Extension News from the West

Scientific bling on WSU bears

Washington State University Extension News - Tue, 06/13/2017 - 10:35am

If you haven’t noticed, several of our bears at the Washington State University Bear Center have some new brightly colored jewelry: energy-monitoring collars.

An energy monitoring collar, in place.

The collars will collect vital information from the bears and contribute to a research project run by WSU doctoral student Tony Carnahan.

“These basically work like fancy FitBits,” Carnahan said. “They’re way more complex than that, but they do give us all sorts of feedback on the energy used when the bears are initially walking on the treadmill and engaged in various activities in the yard. Once calibrated, they will ultimately tell us the energetic costs for wild bears living in different environments.”

This research, part of his doctoral dissertation, will compare the results compiled from our bears to results taken from collared grizzlies in the wild.

“We want to see what it costs bears to live on the landscape,” he said. “Different bears have different behaviors and foraging strategies based on where they live. The treadmill will give us a baseline to use with wild bears that live near the Alaska coast or in the Rocky Mountains.”

To get those baseline readings, our bears will walk at different speeds and have their energy usage measured at each pace. Results will be correlated to each bear’s heart rate.

Our bears have been training on the treadmill for over a month now, and measurements for Carnahan’s project will start around June 19. Seven of the center’s 11 bears will take part in the study.

Another goal for the study is to link wild grizzly behavior with their movement and energy usage, Carnahan said. For example, he noted that some bears in Alaska will travel incredible distances to get to salmon streams. He wants to see what the energy tradeoff is for bears that travel these distances to find prolific feeding grounds versus if they simply stayed put.

“It must be worth the energetic cost to travel that far,” Carnahan said. “But we want to see what that cost is, and if small changes in their environment would alter their movements.”

The WSU Children’s Center visits the Bear Center

Washington State University Extension News - Tue, 06/13/2017 - 8:57am

The WSU Children’s Center, located on the Pullman campus, has several classes that take field trips to the Bear Center. One class was lucky enough to visit during enrichment preparation. These two- and three-year-old toddlers watched as center manager Brandon Hutzenbiler put out frozen cantaloupe and cherries in the exercise yard.

Here are a few pictures of the kids checking out the grizzlies, and vice versa!




June enrichment photos and video

Washington State University Extension News - Fri, 06/09/2017 - 2:53pm

At the WSU Bear Research, Education, and Conservation Center, we have an enrichment program aimed at keeping our bears physically healthy and mentally stimulated. Every month, we’ll showcase the new or different activities and physical challenges our bears can tackle.

Here, center manager Brandon Evans Hutzenbiler prepares the enrichment ‘toys’ by stuffing them full of cut fresh fruit and other treats for the bears. Then, the objects are hung up or spread around. The bears then have to figure out how to get to the hidden treats.

Here, Brandon partially fills the tube with raisins and other dry food. He’ll hang it in a pen and the bears will have to determine how to access the food by lifting the blue ball on the end.


Finding the hidden treats


And here is one of our bears figuring out how to access the hidden food rather quickly.

CAHNRS Faculty Feature: John Fellman

Washington State University Extension News - Fri, 06/09/2017 - 7:35am

We asked several CAHNRS Ambassadors, excellent students who love WSU and their college, to name their favorite or most influential professors. And now we’re featuring those nominated educators in this weekly series, which runs through the summer.

John Fellman

Today we’re showcasing John Fellman, professor of postharvest physiology in the Department of Horticulture. Here are his answers to a few questions:

Where are you from?
Born and Raised in St. Louis MO

Where did you go to school?
B.S. from Clemson, Ph.D. from the University of Idaho.

How did you become interested in your field?
I was always interested in Chemistry, and I like plants (and plant products) so the merged interests are obvious! My areas of expertise are plant physiology and biochemistry, bioanalytical chemistry, tree fruit horticulture, postharvest biology, and technology of high-value perishable horticultural crops. I was trained in biochemistry, had expertise in analytical chemistry of foods, and after a postdoctoral stint in plant biochemistry, it seemed like the next logical career path. I was always interested in apples while growing up in Missouri.

Why did you want to become a professor?
Easy-I like people and I like sharing knowledge. It’s only work if you would rather be doing something else. Every day I ask myself ‘would I rather be doing something else?’ And I can’t think of something else, as most of my hobbies involve acquiring new knowledge about plants and plant products like food and fermented beverages.

