IFAS News

University of Florida

UF Field and Fork invites students to grow their own food, feed others this fall

Topic(s): CALS, IFAS

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — While most people at the University of Florida or in Gainesville are familiar with the UF bat houses across from Lake Alice on Museum Road, for some, those rows of kale or squash growing nearby are a mystery.

Called the Student Gardens, this plot of land is part of the UF Field and Fork Campus Food Program, an interdisciplinary initiative led by the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Each semester, 30 to 50 students volunteer at the garden, working together to grow fresh vegetables while learning sustainable farming practices.

These volunteers get a share of what they grow, and through a partnership with the Alan and Cathy Hitchcock Field and Fork Pantry, which is run by UF Student Affairs, some of the harvest is distributed to those in the UF community facing food insecurity.

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Seven UF/IFAS CALS students, alumni qualify for Rio Olympics

Topic(s): Announcements, CALS, Departments, IFAS
Eduardo Solaeche

Eduardo Solaeche

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — If you are watching the Olympic games, you may catch students and alumni of the University of Florida. Seven of the 30 UF Gators who qualified to compete in the Rio Olympics are current or former students of the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

“We are so proud of our students and alumni, who are not only representing the university and CALS, but also represent their home country at the world’s most elite competition,” said CALS Dean Elaine Turner.

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UF senior: When it comes to choosing a major, the path may be winding

Topic(s): Agriculture, CALS, IFAS

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Like many college freshmen, Kristen Kempfert thought she had her future completely figured out.

Kempfert wanted to go to law school, so she enrolled at the University of Florida as an English major. When that didn’t feel right, she switched to political science, then to linguistics, then to engineering. Suddenly, she felt adrift, uncertain about which path to choose.

At the end of her freshman year, Kempfert had to take four credits over the summer to keep her scholarship. Having already found a three-credit course, she was browsing the list of course offerings when she stumbled upon “Plants, Gardening and You,” a one-credit course offered by the department of environmental horticulture in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS).

Kempfert had always enjoyed tending her small herb garden back home—so she signed up.

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Five tips for planning your college career and beyond

Topic(s): CALS, IFAS

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — College is hard. Starting college is even harder. You have to find your way around campus, make new friends and learn how to fend for yourself, all while figuring out what you want to do with your life. Even choosing which classes to take can be overwhelming.

Fortunately, there are academic advisers for every major whose job it is to help you navigate these challenges. However, only about half of University of Florida students ever go see their academic adviser, said Amy Vasquez, adviser for plant science majors.

And that’s a problem. Not having a clear plan for how you’re going to earn your degree can lead to big issues such as not finishing your degree on time.

Here are five tips to help you avoid complications down the road.

  1. Get to know your adviser.

“You should meet with your adviser at least once a semester,” said Amie Imler, adviser for students majoring in animal sciences. Your adviser can help you balance your schedule so that tougher courses are spread out over a few semesters rather than lumped into one.

Advisers also know which courses are only offered once an academic year and will help you factor that into your plan, said Vasquez.

  1. Be professional.

Treat going to class like going to work. “You wouldn’t go to work in the morning wearing your pajamas,” said Imler. “You need to be developing professional habits now.” Imler noted that, at some point, you may want your professors and academic advisor to write your letters of recommendation. How do you want them to remember you?

  1. Get involved.

Employers, professional schools and graduate programs will want to see that you’ve developed leadership skills by participating in extracurricular activities. Vasquez recommends joining a club or organization on campus or in the community.

  1. Have an open mind.

Some students come to college intensely focused on one goal, said Herschel Johnson, adviser for food science and human nutrition majors, and that focus can blind them to other potential opportunities. “You may feel like you have to prove yourself from day one,” Johnson said. “You feel the competition, and you may not approach college as something that is about you as an individual.  Don’t compare yourself to other students. Find your own path.”

Some students may be unaware that there is more than one path to a particular goal, said Vasquez. For example, a student who wants to go to medical school doesn’t have to major in biology, she said. In fact, majoring in a field such as entomology may actually help you stand out among a pool of medical school applicants.

  1. Have a back-up plan.

Approximately 50 percent of students enter UF with plans for continuing to professional school, such as medical school or law school, but not all of those students end up there, said Johnson. If you’re aiming to be pre-med or pre-law, be open to another route you can take and plan accordingly — ideally with the help of your academic adviser.

You can get in touch with your academic adviser by contacting the department in which you have declared a major. Undecided students or students looking to change majors should reach out to departments they are considering, or visit the UF Career Resource Center.

Caption: Faced with many options and opportunities, planning one’s college career can be daunting. Fortunately, academic advisers can help guide students. UF Photo by Hannah Pietrick.

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By: Samantha Grenrock, 352-294-3307, grenrosa@ufl.edu

Sources: Amie Imler, 352-392-9739, amie.taylor@ufl.edu

Herschel Johnson, 352-294-3701, hdjohnson@ufl.edu

Amy Vasquez, 352-273-4573, amyalex@ufl.edu

Florida Youth Institute lets high schoolers explore a future in agricultural and life sciences

Topic(s): Agriculture, CALS, IFAS

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As 22 high schoolers step onto the manicured turf of Florida Field, Jason Kruse, associate professor of environmental horticulture, explains how maintaining a football field involves more than fertilizer and regular mowing. Rather, he says, it’s research from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences that keeps the field green for fans and safe for athletes.

