CFAES Monthly: June 2014

Welcome to CFAES Monthly, the newsletter for faculty and staff of Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. Your story submissions are welcome. Send them to

  1. Endeavor Center wins Ohio State’s top outreach honor

    CFAES’s Endeavor Center, located at the OSU South Centers in Piketon, recently won Ohio State’s highest award for outreach. The center received the Distinguished Community Engagement Award during the University Outreach and Engagement Recognition Awards program May 1 in Columbus and will be Ohio State’s nominee for the national C. Peter Magrath University Community Engagement Award next year.

    Two other programs with CFAES ties also earned honors at the event. The Ohio Books for the World project, led by Herb Ockerman of the Department of Animal Sciences, received the Distinguished International Engagement Award, while the International Agricultural Research Initiative (iAGRI) project won the Emerging International Engagement Award.

    Distinguished Community Engagement Award: The Ohio State University Endeavor Center

    The Endeavor Center is a vibrant example of Ohio State and businesses collaborating to realize a shared vision in an economically distressed Appalachian community.

    Opened in 2005, the 27,000-square-foot Endeavor Center business incubator and training center is recognized as a community leader in economic development, business training and technological excellence.

    Technical assistance programs affiliated with or housed within the Endeavor Center include a Small Business Development Center, an International Trade Assistance Center, a Manufacturing and Technology Small Business Development Center, the Ohio Cooperative Development Center, Manufacturing Extension Partnership, and the Third Frontier Entrepreneurial Signature Program. All of these programs provide technical expertise and guidance to the small businesses housed in the incubator.

    In 2013 the Endeavor Center and affiliated programs provided 4,915 one-on-one consulting hours to 443 clients. As a result, the clients started 25 new businesses, obtained $9,405,750 in loans and other capital, and increased sales by nearly 
$3 million.

    In 2013 alone, more than 100 business workshops, seminars, training events and planning sessions were conducted in the Endeavor Center, attracting more than 1,500 participants. Overall, new positions created by Endeavor Center partners since its opening have had a major impact on the economic vitality of the region.

    Distinguished International Engagement Award: Ohio Books for the World

    Nearly 50 years ago, Herb Ockerman was on an academic trip to Brazil when he noticed that a school he visited had no books in its library. Ockerman said he thought to himself, “There are plenty of problems in the world; this is one I can do something about.” He has been collecting and shipping books overseas ever since through his Ohio Books for the World program.

    He has coordinated more than 1,500 shipments around the world — the current volume is about 30 tons (or about 36,000 books) twice per year. The shipments go out to Ohio State alumni in various areas for placement into local community and university libraries.

    Ockerman, professor of animal sciences and a founding member of the Food Innovation Center, and other volunteers spend about four hours every day cleaning, inventorying, boxing and stacking the books, which are then loaded by volunteers.

    He estimates (based on a book’s last sales price) the program has distributed more than $868 million worth of books. For his work on this project, Ockerman has a library in the Philippines named in his honor and has received two honorary degrees and numerous plaques from universities and governments. The local solid waste organization has given Ockerman two awards for keeping textbooks out of landfills.

    Emerging International Engagement Award: International Agricultural Research Initiative

    The International Agricultural Research Initiative (iAGRI), a five-year project led by David Kraybill of the Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics, is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development at $24 million. The project's purpose is to increase the capacity of the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives in Tanzania to achieve food security and improve the livelihoods of rural inhabitants.

    More than 80 percent of the Tanzanian people reside in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Agricultural higher education, research and outreach are critically needed inputs to increase agricultural productivity and decrease food insecurity. iAGRI is designed to address gaps by focusing on multiple dimensions of human and institutional capacity building.

    By the end of the project, advanced degree training will have been provided to 120 staff members from partner institutions. To date, 84 have been placed in degree programs at Ohio State and its partner institutions. Nine collaborative agricultural research projects and four agricultural policy research projects have been funded and are building bridges between scientists from Ohio State consortium and Tanzanian research institutions and contributing to greater productivity through new technology development.

    To date, 399 individuals have received agricultural-sector short-term training in Tanzania; 2,738 students have received training via ICT; 40 new technologies are under development; and 22 SUA and Ohio State consortium faculty have participated in short-term professional visitations at Ohio State or other partner institutions.

    Full details on all the recipients here and here. (Award winner profiles reprinted from onCampus and from Office of Outreach and Engagement.)

  2. Colbert, Whitt, Wright win Ohio State Distinguished Staff Awards

    Three CFAES staff members last month received Ohio State’s Distinguished Staff Awards, the university’s highest honor for non-teaching employees. Our congratulations go to Susan Colbert, Extension program director, University District, OSU Extension; Ladonna Whitt, floriculture technician, Ohio State ATI; and Jane Wright, curriculum manager, Ohio 4-H Youth Development.

    Recipients of the awards, which go to 12 individuals annually, are selected for their contributions to the quality of life for all people they encounter at work, including university colleagues, students and members of the community.