What is your favorite thing about working with college students?
It is really fun and rewarding to see “the lights go on” inside of someone’s head when they grasp what it is you are trying to teach them! Also, when they stop in later (sometimes years later!) and thank me for my efforts. I never know when some offhand comment I make somehow influences people around me. Who knew?

What advice would you pass along to students?
The late Woody Hayes ( legendary Ohio State Football Coach) said “Anything easy ain’t worth a damn!” So challenge yourself! It’s never too late to learn something new.

“The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”
—William Shakespeare

CAHNRS Faculty Feature: Kara Whitman

Washington State University Extension News - Fri, 06/02/2017 - 9:23am

We asked several CAHNRS Ambassadors, excellent students who love WSU and their college, to name their favorite or most influential professors. And now we’re featuring those nominated educators in this weekly series, which runs through the summer.

Kara Whitman

Today we’re showcasing Kara Whitman, project coordinator for the Ruckelshaus Center and instructor in the WSU School of the Environment. Here are her answers to a few questions:

Where are you from?

I have lived many places in the US, as my father was in the military. However, the bulk of my formative years were in Northern Idaho where my dad was a caretaker of a boy scout camp called Camp Easton on Coeur d’Alene Lake. This is where I fell in love with the natural world.

Where did you go to school? (bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D., if applicable)

2013    Ph.D. in Environmental and Natural Resource Science, Washington State University, Pullman, WA. 

2007    MS in Environmental Science, Washington State University, Pullman, WA

2003    BLA in Landscape Architecture, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID.

1996    AS (Mechanical Engineering), North Idaho College, Coeur d’Alene, ID.

How did you become interested in your field?

My undergraduate degree was in Landscape Architecture. I was very interested in the connection of people to place, how we use spaces, and how design can be influenced by natural process. This led me to attend Washington State University, where I intended to get a Masters degree and become an environmental planner. Once at WSU, I had the opportunity to work with amazing professors who inspired me to work on complex environmental problems that involve multiple stakeholder groups. This has shaped my interest into a focus on collaborative policy work for addressing regional scale environmental problems. 

Why did you want to become an instructor?

As a graduate student, I had the opportunity to teach both labs and summer school, and completely fell in love with it. 

What is your favorite thing about working with college students?

I am constantly surprised and inspired by my students. It is incredibly rewarding to have rich dialogue with students, be present when inspiration takes root, and see students find their path.  I love being a part of this journey. 

What advice would you pass along to students?

1.) Get to know your professors/instructors by introducing yourself, and by meeting with them and having meaningful dialogue
2.) Get involved with undergraduate research.
3.) See and experience the world (people, culture, environments) outside of the United States/Developed World. 

Learn about falling numbers, wheat, pea varieties at Lind Field Day

Washington State University Extension News - Wed, 05/24/2017 - 8:11am
Farmers examine spring wheat at the 2016 Lind Field Day.

LIND, Wash. –Farmers can learn about the latest Washington State University discoveries in solving low falling numbers, perennial wheat, pea varieties, and more at the annual Lind Field Day, Thursday, June 15, at the WSU Dryland Research Station.

Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. with the field tour starting at 9 a.m. A complimentary lunch and program will follow the field tour.

Research presentations focus on perennial wheat; winter, club and spring wheat breeding; winter pea breeding; application of biosolids; and falling numbers in wheat. WSU administrators, state legislature and wheat industry leaders will provide updates during the noon program.

An ice cream social follows the noon program. 5

The Lind Field Day is free and open to the public. Washington pesticide credits have been requested.

For more information, contact Bill Schillinger, WSU research agronomist, at (509) 235-1933 or by e-mail at william.schillinger@wsu.edu.

Lind Dryland Research Station is located at 781 E Experiment Station Road, Lind, Wash.

Wine and Music Festival supports WSU wine research

Washington State University Extension News - Tue, 05/23/2017 - 12:51pm

RICHLAND, Wash. – Washington State University and the Auction of Washington Wines are partnering to host the 3rd Annual Tri-Cities Wine and Music Festival on Saturday, June 10.

Ticket prices range from $85 per person for the festival to $950 for a weekend package for two that includes the Col Solare Vintner Dinner on Friday and hotel accommodations through the weekend. Tickets are available online at the Auction of Washington Wines website, auctionofwashingtonwines.org.

