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Capacity grants strengthen education, research, extension services

Published: 11/26/2013 10:48AM
By: admin

Fort Valley State University's continuous commitment to education, research and service earned three faculty members and one staff member more than $1,000,000 in federal grant funds.

Woodie Hughes Jr., FVSU's interim 4-H program leader, Dr. Nirmal Joshee, a FVSU associate professor of plant biotechnology, Dr. Jung Lee, a FVSU research associate professor of food chemistry and Dr. Erika Styles, a FVSU assistant professor of agriculture economics, each received an 1890 Capacity Building Grant recently. Funding for these grants is provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

Capacity Building Grants are used to aid educational curriculums, research and to support Cooperative Extension Programs (CEP) for 1890 land grant institutions. FVSU, an 1890 land grant institution, provides outreach through its CEP. The CEP is a free service offered in more than 20 counties across the state providing education and programs in the areas of agriculture, food and nutrition, youth and family development, and housing and community development.

Hughes, FVSU's interim 4-H program leader, received a $248,300 capacity grant for a project called: the Rural Sustainable 4-H Technology
and Obesity Prevention project.

"We have to do our part to decrease childhood obesity in Georgia," said Hughes referring to the project developed to reduce
childhood obesity in rural areas. "You're talking about saving lives, that's why we're really doing this," said the interim 4-H program leader. Funds from this project will aid in providing a salary for an 1890 4-H capacity building coordinator and to operate service learning projects in Sumter, Telfair, Twiggs and Peach Counties.

Joshee, a FVSU associate professor of plant biotechnology, received a $499,744 capacity grant for a project called: Developing a Sustainable Bioenergy System: Paulownia Production for Fuel, Chemicals and Materials. Funding for this project will be used to study the Paulownia tree and its biofuel and bio-composite making potential. "We expect it to be one of the important feed-stocks for the biofuel industry," Joshee said. He also plans to use the funding to continue research concerning the tree's honey production and forage usage for animals such as sheep and goats. Joshee said this research is important because it has the potential to benefit industries, farmers, growers
and the environment.

Lee, a FVSU associate professor of food chemistry, received a $143,000 capacity grant for a project called Strengthening Instrumental Analytical Techniques of Undergraduate and Graduate Students in Food and Agricultural Sciences. Lee said the funding was used to purchase a liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry system. This instrument will help graduate and undergraduate agriculture students analyze food and agriculture products that could be used in the creation of medicinal products.

"Students need this training to work in any type of analytical lab," Lee said. These labs are present at companies such as Proctor and Gamble and Coca Cola. "It's a really competitive job market, so if they (students) build up this competitive skill they will have more options," Lee said.

Styles, a FVSU assistant professor of agriculture economics, received a $249,140 capacity grant for a project called: Cultivating Agriculture's Future Workforce using the Emerging Leaders Interactive Training and Experience (ELITE). Students selected for ELITE will participate in intensive professional trainings to help in the development of leadership and interpersonal skills. Styles said the goal is to prepare students for the workforce or entry into graduate school. Styles will use the funding to purchase computers, curriculum materials and to fund student travel to conferences.

Selection for the first cohort of students will begin spring 2014. Dr. Govind Kannan, dean of Fort Valley State University's College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology is appreciative of the efforts of the four principal investigators. "I am pleased that we got four capacity building grant proposals funded this year. In times of budgetary constraints, securing external grants becomes critical for the survival and advancement of our research, outreach and academic programs," Kannan said.