Posted: October 14, 2020

Ten integrated research and extension teams were awarded grants of up to $10,000. These grants support the formation and development of teams proposing to explore innovative methods, structures, and projects that foster the translation of research into outputs for dissemination and implementation.

Leveraging Master Gardener Interest in Pollinators to Develop a State Bee Monitoring Program

Margarita M. López-Uribe and Thomas Butzler

Bees are the most important pollinators of flowering plants in natural, agricultural and urban habitats, and are critical for their ecological function and long-term sustainability. The decline of bee populations worldwide has called attention to the need to better understand the diversity, distribution and abundance of wild bee pollinators. The team will create an educational opportunity for Master Gardeners to leverage their knowledge and interest in pollinator natural history to train them in bee identification, curation and sampling protocols. The program will offer advanced training to Master Gardeners and will initiate a state bee monitoring program and will be used to collect longitudinal data to identify changes in bee species distribution, diversity and abundance.

Evaluation of a passive permethrin-treated applicator for tick prevention on equines and an assessment of post-exposure dermal sensitivity

Erika Machtinger and Danielle Smarsh

As hosts for nymphal and adult stages of Ixodes scapularis, the tick responsible for transmitting the causative agents of Lyme disease and equine anaplasmosis, horses may perpetuate tick populations on pasturelands where horses and other livestock may graze. With no vaccine for either disease, tick bite prevention is the recommended method to prevent tick-borne disease (TBD) transmission. To improve overall horse health, this team will evaluate the efficacy of a tick control device that allows horses to passively apply a tick preventative to the chin, neck, and chest. Entomologists provide knowledge of tick ecology and control, while veterinary professionals can evaluate the equine dermal reactions to permethrin exposure. Because equine extension educators connect stakeholders with the research community, they can translate applied research results into informed science-based decisions.

Supporting Career Transitions to Commercial Sustainable Agriculture: An integrated approach with aspiring and small-scale Latinx growers in Pennsylvania

Kathleen Sexsmith and Maria Gorgo

The Latinx population plays a critical role in Pennsylvania agriculture, and the population of aspiring and small-scale Latinx growers is rising rapidly. However, they often face financial, linguistic, information, and resource gaps that constrain their ability to meet their production and marketing goals. The limited research base on this group creates difficulties for Penn State extension educators seeking to design evidence-based programming to help meet their needs. This team will improve how Penn State Extension responds to the needs of the state's aspiring and small-scale Latinx growers using a range of research and extension activities closely matched to the needs and preferences of the Latinx population. Latinx aspiring and small-scale growers will achieve improved sustainable production skills, marketing knowledge, confidence in seeking and acquiring information, stronger peer and mentoring networks, and improved access to Penn State Extension services as a result of this project.

Establishing a Long-Term Riparian Buffer Research and Education Site

Tyler Groh and Jennifer Fetter

Riparian buffers are highlighted as a best management practice (BMP) to help meet water quality goals in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and throughout the state of Pennsylvania. The need for research to fill riparian buffer knowledge gaps and to translate these findings to stakeholders, mainly those landowners with streams adjacent to their property and groups interested in sustainable agriculture, is paramount. This proposed study's main goal is to establish a long-term research and education riparian buffer with four vegetative zones. The research-based extension materials from this study will help promote better water quality with riparian buffers across the state of Pennsylvania so that all citizens, especially those living in agricultural dominated watersheds, can benefit from improved surface water quality.

Building More Democratic and Equitable Urban Extension Practices through Translational Research and Engagement

Theodore Alter and Justine Lindemann

This project convenes an interdisciplinary team to translate research pertinent to urban communities and systems into practical, collaborative interventions that address issues of significance within those systems and for those communities. They will initially explore and evaluate the impact and effectiveness of Penn State Extension's urban programs and practices in the areas of youth development. This investigation is rooted in integrative team building, which will serve as the basis for recommending institutional changes to translational research and engagement practices and urban engagements across the College and Penn State Extension. The research is guided and implemented through deep collaboration and engagement with urban community partners and will strengthen the efficacy and relevance of Extension programming across underserved and marginalized communities.

Testing Novel Oak Wilt Mitigation Strategies through Herbicide-mediated Stand Management Techniques and Practical Disposal Methods

Allyson Muth and Calvin Norman

Oak wilt is a serious and expanding threat to the health of the oaks of Pennsylvania. To date, the best available control strategy has required the use of trenching equipment, which is difficult to find, works only specific sites, and is expensive to operate. By working directly with partners from across the nation and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), this project will test a novel management approach being studied in the Midwest, where chemical intervention (herbicide) replaces conventionally mechanical intervention. This method can be much cheaper, uses widely available chemicals, and can be used in more sites. By working directly with DCNR, we aim to improve oak wilt management in Pennsylvania, create a disease management protocol, and create biosecurity and disposal protocols that can be used by a wide array of stakeholders.

Selecting Beef Sires to Breed to Dairy Cows

Chad Dechow and Tara Felix

In an effort to increase profitably, dairy farms across the United States have recently, rapidly adopted breeding a portion of their cows to beef sires to generate crossbred progeny for beef production. The resulting progeny have increased economic value due to their potential for improved growth, feed efficiency, and beef-type carcass characteristics. This interdisciplinary team, with expertise in research and extension for both the dairy and beef sectors, will blend university herd trials with data on sire breed from the commercial dairy operations. Multiple beef breeds and genetic lines will be crossed with Holstein dairy cows, and calves will be sourced from commercial farms using identified sires. Commercial farms will provide breeding information based on Dairy Comp 305 or other herd management software.

Empowering Volunteers to Take Action

Suzanna Windon and Linda Falcone

Environmental education literature discusses the connectivity between environmental research, education practice, and a volunteer's commitment to taking action. Numerous studies have been conducted regarding social factors that affect a person's decision to become involved in volunteer work and environmental education. However, there is very limited research on the factors that stimulate volunteers to take action to solve environmental issues. This integrated project will develop a research-based training program for Master Gardener (MG) and Master Watershed (MW) volunteers that complements the existing training programs. This supplemental training would empower volunteers to become strategic doers who take “action" to address local environmental and cultivation issues. As part of the training, volunteers will learn to initiate and complete projects, and to develop educational activities and outreach materials.

Stormwater Best Management Practices (BMP) Inventory and Mapping – Montgomery County, PA

Cibin Raj and Henry Crissy

This project will create an inventory and GIS map of storm water Best Management Practices (BMP's) in Montgomery County with a focus on in-the-ground projects. The product will include a functionality rating for each feature. To date, a comprehensive inventory and map of stormwater BMPs in the County has not been prepared. This project will help make available essential stormwater BMP information that can be used by a variety of entities for enhanced watershed planning and future project implementation.

Improving Food Safe Recipe Research and Training

Catherine Cutter and Lynn James

Several approaches have been taken to improve food safety behaviors among consumers, but there still is a deficit in actual practice of these behaviors. Their study will build on Kansas State University (KSU) research in order to measure: willingness to incorporate food safety terms into recipes, ease of use of updated Food Safe recipes, and observe groups to compare before the training (usual recipes) and after (using their updated food safe recipes) for food safety mistakes. This project will conduct training and research expanding the “Creating Recipes with Food Safety in Mind" training to the following groups: PA state Grange, 4-H leaders and 4-H Educators and offer training to National 4-H and other states' 4-H, as well as African American and Latinx communities in Pennsylvania to help them update their quantity recipes.