Proceeds from the event benefit WSU viticulture and enology research that helps the Northwest region stay competitive in the national and global wine market, while providing sustainable growth in the industry. Research projects funded through Auction of Washington Wines provide solutions to grape growing and winemaking practice and innovations in industry practice. These projects also provide students with hands-on learning experience, creating a qualified workforce to meet the growing needs of the grape and wine industry.

The Wine and Music Festival starts at 6 p.m. at the WSU Tri-Cities campus in Richland. The event will include classic rock from Arny Bailey and Friends, featuring Peter Rivera, formerly of Rare Earth, along with food from the Olive Café in Walla Walla and wine tasting from more than 20 Washington wineries. The festival is sponsored by Numerica Credit Union, Russ Dean RV and URock Radio.

Since its inception in 1988, the Auction of Washington Wines has raised more than $37 million. The distinguished fundraising events give wine lovers the chance to support the Washington wine industry and families in the communities around the region.

WSDA dedicates new, state-of-the-art greenhouse at WSU center

Washington State University Extension News - Tue, 05/23/2017 - 12:49pm

The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) dedicated the agency’s new state-of-the-art greenhouse, built to support the state’s tree fruit industry, at a ribbon cutting ceremony May 11 in Prosser.

Inside the new WSDA greenhouse, which is located at WSU’s Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Prosser.

“We now have a modern greenhouse that will make it easier to protect the fruit tree industry from virus diseases,” WSDA Director Derek Sandison said. “This larger greenhouse, with its automated features, improved temperature controls and watering system, will give us an increased capacity to test registered mother trees at a rate greater than we’ve been able to do in the past.”

The greenhouse, which measures about 156 feet by 30 feet, is located at Washington State University’s Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center (WSU-IAREC). The greenhouse is nearly 4,800 square feet and is built on 7.5 acres leased from WSU.

It includes three separate growing bays with individual temperature controls that better duplicate temperature ranges where fruit tree viruses can thrive. This makes symptoms readily discernable, increasing the effectiveness of virus indexing. The facility also features work areas for potting and a walk-in cooler. A separate storage building houses equipment.

It replaces a smaller, traditional, WSU-owned greenhouse that had minimal temperature control and was used by WSDA staff for decades.

The Fruit Tree Planting Stock Certification Program has nearly 35,000 registered mother trees that serve as a source for the propagation of trees that will provide millions of high quality trees to the tree fruit industry each year. The trees are grown by WSDA-certified nurseries that acquire stock from the Clean Plant Center- Northwest, also located at WSU’s IAREC, which is part of the National Clean Plant Network. It is one of only three clean plant centers for fruit trees in the U.S.

Washington fruit trees are sold worldwide. Producing nursery trees free of viruses is key to the success of Washington’s fruit trees, including apple, pear and cherry industries. Viruses can reduce yields, affect fruit quality and impact trade.

Construction of the greenhouse and installation of specialized equipment took more than two years to complete. The project cost $750,000 using funds provided through assessments on nurseries that sell Washington-grown fruit trees.

Fruit tree nursery growers and representatives from WSU and WSDA attended the dedication.

The new greenhouse is located at 24106 N. Bunn Rd., Prosser, on the WSU IAREC site.

First Dean’s Excellence winner breaks down education barriers

Washington State University Extension News - Tue, 05/23/2017 - 12:38pm
Doctoral student Shima Bibi accepts the first CAHNRS Dean’s Excellence Scholarship from Dean Ron Mittelhammer.

Shima Bibi is a pioneer and a scientist. From rural Pakistan to Washington State University, she is pursuing her passion for discovery, working to improve global health and help girls in her home country reach their potential.

The first recipient of the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences Dean’s Excellence Scholarship, Bibi will earn her doctorate in food science this fall. She is the first woman in her family and her home village to earn a PhD.

She grew up in northwest Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which is under constant watch, and sometimes attack, by the Taliban.

But Bibi’s scientific mind, and desire to use that science to help others, pushed her to harness her courage and break down barriers.

Determined to learn more

“As a child, I was deeply interested in learning new things,” said Bibi, who was raised in a small village in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, formerly the Northwest Frontier Province. “Curiosity came first. Then I asked, how can I apply my science to help people?”

Growing up, she watched her fellow girls drop out of primary school, while boys stayed in class.

“I realized boys had freedom to realize their dreams, while girls’ desires to succeed were encumbered by societal expectations and gender norms,” Bibi said. “This did not seem right to me. I was determined to make a difference.”

