Extension News from the West

4-H to host college prep camp for Air Force teens

Washington State University Extension News - Thu, 07/06/2017 - 3:04pm
Teens learn about science, technology and math while getting ready for college at the Fuel Your Future camp.

A summer camp hosted by Washington 4-H and the U.S. Air Force will help Washington teens from air service families fuel their minds for college success.

At the Fuel Your Future College Prep Camp, July 18-21 at Cheney, Wash., teens can learn about college opportunities and university life with former 4-H members who now attend college.

The camp is open to youth ages 13-17 from active Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard families. Admission is $20.

Participants take part in STEM-based programs at Eastern Washington University, Gonzaga University and Spokane Community College, while staying in EWU dorms.

Evening sports and activities will promote healthy living choices, good relationships and resiliency. With help from 4-H and Reserve Officer Training Corps faculty and students, teens will also learn to set goals and think critically.

Register at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/4hfuelyourfuture. Limited travel scholarships are available for students traveling more than 300 miles.

To learn more, contact:

Karen Hammock, WSU Spokane County Extension 4-H Military Liaison, (509-477-2649), khammock@spokanecounty.org

Mary Thomas, Family Readiness Program Manager, United States Air Force, (509-247-7009), mary.thomas.4@us.af.mil

CAHNRS Faculty Feature: Debbie Handy

Washington State University Extension News - Fri, 06/30/2017 - 11:31am

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.

Debbie Handy

Today we’re showcasing Debbie Handy, associate clinical professor in the Department of Human Development. Here are her answers to a few questions:

Where are you from?

I grew up in Phillips, Wisc., a town about the size of Colfax. I was an active 4-H member (leader), I worked (lots of babysitting, A&W car hop, factory work). I also joined lots of clubs, participated in band, cheer, pep squad, and gymnastics.

Where did you go to school?

I completed my B.S. at the University of Wisconsin-Stout in 1981. I completed both my M.A. and Ph.D. at Washington State University in 1986 and 2000.

How did you become interested in your field?

I decided in eighth grade that I was going to be a teacher. By tenth grade, I had determined that Family and Consumer Sciences (Home Economics) was my field. At the time, the programs were relatively traditional, but changing. My academic and personal strengths were related to this field – sewing, cooking, financial management, family relationships, child development. I had been an active 4-H member, focusing my projects on many of these topics. I took some Home Economics classes in high school. I thought I had the patience for teaching. I had some practice teaching through work at home with three brothers who have developmental disabilities, and I helped lead some 4-H projects with younger organizational members.

Why did you want to become a professor?

I didn’t plan on teaching at a university. I pictured myself teaching high school forever. I was the first person in my family to complete a bachelor’s degree. I taught junior and senior high school for a couple of years in Wisconsin, then followed my husband to Washington. He was attending WSU, so I worked on my master’s degree, part of my professional goal list. I was offered an instructor position in the Apparel, Merchandising, Design and Textiles Department, where I had completed my master’s.

I taught in the AMDT program for about 5 years. When it was evident that we would be in Pullman for quite a while, I started my Ph.D. I didn’t quite “fall” into being a professor, but it hadn’t been on my radar in the beginning. I really enjoyed the academic stimulation of the university, the flexibility I had as an instructor with small children at home, and the opportunity to work with young men and women as they were becoming independent. I had some fabulous mentors at WSU and they coached me through some professional decisions. I was fortunate enough to find a position in Human Development that allowed me to work with my strengths, and to continue to grow professionally.

What is your favorite thing about working with college students?

I love that college students are at a stage in life when they are ready to take control. They have opinions; they want to be independent; they are capable of managing a number of responsibilities. But college students still require guidance. There are days when I feel like I am both professor and mom. But mostly, college students are independent and curious and responsible. They are simply a lot of fun to work with.

What advice would you pass along to students?

There are so many things! First and foremost – make sure to take advantage of the many opportunities available to you on campus. Join organizations, listen to speakers, participate in the kinds of activities that make your heart sing! College should be work, but it should be fun too! Read your syllabus, read your syllabus again, check your syllabus when you have questions. Take responsibility for your own academic progress. Sleep and eat regularly. Read and follow directions. Participate in a research project. Assume leadership. Ask questions. Communicate with your professors and TAs.

