Wow! That was my reaction to hearing our newest CAHNRS faculty introduce themselves with a brief background during the New Faculty Orientation last week. Their accomplishments, ranging from education to prior careers, are truly impressive. Interacting with these new faculty left me energized and excited for our new talent.
Our new students are enthusiastic about being in Pullman. Nancy Deringer reported that last week’s CAHNRS Academic Kickoff for new students was well attended, and that conversations were lively, with students quickly making new friends. Students were busy around town this weekend, too, despite the poor air quality. Let’s all do everything we can to support them and keep them engaged.
Congratulations to Dr. Amber Hauvermale, a research assistant professor in WSU’s Department of Crop and Soil Sciences who is leading a new Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) award of $835,888 to develop a faster, cheaper, and more accurate test that measures alpha-amylase in wheat on farms and in grain elevators. Her research will help prevent the mixing of low and high falling number wheat, saving quality product from becoming animal feed that costs farmers millions.
Amber and team have partnered with EnviroLogix, HighLine Grain Growers, The McGregor Company, the Washington Grain Commission, and the Wheat Marketing Center for matching funds or in-kind support for a total $2,037,107 investment. In the wheat industry, prices are discounted when falling numbers go below 300 seconds. In 2016 alone, low falling numbers cost the grain industry over $30 million.
Congratulations also go out to Carrie Backman, Shari Parker, Jessica Vik, and Clarissa Colson in the Wahkiakum County Extension Office. The group’s proposal was selected as one of the winning applicants for the 11th round of the Career Connect Washington Program Builder, which will expand 4-H career exploration programs in the Wahkiakum School District and the Naselle-Grays River Valley School District. In addition to the advanced manufacturing and IT programs developed previously, a new maritime career exploration program will now be offered to K-12 students across both districts.
This week, the Department of Natural Resources Board of Natural Resources took a field trip to the Bellingham, Wash., area. Board members participate in an annual trip, which offers a chance to meet outside the typical Olympia, Wash., location. This year, the trip focused on recreation lands. Before starting the tour, I visited with a seed-to-sawmill in Mount Vernon, Wash., to build on what I learned in Finland in May and expand my understanding of forestry/forest industry practices in Washington.
Weekend air quality seemed worse in the northwest part of the state than in Pullman. Fortunately, the air has cleared a bit. Throughout the tour, my mind was on all of those affected by fires across Washington and in Canada as well as those impacted by Hurricane Hilary. I recall the University of California Research and Extension Center in Holtville, Calif., closing on the rare occasion it received more than one-half of an inch of rain.
Between the fires and the storms, it is no wonder that addressing the changing climate through mitigation and adaptation is critical to building a more resilient planet. It was helpful to learn what the forestry sector is doing to advance that resiliency.