After primary school, she was one of just three girls in her village class to apply and move up to middle school. Her teachers urged Bibi to continue her education, and with the support of her family, she traveled daily to a nearby village to attend a government girls’ high school.

From primary school through high school, Bibi led her classes in grades, and earned the highest score to date at her girls’ high school.

Bibi, in her lab at the School of Food Science, researches how purple potato and raspberry could protect digestive health.

Attending university in the large city of Peshawar, Pakistan, Bibi’s exploration of antibiotic qualities in honey led her to antioxidants—chemicals that protect the body from deterioration, found in foods like berries, purple potatoes and chocolate.

Spurred in part by her father’s bout with an intestinal ailment, Bibi set out to learn how antioxidants affect chronic disease. Winning a Fulbright scholarship, she applied to programs across the United States to find the best place to advance her ideas. The Washington State University–University of Idaho School of Food Science won out.

For the past four years, Bibi has worked alongside advisor Meijun Zhu, associate professor in the School of Food Science.

“Shima braved many hardships to finish her education,” said Zhu. “She comes from a region where fewer than one in ten women learn to read.”

Bibi’s dedication and perseverance helped her break boundaries, both to gain an education at home and to match her peers at WSU, added Zhu.

“She worked hard to reach this level, and has improved dramatically to become one of the top graduate students in my lab,” she said. “I see Shima becoming a leader in the field in Central Asia, and a role model for young people aspiring to a career in food and health.”

Today, Bibi is completing research on the beneficial effects of two antioxidant foods, raspberries and purple potatoes, on digestive health, a critically important research area.

“I want to see if these foods can protect against diseases like colon cancer and colitis,” she said.

First Excellence Scholarship

The CAHNRS Dean’s Excellence Fund was created by many donations over several years. Academic departments nominate students for the award, and the dean of the college chooses one undergraduate and one graduate scholarship recipient annually.

“The Dean’s Excellence Scholarship provides financial support for students who have a passion and determination for their chosen major in the face of hardships and challenges in their personal lives, and who exhibit dedication to applying their knowledge and expertise to assist and improve the lives of others,” said CAHNRS Dean Ron Mittelhammer. “Shima epitomizes these qualities, and CAHNRS is proud to present her with the first award.”

The $1,000 scholarship supports Bibi’s continuing doctoral studies.

A proud Coug, she will return home after graduation as a research officer for Pakistan’s agricultural research service in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. There, she aims to improve food security and health in her community.

“In Pakistan, girls are now going to universities and seeking every professional degree,” said Bibi. “I will work for women’s education, and bring shining minds to the forefront. I’m not afraid of any hardship. I’m a Fulbrighter and a Coug, and I have a Fulbright and Coug family all over the globe.”

Forestry Club Returns, Receives 2017 CAHNRS Superior Club Award

Washington State University Extension News - Fri, 05/19/2017 - 9:55am
By Maya Wahl, CAHNRS Academic Programs

CAHNRS offers many extracurricular opportunities for students, ranging from the Viticulture and Enology Club to the Agriculture Technology & Production Management Club. Of the many extracurricular opportunities CAHNRS offers to support students, the Forestry Club stood out as one that’s gone above and beyond this year. The 2017 Superior Club award was presented to the Forestry Club at the CAHNRS Honors event this spring. Forestry recently returned as a major in the School of Environment and has since revitalized the club.

Forestry Club officers receive the Superior Club award at CAHNRS Honors 2017.

The Forestry Club’s purpose is to create professional skill building opportunities, fundraise for future opportunities, and give back to the community through ecological restoration projects. The club offers these opportunities to all students, not just those seeking a major in Forestry. The inclusive environment and number of opportunities offered has created a space for students to come together, share ideas, and work towards bettering themselves for their future careers.

Forestry Club members receive many chances to build their professional skills through weekend trainings and guest speaker appearances at meetings. These speakers come from a variety of backgrounds and regions, ranging from the University of Vermont to the Idaho Department of Lands, to discuss what it takes to be successful in the forestry industry. The club facilitates trainings for its members on how to use chainsaws, splitting mauls, and heavily loaded trucks. These trainings also cover the usage of variable radius forest management tools, which are the industry standard for timber inventory.

But, it’s not all business for the Forestry Club members. The club also hosts bon fire socials for special events like Dad’s Weekend. In order to continue the informational trainings and fun socials, the club fundraises by selling firewood on football game days.

