Perspectives Online

Our College -- the urban/rural bridge

Dean Johnny Wynne leads Jan. 19 ceremonies at the Department of Food Science announcing the College's new bachelor of science degrees in bioprocessing science and nutrition science. (see related story)
Photo by Becky Kirkland

This issue of Perspectives introduces you to Emily Tennant, a freshman in the College and the 2007 Miss American Angus, a title she earned in a scholarship competition based on poise, academic achievement and knowledge of the Angus cattle industry. During the event she was asked, "How do you bridge the gap between rural producer and urban consumer?"

An answer, of course, is "With help from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences." The College's extension, research and teaching programs are at the forefront of addressing environmental stewardship, food production, health and safety and many other issues that affect our state's citizens, both urban and rural. CALS personnel - and students like Emily Tennant - create the communications bridge between those citizens.

Examples are aplenty in every issue of Perspectives, and this one is no different.

Here we present Family and Consumer Sciences agents who are partnering with physicians to bring parenting information to patients, and Cooperative Extension personnel in Wilmington, working with a local elementary school to implement storm-water best management practices to retrofit a polluted creek. And Dr. Jim Dunphy, CALS specialist in soybeans, the state's third most valuable field crop, showed growers how they could reduce seeding rates while maintaining yields. The result: a healthier bottom line to the tune of millions more in 2006.

In research news, Dr. Gerald A. LeBlanc, CALS professor of environmental and molecular toxicology, is responding to reports of blue crabs exhibiting both male and female sex characteristics in the Chesapeake Bay and other water systems and is investigating the environment in which the crabs live. Through our Southern Region IPM Center, CALS scientists are researching ways to lower the amount of pesticides needed to control an insect threatening the Christmas tree industry. Their work and that of four other CALS research groups are reported in the feature "Addressing Priorities." And, at a California conference, CALS sociology professor Dr. Michael Schulman recently shared his Robeson County research to illustrate specific workforce-displacement consequences of business globalization.

Meanwhile, during a February presidential tour of Franklinton's Novozymes manufacturing plant, Dr. Ratna Sharma of Biological and Agricultural Engineering explained to President Bush how materials like wood chips, sweet potatoes, switch grass and cotton stalks can be energy sources.

In our Academic Programs, two new bachelor of science degree programs promise benefits both to our state's biomanufacturing industries and its citizens.

North Carolina has the third-largest biotechnology industry in the United States - and a rising demand for qualified workers. The bioprocessing science degree program, which enrolled its first class this spring, prepares students for careers in bio-industries. Meanwhile the new degree in nutrition science answers steady industry demand for graduates in this area and provides nutrition majors with more options. Because of this new major, student Alex Troxler will more quickly reach her goal to become a registered dietician so that she can work with children of low-income families.

This past March at the 2007 Extension Conference - the theme of which was "Building Bridges"- U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge noted that North Carolina is the sixth fastest growing state, and it ranks first in agricultural land lost. Urban areas grow and encroach upon rural land and water, small farms become fewer, and traditional agricultural enterprises share space with diverse crops and niche-market produce. Filling the gaps of change, the College is always here and there - a bridge between need and response.

Johnny Wynne, Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences