|On site tour of the water wheels project|
Baton Rouge, La – Twelve SU Ag Center personnel recently participated in USDA/NIFA Project Directors’ Conference in Alabama. The United States Department of Agriculture/National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA/NIFA) held its 2012 Project Directors’ Conference hosted by the Alabama A & M University, September 16-19 in Huntsville, Alabama.
This mandatory conference targeted personnel who have won the 1890 Institutions Capacity Building Program grants from USDA/NIFA in recent years. This year’s conference was really crucial given the projected severe federal budget reductions for the coming fiscal year. All 1890 Land-Grant institutions (and Tuskegee University) were represented at the conference which was attended by more than 150 individuals from across the United States. Several top officers and staff from various offices and units of the USDA/NIFA were on hand to answer questions from participants and partner institutions including, Dr. Muquarrab Qureshi, assistant director-Institute of Youth Family & Community, Dr. Edwin Lewis, National program leader, and Mr. Garland Robertson, program specialist. Dr. Andrew Hugine, Jr., president-Alabama A & M University accompanied by his provost & vice president for academic affairs, Dr. Daniel Wims brought welcome greetings to participants.
The following faculty/staff members representing the SU Ag Center and SUBR attended and made oral and/or poster presentations: Drs. Kit Chin, professor-sustainable agriculture, Fatemeh Malekian, professor-Nutrition, Kasundra Cyrus, specialist-family/human development, Bridget Udoh, communications specialist, Yadong Qi, professor-urban forestry, Oscar Udoh, Coordinator for Planning & Evaluation, Patricia Meyinsse, professor-agricultural economics, Doze Butler, professor/interim dean-graduate school, Bernestine McGhee, professor-human nutrition & dietetics, Glenda Johnson, associate professor-human nutrition & dietetics, Calvin Walker, professor-animal science, and Gloria London, director, Center for Rural & Small Business Development. The conference provided information on USDA/NIFA policy and procedure changes as well as updates for the coming year. With the uncertain budget situation for FY 2013, the restructuring of USDA/NIFA and the appointment of a new director, this year’s conference was particularly essential for faculty and staff who apply for grants and contracts from USDA/NIFA. USDA/NIFA officials emphasized the need to abide by the terms and conditions of the awards especially by using grant funds for the specific purpose intended and to advance the mission of the United States Department of Agriculture/National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
Presentations at the conference touched on issues pertaining to NIFA Priority Areas: Global Food Security; Childhood Obesity; Climate Change; Sustainable Energy; and Food Safety. They also discussed extensively the need for annual reports that are outcome-based; these reports receive a lot of attention from federal authorities such as, the Office of the President through the office of Management and Budget, Congress, and the Office of the Inspector General, USDA.