The club works in conjunction with other organizations on campus, including the Wildlife Society Student Chapter and the Environmental Sustainability Alliance. They also seek networking opportunities through the Society of American Foresters. There is no question that the Forestry Club offers members numerous opportunities for growth.

Its members are proud of the club’s service to the community and the environment. The club has started a restoration project of the West Unit of WSU’s Magpie Forest Preserve. They were awarded funding from the Environmental Sustainability Alliance to conduct their project in conjunction with the Wildlife Society. Since its beginning, the project has resulted in the clearing and planting of native shrubs and grasses while working to reestablish a healthy ponderosa pine population. Volunteers from outside organizations like Gamma Iota Omicron fraternity, the Center for Civic Engagement, and the local Cub Scouts have helped make this project a reality as well. Not only has the Forestry Club brought its own members together, but it also created opportunities for the entire Pullman community members to make a difference.

Daniel Molina, club president, says that his favorite part about being a member is listening to the guest speakers because he learns vital skills for his future career. The classroom provides the framework for students to apply skills that are necessary for success. He says, “One thing I wish I knew when I was a freshman was to just join clubs I was interested in.” His involvement has paid off and he has become a well-rounded student who is constantly contributing to WSU and the Pullman community.

Molina encourages all majors to look into joining the Forestry Club, it’s not just for Wildlife and Ecology or those interested in Forestry. The club is open to all WSU students who wish to broaden their horizons and learn something new. They are guaranteed to be provided with opportunities to stay active doing projects and to hopefully start a project that satisfies their own interests. Join the Forestry Club  and get in on all of the fun!


Washington State University Extension News - Tue, 05/16/2017 - 2:34pm
WSU researchers awarded 2017 best enology paper by ASEV WSU researchers Dr. James Harbertson, left, and Richard Larsen, right.

WSU researchers Dr. James F. Harbertson, Richard Larsen and former WSU graduate student L. Federico Casassa of California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo, were recently awarded “best enology paper” by the American Society for Enology and Viticulture for their paper “Effects of Vineyard and Winemaking Practices Impacting Berry Size on Evolution of Phenolics During Winemaking.

Each year the ASEV Best Paper Committee reviews all papers published in the journal over the past year and selects them most outstanding papers—one in viticulture and one in enology.  The winning papers are recognized for outstanding research and substantial contributions to the field.

The authors have been invited to present their papers at ASEV’s national conference in Bellevue, Wash., June 26-29, where they will also receive their award.


Viticulture, enology student wins national honor

Connor Eck, a senior at Washington State University Tri-Cities and originally from Del Mar, Calif., has been named a national Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact, a Boston-based nonprofit organization working to advance the public purposes of higher education.

The fellowship provides learning and networking opportunities to teach students leadership and how to bring communities

WSU V&E student Connor Eck

together for positive change. As a student winemaker in WSU’s Blended Learning program, Eck worked with local growers and winemakers to develop leadership skills, gain hands-on experience and exercise environmentally friendly winemaking practices.

“I aim to find a way to limit the amount of water used in the farming of grapes and during the winemaking process, while still producing a high-quality product,” he said.

“The cultivation of community-committed leaders has never been more crucial,” said Andrew Seligsohn, Campus Compact president. “Our country needs more people who know how to bring communities together.”

The fellowship, named for Campus Compact co-founder Frank Newman, chose 273 students for the 2017 cohort. It is supported by the KPMG Foundation and Newman’s Own Foundation.


V&E graduate Dennis Bonilla, right, receives his diploma from WSU Tri-Cities Chancellor Dr. Keith Moo-Young Congratulations 2016-2017 V&E Graduates

Carina Ocampo

Dennis Bonilla

Logan Roehm

Melanie Ford

Michael Stiekema

Stevie-Jean Luke

Joby Shields

V&E graduate, Stevie-Jean Luke celebrates after receiving her diploma

Jordan Torres

Koty McCrory

Jordin Stephenson

Ken Corliss

Brad Schroeder

Trevor Powers

Melinda Garza

Dr. Caroline Merrell, left, poses with her Ph.D advisor, Dr. Jim Harbertson

Justin Skoczylas

Cary Wilton

Chris Jenkins, MS

Caroline Merrell, Ph.D

Wanted: Volunteer wine tasters

Washington State University Extension News - Tue, 05/16/2017 - 2:01pm

Researchers with the WSU Viticulture and Enology Program seek volunteer panelists in the Tri-Cities, Wash. area to assist with wine sensory evaluation.  Three sensory panels will be held summer 2017:

A sensory panelist evaluates research wines at the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates WSU Wine Science Center in Richland, Wash.
  • Panel 1-Red Wine Color and Astringency/Mouthfeel (June)
  • Panel 2-Red Wine Aroma and Mouthfeel (July)
  • Panel 3-White Wine Aroma and Mouthfeel (August)

Ideal candidates are wine-consuming adults 21 and older with basic wine knowledge.  Volunteers will be asked to attend a series of hour-long group training sessions where they will learn about wine characteristics and be taught how to evaluate wines.

