Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Institute of Gerontology honors senior volunteers

Copyright Marshelle Hailstock

The UDC Institute of Gerontology honored its senior volunteers, thanking them for a year of service at the 35th Annual Senior Volunteer Recognition Luncheon on May 20, 2015. The keynote address was delivered by Dr. Clavin Fields, founder of the Institute of Gerontology.

The Senior Companion and Respite Aide programs promote seniors helping seniors through volunteerism. The programs help to preserve the independence of residents of the District of Columbia, supporting low income and disable older persons 55 years and older with high quality and compassionate volunteer service. With the help of senior volunteers, the Senior Companion and the Respite Aide programs improve the lives of seniors who are in need of assistants in order to maintain living in their homes and communities, avoiding institutionalization. Volunteers work up to 20 hours per week, five days a week.
Copyright Marshelle Hailstock

Introducing DC’s first Master Naturalist Program

Copyright: Matthew Carucci
Are you interested in learning more about the natural world around you, and have the desire to give back? Well then the Master Naturalist program may be a good fit for you!

The program has two components: 1) an intensive volunteer training that gives a comprehensive overview of DC’s natural history, followed by 2) a year-long period in which trainees complete 40 hours of volunteer service with pre-approved projects that advance conservation, environmental stewardship, and outreach in the District.

The classes will focus on DC’s physical environment and ecology, followed by a focus on local flora and fauna. Class examples include: geology, forest ecology, taxonomy, birds, aquatic life, etc. Each class is taught by a local expert and is approximately 3 hours long, consisting of a presentation/lecture followed by a hands-on or field activity.

Students learn about agriculture with the Urban Food Production Youth Program

by Arielle Gerstein

The Urban Food Production Program is a half-day workshop where students from D.C. public, charter and private schools visit Muirkirk Research Farm to participate in experiential learning demonstrations and activities about urban farming and its benefits. The program is a CAUSES interdisciplinary collaboration between the Center for Sustainable Development, the Center for 4-H and Youth Development and the Center for Urban Agriculture. Thus far, the program was offered on May 12, with students from Calvary Christian Academy Middle School and May 19, with students from Friendship Blow Pierce Middle Public Charter School attended. 

The students learn about different farming concepts through three activity stations:  

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Around CAUSES May 2015

Here's what's been happening Around CAUSES:

UDC announces new President
UDC has selected Ronald Mason, Jr. as the new president, succeeding Dr. James E. Lyons, Sr. His presidency becomes effective July 1. Mason, currently serves as president of Southern University and A&M College System, and is the Chief Executive Officer, providing oversight for the system's five campuses. He will bring some 30 years of experience in the higher education, community development, and legal fields to the UDC.  MORE

UDC is Tom Joyner's School of the Month
UDC was named the Tom Joyner Foundation's School of the Month for May. As such, UDC was promoted by the Tom Joyner Morning Show and will receive funds raised from listeners, alumni and other interested parties during the month. The show, airs in 115 markets around the country, and reaches nearly eight million listeners every week.  MORE

Invasive plant class at Casey Trees- June 3&6 
The invasive plant class will cover invasive plants and how they are threatening our native landscapes. Participants will learn how to identify and control species of non-native, invasive plants found in the Washington, D.C. area. Native alternatives to invasive plants will also be discussed. This course consists of two parts: a 2.5 hour classroom session on June 3, at the  Casey Trees headquarters in Brookland, and a 2.5 hour field session in Rock Creek Park on the morning of June 6. Register here.

UDC farmers market open for the 2015 season

Have you been missing locally-grown fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and other treats? Well, the wait is over because our farmers market is open for the season! The UDC farmers market is open on Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. and is located at 4340 Connecticut Ave., NW, in front of the David A. Clarke School of Law.

"All of the growers are happy to be back," stated Rudy Arredondo, president of the National Latino Farmers and Ranchers Trade Association, the organization to which all of the UDC produce vendors belong. "They love the location and the market!"

In addition to seasonal fruit and vegetables, vendors offer fresh dairy, pies, flowers, potted herbs, and even freshly prepared hot meals.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Honors convocation highlights academic achievement

CAUSES celebrated our honor students with a convocation held on Friday, May 1, in recognition of academic achievement. Students who demonstrate diligence and determination are commended at the annual celebration. Dr. Gabriela Lemus delivered the keynote address. 

