Tarleton receives $691K USDA grant to address global food security

NIFA Capacity Building Grant

Tarleton State University

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, December 6, 2012

STEPHENVILLE, Texas—Tarleton’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences was recently awarded a $691,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture, which will enable faculty and students to conduct integrated research, education and outreach as part of its international natural resource management program.

Funding for the program, titled “Tarleton State University Program in International Natural Resource Management: Addressing Global Food Security and Hunger through Integrated Research, Education and Outreach in Resource Conservation and Sustainability,” will help address NIFA’s priority area of global food security and hunger and be led by program director Dr. T. Wayne Schwertner, assistant professor in the Department of Animal Science and Wildlife Management.

“This program will focus on issues that directly affect food production, such as increased plant or animal production, use of indigenous plants and animals to augment diets, control of plant and animal diseases or parasites, and crop or livestock depredation by wildlife,” Schwertner explained. “The program also will focus on issues that directly or indirectly affect food production such as soil fertility, soil erosion, water quality and quantity, degradation of ecosystem services through conversion of native habitats to farmland, human and wildlife conflicts in agricultural systems, and loss of biodiversity through human development or activity in agricultural systems.”

Tarleton’s educational outreach and research efforts will include two partners, Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Fossil Rim Wildlife Center located near Glen Rose. The grant funding will also support five graduate and three undergraduate research positions working in the program over the next three years.

“The award of the NIFA grant represents significant support for strengthening our educational and outreach mission, especially when our two partners are considered,” said Dr. Roger Wittie, executive director of faculty research. “Funding to support such a broad collaborative effort will allow our students to access resources that are often unavailable to many U.S. academic programs. The relationship being developed and supported by this grant between Tarleton and Fossil Rim Wildlife Center is just one example for how such partnerships will benefit students.”

Already, funds have been committed to support Tarleton graduate student Chelsea Taylor in her research regarding the ecology of guinea fowl in agricultural systems in South Africa, with additional research assistantships beginning spring and fall 2013.

Tarleton funds will also support professional development of faculty in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and the development of courses to address the interaction of global food production and natural resource sciences, said Schwertner.

“This funding will allow further development and enhancement of efforts to internationalize our programs, engage our students, and advance our scholarly agenda in the areas of natural resources conservation and global food security issues,” said Dr. Don Cawthon, dean of the college. “I am very proud that Tarleton was selected to receive one of, and in fact, the largest of the inaugural round of grants.”

A sub-award of $147,783 was also awarded to Texas A&M AgriLife Research, most of which will go to support student travel and research at Ukulima Farm in Limpopo Province, South Africa. Fossil Rim Wildlife Center was awarded $77,400 to expand its current partnership with Tarleton by developing outreach activities to promote public understanding of global food security issues and how these issues affect natural resource conservation. These activities will include hiring several interns at the Fossil Rim’s Glen Rose facility to assist with outreach efforts.

For more information about Tarleton’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences or the Department of Animal Sciences and Wildlife Management, please visit http://www.tarleton.edu/animalsciences/index.html.

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Tarleton State University
A member of The Texas A&M University System

Contact: Kurt Mogonye
254-968-9460
mogonye@tarleton.edu

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Tarleton receives $691K USDA grant to address global food security - Media Relations - Tarleton State University