Once the training is complete, panelists will schedule a time to conduct independent sensory evaluations.

Training and evaluations will be held at the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates WSU Wine Science Center at 359 University Drive in Richland, Wash.

Results from the sensory panels will support ongoing WSU viticulture and enology research that helps the Northwest region stay competitive in the national and global wine market, while providing sustainable growth in the industry.

Space on each panel is limited.  To participate, email caroline.merrell@wsu.edu and indicate which panel(s) you would like to join.

Into the Alaskan wilderness to help coastal bears

Washington State University Extension News - Mon, 05/15/2017 - 8:07am
By Joy Erlenbach

Coastal areas within Katmai National Park in Alaska are home to dense populations of iconic brown bears, which are an important part of the ecosystem, the viewing experience of park visitors, and the economy of the region. Yet habitats used by bears within the park are faced with impacts from tourism, the potential for oil spills, increasing ocean acidification, and other threats, which all have the capacity to severely alter the habitat and food resources available to coastal bears.

Joy Erlenbach and a colleague scan the Alaskan horizon for bears. Photo courtesy Joy Erlenbach

This summer is the third and final field season for my collaborative project with the National Park Service and US Geological Survey studying the potential effects of oil spills, increases in visitation, and ocean acidification on Katmai’s bears.

The project involves using Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) collars to track bear movements, determine which habitats they prefer, and understand how their habitat-use affects body composition (mass and fat gains). We are also characterizing diets of coastal bears using stable isotope analysis to understand the magnitude and breadth of marine-derived foods in bear diets (clams, mussels, otters, seals, salmon), as well as their effects on the body composition of bears.

Other areas of our study include using video collars to further understand bear diet and habitat selection, conducting behavioral observations to document foraging rates on different food resources, and using activity sensors to elucidate what bears are doing in different habitats. All of this work will aid in the management of park resources for bears, visitors, and other wildlife.

This summer, as in previous summers, my time will be spent finding bears using a helicopter, collecting measurements from the bears, and fitting them with a GPS collar. The remainder of my time will be spent camping in remote areas of Katmai collecting observations of non-collared bears and their foraging preferences.

The Changing Tides team puts a GPS collar and gets info on a bear in the Katmai National Park in Alaska. Photo courtesy Joy Erlenbach

The project is challenging: living in a tent for 60 days each summer, being so remote your only rescue is by plane, not showering for weeks at a time, getting eaten alive by mosquitoes, having to put on the same damp socks and pants you’ve worn for the last week, among other things… But it has also been rewarding. The chance to get to live with and learn to understand bears at such a deep level is something that has not only been a dream of mine but also important for helping people understand the true nature of bears as well as some of the ways bears have been misrepresented in popular media.

You can learn more about the Changing Tides project here:









Life in the fat lane

Washington State University Extension News - Wed, 05/10/2017 - 1:34pm

Hibernating bears have evolved to add as much fat as possible each fall so they can survive several months without eating. But just how do they do that without any health repercussions? This mystery is one researchers at Washington State University are trying to unravel.

A view from above showing just how a bear’s body changes from spring to fall, preparing for hibernation.

“When people gain weight, or add a lot of fat, they can become diabetic or suffer other health consequences,” said Heiko Jansen, associate professor of integrative physiology and neuroscience at WSU. “But bears don’t, they’re perfectly adapted to the hibernation/activity cycle.”

For the first time, WSU scientists were able to confirm that bears are completely resistant to insulin during hibernation, meaning any sugar in their bloodstream just stays there and doesn’t break down. But that insulin-resistant status is reversible as the bears’ metabolism restarts when they come out of hibernation.

“Scientists have guessed this is the case for years, but this is the first time anybody has been able to prove it,” Jansen said.

In addition to the insulin finding, the research team wanted to learn how bears’ appetites change so tremendously throughout the year. They don’t eat at all through the winter without feeling hungry. And when they wake up, they don’t act desperately hungry.

But, in late summer, they become ravenous as they begin to build up their fat stores for the coming winter. By October, they slow their intake down again before going back into hibernation, Jansen said.

Hunger is suppressed in bears, as in humans, with the hormone leptin, he said.

“We found that in August we could give bears leptin and it had no impact,” Jansen said. “They still ate all the time. So, we figured out that it’s because their brains change over time. By late fall, they’re sensitive to leptin again and it works to suppress their appetites for the winter. They have developed a very complex system for adapting to their environment.”

A grizzly bear with her cubs at the WSU bear center.

The findings were published in the article “Life in the fat lane: seasonal regulation of insulin sensitivity, food intake, and adipose biology in brown bears” in the Journal of Comparative Physiology: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00360-016-1050-9.

Jansen and his colleagues hope to continue their study to see exactly how bears resist insulin during hibernation on the molecular level. If they can figure that out, it could lead to breakthroughs in fighting diabetes in humans.

“We’re still a way off from that, but this study shows there’s hope,” Jansen said.

WSU bears off to a walking start

Washington State University Extension News - Wed, 05/10/2017 - 1:25pm

The WSU Bear Center has some new equipment, which you may have noticed during your volunteer shifts. It’s a treadmill that will be used to measure the energy cost for various activities, including lying, sitting, standing and walking.

The treadmill at the WSU Bear Center

The treadmill is actually returning home, after spending the winter at the San Diego Zoo. It is part of a research study that involves figuring out how efficient grizzlies are compared to polar bears as the two species increasingly become competitors in the warming Arctic. This winter, a polar bear at the San Diego Zoo spent time lying and walking on it while researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz measured the costs.

Currently, our bears are being trained, through judicious use of hot dogs, dog biscuits, apples and cookies, to use the treadmill so they feel safe and comfortable during the research. Once they’re used to the equipment, WSU scientists will start measuring them for their part of an ongoing research study that includes multiple federal agencies.

It will be a few weeks before our bears are ready for full usage of the machine, but it didn’t take them long to re-familiarize themselves to it. We hope to take a full range of measurements in mid-June.

Installing the treadmill back into its place took about a dozen people almost two hours and involved a moving truck, two forklifts, and several crowbars and high-strength dollies.

The treadmill will be at the Bear Center through the summer and into the fall. It may leave again for more work with polar bears, but no plans have been finalized yet.

April enrichment photos and video

Washington State University Extension News - Tue, 05/09/2017 - 2:15pm

At the WSU Bear Research, Education, and Conservation Center, we have an enrichment program aimed at keeping our bears physically healthy and mentally stimulated. Every month, we’ll show the new or different activities and physical challenges our bears can tackle.

Here, center manager Brandon Evans Hutzenbiler prepares the play structure in the exercise yard with hidden treats for the bears to find.

Among the treats are apples, breakfast cereal, and occasionally a cream cheese cover to provide a little extra treat and challenge.

And here are two videos of the two-year-old bears as they’re released into the exercise yard to find their hidden goodies, and then digging them out.


WSU’s COSMIC CRISP in the National Spotlight

Washington State University Extension News - Fri, 05/05/2017 - 2:47pm

National Public Radio’s the salt explores the release of WSU’s much anticipated COSMIC CRISPTM apple. Listen to perspectives from the Washington Tree Fruit Commission, regional growers, and the inventor himself – WSU Emeritus Professor of Horticulture Dr. Bruce Barritt.

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Also, watch PBS Market to Market’s inside look to the characteristics that make COSMIC CRISPTM the most rapidly adopted apple the industry has ever seen.


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COSMIC CRISPTM  WSU Tree Fruit breeding

CAHNRS Aggie of the Year seeks to make an impact in the world of agriculture

Washington State University Extension News - Fri, 05/05/2017 - 8:47am
By Maya Wahl, CAHNRS Academic Programs

Our 2017 Aggie of the Year, Kyle Strachila, is one of CAHNRS best and brightest. A member of the Honors College, Kyle will graduate with two degrees: a bachelor of science in Economic Sciences with an option in Agricultural Economics, and a bachelor of science in Agriculture Food Systems with a major in Agricultural and Food Business Economics. It doesn’t stop there—he will also receive two minors, one in business and one in Spanish. He recently defended his honors thesis and passed with excellence. His research investigated how econometrics of the United States and Mexico explain immigration from Mexico to the U.S. There is no question that Kyle is an exemplary student and leader on and off campus. He has proven his excitement for agriculture is genuine and looks forward to serving the agriculture industry throughout his career.