Dr. Lemus (l) with Dean O'Hara
Dr. Lemus serves on the Board of Trustees for the University of the District of Columbia. As Executive Director of “Progressive Congress,” she is leading the organization’s efforts to chart a new vision and strategic direction that is closely aligned with the vision of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Dr. Lemus previously served as: adjunct professor on U.S. Mexico border studies, international economic development and comparative politics at San Diego State University and the University of Memphis; Director of Policy and Legislation at the League of United Latin American Citizens; head of the Labor Council of Latin American Advancement; and Vice-Chair of the Hispanic Leadership Agenda. Here is an excerpt from her address:

"The world is becoming more tightly interwoven, as opposed to getting smaller. This means we're at a critical juncture. You're the answer. You are taking steps forward in a field that is quite unique--the sustainable, evolution of our economy. Soon you'll see it firsthand when you begin your careers. Sustainable development is really a global movement, and the U.S. is last on the charge here. Sustainable development is a holistic, ethic, and political approach that combines economic prosperity, social justice and environmental sustainability. It means that a good society focuses not only on GDP but on economics more broadly--quality of life, that includes decent jobs, social inclusion and environmental sustainability."

Congratulations to the following CAUSES students:

Friday, May 22, 2015

We made NPR!

Guess who made NPR? Our resident "almost a celebrity" farmer, Che Axum!

Just ask Mchezaji "Che" Axum, who runs a research farm for the University of the District of Columbia, the only land-grant university in the country with an exclusively urban focus.

One of the central questions of urban agriculture is how to grow more food in less space. And so, instead of vast fields testing dozens of varieties of wheat, Axum's research farm has raised beds, narrow hoop houses and even a shipping container. He gives growers advice on where to buy decent soil or how to compost their own, in case the land they plan to grow on has a seedy industrial past.

Read Urban Farmers Say It's Time They Got Their Own Research Farms.

And that's not all! Che lent his expertise to Urban Farm Online's Prevent a Chemical Calamity in your Garden and made an appearance in the Food and Environment Reporting Network's Urban Farming Is Booming, But What Does It Really Yield? Read what Che has to say under the "Sustainable and Resilient" section.

Graduation 2015!

The  College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences would like to congratulate everyone who graduated on May 9, 2015! 

Keep reading for a list of graduates!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Free soil testing May 12 - June 26

The UDC Environmental Quality Testing Laboratory (EQTL) of the University of the District of Columbia, is launching a second trial of soil quality testing for DC residents! The free service will be offered on a first come, first served basis for a limited time until June 26, 2015. The service is courtesy of a USDA-grant funded to analyze soil samples in home and community gardens around D.C., and to inform gardeners about the quality of their soil in terms environmental trace metals and essential elements. 

If you are interested, please complete the following steps: 

1. Complete the application form

2. Collect your soil sample by following the protocol guidelines. Samples that do not follow proper procedure will not be accepted.

3. Hand deliver the sample to the EQTL Lab, Building 42, Room 110, on the Van Ness campus, Mondays through Fridays from 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., or by appointment. 

Please note that we can only accept one composite sample per home garden or individual community garden plot. Please ensure the sample is not too wet to process (due to rain or watering the previous day). 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

UDC names new President

By John Gordon

The University of the District of Columbia Board of Trustees has concluded its executive search with the selection of Ronald Mason, Jr. as the new president. Mason will succeed Dr. James E. Lyons, Sr., who has served as interim president of the University of the District of Columbia since March 2013. His presidency becomes effective on July 1.

The Board-appointed search committee, co-chaired by alumnus Trustee Joseph L. Askew, Jr. and Trustee Major General Errol R. Schwartz identified Mason from a field of 91 applicants for the position. In making the announcement, Board Chair Elaine A. Crider described Mason as a proven, highly motivated and accomplished higher education professional who is exceptionally and uniquely suited to build upon the successes that the University has achieved during Interim President Lyon’s tenure.

“The president-elect has proven himself a leader in the higher education community in many parts of the country." She said, "Ron Mason has brought enhanced community relationships, responsible governance, and a strong students-first focus to his past roles and will do the same for our University as we continue to implement our Vision 2020 strategic plan.”

Monday, May 11, 2015

CAUSES TV: Healthy Food for Healthy Living

The University of DC is an ag school, really! Having a college of agriculture in a major urban center like Washington, DC, is more important than ever.

According to a January 2013 report issued by the District of Columbia, Office of the Mayor, “The District is growing rapidly – adding more than 1,100 people a month – and is now bigger than both Vermont and Wyoming. The District has not been this populous since the 1970s.”

Yet, with the economic boom that draws new people to DC, we know at CAUSES that many people living here and in cities all over the country, do not have access to healthy food.

