Daughters of Demeter Celebrate 100

In Greek mythology, Demeter is the goddess of the harvest and agriculture, presiding over the fertility of the earth. And in that spirit, members of a century-old nonprofit called Daughters of Demeter perform community service and award scholarships and grants to CALS students to ensure that agriculture and the college remain strong.

Daughters of Demeter was formed in 1917 by a group of women whose spouses were on CALS faculty. Since then, the organization has expanded membership to welcome all faculty, staff and friends of the college and recently invited its first male member. The group now has some 120 members and hopes to increase membership during its centennial year.

A Daughters of Demeter loan fund was established in 1944 with a $25 gift; soon after, the group established a scholarship fund. Student scholarship support has grown over the years, and, in the last decade, the organization has awarded more than $300,000 in scholarships and grants to CALS students and student organizations.

“The Daughters of Demeter are consistently one of the most generous annual donors to CALS scholarship funds, and a subgroup has sewn thousands of hats and scarves annually donated to University of Wisconsin cancer patients,” notes Daughters of Demeter president Liz Henry BS’83, an emeritus CALS academic staff member.

But there’s no pressure for members to participate in all activities, notes Henry: “Members can join and be as involved as they choose and are not held to any more or less involvement than they are comfortable with.”

Janice Martin has been a member since 1983, became president in 1988 and has since chaired numerous committees, including the Annual Corn Roast Committee. She currently chairs a bulb-planting committee that plants more than 1,500 bulbs at Allen Centennial Garden each fall.

“I find the friendship and camaraderie in this organization, from working on committees to sewing cancer scarves once a month, to be a very important part of my life while serving UW–Madison,” says Martin, whose husband, A. Jeff Martin, is an emeritus professor of forest and wildlife ecology. “These members are a dedicated group, very generous in giving to our scholarships and grants, very dependable and willing to help when needed to provide the students in CALS with funds to continue their education. We also have a good time!”

Centennial events this spring include the Annual Meeting and Spring Luncheon on Wednesday, April 12 at Blackhawk Country Club (featuring CALS emeritus biochemistry professor David Nelson speaking on CALS history) and a Centennial Gala on Thursday, May 18 at Allen Centennial Garden. You can find more information about upcoming events on the group’s Facebook page.

To donate to Daughters of Demeter, visit http://supportuw.org/giveto/demeter

Give: A Light, Airy Space for Soil Science

“Soil is the hidden, secret friend, which is the root domain of lively darkness and silence.”
—Francis D. Hole (d. 2002), CALS professor of soil science

Francis D. Hole’s poetic description of soil rings true. But those who study soil also need friends who are neither “hidden” nor “secret”—and they also need to break the silence.

“Science is both a solitary and a social activity,” notes soil science professor and former department chair Bill Bland. “The social side of this is both formal, through meetings and publications, and informal—casual discussions in which ideas are gently improved and new understandings emerge serendipitously.”

The Soils and King Hall buildings, the home of soil science at CALS, are both cherished and historic, but they were designed nearly a century before architects understood how workspaces can foster such crucial interaction.

Plans are under way now to address that need by creating a light-infused space where soil science faculty, staff, graduate students and their collaborators can interact informally in a relaxed and pleasing environment.

The Jackson–Tanner Commons, as it is called—named after Marion Jackson and Champ Tanner, the first two soil science faculty members at CALS to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences—will be located in room 360 of the Soils Building. The room sits at the northeast corner of Soils, with views of the Lakeshore dorms and Lake Mendota to the north and the savannah and Elizabeth Waters dorm to the east, through five large windows. The room reveals wonderful architectural details of the Soils Building with its gabled ceiling and exposed steel column (see illustration of the planned renovated space).

Renovating the space will include removing two interior partitions, constructing a kitchenette area with running water and covering exposed electrical conduits. Furnishings, lighting, painting and carpet—and, possibly, the installation of air conditioning—will complete the job.

Faculty and staff are already envisioning how the presence of the Jackson–Tanner Commons will enhance their work.

“The informal setting of the Commons will create a space for conversations, creativity and community building,” says soil science professor and department chair Alfred Hartemink.

To contribute to the project, please visit http://supportuw.org/giveto/Jackson-TannerCommons or contact development director Jodi Wickham at (608) 308-5315, jodi.wickham@supportuw.org.

IMAGE: Illustration of Jackson-Tanner Commons, now in planning.

Give: Hands-On Fieldwork

Before last summer, Vera Swanson’s only exposure to plant sciences had been through classes in introductory biology. That changed big-time when Swanson, a junior majoring in environmental sciences and Russian, signed on to intern at the CALS-based Arlington Agricultural Research Station as a crop scout.

Crop scouts are used in agricultural management to diagnose stress factors in a field—such elements as potentially negative soil and climate conditions, the presence of pests, and threatened crop performance—and determine which management practices are appropriate for the goals of a specific plot. As part of her training, Swanson spent copious hours learning to identify weeds by walking through the fields and the Weed Garden, which displays dozens of invasive plants accompanied by their names.

