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College of Agricultural & Life Sciences

Physical Address:
E. J. Iddings Agricultural Science Laboratory, Room 52
606 S Rayburn St

Mailing Address:
875 Perimeter Drive MS 2331
Moscow, ID 83844-2331

Phone: 208-885-6681

Fax: 208-885-6654



Catching Up with CALS — Oct. 2, 2019

Dean's Message — Sustaining Agriculture

If you think about what CALS is doing, everywhere you turn, our efforts emphasize sustainability.

That is a theme we will explore this weekend during Ag Days and Celebrating Idaho Agriculture events.

Tom Tomich, a sustainability expert who directs the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at the University of California, Davis, will offer a global view Friday evening from 5:30-7 p.m. in the Bruce Pitman Center Vandal Ballroom.

As Celebrating Idaho Agriculture’s keynote speaker, he will help us think through those challenges. We must find ways to provide food today and for future generations, and to protect the environment.

Throughout Friday and Saturday we will demonstrate our commitment to sustainable agriculture.

Ag Days will demonstrate our most important commitment to agriculture’s future: encouraging high school students to consider agricultural careers.

Our strong ties to agricultural education programs helped boost participation to a record 319 registrants, 77 more than last year.

We offer degrees clearly focused on sustainable agricultural production: two that come to mind are crop science and sustainable food systems. Both invite students to learn more with hands on experience at the Soil Steward’s farm near campus.

Although our education programs overall focus is on conventional agricultural production systems, the addition of the Sandpoint Organic Agriculture Center last year expanded our opportunity to address the development and sustainability of the rapidly growing organic sector in the state.

Sustainability for farmers and ranchers also means staying in business for the long term. They collectively think beyond this year’s harvest or sale and the generational legacy of agricultural operators proves that point.

CALS’ programs reflect these priorities aligned with sustainability, from the century-plus of operations at the Aberdeen Research and Extension Center to our plans to establish a new Idaho Center for Plant and Soil Health at the Parma Research and Extension Center.

Sustainability efforts at Rinker Rock Creek Ranch focus on finding ways to protect/enhance the ecosystem services like clean water, ensuring species diversity protection and clean air that rangelands provide. We also want to document how cattle grazing can help control invasive species like cheatgrass while producing valuable food.

And, of course, our next big endeavor is the Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (CAFE). CAFE will provide the most unified way to study agronomy and the integrated cropping and livestock management systems that underpin the Magic Valley’s dynamic dairy industry; a major reason the Idaho Milk Processors Association asked me to focus on sustainability when I spoke to the group in Sun Valley in August.

As educators, CALS faculty help lead Idaho agriculture’s growing commitment to sustainability. The university’s and college’s priorities also reflect the industry’s own desire for graduates and research to help farmers and ranchers ensure the sustainability of our shared industry for generations to come.

Michael P Parrella, dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

Michael P. Parrella

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

By the Numbers

319 high school students, teachers and chaperones signed up for Ag Days events this weekend, 77 more than 2018 through last Friday. 231 students registered for livestock and dairy judging contests. 173 signed up for the Saturday tailgate and 225 bought football tickets, by last Friday.

Our Stories — Major Gift Boosts Meats Center

A University of Idaho campaign to create a dynamic new meat science center advanced another major step thanks to a $1 million gift from the Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation.

The Agri Beef Meat Science and Innovation Center Honoring Ron Richard will expand educational opportunities for students and animal processing on the U of I Moscow campus.

The Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation is dedicated to advancing projects to benefit Idaho. President of the foundation, Harry Bettis, is a lifelong cattle rancher in southwestern Idaho.

“The best lessons I learned were through working. We’re excited to help students learn about real, practical things through on-the-job training and to provide new opportunities to students and the industry,” Bettis said.

“The Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation has been a long-time partner of the U of I and has shown tremendous commitment to higher education in the state. Their support of this project will ensure the continued development of Idaho’s workforce and positively impact the state’s cattle industry for years to come,” said U of I President Scott Green.

The U of I College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) plans to build a state-of-the-art facility to house its meat science program and the Vandal Brand Meats retail operation. In April, Boise-based Agri Beef, one of Idaho’s best-known integrated meat processors, donated $2 million to the project.

Other major donors, including Northwest Farm Credit Services, have also contributed to the project. The Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation’s gift moves the project over the halfway mark toward the $8 million goal.

In addition to providing one of north central Idaho’s few federally inspected livestock processing facilities, Vandal Brand Meats provides dozens of students with on-the-job experience each year.

Vandal Brand Meats also sells cuts of beef and pork and processed meats including Vandal Franks, a staple of U of I football games.

The new meat science facility and retail center honors Ron Richard who led the development of Vandal Brand Meats during his 30-year career with CALS. His vision is reflected in the design of this new facility. Richard died in fall 2018 as plans to begin a fundraising campaign for the project were formalized.

Ag Days Celebration Draws a Crowd Oct. 4-5

An expert on agricultural sustainability is the keynote speaker for the University of Idaho Ag Days and Celebrating Idaho Agriculture events Oct. 4-5 on the Moscow campus.

Agricultural economist Tom Tomich will talk about "Global Food Security and Sustainability: Food system disruptors and opportunities” from 5:30-7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4, in the Vandal Ballroom, Bruce M. Pitman Center.

Tomich is director of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at the University of California, Davis and W.K. Kellogg Endowed Chair in Sustainable Food Systems. His program is sponsored by the U of I College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and is free and open to the public.

Agriculture and food are valuable starting points to talk about sustainability because everyone has to eat, he said, but agricultural sustainability reaches beyond today’s basic needs.

The challenges include economics. Tomich said a billion or more people don’t have enough to eat because they cannot produce enough food or they are too poor to buy enough food. Not only is growing enough food vital to a sustainable future, so is sustainably distributing it.

Other U of I ag-related events planned during the weekend include an open house for a newly renovated teaching laboratory in the E.J. Iddings Agricultural Sciences Building at Sixth and Rayburn streets from 10-11 a.m. Friday.

The CALS Alumni Awards Luncheon will follow from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Vandal Ballroom of the Pitman Center.

The Celebrating Idaho Agriculture Tailgate is from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m Saturday, before the 2 p.m. kickoff of the Idaho Vandals versus the Weber State University Wildcats in the ASUI-Kibbie Activity Center.

Information about luncheon, tailgate and football tickets is available online at

Faces and Places

Agricultural and Extension Education professor Cassie Smith poses with McKenna Ellinghaus and her award.Makenna Ellinghaus, a senior from Snohomish, Washington, studying agricultural education, received the Outstanding Research Manuscript award at the Western Region Meeting of the American Association for Agricultural Education. Her project focused on experiences of early women in agricultural education.

Recipients of CALS Alumni and Friends Awards include:

Alumni Achievement

  • Pat Dixon, B.S. Agricultural Education ‘05

Distinguished Alumni

  • Sydel Samuels, B.S. Family and Consumer Sciences ‘01, Masters in Public Administration ‘10

Distinguished Associate

  • Jim Little, Friend

Distinguished Retiree

  • Professor Emeritus Carl Hunt, Department of Animal and Veterinary Science

International Achievement

  • Lt. Col. Steve Schmidt, B.S. and M.S. Family and Consumer Sciences ‘99, '01

Early Career Achievement

  • James Nasados, B.S. Agricultural Science, Communications and Leadership ‘16


  • Oct. 4 — Celebrating Idaho Agriculture, keynote Professor Tom Tomich, founding director of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at University of California, Davis in the Vandal Ballroom, Bruce M. Pitman Center, 5:30-7 p.m.
  • Oct. 4-6Ag Days, Moscow
  • Oct. 15Seth Bordenstein, Vanderbilt University Microbiome Initiative director and associate professor of biology, will give the Center for Health in the Human Ecosystem annual research symposium plenary address in the U of I Administration Building Auditorium, 9-10 a.m.

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College of Agricultural & Life Sciences

Physical Address:
E. J. Iddings Agricultural Science Laboratory, Room 52
606 S Rayburn St

Mailing Address:
875 Perimeter Drive MS 2331
Moscow, ID 83844-2331

Phone: 208-885-6681

Fax: 208-885-6654