The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture awarded Tarleton’s College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences a grant enabling faculty and student integrated research, education, and outreach through international natural resource management. Titled Tarleton State University Program in International Natural Resource Management: Addressing Global Food Security and Hunger through Integrated Research, Education, and Outreach in Resource Conservation and Sustainability, the program is led by Dr. T. Wayne Schwertner, assistant professor in the Department of Animal Science and Wildlife Management, and supports five graduate and three undergraduate research positions through three years.

The program focuses on increased plant and animal production, diet augmentation through use of indigenous plants and animals, plant and animal disease/parasite control, wildlife depredation of crops and livestock, and other issues directly affecting food production such as soil fertility and erosion, water quality and quantity, ecosystem services degradation through converting native habitats to farmland, wildlife and human conflicts in agricultural systems, and biodiversity loss due to human development/activity in agricultural systems.

Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, near Glenrose, partner with Tarleton’s educational outreach and research efforts.  A sub-award, awarded to Texas A&M AgriLife Research, will mostly support student travel and research in Limpopo Province, South Africa, at Ukulima Farm. Fossil Rim also received a grant, which will be used to develop outreach activities promoting public understanding of global food security issues and the effect they have on natural resource conservation.

Funds are committed to support Chelsea Taylor, a Tarleton graduate student, in guinea fowl ecology in agricultural systems research in South Africa and additional research assistantships in 2013. Funds also support faculty professional development in Tarleton’s College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, including developing courses addressing global food production interaction with natural resource sciences.

“The award of the NIFA grant represents significant support for strengthening our educational and outreach mission, especially when our two partners are considered. Funding to support such a broad collaborative effort will allow our students to access resources that are often unavailable to many U.S. academic programs. The relationship being developed and supported by this grant between Tarleton and Fossil Rim Wildlife Center is just one example for how such partnerships will benefit students.” -- Dr. Roger Wittie, executive director of faculty research.

“This funding will allow further development and enhancement of efforts to internationalize our programs, engage our students, and advance our scholarly agenda in the areas of natural resources conservation and global food security issues. I am very proud that Tarleton was selected to receive one of, and in fact, the largest of the inaugural round of grants.” -- Dr. Don Cawthon, dean of the college.

For more information about Tarleton’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences or the Department of Animal Sciences and Wildlife Management, please visit http://www.tarleton.edu/animalsciences/index.html.