January 30, 2018
Lincoln, Neb. — By building on existing strengths in teaching, research, and outreach, the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln is in an ideal position to help grow Nebraska and make lasting impacts, says IANR Harlan Vice Chancellor Mike Boehm.
“IANR is making an impact. We’re making an impact every day, and we need to hold onto this momentum and continue to build strength upon distinctive strength,” he said.
Boehm, who addressed faculty and staff Jan. 30 during the first IANR All Hands Meeting of 2018, highlighted a number of strengths driving the institute’s palpable momentum. These include an expanding global presence, an increase in sponsored research expenditures and connecting with Nebraskans in new and unique ways through Nebraska Extension.
As the university navigates budget challenges, Boehm encouraged faculty and staff to not to let this factor stop their current momentum.
“This is about knowing who we are, staying true to what we believe is important and building on those strengths,” Boehm said.
IANR faculty and staff across Nebraska were able to watch the meeting live and ask questions through video conferencing. A few of IANR’s unique and innovative activities Boehm and other IANR leaders covered during the meeting included:
Pushing the boundaries in teaching
While there is a strong emphasis on what happens in the classroom, the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources is also focused on getting students hands-on experience in the lab or field, and helping them foster connections with others in the numerous living/learning spaces on campus, such as the new Massengale Residential Center on East Campus. The college is working to link curricular, co-curricular and experiential learning to prepare students for careers addressing global challenges.
“Now in its 145th year, CASNR is in a remarkable position to continue transforming the lives of students here and around the world,” said CASNR’s Interim Dean Tiffany Heng-Moss. CASNR is increasingly preparing students to engage in a globalized world. Last year, 100 students engaged in education abroad programs in 17 countries.
Ron Rosati, dean of the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture at Curtis shared with faculty and staff tangible outcomes of how NCTA is delivering on its missions of providing academic and financial access to higher education, as well as career preparation in agriculture and veterinary technology. NCTA currently holds a 92 percent graduate job placement rate and its graduates have the 11th highest average salaries of all U.S. two-year college graduates based off of government tax records.
Research moving the needle
“Our faculty and staff continue to be outstanding in leading world-class research that integrates plant, animal, human and natural resource sciences to take an integrated systems approach to tremendous challenges,” said Agricultural Research Division Dean Archie Clutter. “We continue to compete successfully in a very competitive federal funding environment.”
Externally sponsored research expenditures for IANR have increased by 22 percent from 2015 through 2017 and have reached a new high of $53.5 million.
Whether it be through a new field phenotyping system at the Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center, or a team of researchers from across the University of Nebraska system coming together to better understand what’s going on inside the human gut, IANR is leading the university in research growth and opportunities.
One example of such research is a new Nebraska project that aims to improve land use efficiency. A Husker research team, led by James MacDonald, associate professor of animal science and ruminant nutrition, will investigate how to improve land use efficiency through the integration of livestock and crop production systems. The project is funded by a $1 million grant from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research.
Doubling down on outreach
“What does Nebraska Extension look like in the next 100 years?” Nebraska Extension Dean Chuck Hibberd asked the meeting attendees. Hibberd offered examples of innovative, effective and impactful programming extension is executing across the state that he believes is critical for Nebraska’s future.
One example he shared was maker space labs in rural communities. “Sidney Create!” allows experts from Nebraska Innovation Studio and Nebraska Extension to provide youth and adults with hands-on opportunities in electronics, textiles, computers, digital media creation, music technology and digital fabrication.
This model will soon be replicated across the state in other rural communities. The intent is to provide an economical and sustainable delivery vehicle that enables learning communities, regardless of distance, to encourage innovation in youth and community. To learn more, visit go.unl.edu/maker-labs.
As Nebraska’s land-grant university, IANR is committed to supporting the state. This is why visiting university facilities and businesses across Nebraska remains a focus. Beth Doll, interim dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences, shared during the IANR All Hands meeting that 49 CEHS faculty have taken bus tours across Nebraska and more trips are planned in the future.
This past November, IANR hosted an interactive summit called Growing Nebraska, with the goal of building partnerships to find sustainable and creative solutions to critical issues in Nebraska. The theme for the Nov. 8 summit was “Growing Nebraska: Leveraging Partnerships, Programming and Research.” Through a series of fast-paced presentations and interactive sessions, the summit focused on creating a better quality of life, educating tomorrow’s leaders, igniting a passion and feeding a growing world.
Vice Chancellor Boehm encouraged all to view recordings from the summit event. Those can be viewed at https://ianr.unl.edu/ianr-fall-conference#videos.
To view a full recording of the IANR All Hands meeting, visit http://ianr.unl.edu/all-hands-meetings.
Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources