Catching Up with CALS — April 8, 2020
Dean's Message — Reliable Food
In the era of COVID-19, it feels like we’re all alone together in this brave new world.
Some things must remain constant, and if they do, they bring immeasurable comfort in times like these.
Consider our food supply. Despite widespread panic buying to stock home pantries and lay in some extra supplies as uncertainty mounted, our supply chains held up. Shortages of essential items were transitory. If bread was gone from the shelf, a new supply appeared within days.
CALS and UI Extension proudly claims the widest reach and deepest roots among communities large and small across Idaho. We are a known commodity, and because of that, we are trusted.
In a recent article in the Twin Falls Times-News, agricultural economist Liang Lu helped put in perspective the strength of America’s food supply chain and food processing industry. Idaho’s large agriculture industry is interconnected, healthy and resilient.
When people stock up, the urgency will subside because the simple reality is, people can eat only so much. As stated by Lu, our buying habits might shift, but demand for food overall will likely remain the same.
This reassuring perspective from a supply-chain agricultural economist is based on research and knowledge, both our stocks in trade.
We have specialized for decades in responding to people’s needs in many different ways. These days, our challenges are great, but so is our expertise and we are applying our limited resources to the task.
UI Extension Director Barbara Petty shared some statistics recently. They show the necessary steps to stop COVID-19’s spread do not stop our outreach efforts.
The popular Idaho Victory Garden classes moved online to offer basic instruction in gardening for people who are at home. Hosted by the national eXtension.org campus. Here’s a shortcut: bit.ly/IDVictoryGrdn.
The UI Extension 4-H Youth Development program is likewise reaching out to children Tuesday and Thursday afternoons with programs broadcast online.
In those and many other ways, our faculty and staff deliver research-based, practical information that people trust to serve society’s needs.
Our faculty still are teaching classes, too, finding ways to adapt quickly to changing times and keep students on track for their degree programs.
No one in CALS would consider what is happening now to be normal. However, regardless of the situation, our mission remains the same. However, we need to adapt so we can continue serving Idaho’s people and agriculture as needed. We are doing just that.
Michael P. Parrella
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
By the Numbers
29,000 Facebook users checked out the Idaho Victory Gardens site and shared it 589 times as a shut-in nation looked for productive things to do. Prepared by a UI Extension team, the site helps those interested in gardening. UI Extension gathered 155 faculty and staff for an emergency call March 17 to begin a mass migration to Zoom and plot an online strategy.
Our Stories — Apparel Experts Design Mask
To wear a mask or not became the question that occupied medical professionals for days as people nationwide sought ways to protect themselves and others from COVID-19.
For CALS Apparel, Textiles and Design professionals and instructors Chelsey Lewallen and Lori Wahl, the question was more focused: If you want to make a mask, which mask style offers the best fit and what fabrics offer the best protection?
Their work targets home sewists who want to protect themselves, friends and families during errands and other non-medical duties.
Wahl is also working with College of Engineering colleagues on a 3D printed form-fitting facemask with a material insert capable of more rigorous particle and liquid protection.
The desire to produce masks at home swept through sewing circles, churches and civic groups as people sought ways to help themselves and others.
The two-layer, shaped mask designed by Lewallen offers an extra layer of security for those following the recommended 6-foot social distancing. “This will not protect you entirely from the virus, but a personal mask will hopefully reduce the likelihood of you spreading it if you are ill,” Lewallen said.
The Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences apparel designers approached the issue much like other product design challenges.
With people more likely to wear an item that is comfortable, they posed the question “how can a mask be comfortable and provide adequate coverage?” Now that medical professionals softened their earlier recommendation of only medical professionals wearing masks, the demand for home-sewn masks is expected to increase.
The ATD design recommends a knit fabric that offers a closer fit around the face and more comfort for longer periods of wear. Fabric ties can be made from the same fabric or cut from old knit t-shirts.
The project presented some real-world challenges such as balancing adequate face coverage with ease of construction and finding fabrics and other materials.
“We would come up with a solution and then there would be another issue. Elastic seemed a good way to hold the masks in place, then supplies of elastic disappeared at local retailers.
Then Lewallen came up with the idea to use knit ties after Wahl suggested using knit fabric for the mask based upon feedback from material researchers and their fit testers. The knit fabric for the mask should be tightly knit as found in an interlock, double knit or ponte.
“Our most important consideration was how is this going to help?” she said. People should still practice social distancing, she said. But the project also reflected people’s desire to want to do something to help.
A website is coming soon that will provide detailed instructions, patterns, fabric recommendations and mask care.
UI Extension Moves Annual Conference Online
Like much of the rest of the world, University of Idaho Extension will invite its faculty and staff to zoom across the physical distances required these days for health and safety. Nine online meetings are planned through the Zoom webcasting application.
The UI Extension Conference will launch Monday, April 13, at 9 a.m. Pacific and 10 a.m. Mountain with a welcome and overview about the State of Extension by Director Barbara Petty. Associate Director Nav Ghimire will address the digital measures initiative.
The conference will shift to its All-CALS agenda on Wednesday, April 15, beginning at 8:30 a.m. Pacific and 9:30 Mountain Time. The 90-minute meeting will feature CALS Dean Michael P. Parrella, U of I Dean of Students Blaine Eckles and Vice Provost Dean Kahler.
Other online programs for associations and emphasis areas are planned through Thursday afternoon.
Meeting details are available online.
Faces and Places
Wine Press Northwest named Karl and Coco Umiker's Clearwater Canyon Cellars of Lewiston the Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year for 2020. Coco graduated from U of I with bachelor’s degrees in microbiology and molecular biology and biochemistry. Karl earned a master’s degree in soils.
- April 9 — CALS Awards nominations closes at 5 p.m.
- April 13-16 — UI Extension Annual Conference
- May 1 — CALS Alumni nominations due for current year
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