Perspectives Online

Keeping in touch

In August, Dean Johnny Wynne (left) hosted ceremonies to dedicate the new Turf Pavilion at the Lake Wheeler Road Field Laboratory. (Read the story here)
Photo by Marc Hall

On our College of Agriculture and Life Sciences main Web page, prominently featured is “Making a Difference,” a site that communicates the ways College programs are making a difference in North Carolina and beyond. The site has so far included links to “Biofuels” and “Drought” pages that offer news and information about CALS activities in those areas. It is currently expanding to include pages to help you keep pace with our efforts in support of specific commodities. The first of these is sweetpotatoes, and its site address is introduced in this Perspectives issue as part of a feature on our work to make industrial sweetpotatoes the fuel of the future and our explorations of more efficient growing and processing techniques.

Also in features, we present two perspectives on inquiry-based learning as approached through the College’s research and extension activities. Inquiry-based science classes move beyond lecture, note-taking and rote memorization to hands-on lab and field experimentation, performance of projects and observation of results.

This past summer, Dr. Robert Rose, associate professor of molecular and structural biochemistry, taught a class for local high-school teachers to enhance their laboratory skills and to promote labs and inquiry in high schools. The molecular biology experiments the teachers performed and some of the equipment they used will return with them to their schools to enrich the science education of their students.

Cooperative Extension is also using the inquiry-based approach in youth-education programming in western North Carolina. To create an environment for students and teachers to experience real science, improve high-school students’ participation in science fairs and enhance inquiry-based teaching in the schools, Mary Arnaudin, Extension 4-H agent, helped launch Transylvania County’s “It’s about time to do real science: Time to Inquire, Matter and Explore” (T.I.M.E.) program. The program helps students learn scientific inquiry through initiating, designing and implementing authentic environmental research projects based in the French Broad River Basin.

Also defining the College’s mission of response to the needs of the state is a feature on Dr. Eric Hinesley, professor of horticultural science. He is working to restore the Atlantic White Cedar — the population of which has shrunk to less than 5 percent of what it once was in the state — and to replant wildfire-ravaged acres in eastern North Carolina.

Another feature brings news from our Academic Programs of a recent study-abroad course that took CALS students to Costa Rica to study its ecosystems and tropical agriculture. The trip was co-directed by Dr. Michelle Schroeder-Moreno, who leads the agro-ecology minor program in the College. “Sustainability of Tropical Agro-Ecosystems “ introduced the students to the concept of sustainability from a global perspective and to the production of tropical crops such as cocoa and coffee.

These vividly reported and photographed features — along with news of significant research discoveries, extension efforts, student and faculty honors, College events and alumni achievements — keep you in touch with what is new in the College and show how the College is in touch with the needs of its clientele.

Johnny Wynne, Dean
College of Agriculture
and Life Sciences