Volume 13, Number 2 Fall 1998

In this issue:

Centers of expertise reach out into communities

Nat Bacon, class of 1997, works at Shelburne Farms through the Land Link Vermont program.
Nat Bacon is looking for a dairy and vegetable farm. Bacon, a 1997 UVM grad, has worked on farms for five years, and is now employed at Shelburne Farms' dairy. "Other than word-of-mouth, there's not a real good kind of meeting ground for people interested in selling a farm and people interested in buying," says Bacon. Through a new program called Land Link Vermont, the UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture provides a resource for such hopeful farmers.

The Center is just one of several at CALS that reach out into Vermont communities with research and expertise. "These centers provide a focus to connect our mission, areas of teaching, research and public service in a way which transcends departmental boundaries and provides focus on larger issues," says Larry Forcier, dean of CALS. "Because centers involve individuals from many different departments on campus, we can collect expertise unavailable in a single department."

Center for Sustainable Agriculture

The director of the Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Vern Grubinger, says UVM Extension offices around the state probably receive numerous calls each week from people asking about farms for sale or looking for farmers willing to manage, buy, or gradually purchase a farm. Agencies such as the Vermont Department of Agriculture and The Vermont Land Trust receive these calls, too. There's a need in Vermont for a central location to match up both sides of farm transfers, a need the Center is hoping to fill with Land Link Vermont. The new program is setting up a database of seekers and sellers, and information on the needs and resources of each. In addition, Land Link plans to educate those in the program, providing support and help throughout the process.

Grubinger says it's far more than just a transfer of agricultural land--it is a transfer of enterprises and experiences, too. "Longtime farmers have a wealth of experience, so we're trying to link their knowledge to new farmers, too," he says. Bacon wants to make that connection. "For people who are young and have family not in farming, Land Link might make that transition easier," he says. It's daunting in a lot of ways, not just the money but the experience, too. Land Link is a good way to access all that experience a farmer has built up over the years."

Applicants like Bacon fill out a form, pay $15, and receive likely matches to what they are seeking. The database will include all kinds of information, from soil types and other production information, to data about the surrounding community for prospective retailers. Next spring, Land Link Coordinator Deb Heleba will work with CALS professor Chuck Bigalow to organize a workshop for farmers and professionals interested in farm transfer issues--estate planning, leasing options, etc. Grubinger also points out that training is needed because there are many ways of transferring farms besides buying and selling. Joint ventures, partnerships, mentoring and other gradual arrangements can also work.

Land Link Vermont is an excellent example of the programs the Center for Sustainable Agriculture pursues: It fills an unmet need, it focuses on the needs of Vermont's family farm, and it relies on Extension collaboration with other agencies and organizations. "Every project we run involves a cross-section of the ag community, so it's never research in a vacuum or just students, or just farmers," Grubinger says. "We're trying to create a synergy that's good for everybody.

Center for Food Science

The Center for Food Science is another example of working with the greater Vermont community. "Here, we can combine the expertise of food scientists with that of small business experts in the Department of Community Development and Applied Economics to offer help which encompasses basic science through marketing and distribution of products," says Catherine Donnelly, director of the Center for Food Science. The Center opened in August in the Carrigan Building, funded by a $250,000 grant from the Vermont Legislature that was matched by a federal Rural Business Enterprise Grant. The Center will especially help producers of specialty foods by looking at production methods and teaching them how to guard against food-borne illnesses, as well as doing nutrition analyses.

One of the Center's priorities is assisting the Vermont farmstead cheese industry with research and development. Dawn Morin-Boucher, who, with her husband Dan, plans to make blue cheese from some of their milk in order to diversify their Highgate dairy farm, took advantage of one of the Center's cheesemaking workshops in August. "I've been making cheese in my home kitchen for three years," she says. "I went to the Farmstead Cheese workshop as part of researching the business since I have no formal training. The UVM workshop left me with groundwork in two areas I've been floundering in--standardization, and 'how does retail work, anyway?'"

Center for Rural Studies

Meanwhile, CALS' Center for Rural Studies has been expanding the statistical information base on the state's rural communities and has made it widely available through modern telecommunications. For nearly twenty years, the Center has been fulfilling requests for demographic information from the U.S. Census. To facilitate that, the Center has compiled data on about three dozen of the most frequently asked questions for each of the 246 towns, and put them on its Web site.

The Center has also been compiling basic performance indicators for each of the state's 300 schools. With the interest sparked by Act 60, that Web site has received 17,000 "hits" in the past year. "That's led us into a whole new arena, with its implications for policy analysis," says Dr. Fred Schmidt, director of the Center. The Center works with communities, businesses and policy makers in researching rural issues, and then disseminates that information. Its mission is to promote locally owned businesses and job opportunities, and to encourage people to join in the decision-making process.