Enjoy being a Coug – there is nothing else quite like it in the whole world! Go COUGS!

School garden program takes root in Oak Harbor

Washington State University Extension News - Fri, 06/30/2017 - 10:54am
This story appears courtesy of the Whidbey Weekly, a weekly publication covering news and events on Whidbey Island.

By Kathy Reed, Whidbey Weekly


To put Anza Muenchow in a garden is like putting a kid in a candy store.

That may not be the best analogy, considering Meunchow’s mission is to get kids excited about growing, harvesting and, most of all, eating their vegetables.

Sweet peas grow in abundance at the new garden at Crescent Harbor Elementary School in Oak Harbor. A USDA grant has allowed gardens to be planted at Crescent Harbor and Olympic View Elementary Schools.
Photo courtesy Kathy Reed/Whidbey Weekly

“I love gardening and I love getting kids excited about growing their own food,” she said last week as she stood among the rows of peas
in the garden at Crescent Harbor Elementary School in Oak Harbor, sampling them as she went along.

Muenchow helps with two school gardens
in the Oak Harbor School District. Both have been made possible by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture through its Supple- mental Nutrition Assistance Program Education initiative, and is a collaborative effort between Washington State University Extension, Island County Public Health and the school district. Meunchow is the WSU SNAP Ed coordinator for Island County.

The SNAP Ed grant allows gardens to be planted at schools where 50 percent or more of the stu- dents take part in the free or reduced-cost lunch program. In the Oak Harbor School District,

that means Olympic View and Crescent Harbor Elementary schools qualify.

Meunchow, who was formerly the WSU Master Gardener coordinator for Island County, couldn’t resist the opportunity to try her hand at this new challenge, which, as she describes it, is still a work in progress.

The program launched in January so the gar- dens are still taking shape. A third of an acre has been fenced off at Crescent Harbor Elementary. Second and third grade students get 30 minutes each week to spend outside, and have been involved in a lot of the work that’s been done so far, such as helping to put together the raised beds, spread wood chips along the walkways, plant seeds, tend the plants and harvest them.

Anza Muenchow
Photo courtesy Kathy Reed/Whidbey Weekly

“There are still areas that need a lot of work,” Meunchow said as she surveyed the garden.

The metal poles are in place that will house the

hoop house, or greenhouse. That addition will enable them to start plants during the winter months and it will also give students and staff dry place to gather on rainy days.

There is still no water at either of the gardens, but the process is underway and should be completed within a month or two.

This summer, Meunchow hopes to encourage kids and families to come to the garden when they participate in summer programs at the library. Because the garden is so new, the pro- gram isn’t as developed as she would like, but Meunchow has definite plans for the future.

“We’re hoping to develop more food-based reading programs with the library in the future,” she said. “We’d like the kids to be able to shop for and pick vegetables, maybe even set up some kind of farmers market model for the kids and their families.”

According to Kate Valenzuela, Crescent Harbor Elementary School’s principal, the program, even though it’s just getting underway, has drawn a positive response from students and parents.

“The parents have been incredibly supportive of this initiative and many have shared their stories of starting gardens in their own homes because their children have come home so excited about growing their own food,” said Valenzuela. “The students have also shown an adventurous spirit to try new foods (such as radish tops and pea vines) and they are eager to talk about the nutri- tional value of the food they are growing. From the parents’ point of view, this has been very positive for their child and their family.”

“It’s about increasing the repertoire of the vegetables they’ll eat,” Meunchow said. “Taste is a part of that. Sometimes what you buy at the store doesn’t taste as fresh as it does right out of the garden. But if they try it here and know what it can taste like, they may be more willing to eat it the next time their mom or dad buys it at the store.”

Meunchow must follow a curriculum put in place by the USDA. She is allowed to enhance the curriculum to make it more specific to this region. Currently there is a three-year plan in place, but because the program is dependent on federal funding through the USDA, things could change depending upon what happens with the Farm Bill.

“I’m optimistic we’ll be able to keep this going,” said Meunchow.

While teaching children about healthy eating habits and encouraging them to try to eat more fruits and vegetables at home is at the center
of the SNAP Ed program, there are lots of other lessons to be learned, too.

