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News from the Center

2015 Mass. Envirothon winners announced
Students examine water at MA Envirothon
May 18, 2015

A school year of preparation paid off for local teenagers who were rewarded for their knowledge of the environment at the 28th annual Massachusetts Envirothon. They were among more than 250 high school students from 30 Massachusetts communities from Boston to the Berkshires who descended on the Quabbin Reservoir on Thursday, May 14, 2015, for the outdoor field competition.

"These teams work hard getting to know their local ecosystems and how their communities depend on them. We test their scientific knowledge, but we also like to hear their stories about how they have gotten muddy, cold, and tired, and otherwise had fun and fallen in love with nature in their neighborhood. The best hope for the future comes from engaged, scientifically literate citizens who care about their communities and the environment," said Massachusetts Envirothon Steering Committee Chair Will Snyder of the University of Massachusetts Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment.

4-Hers: Sign up time for UMass Camps and Academies
4-H Robotics camp
May 5, 2015

Fun and educational! It is that time of year to sign up for summer camps and academies at UMass. Interested in learning about beef or dairy cows or Veterinary medicine? These opportunities are coming right up in June. Spaces are limited, so sign up today! Summer of Science camp with 4 unique tracks will be held June 28-30. These topics often provide life-changing experiences for young people to learn about solar cars, Veterinary science, or how to make a movie or a robot.  All on UMass Amherst campus...to get a taste of their future! Sign up today.

Center Publishes Study on Proposed Pipeline Route
Cover of Pipeline Assessment document
Apr 16, 2015

The Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment has released “A Natural Resources Assessment of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company’s Proposed Northeast Energy Direct Project’s Pipeline Route Within Massachusetts.” The assessment was conducted by a team from UMass Amherst’s Department of Environmental Conservation, including Scott Jackson, Extension Associate Professor, Bethany Bradley, Assistant Professor, and Thomas Cairns, MS Candidate. The authors created the assessment by utilizing a compilation of twenty available inventories of natural resources and environmental resources in Massachusetts, from state and UMass Amherst sources. These inventories were mapped against the mainline route of the proposed pipeline and then the proportion of affected resources was compared to the availability of the particular resource countywide and statewide. This method resulted in identification of key resources most likely to be impacted by the pipeline. Volume One covers the mainline of the pipeline and is now available for download here. Volume Two (forthcoming) will cover the spurs.

In Search of an Invasive Plant Pathogen in the Connecticut River
Research technician and Stockbridge undergraduate, Genevieve Higgins collecting water samples from the Connecticut River in Deerfield.
Apr 2, 2015

In 2013, a two-year study was undertaken to determine the incidence and distribution of Phytophthora species in the Connecticut River Valley watershed. Phytophthora is a destructive plant pathogen that attacks regionally important vegetable crops and woody plants in forest and urban settings. The pathogen is notorious for thriving in wet, flooded soils and has the ability to produce a swimming, asexual spore that seeks out susceptible plants to infect. Under ideal conditions, disease outbreaks can develop very quickly in agricultural settings. The genus Phytophthora is composed of numerous species, some of which are non-native in Massachusetts. The primary goal of this study was to determine if the non-native vegetable pathogen, Phytophthora capsici, is present in the Connecticut River and its various tributaries.

2015 Spring Forum—LAND: the foundation of a healthy food system
Apr 2, 2015

Attend PVGrows 2015 Spring Forum to learn about the role that 'secure access to land' plays in our food system – and how individuals and organizations can work together to strengthen this foundation.  The forum will be held on Wednesday, April 15th from 9:00-1:30 p.m., at Open Square in Holyoke, MA.

Like past forums, the 2015 spring forum will include interactive sessions, structured networking, opportunities for collaboration, and a locally-grown lunch. This event is open to anyone interested in and working for a healthy food system in the Pioneer Valley.

Symposium Provides Valuable Information to Professionals Concerned With Bee Health
Dr. Anne Averill moderates Pollinator Health Symposium
Apr 1, 2015

Did you hear the sound of buzzing emanating from UMass on March 26? It was the gathering of over 300 bee-focused individuals from throughout New England at a symposium to learn about pollinator health for agriculture and the landscape. The first–time symposium drew beekeepers, educators, landscapers, farmers and others to a packed full day educational program of research-based information about native bees, honey bees and ways in which to protect pollinator health.

UMass Extension Symposium: Pollinator Health for Agriculture and Landscapes
bee with pollen USGS image
Mar 16, 2015

Thursday, March 26, 2015, an exciting full-day educational program of research-based information about native bees, honey bees and protecting pollinator health is on tap. Experts from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the University of Maine, and the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station will share their expertise and latest scientific research on pollinator health, designing pollinator support plantings, neonicotinoids in agriculture and landscapes, and bee-friendly landscapes.

For the full agenda and registration form, go to: http://extension.umass.edu/landscape/events/pollinator15

UMass Heads to the Hills (Capitol Hill)
UMass representatives visit Congressman McGovern in Washington DC
Mar 10, 2015

Volunteer Ken Nicewicz and Linda Horn (Extension 4-H) held annual “CARET” meetings with Massachusetts legislators on Capitol Hill in early March.  The Council for Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching (CARET), is an organization of volunteer grass-roots supporters of the Land Grant University system that meet every year in Washington, D.C.

Senator Elizabeth Warren told Nicewicz and Horn that upcoming legislation regarding nutrition would include issues of food security. Senator Edward Markey, Congressman James McGovern and Congressman Richard Neal and their legislative aides each spent time talking with our  delegates about key issues within The Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (CAFE).


 

Community Tree Conference: Preserving Trees and Landscapes in a Changing Environment
Co-chairs,Rick Harper and Dave Bloniarz and joined by presenter, Mary Owens
Mar 10, 2015

Massachusetts tree aficionados gathered at Stockbridge Hall on the UMass Amherst campus on March 10. Over 200 tree wardens, urban foresters, landscapers, arborists, teachers and others arrived from across the state to learn about urban forestry, tree conservation and the environment.

Montessori teacher Germaine Koomer attended with Jeff Esche from the Northeastern Urban Forestry Advocacy (NUFA). Esche, NUFA Executive Director, has snagged two DCR grants which are allowing them to create a tree inventory, a process of tree identification, recording locations, site and tree conditions for the purposes of managing the health of trees and property in Newburyport.

UMass Extension Fruit and Vegetable Program Holds Annual Advisory Group Meeting
UMass Fruit and Vegetable Team
Mar 5, 2015

Mentor Farm growers across the state met on March 4 with the UMass Extension Fruit and Vegetable team to evaluate successes and challenges to their collaborative work in 2014 with Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Members of the UMass team met with 10 farms at the beginning of the 2014 growing season to identify pests and problems and to set IPM goals.
 

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