With a Fund for Rural America grant and Center for Rural Studies' assistance, UVM Extension is opening two training sites for cyber-skills in the state. Gavin Schmidt, an intern, is helping to evaluate the program's effectiveness in giving low-income people skills that they can use in the 21st century. Among the questions Schmidt hopes to answer are: Is it helping to decrease unemployment? Raise incomes? Bolster local economies?

Gavin Schmidt, originally from Long Island, is a UVM graduate student in community development and applied economics who hopes to eventually start his own business. Linking students like Schmidt to local communities is another plus for the Center. "It's great for our students to realize the value of a project which they are doing, or how their knowledge can be used productively by others," says Forcier. "And these centers have the potential to stimulate economic development in the local Vermont economy through technology transfer," he says. "Many times, the knowledge and information which we possess at UVM could make a huge difference to a small farmer, a small business person or to a town planner."

Distinguished Alumni Honored

Award winners Todd Pritchard and Sally Smith Hackett with Dean Forcier

Sally Smith Hackett '56 and Todd Pritchard '85, G '91, and Ph.D. '98 have been selected as the College's 1998 alumni award winners. Hackett received the Outstanding Alumni Award and Pritchard the New Achiever Alumni Award at the fifth annual CALS award dinner last May.

Hackett, who studied home economics at UVM, lives in South Burlington, Vermont. In 1985 she was named Outstanding Board Member of the United Way of Chittenden County. She has been vice president and president of the UVM Alumni Council, chair of the UVM Alumni Fund and UVM Fund committees, chair of the 1956 Reunion Committee, and member of the Ira Allen Society Committee. In 1981, she received the Distinguished Service Award of the UVM Alumni Council.

Pritchard, a senior researcher in nutrition and food sciences in CALS, recently earned his doctorate in microbiology at UVM. He works with Vermont food companies to help promote food safety. Pritchard volunteers for several organizations including Alpha Gamma Rho, the Arthritis Foundation, Multiple Sclerosis, Champlain Arts Theater and Lyric Theater.

The Sixth Annual CALS Alumni Award dinner will be held May 15, 1999. Please consider nominating someone for the Outstanding Alumni or the New Achiever Alumni awards.

Alumni Profile:
Information technology is Darren Bischoff's focus

Helping people get access to--and deal with--information in many forms has been a keen interest of Darren Bischoff, class of 1991, since his senior year in college.

That year, the Agriculture and Resource Economics major co-wrote a federal grant proposal with Professor Fred Schmidt, director of the Center for Rural Studies, where he had worked as an intern. The grant was funded and created a position that Bischoff filled after graduation, helping small businesses and towns make informed decisions for themselves about their future. This process combined data analysis, Geographic Information Systems, and survey research.

Eventually the Center became interested in putting its information on the Internet, a goal that quickly developed into getting Internet access to as many people as possible. Bischoff not only helped small towns gain access, but also analyzed what effect access had on the towns' community development.

While working at the Center for Rural Studies, Bischoff took classes in information systems and computer programming. Then he pursued those interests at Boston University, receiving an MBA with a concentration in information systems in 1997.

Bischoff now works at a new company called E Ink Corporation, which is developing a new system for carrying electronic information using special ink and a thin, bendable display device. The company is still developing this system, but has already received some very excited responses.

Describing how his work at the Center for Rural Studies prepared him well for the work he's doing now, Bischoff says, "The core part of my job at CRS was figuring out how to best communicate information to people...Now I'm dealing with a very visual technology, but it's still an information-bearing technology."

Student Profile:
Internship enables Jessica Davis to contribute and learn

Last summer, Jessica Davis had an unusual internship for an Environmental Studies major--providing insurance information to farmers and small business owners.

Davis, a senior from California, compiled three fact sheets for farmers and small business owners for UVM's Women's Agricultural Network (WAgN). WAgN provides education and technical assistance to women interested in starting farms or agriculture-related businesses. The fact sheets outline the health and liability insurance options available to business owners by explaining different types of insurance, and what types are required by law for different businesses.

Although researching insurance information may not sound like the most direct way to get involved in agriculture, Davis insists it's very important. "Insurance is an immediate need of farmers and people who go through WAgN's programs," she says. "It is key to having good businesses that will support the environment." Davis describes herself as a behind-the-scenes person. "I'm not actually going out there and starting a business, but I'm helping them. That's how I picture myself in the workplace."

Mary Peabody, the director of WAgN, says she was impressed by Davis's ability to grasp complex information quickly. "Insurance is one of the biggest barriers to women making the leap to full-time farming," Peabody says "Jessica's contribution can favorably impact farmers for a long time to come."

Although uncertain about exactly what career she wants to pursue, Davis is interested in urban planning and sustainable living. Through her internship with WAgN, Davis gained experience in working with small organizations, assisted in providing support services to women in agriculture, and increased her personal knowledge of health and liability insurance. Davis is certain these experiences will be of great benefit in any career choice she makes.

Faculty Profile:
Hongda Chen, prominent researcher and teacher, is committed to service

Although probably best known for his work on creating an edible film from whey protein, Dr. Hongda Chen is something of a "Renaissance man"--actively engaged in teaching, research, and service.

Associate professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences and the first food engineer at UVM, Chen has had his edible film research highlighted in several magazines around the state and country. Recently he has researched new developments for the film including how it biodegrades in two weeks in a compost environment and its ability to enhance food quality and safety when used as a film for hot dogs. Chen also teaches two advanced courses in food science, among others, and is very committed to the University's service mission.

"I have a very heavy teaching load and I'm very excited about my research and I also like to help the University in a global sense--to do something beyond what is normally required of myself," he says.

When asked what he is most proud of, Chen describes an exchange program he is setting up between Fuzhou University (from which he received his B.S. and where he is now an honorary professor) and UVM--the first exchange between UVM and any university in China. The program will bring faculty and students from Fuzhou to UVM and send UVM students for a semester at Fuzhou. Chen hopes to develop a protocol to help other departments offer similar exchanges with Fuzhou in the future.

Charitable giving directly supports students and faculty

In addition to thanking the nearly 300 donors who have contributed towards the $1,049,320 in total private support received by the College during the last fiscal year, it is important to "put a face" on their valuable support. The following examples symbolize the spectrum of gifts and portray the benefits of philanthropy for many members of the CALS community.

Numerous charitable gifts made it possible for a dozen undergraduate students to be in the field, quite literally, this summer as part of the Center for Sustainable Agriculture's Internship Program. Working closely with internship hosts and academic advisors, the students derived multiple benefits ranging from farming and small business management skills to academic credit and personal accomplishments. The Robert P. Davison Endowment Fund also lent support to the internship program this year. The Davison Endowment succeeded in reaching its $100,000 goal to match the Davison families' $100,000 challenge gift, thanks to a capstone gift from Dr. George E. Webster (CALS '36).

Malkiel Scholarship recipients Michael Bero of Shaftsbury, VT and Erin Snarski of Dummerston, VT with Professor Jim Gilmore.
The establishment of two new scholarship funds is good news for undergraduate students. The Doris and Julian Malkiel Scholarship Fund was created by Julian Malkiel in memory of his late wife, Doris. The Malkiel Fund will provide scholarship assistance to academically qualified junior and senior pre-vet students with financial need. A second fund was established to recognize Professor Emeritus Jim Welch who retired in June 1997 following a distinguished career at UVM spanning 30 years. The James Welch Scholarship Fund will support financially needy Vermont students interested in pursuing a career in agriculture. Colleagues, family, friends, and former students made gifts to the Welch Fund--including a $12,500 challenge donation from one donor. Gifts for the Welch Fund are now being accepted to fulfill the $12,500 challenge grant by the end of the year.

Generous gifts from the Lintilhac Foundation and others were used to provide partial tuition support for eight outstanding graduate students in the Field Naturalist Program. The gifts also have enabled the Field Naturalist Program to initiate research in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom to explore different approaches to restoring ecological integrity to northern forest lands that have been severely degraded by poor management practices.

Thanks to the encouragement and sustained financial support from the Mittenbühler Research Fund, Extension Professor Leonard Perry has become an internationally recognized expert on hops (see Perry's Perennial Web page on hops at http://www.uvm.edu/~pass/perry/hops.html. Dr. Perry and Plant and Soil Science graduate student Matt Wood will soon publish their results in a book appropriately entitled Growing Hops.

Outstanding teaching and research in nutrition and food sciences is recognized and rewarded annually by Robert L. Bickford, Jr.(CALS '43). Rachel Johnson, Associate Professor of Nutrition and Food Sciences, has used her 1998 Bickford Scholar award to further her scholarship in the study of nutrition and young children and to attend international conferences.

For more information on ways you can help enhance the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, contact CALS Development Officer Howard Lincoln at (802)656-2509; hlincoln@advancement.uvm.edu.

