Perspectives Online

Energetic efforts

In April, Dean Johnny Wynne (right) and Gamma Sigma Delta chapter president Dr. Michael Benson (far left) welcomed GSD faculty initiates (from left) Bob Edwards, Dr. Candace Haigler, Dr. Steve Lommel and Dr. James Moyer, along with Dr. Thearon McKinney (not pictured). (Story)

Chancellor James Oblinger has called 2008 the “year of energy” at N.C. State, with academic resources, programs and partnerships concentrated on driving innovation in energy and the environment.

That concentration figures significantly in this issue of Perspectives, which features Cooperative Extension’s efforts to implement alternative energy sources and to conserve home energy use.

The Micro-Hydroelectric Power Demonstration Project in western North Carolina is harnessing the power of water to produce clean, indigenous energy at working farms. In Watauga County, a farm has increased free-range chicken production and diversified crop production by replacing costly local electric cooperative services with a replicable micro-hydroelectric system. And in Graham County, an Extension agent has assisted in setting up a system using a client’s trout farm water runoff to generate enough electricity to run his home and farm. Both farms will serve as Extension alternative energy demonstration sites, accessible throughout southwestern North Carolina.

Elsewhere, Extension has partnered with the state Energy Office to offer an educational program called E-Conservation in 78 of the state’s 101 Cooperative Extension county centers across the state. Agents train homeowners on ways to use energy efficiently and conserve energy in their homes, and 15 counties have provided homeowners an opportunity to sign up for a home energy audit by certified raters. Many clients are already reporting energy and money savings.

Meanwhile, environmental concerns and water quality issues are in focus in Avery County, as the county restores hurricane-damaged areas. Extension is working in Newland to create a natural water-slowing and filtering system and park to collect and cleanse storm water and rebuilding-related runoff.

Environmental stewardship and economic development are exemplified in College programs to promote the state’s production of organic grain. The organic industry is the fastest growing niche in the agricultural sector, and organic grain is particularly important to producers of organic poultry, livestock and dairy products, who rely on organic grains as a feed source. The market for organic crops is expected to continue growing at an annual rate of more than 20 percent.

Aesthetically and academically rewarding efforts are on display at Kilgore Hall, where landscape design students created a bamboo sitting area that adds an oasis to Hillsborough Street, and at the JC Raulston Arboretum, where “Celebrating a Greener World” was the theme of this year’s gala event. Environmental stewardship through landscape horticulture was also at work when CALS horticultural science alumni traveled in February to Africa to landscape an Olympic stadium and teach local workers how to grow plants.

In addition, there is news of CALS students who spent their semester breaks in service to those in need, along with updates on plant breeding research — and the completion of a five-year effort to map the tobacco genome.

Johnny Wynne, Dean
College of Agriculture
and Life Sciences