Kyle was raised on his family’s dairy farm in Deming, Wash., and attended Mount Baker High School, where he was heavily involved in FFA. After graduation, he served as the 2011-2012 Washington State FFA Vice President. He says his experiences on the farm and with FFA developed his passion for agriculture. He came to WSU in the fall of 2012, ready to pursue a degree in agricultural economics and wanted to get involved with the student body. He joined Sigma Phi Epsilon his freshman year and immediately dove into leadership opportunities.

2017 Aggie of the Year Kyle Strachila and dean of CAHNRS Ron Mittelhammer at the CAHNRS Honors 2017 awards ceremony.

It doesn’t take long to realize that Kyle is a driven, intelligent young man who has demonstrated his natural leadership throughout his time at WSU. Not only did he work to make Sigma Phi Epsilon better by serving as the senior marshall on the Standards Board, he also worked his way up through ASWSU (Associated Students of Washington State University). He recently chaired his last meeting as the vice president of ASWSU and passed the baton to the newly elected officers.

“By taking on direct projects to better the community, providing unique experiences for students, and developing leadership skills in younger peers, I truly believe I’ve become a leader with a goal to make a difference wherever I go,” he said.

Beyond his experiences on campus, Kyle worked on his family’s dairy farm. His contributions to the family operation gave him an appreciation for agriculture. “I loved working on our farm, but I realized that I could have more of an impact on the industry off of it.”

This realization freed Kyle to pursue opportunities away from home. During the summer of 2015 he interned for Fisher Investments in Portland, where he stepped out of his comfort zone and “explored data analytics at a very successful investment firm.” Kyle has experienced the trials and tribulations of agricultural life as well as what it takes to be successful in the professional world.

Kyle’s academic advisor, Carla Makus, encouraged Kyle to challenge himself by joining the WSU Honors College and finding internships outside of agriculture. She made an impact on his decisions and he couldn’t be more grateful. His family also served as a support system while Kyle pursued his degrees. His older brother, Dan, continues to encourage him to make an impact elsewhere in the industry. While Kyle enjoys his time on the dairy, he aims to use his experiences to make the agricultural industry better.

He says that his favorite part about being a CAHNRS Coug is the wide array of majors with connections to multiple industries and groups of people—everyone can find a home in CAHNRS. Kyle appreciates the college-wide events that CAHNRS holds, which have made him feel welcomed and connected to the college.

After commencement, Kyle is moving to Raleigh, North Carolina, to work as a Sales Excellence Associate for Bayer Crop Science, starting in the sales management training program.

“I would love to have my career’s work focus on answering three questions: Will we have enough food? Will it be safe? And will it be sustainable? That is what I intend to pursue.”

Congratulations, Kyle, and best wishes for your continued success!

UI Extension Helps North Central Idaho Residents Navigate Wildfire Recovery

University of Idaho Extension News - Mon, 09/21/2015 - 3:24pm
The fires that destroyed scores of homes in north central Idaho are mostly out. Landowners now face the task of rebuilding, trying to recover from losses and restoring forests and other resources. University of Idaho Extension is helping organize a series of regional meetings beginning Thursday, Sept. 24, in Craigmont to help private landowners find expertise and help from local, state and federa...

Navajo Nation Fair 2013 Navajo People Culture and History Moore, Gerald

University of Arizona Cooperative Extension - Tue, 09/03/2013 - 3:05pm

Navajo Nation Fair 2013Theme: “Honoring Navajo Language”Date : September 2-8, 2013Window Rock, AZWhats New:

Miss Navaj

Time and Place Date:  09/02/2013 - 8:00am - 09/08/2013 - 6:00pm Location:  Window Rock Fairgrounds D-121 Window Rock Fairgrounds off Hiway 264 Window Rock, AZ See map: Google Maps Cost and Registration Cost:  Gate Fee Registration Required:  No Additional Information Link to more information:  Navajo People Culture and History Offers volunteer opportunities:  No Offers Continuing Education credit:  No Contact Moore, Gerald A few questions Expiration date:  Mon, 09/09/2013 Event category:  County/Indian Reservation Fair

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Navajo Nation Fair 2013Theme: “Honoring Navajo Language”Date : September 2-8, 2013Window Rock, AZWhats New:

Miss Navaj