CFAES Monthly: August 2020

  1. Farm Science Review to do what it’s never done before

    Image of person watching laptop screen.

    For the first time in its nearly 60-year history, CFAES’ Farm Science Review trade show, scheduled this year for Sept. 22–24, will not be held in person. Instead, because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the show will be held as a virtual event.

    “We are committed to delivering a robust and innovative virtual show in support of agriculture during this pandemic,” said Cathann A. Kress, Ohio State vice president for agricultural administration and dean of CFAES.

    “Throughout its history, the Farm Science Review has been at the forefront of showcasing the future of agriculture,” Kress said. “While it may look different in 2020, we will continue to meet the needs of our growers and partners through access to exhibitors, virtual demonstrations, and education about the most recent advancements in agricultural production.”

    Read more.

  2. Sarah Scott hopes to learn large things from some of your smaller neighbors

    Sarah Scott poses in front of a bee hive, fence and trees.

    Doing good for bumble bees takes finding out what’s bad for them. Sarah Scott, a doctoral student in the CFAES Department of Entomology, is studying how the fuzzy, buzzy, black-and-yellow pollinators get exposed to heavy metals in their environment—and what it can mean to their survival.

    Supported by a highly competitive National Science Foundation graduate research fellowship, Scott hopes to contribute to what’s known about pollinator decline—the mysterious drop-off in bumble bees, honey bees, and other insect pollinators around the world, including in the United States and Ohio. Her goal, she said, is to “really understand how human factors affect pollinators, and where to best add habitat for them.”

    “The strength of science is how far its impact goes,” Scott said. “What’s the point of learning something if it’s just going to sit on a bookshelf?”

    Read the full CFAES Story.

    Photo: Sarah Scott, at CFAES’ Waterman Agricultural and Natural Resources Laboratory, poses near hives housing bumble bees’ domesticated cousins. (Ken Chamberlain, CFAES.)

  3. CFAES gains a big new partner for improving soil health and water quality

    Photo: Boden Fisher, one of six CFAES water quality associates, samples soil at a farm in northwest Ohio

    CFAES and Cargill are sowing the seeds of a new partnership. The Minnesota-based agricultural company recently started supporting the work of the college’s water quality associates. Based in northwest Ohio, the six associates are part of a project by the CFAES Water Quality Initiative. In 20 counties, the associates are sharing knowledge about best nutrient practices, are working with farmers to implement the practices, and are doing on-farm research on the practices’ costs, effectiveness, and benefits. The goal is to boost soil health, improve Lake Erie’s water quality, and keep the region’s farms productive. 

    Northwest Ohio is the focus because the region is in the Lake Erie watershed, because harmful algal blooms are plaguing the lake, and because farm-field phosphorus runoff is the primary driver of the blooms. Twin solutions—ones good for both farms and water quality—are needed. The project already has another key partner, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, which is funding half the associates’ salaries.

    Read more.

    Photo: Boden Fisher is one of CFAES six water quality associates. He is shown above as he samples soil at a farm in Hardin County (courtesy of CFAES Water Quality Initiative.)

  4. For Buckeye fans, this is totally sweet

    Image of pancakes and strawberry covered with maple syrup.

    Buckeye fans now can pour official Ohio State Maple Syrup on their pancakes. It comes from the university’s Mansfield campus, where students and faculty with CFAES’ School of Environment and Natural Resources (SENR) planned and are running a nearly 20-acre sugarbush. A sugarbush is a maple tree forest used to produce maple syrup.

    The project’s co-leader, Kathy Smith, SENR forestry program director, said that to her knowledge, the branded syrup “is a first for Ohio State.” Proceeds from selling the syrup will support student scholarships at the campus’s EcoLab, of which the sugarbush is a part.

    Available in half-gallon ($50), quart ($24), pint ($16), and half-pint ($12) sizes, the syrup can be ordered from the project’s other co-leader, Gabe Karns, SENR visiting assistant professor, at

  5. Awards and recognitions

    Photo of CFAES spring grad Callia Tellez

    Spotlight Speaker

    Callia Tellez, a spring graduate of the School of Environment and Natural Resources and a 2020 CFAES Distinguished Senior, presented “Conservation from the Local Level Up: A Lesson from the Farmers of the Great Lakes Basin” as a Spotlight Speaker in Ohio State’s Research and Innovation Showcase. The event, organized annually by the Office of Research and Corporate Engagement Office, was held this year as a series of virtual talks. 

    Read more and watch her presentation.

    Task Force on Racism

    Joyce Chen, associate professor, Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics, was appointed to Ohio State’s newly established Task Force on Racism and Racial Inequities. Chen is also the chair-elect of the university’s President and Provost's Council on Women.

    NAADA service

    Three CFAES faculty and staff members are serving in leadership roles with the National Agricultural Alumni Development Association (NAADA). Pat Whittington, assistant dean for student development, Academic Programs, was elected president of the organization for 2020–2022 after serving as vice president for 2018–2020. Emily Wickham, communication and undergraduate program manager, Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership, was elected to the Board of Directors as communications track representative. Kenneth Vaughn, director of development, Office of Advancement, was reappointed to the Board of Directors as director at large for diversity, equity, and inclusion.

    NAADA is dedicated to the professional advancement of its members and, in turn, the institutions they serve. The organization provides education and support for professionals, volunteers, and student leaders who are dedicated to serving land-grant colleges of agricultural sciences and related programs. The network of members includes institutions from all across the United States.

    UN Food Systems Summit

    Rattan Lal, Distinguished University Professor of Soil Science, School of Environment and Natural Resources, was named to the 29-member Scientific Group for the United Nations’ 2021 Food Systems Summit. A UN announcement said the summit “will raise global awareness to understand the food systems challenges we must solve, build a global conversation on the way in which we produce, process, and consume food, and galvanize global actions and commitments to change our food systems to provide safe, nutritious food for all within our planetary boundaries.” The independent Scientific Group “will bring to bear the foremost scientific evidence, and help expand the base of shared knowledge about experiences, approaches, and tools for driving sustainable food systems.” 

    Read more.

    IICA titles

    Lal also recently received the dual titles of IICA Chair in Soil Science and IICA Goodwill Ambassador for Sustainable Development Issues from the Costa Rica-based Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture. The soil science title, an IICA press release said, recognizes Lal’s contributions to and research on protecting the health of the soil, which is “essential for agriculture, food security, and the health of all living beings.”

    IICA Director General Manuel Otero awarded the titles in a July 17 virtual ceremony that included the agriculture ministers of Barbados, Chile, and Costa Rica; representatives of the World Food Prize Foundation and the UN agencies in Rome; Ken Isley, administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service, on behalf of U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue; and Gil Latz, Ohio State’s vice provost for global strategies and international affairs.

    Read more and watch the ceremony.