A man crouches in a field of grass, smiling. Behind him are hills and trees.
I recently saw Dr. Michael Neff (pictured) and his class out for a stroll around campus to study different grasses. I was excited to see the active learning approach to the lesson.

Last week, the Pullman campus had a visitor from Sen. Murray’s office. Katie Clements is a new staffer in the senator’s office. A native of Boise, Idaho, Katie had not visited CAHNRS or the College of Veterinary Medicine yet. Thanks to faculty, chairs, and staff, including coordination by the government relations team, we were able to show Katie a good mix of agriculture and natural resource research. The tour ranged from molecular and genetics research to bears, cows, aquaculture, and ice cream. We will have many more conversations with Katie and are grateful she made the trip to Pullman.

As I walked over to meet with Katie, I noticed a man studying the grass along Wilson Road. Even at 100 yards away, I knew it could be only one person. That person was Dr. Michael Neff, and he wasn’t alone! Michael had his turfgrass class out for a stroll around campus to study different grasses.

I was excited to see the active learning approach to the lesson. I anticipate hearing similar ideas from other departments as we think about how we can transform the student experience in ways that build necessary skills and foundational learning while infusing real-world examples and engagement into the curriculum. I know the Apparel, Merchandising, Design & Textiles and Crop and Soil Sciences departments are thinking along these lines. When chairs and directors get together in two weeks to share their unit conversations about a CAHNRS programmatic vision, I’m sure we will learn of similar conversations in other departments. I hope there is high energy around the ideas!

For those in Pullman, Fall Festival is Thursday. Spillman Plaza renovations are complete just in time for the event, and the transformation is fantastic! I look forward to seeing faculty and students there. Perhaps many of our alums and retirees will drop by the CAHNRS Block Party before the Wisconsin game on Saturday. CAHNRS will be outside the Vogel Building, with games and food vendors starting at 11 a.m. on Sept. 9. Come out and share in the game day spirit!

Next week, I travel to support our National Science Foundation grant finalists (Laura Bartley, David Gang, Anna Warner, Hui Li, Manuel Garcia-Perez, and colleagues from the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture as well as the Bioproducts, Sciences & Engineering Laboratory) as part of a site visit with the lead institution. I am proud of the team for making it this far and optimistic they will be selected for the $20 million award. All of our faculty and staff have worked hard to increase grant funding and it has been successful! Grant expenditures exceeded $100 million in fiscal year 2023, up from $85 million in fiscal year 2022. Go team! Everyone, from faculty to research staff, business support, and the grants support personnel deserve kudos for this success.