“At this age, they just suck up information,” Meunchow said. “A lot of them like the science of it, too. For instance, if we dig up an interest- ing bug it gives us the opportunity to discuss whether it’s a predator or a pest and what their role is. Or we’ll learn the different part of the plant; it’s fun to explore which part of the plants taste the best.”

“The benefits of the SNAP Ed program in con- junction with WSU Extension goes beyond nutri- tion,” Valenzuela said. “Having coordinator Anza Muenchow teaching in our classrooms once a week allows our students the opportunity to receive a foundation in the growing process. But what gets the students excited is being in the garden and getting their hands dirty. They’re getting an experience that you can’t get from a textbook.”

Already other schools in the district are inter- ested in establishing similar garden programs.

“The school gardens at Olympic View and Crescent Harbor are already proving to be very successful endeavors,” said Conor Laffey, com- munication officer for the Oak Harbor School District, explaining that the SNAP Ed program specifically could not be used at other schools because they do not meet the free and reduced lunch threshold the program requires.

“However, other schools have expressed inter- est in starting or sustaining gardens and have begun to take steps in that direction,” Laffey continued. “We are excited to see garden proj- ects in all of our schools.”

Although students are now on summer break, Meunchow is already thinking ahead to the
fall curriculum. There will be a vegetable of the month program greeting kids upon their return, so crops will need to be planted at the right time to ensure they’re ready. Fall-bearing raspberry plants are in the ground and some grapevines have been planted along one part of the fence. Meunchow toys with the idea of planting an apple tree as she surveys the space.

“I love gardens,” she said as she looks around. “Every year they’re new. Every year is a fresh start.”

Meunchow has a few fellow master gardeners who volunteer their time to help at the gardens, but would welcome more. She can be contacted through the Island County WSU Extension office. Anyone interested in helping supplement the SNAP Ed school garden program financially may contact the school district.

Faculty feature: Amit Dhingra

Washington State University Extension News - Wed, 06/28/2017 - 9:43am

This is the second summer we’ve run a series on influential faculty in our college, as nominated by our CAHNRS Ambassadors. A very small number professors were nominated both years. Since they already answered the basic questions, we felt like this would be a good chance for them to talk about the mentors that influenced them when they were students.

Amit Dhingra

The first double-nominee is Amit Dhingra, associate professor in the Department of Horticulture. Here is his submission on the role of mentors:

“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.”
― Plutarch (AD 46 – AD 120), Greek historian, biographer, and essayist

I am grateful to the students for the nomination second year in a row. As part of this, I was asked to write about an influential teacher/mentor that led me to my career, and what that person did that makes him/her standout to me.

It is hard to write about one influential teacher or mentor, so right at the outset, I would state that it takes a village – at least that has been my experience. When it comes to the realm of mentoring, often the cliché of ‘pass it forward’ is used. However, the truth is the process is not simply a linear chain but a network, and while one gets influenced by several mentors, a mentor also ends up being one of the many influences in the lives of their protégés.

As I find myself on the other side of the equation to teach and mentor students, I channel the influence of not one but several mentors. The folks who took me under their wing, in their immense generosity, overlooked my ignorance and magnanimously directed me to exploit my potential. I learnt from my ‘Mentoratti’, the mafia of mentors (pun intended), that the role of a teacher and mentor is similar to a coach – identify the factors that hold an individual back, making the person aware of that and give them the tools to grow and succeed.   

Mentors are people. They come in all packages. I learnt not to ignore the ones that taught me what not to do – sometimes that is far more important than knowing what to do. The common denominator of all good mentors is their humility. I remain grateful to the several humble and generous mentors who taught me that everything we do is not about us but it is about others and the next generation.

I salute all my past mentors but a special shout out to the current ones that includes the students, who through their participation in my research and classes, their constant feedback and friendship, continue to help me in discovering myself in not just being a better mentor but a better person.

To all my dear students – this recognition is dedicated to all of you!

Wine and science thrive in partnership

Washington State University Extension News - Tue, 06/27/2017 - 9:24am

By: Taryn Phaneuf

Contact: Kaury Balcom, WSU Viticulture & Enology Communications Coordinator, 509-372-7223, kaury.balcom@wsu.edu

At the heart of the flourishing Washington wine industry is a fundamental relationship. And the simple truth of a great bottle of wine is also true of this relationship: it only gets better with age.