Message from Dean Lawrence Forcier
Serving as CALS dean has been an honor

UVM President Judith Ramaley has asked me to join her central administration as her senior advisor emphasizing matters related to Vermont and Vermont partnerships. Our goal will be to strive for excellence in contributing to a high quality of life for Vermonters. We also hope that many high quality programs at the University will be well-known throughout the state. President Ramaley is a national leader in strengthening the land grant vision of Vermont Senator Justin Smith Morrill in contemporary universities. I look forward to working with her on university-wide matters.

As I accept this new assignment, I will step down as dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Provost Geoff Gamble is working with CALS faculty, staff, and students to appoint new leadership for the College with the hope of naming an interim dean soon. I will continue to serve as director of UVM Extension and dean of the Division of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Extension.

It has been a privilege to serve as dean of the College. I have been especially proud of the efforts of the College's faculty, staff, and students and their many accomplishments over the last seven years. The very good work of the faculty and staff in the dean's office, the department chairs, and the center directors is especially acknowledged. Student enrollments have increased and student quality is higher. The College has reduced its administrative structure while maintaining high quality teaching, advising, and research. A number of the faculty and staff in the College have received awards and other special recognition, and our students' accomplishments have been extraordinary. Our farms and maple research center are being well managed and are used extensively by our students and the public. We have forged closer ties with state and federal agencies and have established the Center for Sustainable Agriculture and the Center for Food Sciences. I am very grateful for the financial support and encouragement of alumni, advisors, and our friends, which has enabled the College to advance despite constrained budgets.

The generosity and outstanding contributions of many alumni should make me hesitate to thank particular individuals. However, when I think of the establishment of our two annual CALS alumni awards, our alumni award dinner, the initiation of this newsletter, and his outstanding interest, commitment, and leadership, I must acknowledge Bob Bickford. Bob '42 also ably chairs the CALS Board of Advisors, and he and his wife, Lee Bickford '41, have been very generous in recognizing and supporting excellence in our students and faculty. Another couple whose support and friendship has meant so much to me is Pam and Ray Allen. Ray '59, like Bob Bickford, is a former member of the UVM Board of Trustees. He serves on the CALS Board of Advisors, and the State Advisory Council for UVM Extension and as the Vermont representative to the national Council on Agriculture, Research, Extension and Teaching.

It has been an honor for me to be a part of your college. I look forward to the new challenge before me and the opportunity to continue to work with you and other UVM alumni from the entire campus as I carry out my new duties.

Nominations Sought For Alumni Awards

The College is seeking nominations for the Outstanding Alumni Award and the New Achiever Award. If you would like to nominate a CALS graduate for one of these awards, contact Kate Baldwin in the Dean's office by calling 802-656-2980; writing to 601 Main Street, Burlington, VT 05401-3439; or e-mailing khbaldwi@zoo.uvm.edu. Nomination forms are also available on the World Wide Web at http://ctr.uvm.edu/cals/nominate.htm. Nominations are due by April 1999.

Contact these individuals if you have questions or need information:

Lawrence Forcier (802-656-2980)

Associate Deans:
Catherine Donnelly (802-656-2980)
Donald Foss (802-656-2981)

Department Chairs:
Animal Sciences: John Bramley (802-656-2070)
Botany and Agricultural Biochemistry: David Barrington (802-656-2930)
Community Development and Applied Economics: Catherine Halbrendt (802-656-2001)
Microbiology and Molecular Genetics: Susan Wallace (802-656-2164)
Nutrition and Food Sciences: Robert Tyzbir (802-656-3374)
Plant and Soil Science: Lorraine Berkett (802-656-2630)

Program Heads:
Biological Sciences Program: Robert Ullrich (802-656-0432)
Family and Consumer Sciences Education: Valerie Chamberlain 802-656-0035)
Environmental Sciences: Alan McIntosh (802-656-4057)
Environmental Studies Program: Ian Worley, Interim (802-656-4055)

Writers: Kate Baldwin, Dorothy Donnelly, Susan Harlow
Editor: Meg Ashman
Designer: Bob Fardelmann
Photo: UVM Photography, Howard Lincoln

Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension Work Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture. Lawrence K. Forcier, Director, University of Vermont Extension, Burlington, Vermont. University of Vermont Extension and U.S. Department of Agriculture, cooperating, offer education and employment to everyone without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, and marital or familial status.

This page is hosted by Communication and Technology Resources, University of Vermont, and maintained by Kim Parker, (Kim.Parker@uvm.edu); April 1, 2002. Return to:

Keeping in Touch homepage
CALS Alumni homepage
CALS homepage