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Spotlight

On Saturday April 12th., 2018, Penn State Extension offered a practical field training for Spanish-speaking growers and workers in the fruit industry at the Penn State Fruit Research and Extension Center and at the Hollabaugh Orchard farm in Biglerville, PA. Over eighty people packed this successful workshop on food safety and pruning; Spanish was the primary language for all the participants. Our presenters for this hands-on workshop were Maria Gorgo-Gourovitch and Lee Stivers, Penn State Extension Educators and Mario Miranda Sazo, Cornell Extension Fruit Specialist. Extension Educator Tara Baugher also helped coordinate the full day program. Maria, Lee and Mario are esteemed speakers for the Spanish session at the Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention, and at the request of program participants, they lead this interactive field training focused on worker training topics included in the new FDA mandated Food Safety Modernization Act. Some of the topics covered by Maria and Lee were Introduction to Good Agricultural Practices, Worker Health and Personal Hygiene and Pre- and Post-harvest Sources of Contamination. In addition, Mario spoke about the science of pruning high density orchards, and then demonstrated pruning skills at Hollabaugh Orchard. This project was supported by a USDA NIFA’s Food Safety Outreach Program (FSOP) grant titled “Bilingual Produce Safety Educational Programming for Hispanic/Latino Fresh Produce Growers and Farmworkers in Pennsylvania”, project number 2017-04984.

For the second year in a row, a summer intern from Virginia State University working in the Tumlinson lab has presented an award-winning lecture in the Emerging Researchers National Conference in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (ERN) in Washington, DC on the research they conducted during their summer at Penn State and which they continued at VSU. Under our guidance the students develop a research plan and experimental design here at Penn State and acquire the methods necessary to successfully continue their research at VSU. In February, 2018, Sheevah Amen won first place in the biological sciences division for her presentation, "Does the insect gut microbiome affect plant volatile release?". In March, 2017, Mekiya Fletcher, from VSU won 2nd place in the Ecology and Environmental Science division for her oral presentation “Plants stink but how do they smell?”. Both students participated in the Penn State SROP program with fellowships provided by a USDA/NIFA grant, “Plant Friends and Foes”. These students were advised and mentored by Prof. Sarah Melissa Witiak (a former Penn State graduate in Ecological and Molecular Plant Physiology) at VSU and by Dr. Irmgard Seidl-Adams in the Tumlinson lab at Penn State. Since graduating from VSU, Mekiya Fletcher was accepted into the post-baccalaureate research education program (PREP) for minority students at the University of South Carolina and started her studies in July 2017. The Emerging Researchers National (ERN) Conference in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is hosted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Education and Human Resources Programs (EHR) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Human Resource Development (HRD), within the Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR). The conference is aimed at college and university undergraduate and graduate students who participate in programs funded by the NSF HRD Unit, including underrepresented minorities and persons with disabilities.

The Philadelphia ZooCREW is an “immersive, award-winning urban youth program” organized by the Philadelphia Zoo. The goal behind the program is that participants will become conservation ambassadors through exposure to wildlife and the wildlife science field.

MANRRS 2017 – On March 29-April 2nd Penn State MANRRS Chapter traveled to Pittsburgh for the National MANRRS Conference. Nine of the students in our MANRRS Chapter attended with the hopes of gaining leadership skills, internship opportunities, and networking for success. This was the first time in over 10 years the conference was in Pennsylvania, and Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences by way of the Office of Multicultural Affairs were co-sponsors and co-hosts of the annual event. MANRRS Conferences are also a time for the students to compete with peers in judged competitions such as research discussions, poster presentations, and essay contests. This is where Penn State shines on an almost annual basis: Maurice Smith Jr, PhD Candidate in AEE at Penn State, took home first prize in Oral Research Contest - Division II - Graduate Student. Celize Christy, 1st year Masters Student in Rural Soc, won a 2nd place award in her research discussion contest. Chenira Smith and Merielle Stamm, both first year master’s students in AEE, won second and third place prizes, respectively, in the Research poster Contest II - Graduate Student division. It was amazing to see the hard work of these students pay off on a national level. Celize Christy was also awarded the Cynthia Hayes Memorial Scholarship from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and the South Eastern African American Farmers’ Organic Network (SAAFON). She won this scholarship through an essay contest. Congratulations Celize! Courtnee Eddington, 3rd year PhD student in Entomology, also highlights Penn State’s leadership role in MANRRS by being chosen as the Region 1 Graduate Vice President. Courtnee will do great in this role as a graduate liaison from the MANRRS chapters in our region to the national office. Overall, the conference was great. With over 950 registrants, representation from most of the 1862 and 1890 institutions, MANRRS is growing. We hope to continue to promote diversity in Ag Sciences here at Penn State through MANRRS and look forward to next year in Greensboro, NC.

Ephraim Muchada Govere, director of the Soil Research Cluster Lab in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, was recently named as a recipient of the College of Agricultural Sciences 2016 William Henson Diversity Award.

Team Systemic Action has created a diverse cast of comic book characters to combat the under-representation of women and minorities in the STEAM — agriculture and STEM — sciences and help teach science lessons to fourth to fifth-grade students.

The University Libraries exhibit “Journey to Inclusion: Voting Rights in America” in the Diversity Studies Room, 203 Pattee Library, on display through July 6, 2016, reflects on nearly 240 years of voting rights history in the United States. The exhibit highlights a very small sampling of the rich and varied resources on U.S. voting rights, citizenship, immigration, government, history, sociology, politics, and law available through the University Libraries. For help finding these resources and others, please ask at any Reference Desk. For more information: http://news.psu.edu/story/363258/2015/07/17/public-events/libraries-exhibit-journey-inclusion-voting-rights-america

Suzanne Weltman, Penn State Extension Educator in Philadelphia and Lower Bucks Counties, and Thomas Ford, Extension Educator in Cambria County, received the College of Agricultural Sciences’ 2015 Dr. William Henson Diversity Achievement Award.

The National Society of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS) Region I Cluster was held November 7-9, 2014 at Delaware State University in Dover, Delaware.

Marcia Weber receives the 2014 College of Agricultural Sciences William Henson Diversity Achievement Award.

Students from diverse populations share their experiences in the College of Ag Sciences.

Shakira Nelson, a PhD student in Pathobiology, has been accepted into the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Prevention Post-Doctoral Fellowship Program (CPFP).