Washington’s land-grant university and its wine industry partnered up half a century ago in a landscape ripe with opportunity.

Hugging the Oregon border, the Washington state triad known as the Tri-Cities sits among steep, endless hills where the Columbia, Snake, and Yakima rivers meet. The combination of long, sunny days, rich soil, and available water for irrigation has produced a large share of the state’s wine grapes since before the Prohibition era.

“The wine that was made way back when was mostly jug wine. Pretty raunchy stuff, actually,” says Kevin Corliss, vice president of vineyards at Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. “Not something you’d associate with the wine industry now.”

But in the 1960s, Dr. Walter Clore, a horticulturist working at Washington State University’s Irrigated Agriculture Research & Extension Center in Prosser, worked with Dr. Charles Nagel, a microbiologist from the Napa Valley, to test which European wine grape varieties would grow best in the state—and where. This research changed the trajectory of Washington’s wine industry and forged an early bond between the university and the industry.

“When we started, there wasn’t a lot of information about growing wine grapes in the state of Washington—period. The only information was from WSU,” Corliss says. “Prior to the 1960s when people started to grow European wine grapes, there wasn’t any body of knowledge—no industry knowledge, no scholarly knowledge. It was just, well, where do you get your ag information? From WSU.”

Dr. Jim Harbertson sorts donated grapes that will be used for his research.

Dr. Jim Harbertson, a chemist, jokes about the days he made wine in buckets and garbage cans when he first joined WSU more than a decade ago. Now, he has a state-of-the-art research winery and laboratories, thanks to industry partners.

In December, Harbertson was one of three wine scientists recognized for shaping the wine industry in Wine Business Monthly’s 50 Top Leaders. His role in developing a way to measure wine’s astringency transformed winemakers’ ability to make decisions. Evaluating wine this way—measuring and using data—eliminates a lot of the subjectivity and errors that come along with the human palate.
This leads to a more precise, consistent product.

This is the type of difference that WSU science is making for growers and wine, and what industry partners are invested in.

“We’re a good size company but we’re still a company,” Corliss says. “Research would always be a secondary consideration for us. So, knowing this, we have to focus on our relationship with WSU.”

Ste. Michelle not only helps fund but also relies on WSU’s work. And scientists like Harbertson know that significant buy-in from the industry makes their research possible, forecasting major benefits for the industry. The relationship is symbiotic.

“Having these kinds of tools helps put us in a position of knowing what will happen—like a crystal ball—to help the industry make choices. Our research is driven by what they need to know,” Harbertson says. “We’re not just solving low-level problems. We’re asking big questions. We want to move the bar.”

Research fuels growth

Diverse climates and soils, climate extremes, grape physiology, forest fires, pests, disease, and microbial populations: all these environmental elements inevitably influence the wine industry. These elements, and what effect they have on the wine, are under constant analysis at the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates WSU Wine Science Center in Richland and the Irrigated Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Prosser. There, the state’s wine industry has equal share in research and development. From which grapes to grow and when and how to pick them, to how a toasted barrel affects flavor, each step in the process that creates the experience of a glass of wine is given its due attention. The result is art informed by science.

In Washington, the second-largest wine-producing state in the country, production doubled in the last decade. WSU research has played a major role in this growth and that’s due in large part to partners like Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, the largest producer in the state, who’ve contributed millions of dollars to fund research.

Dr. Tom Collins prepares the smoker for the first round of smoke taint trials.

“In industry research, the key is identifying what’s happening and taking steps to embrace or change it. It’s supposed

to lead to action,” says Tom Collins, an agricultural and environmental chemist at WSU. “At the Wine Science Center, our programs are academic, but the research has the same drive. Scientists here are racking their brains to empower our industry partners.”

Sitting behind his desk on a quiet, wintry morning at the end of the semester, a stack of uncorrected papers towering in front of him, Collins became a professor of wine science after 20 years in the California wine industry. While he’s quick to point out the gin cocktail that shares his name, admitting his interest in distilling spirits, wine comes first for Collins. And wine science—that’s his passion. Whether in the lab or in the field, Collins is looking for the kind of results that help growers and producers do their jobs even better.