This lesson is just one of several activities that comprise the Florida Youth Institute (FYI), a week-long summer program sponsored by the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the World Food Prize Foundation.  The program gives rising juniors and seniors a chance to explore emerging issues in agriculture, life sciences and natural resources while also giving them a taste of college life.

“FYI was created with an overall goal of engaging youth with issues in agricultural and natural resource sciences that affect Florida, the U.S. and world food security,” said Elaine Turner, dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. “Ultimately, we hope to grow the talent pipeline by connecting students to academic programs in CALS that will prepare them for careers in agricultural and natural resource sciences.”

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UF CALS students, faculty shine at annual teaching conference

Topic(s): Agriculture, CALS, Honors and Appointments, IFAS

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences students and faculty were recognized for their outstanding teaching and research at the 62nd annual North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) conference in June.

More than 25 UF CALS faculty, staff and graduate students attended the meeting, said CALS Dean Elaine Turner. CALS is part of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Many UF CALS faculty and students contributed to the NACTA program with posters, oral presentations and workshops.

“The NACTA annual conference is a showcase for innovation and excellence in teaching and learning,” Turner said. “I am so proud of the UF/IFAS faculty and CALS graduate students who were recognized with teaching, leadership and scholarship awards this year. The constant pursuit of excellence in teaching is a key part of what makes CALS such a great academic home for students.”

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UF CALS student one of 12 National Teach Ag Ambassadors

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, CALS, Honors and Appointments

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Tyler D’Angelo

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences student will spend the next school year as one of 12 National Teach Ag Ambassadors, spreading the word about the importance of agricultural education and learning more about how to teach the subject.

Tyler D’Angelo will be a senior in agricultural education and communication in the fall and hopes to pursue his master’s degree in the same department after he graduates. After that, he hopes to teach agriculture.

“It is truly an honor to represent the profession that I love,” D’Angelo said. “I hope that through my ambassadorship that I will be able to bring more of a presence to the Teach Ag campaign to Florida. I also hope to encourage those interested in teaching agriculture to pursue a degree in agricultural education.”

Agricultural education and communication is an academic department within the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, and Brian Myers, a professor in the department, nominated D’Angelo to be an ambassador.

“Tyler will be an outstanding Teach Ag Ambassador,” Myers said. “He has a passion and excitement for agricultural education that is evident the moment you meet him. He has a tremendous skill set that will allow him to tell the story about being an agricultural educator in meaningful and impactful ways. He will be a great representative of the agriculture teaching profession and of the University of Florida.”

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UF CALS student named as prestigious ‘Cultivator’ for national conference

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, CALS, Honors and Appointments, IFAS

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Will Dezern

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences student who researches how to improve peanuts has been named as UF’s first Cultivator for the 2016 Farm Foundation® Round Table.

Will Dezern, who recently earned a bachelor’s degree in plant science from UF CALS, participated the week of June 6 at the discussion forum in Louisville, Kentucky, where he presented a poster on his research. He is one of six students selected nationwide to attend the forum. Student participants are known as “Cultivators.”

“I am very excited about this opportunity to hear from agricultural leaders from around the country,” Dezern said during the conference. “Sometimes it is easy to be very focused on just one area of work, so I look forward to gaining a better understanding of the state of the industry as a whole. I’m very honored to have been chosen to attend the Round Table event, and I hope to come back with new ideas and perspectives.”

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Yara North America pledges $100,000 in scholarships to UF/IFAS students

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, CALS, IFAS

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Yara North America has pledged $100,000 in scholarships to students in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Florida to study agriculture.

The five-year grant, called the Yara Crop Innovation Scholarship, will be split evenly between undergraduate and graduate students in the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

“One exciting aspect of this gift is the focus on undergraduate student research,” said UF/IFAS CALS Dean Elaine Turner. “In order for students to develop a love for research, they must be engaged early in their academic careers. Yara’s gift will open doors for students to pursue their science passions.”

Yara understands the important role played by agricultural research, said UF/IFAS Research Dean Jackie Burns. “Yara’s gift demonstrates they understand the larger picture, that we must invest in both research as well as future scientists,” Burns said. “Through their generosity, Yara is setting a strong example for other industry groups who wish to impact the next generation of agricultural researchers.”

According to Yara president and CEO, Svein Tore Holsether, innovation and collaboration have been two key themes throughout the company’s history. “By launching these scholarships, we are not only supporting local students, but it is a good way of working closely together with academia and farmers on topics that really matter—and that contribute to increasing our shared global knowledge,” he said.

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By: Beverly James, 352-273-3566, beverlymjames@ufl.edu

Source: Christy Chiarelli, 352-273-0353, ccw@ufl.edu

UF/IFAS student team wins national Ocean Spray competition

Topic(s): Announcements, CALS, Honors and Appointments, IFAS

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A team of students from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences recently took home a $5,000 first-place prize at a national Ocean Spray Cranberry competition, dazzling the judges with a scrumptious waffle and dipping syrup product.

The food science graduate students, in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, were charged with making a new product for “healthy strivers.” Fifteen schools submitted abstracts, and three teams—UF, University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Delaware Valley University—were invited to present their products at Ocean Spray headquarters in Massachusetts.

“The second annual Student Product Development is an effort to build employment brand recognition as well as to spark new ideas internally,” said Ocean Spray spokeswoman Kellyanne Dignan.  “It was a great opportunity and pleasure to host and showcase the truly innovative ideas created by students that represent our values of respect, ownership, innovation and collaboration.”

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