    Ohio State Interim President Joseph Alutto and AJ Douglass, senior vice president for talent, culture and human resources, presented the 2014 recipients with a $1,500 honorarium and a crystal trophy, and each had $700 added to their base salaries. The recognition program is sponsored by Ohio State’s Office of Human Resources.

    Susan Colbert

    Susan Colbert has an extraordinary gift for creating and encouraging the sense of community throughout the Weinland Park neighborhood. As a director of Ohio State’s Extension office there, Colbert has built a level of trust and respect from the residents because of her obvious dedication to them.

    “One of Susan’s most important qualities is her interest in and empathy for the residents of the University District, particularly Weinland Park,” wrote a nominator. “That comes through in her ability to communicate and work with people of differing incomes, education levels, ethnicities and ages — and that ability is both refreshing and needed.”

    This keen interest has resulted in an incredible effort to connect neighborhood residents to the programs and resources offered through OSU Extension. Colbert conducts pre-purchase homebuyer education and financial literacy training, and residents who complete the workshops become eligible for up to $5,000 in down-payment assistance through the city of Columbus. 

    She also spearheaded a partnership with the Godman Guild Association to help the 110-year-old social service agency provide free basic computer training to more than 1,500 residents, including senior citizens and unemployed and formerly incarcerated persons. She also has organized job fairs and arranged transportation to ensure that residents are able to connect with employers with openings. Colbert’s most recent project, the Moms2B program, began as a nutrition education program in Weinland Park to address the high level of infant mortality.

    “Susan’s passion, commitment and compassion drive her good work,” a nominator wrote. “Her commitment to the mission of independence and financial security of others often demands evening and weekend devotion to the neighborhood, and that has allowed her to build an unparalleled level of trust and respect from residents and colleagues alike.”

    Ladonna Whitt

    Though her responsibilities pull her in numerous directions and toward multiple constituencies — students, faculty, staff, campus visitors, delivery people and 
customers to the Agricultural Technical Institute flower shop — Ladonna Whitt has the skills of a juggler. No matter how many tasks are thrown her way (and there are many), she has nary a drop.

    Whitt supervises the floral design lab as well as the flower shop operations, and seasonally she is responsible for planting and maintaining six displays and learning garden areas on campus and the decorative gardens at the Hawk’s Nest Golf Course in Creston, north of Wooster.

    It is a hectic schedule with labs scheduled back-to-back and the flower shop in operation at the same time. But Whitt, who has been at ATI 28 years, anticipates everything, including instituting a special processing procedure and labeling system to ensure flowers are sorted and handled properly.

    Whitt never loses her cheerfulness, whether she’s called on to lend a pivotal hand in preparing, designing and installing floral decorations for important university events or working one on one with students on proper corsage and bow techniques. Students, even those outside the floral degree and marketing program that she supports, flock to the available jobs in the flower shop because of Whitt’s demeanor. 

    “A key to her success is her willingness to work right along with the students, never asking them to do anything she wouldn’t also do herself,” a nominator wrote. 

    Whitt also contributes to the campus in other ways, including serving on the selection committee for the Ohio State ATI Distinguished Staff Award, which she won in 2011, and co-chairing a reaccreditation committee. She also volunteers to greet new students and their parents, adding a smiling face to the beautiful grounds she helps maintain.

    Jane Wright

    It is an often over-used phrase: think outside the box. But Jane Wright gave it new meaning as she reimagined how the 4-H curriculum could and should be created and distributed to clients in all 88 counties across Ohio and beyond.

    Her most recent accomplishment is Project Central, with ideas borrowed from’s wildly successful book search function. Wright created an online view of the table of contents and the first activity from every 4-H project book and added ratings of each project by the members who have completed them.

    “Even those Extension educators who are cautious about new changes embraced this website almost immediately because the design is so appealing and easy to use,” a nominator wrote. “Before this website was developed, parents had to drive to their county Extension office to view the new and revised project books.”

    In another instance, budget constraints forced an end to the production of 12 Learning Lab Kits that helped students explore plant and animal species. But Wright lamented their loss and worked to transfer the production rights to 4-H so she could continue to offer this resource nationwide. Using skills learned from her MBA degree, Wright set up staffing, warehousing and marketing to create a self-sustaining unit.

    In her creative vein, Wright worked with Ohio State’s Technology Commercialization Office to create apps that benefit the 4-H curriculum while keeping the proper balance between printed and digital materials.

    “Jane demonstrates excellence through her work and supervision of an indispensable part of 4-H,” another nominator wrote, “and she demonstrates leadership in innovation and change that keep expanding the 4-H youth development boundaries in a practical way.”

    Details on all the recipients here. (Award winner profiles reprinted from onCampus and from the Office of Human Resources.)

  3. Torppa, Bloir named to OSU Extension leadership roles

    CFAES recently announced two new appointments to leadership positions with its statewide outreach arm, OSU Extension.