This work started while earning his Ph.D. at the University of California, Davis, where he studied wine chemistry and the sensory impact of oak barrels on wine.  His research helped explain what the coopering process is capable of doing for wine, how consistent the process is, and what flavor profile the varied degrees of toasting impact.

“The structure of the wine has a lot to do with the barrel, but there’s no industry standard when it comes to coopering,” Collins says.

As Collins researched this common tool of the winemaking trade, he used that knowledge to teach winemakers what to look for in a barrel and how it influences aroma and flavor. Collins still looks inside as many barrels as he can since joining the faculty at the Wine Science Center in 2015, but his research has shifted to the effect of smoke taint on wine, the sensory impact and how to reverse these effects.

Smoke hanging over fields, orchards, and vineyards, can taint crops in ways winemakers don’t yet fully understand. In 2012, WSU wine scientists warned that high concentrations of smoke taint compounds accumulate in the grapes’ skin and flesh, eventually showing up in the wine. Unfortunately, rather than imparting an appealing smokiness some winemakers aim for, the flavor of smoke taint is stale, smelling like an ashtray.

In an initial round of field experiments last summer, Collins exposed Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling vines to 18 hours of smoke, burning materials that would be common in an actual forest fire. During the fall, winemakers at the Wine Science Center made wine from the grapes and analyzed it to determine how smoke taint transfers from the fruit to the wine. In the coming months, a subsequent round of experiments will expose vines to smoke for two to three days. In the end, Collins will be able to address winemakers’ biggest question: “Once I have it in my wine, what should I do about it?”

Partnership, collaboration, experience

A group of interns work with WSU researchers to do canopy management at the research station in Prosser, Wash. Intern labor was donated by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates to support WSU’s research efforts.

With 50 years of experience behind them, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates has learned what another 50 years of growth will look like. The company understands the importance of sharing research with other growers and producers.

When Ste. Michelle had trouble with climbing cutworms, a pest that infests grapevines and tree fruit, the company asked WSU for help. Doug Walsh, an entomologist at the IAREC, had the idea to use a common pesticide, but only spray the spot where the vine trunk and trellis meet the soil. Acting as a barrier, the localized spray method worked to keep the pest off the plants. Walsh’s work not only addressed Ste. Michelle’s problem but also quickly and completely altered how growers deal with cutworms industry-wide, saving millions of dollars and dramatically reducing chemical use.

Since Clore and Nagel began testing varieties in the ‘60s, wine science has continued in Prosser and, now, at the Wine Science Center at WSU Tri-Cities. Dedicated in 2015, the center established winemaking and research resources that match the ambitions of the WSU Viticulture and Enology Program. The center is an investment in the state’s wine research; it’s an investment in keeping pace with the growing industry, which now includes more than 900 wineries producing 16 million cases of wine produced by more than 350 growers cultivating nearly 60,000 acres of wine grapes.

“It just makes so much sense for us to cooperate with the university as much as we can in order to raise the bar in terms of the skills of grape growers in the state. Most of them are our own growers,” Corliss says.

Though Ste. Michelle doesn’t outsource all of its research and development to WSU, there came a point when the company made a conscious choice to work more openly and closely with the university, he says.

“There’s an understanding that a rising tide lifts all boats,” Corliss says.


Washington State University Extension News - Tue, 06/27/2017 - 8:51am
Toasting WSU Viticulture & Enology donors and newsmakers! WSU students receive ASEV scholarships

The American Society for Enology and Viticulture awarded scholarships to seven WSU students for the 2017-2018 academic year.  ASEV awards scholarships annually to students pursuing a degree in enology, viticulture, or in a curriculum emphasizing a science basic to the wine and grape industry.  Applicants are required to supply academic transcripts, questionnaire, statement of intent, list of planned courses for the upcoming academic year and two letters of recommendation.  Selections are made by the scholarship committee and approved by the ASEV Board of Directors.  Congratulations to the following recipients:

  • Robert Beezer, Pullman
  • Zachary Cartwright, Pullman
  • Katherine East, Prosser
  • Xiaochi Ma, Pullman
  • Curtis Merrick, Pullman
  • Xuefei Wang, Pullman
  • Margaret McCoy, Prosser



CAHNRS Faculty Feature: Kevin Murphy

Washington State University Extension News - Fri, 06/23/2017 - 9:41am

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.