Joining Dean O'Hara on this episode of CAUSES TV are two people who really understand the connection between healthy food and the importance of growing it locally in our urban neighborhoods are Dr. Dionne Fortson Toombs, Director of Nutrition, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, US Department of Agriculture; and Dr. Prema Ganganna, Director of the Nutrition and Dietetics Program, here at the University of the District of Columbia.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Dean Sabine O'Hara publishes 'Urban Food Hubs' research article

Head over to Solutions Journal to read "Food Security: The Urban Food Hubs Solution," by CAUSES Dean Sabine O'Hara, which appears in the April 2015 issue. 'Urban Food Hubs' are a highly efficient food production system comprised of: 1) food production, 2) food preparation, 3) food distribution and 4) waste reduction/recycling. Not only does the concept improve food security, but job creation and urban sustainability are natural byproducts.

Food security demands a diversified food system that includes urban communities as locations for food production, food preparation, food distribution, and waste reduction/reuse. The Urban Food Hubs concept of the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES) of the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) tests the feasibility of small-scale urban food systems that include these four key components. The heart of the CAUSES Urban Food Hubs are high efficiency food production sites that utilize bio-intensive, aquaponic, and hydroponic production methods. Co-located with these urban food production sites are commercial kitchens that serve as business incubators and training facilities for food processing and nutritional health related activities. Given their location in urban neighborhoods, the Urban Food Hubs also focus on waste reduction and reuse through composting, water management, and related approaches to minimizing pressure on urban land and infrastructure systems. In addition to improving food security, the Urban Food Hubs thus also contribute to job creation and urban sustainability in its economic, social/cultural, and environmental/physical dimensions.

Solutions Journal is devoted to showcasing bold and innovative ideas for solving the world's integrated ecological, social and economic problems. Visit Solutions to read the full article.

2015 Water Resources Symposium Recap

Organizers Tolessa Deksissa (left) and Tamin
Younous (right) with Daniel Zarilli 
The UDC Water Resources Research Institute hosted the 2015 National Capital Region Water Resources Symposium on April 10, 2015, at the David A. Clarke School of Law. The symposium, Urban Water Management and Resilience in Uncertain Times, brought together experts from governmental agencies, academia, the private sector, and non-profits to discuss challenges and opportunities for sustainable management of water resources and infrastructure in the region, as well as nationally and internationally.

"Resilience is all about systems, and the particular systems in this region need to function well to be resilient," Dean O'Hara said before conference attendees.

In his keynote address, Daniel Zarrilli, director, Mayor's Office of Recovery and Resiliency for the City of New York, noted the similarities between Washington, D.C. and New York City--both being large, steadily growing east coast metropolises, vulnerable to extreme weather.

In addition to the 44 lives lost, Hurricane Sandy constituted a $19 billion loss in economic damage. New York City faces increasing risks from climate change related extreme weather and therefore must plan accordingly to mitigate loss. By 2050, the average temperature is expected to increase from 4.1 - 5.7 degrees, is expected to experience a 4-11% increase in average annual precipitation as well as a 1-2.5 foot rise in sea levels.

After Hurricane Sandy devastated the New York/New Jersey area, New York established the Office of Recovery and Resiliency to address the challenges illuminated by the historical storm: population growth, the impact on the economy, climate change and infrastructure being the most prominent. In essence, "Plan NYC" details how the city will address: 1) Strengthening coastal defenses; 2) Upgrading buildings; 3) Protecting infrastructure and services; and 4) Making neighborhoods safer and more vibrant.

CAUSES student wins nutrition award

Rebecca B. Silver, a CAUSES student in the Nutrition and Dietetics program, has been honored with the 2015 Cindy Reeser Undergraduate DPD/Dietetic Intern Award. The purpose of the award is to recognize local students/interns for exceptional work in the field of nutrition. The award was presented on April 10, at the DCMADA Annual Meeting. 

The award is bestowed upon undergraduate students in ACEND-accredited programs who meet a number of criterion: 
  1. Membership in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
  2. Enrollment in an ACEND-accredited dietetics education program (DPD, DI, CP, or DTP)
  3. Demonstrated academic achievement documented by letters from program faculty or preceptor
  4. Demonstrated leadership and professional potential
Originally from Phoenix, Ms. Silver moved to D.C. in 2012. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Physiology Degree from the University of Arizona. After working for a few years, she decided to return to school, training to become a registered dietitian. "I realized my obsession with eating healthy and sharing my passion with others," she explained. 

Once she completes the program, Rebecca hopes to become a registered dietitian, working with the communities in need to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

"My end goal is to become a registered dietitian and work within the community increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables in communities that are in need," explained Becca.