    Cynthia Torppa, regional director, Northwest Region

    Cynthia Torppa started June 2 as the regional director of OSU Extension’s Northwest Region, based in Extension’s Wood County office.

    Torppa graduated from Ohio State with an undergraduate degree in psychology and M.A. and Ph.D. (1988) degrees from the Department of Communication. Her interests and career have addressed both academic and outreach education and research. She has served as an associate professor of communication studies at the University of Delaware and Pennsylvania State University and most recently as a professor at Marshall University. She also has served as a county educator and specialist with OSU Extension. Her primary areas of academic specialization have been interpersonal and organizational communication, and she has authored or co-authored over 25 journal publications in those and related areas. 

    Torppa has received numerous awards, including The Ohio State University Department of Communication Walter B. Emmery Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Service, the University of Delaware Continuing Education Award for Excellence in Teaching Adults, the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences Program Excellence through Research Award and Dean Don Felker Financial Management Award, and the National Association of Community Development Professionals Excellence in Community Development Programming Award. 

    Kirk Bloir, interim associate leader, Ohio 4-H Youth Development

    Kirk Bloir has been appointed interim associate leader of OSU Extension’s Ohio 4-H Youth Development program. This appointment will begin July 1 and will continue through Dec. 31, 2014. His duties will include providing primary leadership to 4-H program and volunteer risk management issues, including policy development and implementation; serving in a leadership role to respond to day-to-day questions and issues that arise in local and state 4-H programming; and providing guidance to 4-H program management issues. His work will include serving as the liaison between Ohio State’s Office of Legal Affairs and 4-H faculty and staff.

    In addition, Bloir will provide interim leadership for assigned duties associated with the 4-H displays and competition at the 2014 Ohio State Fair. He will provide oversight of and interim guidance for preliminary preparations for the 2015 Ohio 4-H Conference, including the RFP and proposal selection process for conference workshops, and will coordinate the state 4-H volunteer award processes. He also will fulfill other interim duties associated with this assignment, such as liaison to the Ohio Valley EERA 4-H professionals; active participant in 4-H specialist meetings, state 4-H staff meetings and other State 4-H Office functions; and partner in weekly planning meetings with the state 4-H leader.

  4. CFAES forms LGBTQQI group

    We’re pleased to announce that CFAES has created the LGBTQQI and Allies Affinity Group. This group is an informal organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning and intersex staff and faculty and their allies in the college. It exists to provide:

    • networking events through the year;
    • opportunities for informational learning opportunities through seminars and workshops;
    • networking and career development; and
    • socializing with peers and colleagues.

    We seek to promote the inclusion and well-being of our LGBTQQI employee community and to establish a network for sharing resources on campus.

    If you’re interested in being a part of this network, subscribe to our listserve at Please put “subscribe” in the subject line. The listserve will be used to share information on upcoming events of interest on campus and in surrounding communities as well as providing notice of our events.

    Our first event will occur early fall semester.—Kathy Lechman, Ryan Schmiesing

  5. Lal to head international soil science group

    Congratulations to Rattan Lal, Distinguished University Professor of soil science in the School of Environment and Natural Resources, who has been named president-elect of the Vienna, Austria-based International Union of Soil Sciences. The official announcement will be made June 10 in Jeju, South Korea.

    The society’s 16,000 members are soil scientists from around the world. Its current president is Rainer Horn of Kiel, Germany. Its past president is Roger Swift of the University of Queensland, Australia.

    Lal also directs SENR’s Carbon Management and Sequestration Center. Recently, he served on the 60-member advisory committee of the U.S. National Climate Assessment.

  6. Harper awarded honorary doctorate by Purdue

    CFAES’s Jim Harper received an honorary doctorate in agriculture from Purdue University during spring commencement ceremonies at the West Lafayette, Indiana, campus in May. He retired last August as J.T. Parker Chair in Dairy Foods in the Department of Food Science and Technology.

    Harper served in active duty in World War II, received a medical discharge from the Army after being wounded in combat in Germany in 1944, and went on to earn a B.S in agriculture from Purdue and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Wisconsin.

    After receiving his doctorate in 1949, Harper joined Ohio State’s Dairy Technology Department as an assistant professor and rose through the ranks. The department combined with the university’s Institute of Nutrition to become the Department of Food Science and Nutrition in 1971, and Harper developed all the non-dairy technology courses, taught, and conducted a research program.

    He retired from Ohio State in 1981 to join the New Zealand Dairy Research Institute. There he led a group of researchers who developed a whey protein concentrate program. Technology from that program still brings in more than a billion dollars a year to New Zealand.

    In the early 1990s, Harper was asked to return to CFAES’s Department of Food Science and Technology to teach. In 1993, he was appointed as the J.T. Parker Chair in Dairy Foods, a position he held until his retirement.

    Read more here and here. (Source: Purdue News)

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