Kevin Murphy

Today we’re showcasing Kevin Murphy, assistant professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences and head of WSU’s barley and alternative crop breeding program. Here are his answers to a few questions:

Where are you from?

I was born and mostly raised in the Philippines. My dad worked at the International Rice Research Institute.

Where did you go to school?

I earned a B.A. in Biology from Colorado College, an M.S. in Crop Science from WSU, and a Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Genetics from WSU.

How did you become interested in your field?

After college I farmed for 7 years and we grew a some crops for seed. I started working with plant breeders as a part of this process and fell in love with the work. I wanted to learn as much as I could about plant breeding, so I started graduate school at WSU when I was 30 years old.

Why did you want to become a professor?

So I could share my passion about plant breeding specifically and sustainable agriculture in general with students and hopefully motivate them to pursue careers in agriculture

What is your favorite thing about working with college students?

Grading their essays. Ha! Just kidding. Two things here. First, I really enjoy talking to college students person to person about their ideas, motivation, personal stories and plans for the future. I’d encourage undergraduates to spend more time engaging in conversations with the faculty and graduate students they find interesting.

Second, I appreciate the opportunity CAHNRS has provided for undergraduate student research internships. Through this program, I’ve worked with several students over the years, some of whom have published their undergraduate research in peer reviewed journals and gone on to get a graduate degree, and others who have gone on to exciting work and entrepreneurial opportunities in the agricultural field.

What advice would you pass along to students?

 When deciding what to do with your life, find and pursue your passion, follow your heart, and be willing to work extremely hard to reach your life goals.

CAHNRS Faculty Feature: Desmond Layne

Washington State University Extension News - Thu, 06/15/2017 - 1:11pm

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.

Desmond Layne

Today we’re showcasing Desmond Layne, professor of pomology in the Department of Horticulture and director of the CAHNRS AFS and IPS degree programs. Here are his answers to a few questions:

Where are you from?

My childhood home is on the shore of Lake Erie in southern Ontario, Canada. I grew up in a small, rural farming community. Because of the lake-effect and local climate moderation there, we could grow tender fruits, vinifera grapes, and other high-value horticultural crops. My high school summers were spent as a laborer on local fruit and vegetable farms in the area.

Where did you go to school?

I completed a B.Sc. in Agriculture at Ontario Agricultural College (part of the University of Guelph). My emphasis area was horticulture. I completed a M.S. and Ph.D. in Horticulture at Michigan State University. The disciplinary emphasis of my graduate degrees was pomology (fruit science). The crop focus of my graduate research was tart cherry. Michigan is the #1 tart cherry producer in the U.S.

How did you become interested in your field?

My father was a fruit breeder and scientist for Agriculture Canada (similar to the U.S. Department of Agriculture). I developed a love for science and tree fruit crops because of his influence. Working as a summer student on fruit farms in high school and later as a research assistant and IPM scout while in college cemented the desire to do research to help solve the problems of commercial fruit growers and to find effective ways to teach and advise them.  

Why did you want to become a professor?

I wanted to become a professor for the following reasons: First, I wanted to help commercial fruit growers by providing research-based solutions to their problems so that they could make informed decisions to improve their operations and enhance their profitability. Second, I wanted to be able to take my passion for horticulture (and fruit crops, in particular) to teach students about the fascinating and delicious world of fruit so that they could understand its’ complexity, history, global, national and local impact. Students with a plant-science related degree need to know something about this multi-billion-dollar industry and they need to explore the delicious diversity there is for their palate and their good health. Third, I wanted to be able to help people in other countries.

What is your favorite thing about working with college students?

I remember being an undergraduate student and having a fabulous professor who taught my undergraduate “Plant Propagation” course. He always came to class well-prepared, enthusiastic, passionate and had a way of making difficult concepts seem easier and interesting. He was warm, an excellent communicator, and he genuinely cared about the students. It showed. I loved that class. He’s retired now but I wrote to him a few weeks ago to thank him for the positive influence he had on my life. He remembered me!

