies program at UMD were able to witness the miracle of birth right in the middle of campus as two thoroughbred mares delivered healthy colts on the Campus Farm this spring. Foaling returned to the Campus Farm last year after a 30-year hiatus and the program continues to gain popularity, not just within the Department of Animal and Avian Sciences, but all across campus. The spry young colts were a big attraction at the Campus Farm throughout the spring.

3. University of Maryland Extension Celebrates 100th Anniversary: 2014 marked the 100th anniversary of the Smith-Lever Act, the Congressional act creating the National Cooperative Extension Service – a state-by-state educational outreach network designed to bring research and information to the public from land-grant universities like the University of Maryland. Extension offices in every Maryland county and in Baltimore city hosted open houses during the month of October to commemorate the anniversary and to demonstrate how University of Maryland Extension remains committed to serving the citizens of the state now and into the future.

4. Maryland 4-H Robotics Teams Win Worldwide Competition: Two teams of Maryland 4-H youth placed first and second in a worldwide robotics competition held this spring in St. Louis, Missouri. The high school students were challenged to build robots that could perform several pre-programmed tasks. More than 3,200 teams from 29 countries participated in the competition.

5. ENST Alumnus Places 2nd in International Soil Judging Competition: Tyler Witkowski, a December 2013 graduate from the Department of Environmental Science and Technology, placed second in the first-ever International Soil Judging Competition held in June in Jeju, Korea. Witkowski was a member of team USA – one of 13 teams representing eight countries.

6. Veterinary Medicine Researcher Awarded $1.5 Million to Further Lyme Disease Research: Dr. Utpal Pal, an associate professor from the Department of Veterinary Medicine, was awarded $1.5 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue his research on Lyme Disease and the bacteria that causes it. This latest funding from the NIH is a continuation of an initial grant awarded in 2009, also for $1.5 million.

7. CFS3 Awarded $4.6 million to Help Protect National Food Supply: The Center for Food Safety and Security Systems (CFS3), housed within the Department of Nutrition and Food Science, was awarded a two-year grant extension in the amount of $4.6 million for an extensive, multi-institutional project dedicated to developing scientifically-based food safety metrics for tomatoes and leafy greens. The Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) grant was awarded by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and could influence proposed new food safety regulations.

8. Agriculture Forward at Maryland: This fall, the Institute of Applied Agriculture officially admitted the university’s first five “Agriculture Forward at Maryland” (Ag Forward) students. The Ag Forward program is designed to help students pursuing a two-year IAA certificate transition to a four-year degree track in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at UMD. Administrators within the College of AGNR have been working to implement the Ag Forward program for more than seven years.

9. AGNR Students are Winners: College of AGNR students are consistently coming out on top in various national competitions. In 2014, four students from the Institute of Applied Agriculture took first place in both the Sports Turf Management Association (STMA) Student Challenge and the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) Collegiate Turf Bowl. Meanwhile, Plant Science and Landscape Architecture students beat out 12 other teams for their proposal addressing sea-level rise in the town of Oxford, Md. to win the first-ever MD Sustainable Growth Challenge.

10. AGNR Faculty, Programs are Winners: Faculty members from the College of AGNR were honored with a variety of awards in 2014. For example, UME faculty members Bonnie Braun, Lynn Little and Virginia Brown received the 2014 Family Economics and Resource Management Education Award for developing the Smart Choice Health Insurance program. AREC faculty member Jim Hanson was part of a team honored with a prestigious award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for their involvement in a project aimed at improving the lives of women in Afghanistan. Additionally, two emeritus faculty members from the Department of Animal and Avian Sciences were named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

11. Agriculture Law Education Initiative Studies Legal Challenges Facing Farmers: The Agriculture Law Education Initiative (ALEI) -- a collaborative project between the College of AGNR, University of Maryland Baltimore and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore – published the results of a legal needs assessment for the state’s agricultural sector, the first of its kind in Maryland. The report will help the ALEI address the complex legal needs of farmers in Maryland.

12. Ag Discovery Program Brings Bright Young Minds to UMD: Twenty high school students hailing from seven different states spent three weeks at the University of Maryland discovering the abundance of career opportunities that can stem from studying agricultural sciences. The annual Ag Discovery program is a partnership between the College of AGNR and the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

13. AGNR Welcomes New Leadership, New Faculty: The College of AGNR welcomed a number of new faculty among its seven on-campus departments and within the ranks of University of Maryland Extension (UME), including the new Associate Director of UME, Dr. Stephen Wright. For more on AGNR’s newest faculty, read our New Faculty Friday features from this past fall.

14. AGNR Celebrates May and December Graduates: Combining both May and December graduations, the College of AGNR handed out 339 undergraduate degrees and 94 advanced degrees across its seven departments. Congratulations to all members of the Class of 2014!

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