Friday, November 9, 2012

Inter-Faith Food Shuttle highlights Parrish Manor program

The Inter-Faith Food Shuttle just published a nice article highlighting the work of Natalie and Jacob at Parrish Manor. Looks like such fun. Lucky teens!  See the original post here:

Students from NC State University (NCSU) have partnered with Inter-Faith Food Shuttle to conduct a gardening class for teens in the community garden we manage at Parrish Manor, meeting once a week from Sept. 27 – Nov. 15. On the day I visited, NCSU Soil Science students Natalie and Jacob were teaching a lesson on compost. They brought with them a bag of un-enriched potting soil and some finished compost. As an experiment, they asked the class participants to fill 6 mason jars with the following:
Potting soil + vegetable scraps; Potting soil + paper scraps; Potting soil + plastic scraps; Compost + vegetable scraps; Compost + paper scraps; Compost + plastic scraps.

The teens in the class then talked about which material might break down the fastest, considering factors like the amount of micro-organisms present, the amount of nitrogen, etc. Their hypotheses: The vegetables will break down in compost fastest, and the plastic in potting soil will break down slowest. They’ll monitor the jars in the coming weeks to see if their hypotheses are correct.
Natalie and Jacob also taught the class about waste management and jobs that involve waste treatment and composting. They began the lesson by asking the class to draw where they think waste from our toilets goes after it’s flushed, and ended by highlighting ecological waste water treatment practices like those in the EcoVillage of Findhorn, Scotland. They discussed job opportunities in composting, such as vermicomposting mico-enterprises, where such nutrient-rich worm castings are sold as natural fertilizer, and composting operations like CompostNow (another IFFS partner). It was clear to me these teens were seriously interested in this stuff –Kiara, who also works in the garden, is even thinking about changing her major at Wake Tech to something involving agriculture!

The following week, they nailed together compost bins for the garden, and the teens got to create their own vermicomposting bins!

 Fun fact: Did you know that worms can eat twice their body weight in one day? Wow!
See what else has been happening in the Parrish Manor community and community garden in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Buildin' Bins and Workin' with Worms

SSC 428 Service-Learning for Sustainable Soil Management students work with neighborhood kids to construct a series of compost bins for the neighborhood's community garden and learn about vermicomposting worms. Lookin' good, guys!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Jacob wins first place!

Please join me in congratulating Jacob Rutz, a star undergraduate researcher working in our lab, for being awarded first prize in the undergraduate National Student Research Symposium Poster Competition at the Tri-Societies meetings this week. Way to go, Jacob! Jacob's poster, entitled "Potential Contributions of Legume Cover Crop Root Biomass to Labile Organic Matter Pools," was selected out of many worthy entries. In addition to his first-prize finish, Jacob was also awarded the Cross-Cultural Experience Program award for study abroad, which he will take advantage of in Namibia next semester.  See how happy he looks?  He should be! Jacob is a junior in the Agroecology program here at NCSU.

Jacob's poster!

This was hanging in the 'awards' area of the conference

ASA CSSA SSSA 2012 - here we come

Nearly 4,000 people attended the ASA, CSSA, and SSSA Annual Meetings, Oct. 21-24, Cincinnati, OH and we are proud to be part of them.

First dinner at a cute local restaurant, Melt.

Jacob's parents offered the place for us to stay for the entire time.
We were so grateful to stay in such a warm and friendly home. Thank you for the hospitality :)

Lots of people were interested in Matt's oral presentation.
Great talk, Matt!!

Mary presented her work in Malawi.

Erika and her popular poster.

Jacob with his first prize award winning poster.
Congratulations Jacob!!

Suzanne and her poster.

The best way to get the day started.
Coffee for the world!

Lunch time. Guess who got yelled at.

Taking a break.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

New soil scientists

Congratulations to Erika Larsen and Sarah Smith, our most recent M.S. of Soil Science graduates!

Sarah defended in mid September and welcomed her newest family member, baby Declan, into their family only a few days later. Super multi-tasking soil scientist mama! Sarah's thesis was entitled "Improving Professional Skills in Soil Science Outreach through Experiential Service-Learning Initiatives".

Erika defended her thesis, entitled "Evaluating Soil Carbon Pools and Losses in Long-Term Organic and Conventional Farming Systems" on October 2nd. Erika will be leaving us in a few short weeks to begin her new position as a fellow with the EPA in D.C.

We have really enjoyed having these two wonderful women as a part of our lab and will miss them both tremendously. Good luck you two!

 Erika's defense seminar

Sarah's congratulatory dinner!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Visit to the Food Shuttle gardens

SSC 428, Service-Learning for Sustainable Soil Management, took our first trip to the student's future teaching sites today, visiting Parrish Manor, as well as the IFFS Farm where students will teach as part of the Young Farmer Training Program. Great trip!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Arun and his SARE!

Congratulations to Arun, who just found out he was awarded a graduate student SARE grant to investigate legume cover crop root contributions in organic systems. Way to go, Arun!

Time to dress up

One of our lab members, Mary, got married on August 11 in Asheville, NC. Congratulations Mary and Bon!

We went there to celebrate but just seeing a tractor there we felt like we need to represent the lab somehow.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Global Food Security Summer Institute

I recently attended the inaugural Global Food Security Summer Institute at Purdue University. The program was organized by Dr. Gebisa Ejeta, a world-renowned sorghum breeder and winner of the 2009 World Food Prize. Dr. Ejeta is a remarkable man and spending time with him was a great honor. The program consisted of a series of lectures, practicums, group projects, and field trips related to issues pertinent in the study of food security. The extension of appropriate technologies and agricultural trade policy were heavily discussed. The program will occur again next year and I highly recommend it for individuals interested in global food security.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Congratulations, Erika!

One of our own, Erika Larsen, was just offered a position at the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Water as an Oak Ridge Institute of Science and Education Fellow. She will be working at the Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds conducting research activities related to the environmental impact of non-point source pollution. Way to go, Erika!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

(A part of) Research experience

Four NC School of Science and Math rising juniors (Gibra-El, Brittany, Jacobo and Malik) participated in our lab experience. And this is the most important research activity.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Too warm to work

The weather has been really warm the past few days, so Julie took this opportunity to treat us to some ice cream after the lab meeting at DH Hill library. Mmmmm Yummmm. Thanks Julie!!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Microbes gasping in the heat

Angel and Oliver conduct a microbial respiration assay on the NCSU Agroecology Education Farm. This demo will be used as part of the CEFS internship program introductory soil science field day this Monday. Oliver and Angel are still smiling, even in 93 degree temps. What a great team! 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Silly putty in the brickyard

Not too far from our building, students from Department of Material Science and Engineering had a fun activity in the afternoon. 

A 60 lb. of silly putty was dropped from the top of the library. Yes, from the 11th floor.

Do you think we should do the same but with 60 lb. of silly soil? Wouldn't that be fun?

Teaching kids what it's like to be cool soil scientists

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Suzanne wins Golden Opportunity Scholarship!

Congratulations to our undergraduate researcher Suzanne Flieshman, who has been selected as a Golden Opportunity Scholar by the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America. Way to go, Suzanne! Twenty scholars are selected nationally each year on their academic achievements and interest in agronomy, crop and soil sciences. The program provides financial support for travel, lodging, registration, and other costs related to attending the Annual Meetings. Please join me in congratulating Suzanne, who now joins the ranks of our esteemed undergraduates Max and Jacob, who were scholars last year. See more here:

Suzanne hard at work in the legume field - sure can't beat this job!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Ahoy Matey - Pirates Ahead!

Ahoy Matey! I am marooned at the filming location for the Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. (Don't send rescue) Hampstead Estate is located on the north side of Dominica, affectionately called "The Nature Island". Most of the island is rural and mountainous. One of the very few sandy beaches is here. Unfortunately, after soil sampling they make us swim for our rum!

Soil sample site #4 - coconut farm.  I'm working hard - I swear.  

 A pile of coconut husks.  Looks like good compost, huh?