I really enjoy providing real-world scenarios so that students can better understand the concepts I am trying to teach. I am energized when a student comes to talk to me after class and it is obvious that they are really thinking about something we talked about and they are interested to learn more. Students are the future. To the extent that I can, I want to positively impact their life for what short time I am given with them like my Plant Propagation professor did for me in 1984.

What advice would you pass along to students?

Link your natural giftedness to your curiosity and interests. Discover your passion and pursue it with vigor.  Find an experienced mentor and be a good listener. Never stop learning and seeking to grow personally and professionally. Be willing to step outside of your comfort zone. Be humble and serve others with a heart of compassion.

Vineyard, WSU scientists team up to battle new virus threat

Washington State University Extension News - Tue, 06/13/2017 - 5:24pm

Teja Narta, a postdoctoral researcher, and Daniel Hottell, and undergraduate intern at Washington State University, collect soil samples to identify dagger nematodes in a vineyard affected by TRSV (WSU photo).

Something in the soil was destroying Andrew Schultz’ grapevines.

Naidu Rayapati, a virologist with Washington State University’s Viticulture and Enology program, was determined to find out what.

At first, the Grenache vines, planted in a former pear orchard near Wapato, Wash., had been productive and healthy. But over time, a mysterious infection had taken hold.

Mottled, stunted and sickly, the infected vines were producing only tiny, miniature clusters—or no fruit at all. Infected leaves, crisscrossed with white lines, looked as if they had been munched by insects, but Schultz, the vineyard manager, could see no bugs.

“It was unlike anything I’d seen before,” said Schultz. “You should take a look at this,” he told Rayapati, his former professor and an expert on grapevine diseases at WSU’s Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center (IAREC) in Prosser.

After several tests, Rayapati discovered that the grapevines suffered from a damaging syndrome caused by Tobacco Ringspot Virus (TRSV), a pathogen never before seen in Washington state.

“That was a huge surprise,” said Rayapati. “It was a revelation that we have a new problem here.”

Discovered 90 years ago in Virginia, TRSV affects a wide variety of crops, from grapes, apples and cherries to common weeds. It is spread by microscopic worms in the soil called nematodes—specifically, a species called the dagger nematode, Xiphinema americanum. Like the virus, this species of dagger nematodes was also previously unknown in Washington.

Rayapati and Schultz aren’t sure how the virus and its nematode vector arrived here, but Rayapati suspects they may have hitched a ride with pears or other crops years ago.

Damaging virus, hardy vector

TRSV causes vines to become totally unproductive with time.

Large grape clusters from healthy Granache vines compare with very small grape clusters from vines damaged by TRSV (WSU photo).

“In about ten years, you lose everything and the land becomes useless,” Rayapati said. “It’s a very serious problem.”

Since that first discovery, in 2013, the virus remains isolated on that single vineyard block in Wapato. Rayapati, his team of graduate students, and Schultz have been working together on techniques to contain and defeat it.

Grape growers typically get rid of viruses by removing infected plants and replacing them with healthy, virus-free ones.

“Tobacco Ringspot is a totally different beast,” Rayapati said. “Removing and replanting doesn’t stop it.”

That’s because the virus also infects dagger nematodes living in the soil, and those creatures are difficult to kill.

Chemicals can kill the nematodes, but daggers are hardy, and their populations spring back within a season or two.

Rayapati’s research has shown that the dagger nematode species in this vineyard block can spread TRSV from infected to healthy grapevines.

Rayapati and Schultz are testing different combinations of rootstocks and grafts, as well as own-rooted vines, to find grape plants that resist the virus or are unpalatable to nematodes. Schultz is also looking at predatory nematodes that eat the ones spreading the virus.

Best defense is knowledge, soil test

Right now, the best defense against TRSV is knowing when you’re at risk.

“TRSV has a broad host range, and can jump easily from one plant species to another. That’s why we’re trying to alert growers,” said Rayapati. “If you’re planning to switch crops, it’s a good idea to get your soil tested to see if you’re at risk of these nematode vectors.”

Andrew Schultz and Naidu Rayapati partner to keep Schultz’ Wapato vineyards healthy (WSU photo).

“We’re farming 50-year-old pear blocks that pre-date modern clean plant materials, and may someday go to grapes,” said Schultz. “We don’t know what viruses may be in the ground that do not affect pears, but may pop up when we go to grapes.”

WSU IAREC is home to the Clean Plant Center Northwest, which helps growers plant virus-free trees, grapes and hops. Rayapati urges growers to always plant clean vines from a reputable source, reducing their risk of accidentally spreading a virus.

“Once you introduce these diseases, the rest is history,” he said.

Rayapati also urges growers to meet and talk about virus defense.

“On Red Mountain, for example, where grape acreage is expanding, we’re trying to assemble growers of new and existing plantings to discuss the risks,” he said.

Wine is a $4.8 billion industry in Washington. Sixty thousand acres of wine grapes are grown here, with more planted every year.

“It’s important to nip this problem in the bud,” said Rayapati. “Tobacco Ringspot isn’t something that will wipe out the industry, but we need to make sure growers plant virus-free materials and there are no risks in the soil itself.”

For Schultz, researching the virus means saving not just his vines, and the investment they represent, but the Northwest industry—for years to come.

“We could take the vines out and replant with something else, or just fallow the land,” said Schultz. “But, with Naidu, we’re providing answers to other growers who may run into this virus.”

  • Soil testing is available commercially, and Rayapati’s team offers plant testing services. Learn more about WSU IAREC here. Learn about the WSU Viticulture and Enology here.
  • Contact: Naidu Rayapati, Associate Professor, WSU Viticulture and Enology Program, Department of Plant Pathology, (509) 786-9215, naidu.rayapati@wsu.edu.

Studying fat production and circadian rhythms in grizzlies

Washington State University Extension News - Tue, 06/13/2017 - 11:45am
By Kaylie Shaver, WSU veterinary student, research scholar and summer research fellow

During their active season, bears’ fat cells are sensitive to a hormone called insulin which helps them to convert glucose in their food into fat that will fuel them during winter hibernation. During hibernation, the fat cells lose this sensitivity to insulin, allowing them to utilize their fat stores for energy.

Kaylie Shaver in the lab.

When they finish hibernation, they regain that insulin sensitivity. The bears do not seem to exhibit any ill effects during this period of insulin resistance. However, if a human or a pet were to become insulin resistant, they would be considered diabetic and would experience symptoms such as extreme hunger and thirst, frequent urination and blurred vision to name a few.

Without treatment for diabetes, they may even die from complications. This phenomenon has led researchers to ask: how do bears tolerate their insulin resistance without negative side effects? And how do they reverse their essentially diabetic state every spring?

The body’s internal clock, or circadian rhythm, plays an important role in regulating metabolism and preventing the development of metabolic diseases like obesity and diabetes. Circadian rhythms are an evolutionary adaptation that help to coordinate physiological processes (hormone production, immune function, fat storage, etc.) with external environmental cues such as daylight.

These rhythms are generated in various tissues throughout the body by a group of genes aptly named ‘clock’ genes. It has become abundantly clear that disruption to circadian rhythms can alter metabolism and lead to weight gain and related health problems.

These health problems are commonly seen in people who are awake and functioning during the time their body’s clock would prefer them to be asleep, like shift workers. However, nighttime exposure to light (phones, computers, tvs, etc.), late bedtimes, and midnight snacks can be just as detrimental to a body’s circadian rhythm. Interestingly, veterinarians are seeing an increase in obesity and diabetes in pets as well, likely because a pet’s lifestyle mirrors that of its owner.

Our research at the WSU Bear Center this summer will investigate whether the grizzlies’ fat cells exhibit a circadian rhythm of glucose uptake and how this rhythm differs between cells from the active season versus hibernation. Fat and serum samples are collected from the bears during their active season as well as during hibernation, and then processed in the lab and cultured for experiments.

By investigating the role of circadian rhythms in grizzly bear metabolism, we hope to better understand how bears avoid developing diabetes and other metabolic diseases despite their unique lifestyle. This may lead to new and improved methods for treating or preventing these diseases in humans and companion animals.

Scientific bling on WSU bears

Washington State University Extension News - Tue, 06/13/2017 - 11:35am

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 - 9:57am

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 - 3:53pm

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 - 8:35am

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 - 10:23am

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 - 9:11am
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 - 1:51pm

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 - 1:49pm

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 - 1:38pm
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 - 10:55am
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!