Swanson paired her internship, which was run through the Department of Agronomy, with an independent research project involving biofuel crops being tested at Arlington. For that work Swanson drew on her growing knowledge of weeds to test the effect of three biofuel crop systems—native prairie, switchgrass and continuous corn—on the soil’s weed seed bank, or the viable seeds present in the soil and its surface. The project involved working one-on-one with research scientists in Randy Jackson’s grassland ecology lab. Jackson is running the crop trials through his affiliation with the UW’s Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, housed in the Wisconsin Energy Institute.

The intense focus on plants got Swanson thinking a lot more about soil. “It is such a finite resource, yet so much of what we depend on comes from it—our food, clothing and the materials that we build with,” says Swanson.

It also got her more interested in food systems, to the point where she chose to make horticulture a disciplinary focus within her major and a possible new career direction. “I’d love to work for an organization where I would be able to complement my interests in agriculture, development and language within a global context,” she says.

Swanson’s path exemplifies the power of “beyond classroom” experiences to dramatically shape, and in many cases transform, a student’s education and career goals. These experiences—which include internships, research projects, study abroad, honors thesis stipends, field courses and more—are the hallmark of a CALS education.

“They’re a big part of what makes CALS CALS—and they offer our students a major advantage in both their personal and professional development,” says Sarah Pfatteicher, the college’s associate dean for academic affairs. “Our goal is to ensure that each student can participate in at least four of these important opportunities.”

To help support the CALS Student Experience Fund, visit: http://go.wisc.edu/student-experience

Science for Citizens

Entomology professors Walter Goodman and David Hogg

Entomology professors Walter Goodman and David Hogg

CALS is acclaimed as one of the best schools in the nation for training top-notch researchers and practitioners. Less known is the fact that CALS offers challenging, creative courses to undergraduates from outside of the natural sciences as well—in keeping with the college’s mission to cultivate science literacy as a vital component of good citizenship. For many students, these classes may be their only exposure to college-level science.

Two classes exemplifying that mission are Entomology 201—“Insects and Human Culture” —and Plant Pathology 123, “Plants, Parasites and People.” Both are highly popular classes that use insects and plants as ways to connect students with essential information about the natural world.

“It offers a window to science as it relates to their everyday lives,” says plant pathology professor Mehdi Kabbage.

“This is really biology with insects on top of it,” says entomology professor Walter Goodman, who’s been teaching Ent 201 for more than 20 years. “We use insects as a vehicle for describing biology and looking at the practical aspects of biology, like agricultural entomology as well as medical entomology.”

Both classes engage students in a range of hands-on activities. In Entmology 201, students take home the tiny eggs of a tobacco hornworm, or Manduca sexta, and over a period of two months raise it to maturation, keeping a daily logbook in which they describe its metamorphosis from fat turquoise caterpillar to large brown moth. In Plant Pathology 123, each student is given a “mystery microbe” in a petri dish—a Pseudomonas aureofaciens bacterium, for example, or a Fusarium oxysporum fungus—and devise various experiments to determine which microbe they have.

The students are having fun—but they’re also sharpening their observational skills and learning about the scientific process as well as how to make and critique a scientific argument. Their engagement with science often has deep and far-reaching consequences.

Education major Tess Bashaw signed up for Entomology 201 simply to fulfill her science requirement— and instead, “It opened up so many roads to me,” she says. In addition to gaining new skills and information—“learning how to catch and pin insects, how to collect leeches in floods, how camouflage really works”—the course made her grow as a writer, she says.

The lessons stuck. And as a teacher of lowincome children, she’s been sharing those lessons in her classroom for the past decade. “I love teaching writing, and science is a favorite of mine,” Bashaw says.

Given the important mission and high student demand for this signature style of science education, CALS would like to expand offerings to more departments and more students.

To learn more about supporting those efforts, please contact Sarah Pfatteicher, CALS’ associate dean for academic affairs, at sarah.pfatteicher@wisc.edu, tel. (608) 262-3003. To make a gift, please visit supportuw.org/giveto/calssignature.

Give: Pay It Forward

Growing up on a family dairy farm didn’t allow much time for slacking off, recalls Jennifer Holle.

“Since I’ve been able to carry a small bucket, I’ve been out in the barn helping with chores,” says Holle, who comes from Baldwin, a small town near River Falls. “Between feeding and caring for calves, milking cows and assisting the vet, I learned the value of a hard day’s work.”

Holle brought that work ethic from the farm to CALS, where she’s majoring in dairy science. She plans to start veterinary school in Madison this fall.

Besides hard work, another key to Holle’s success has been crucial financial assistance. Holle is a two-time recipient of a Wisconsin Rural Youth Scholarship, a program that CALS set up in 2009 specifically for young people like her—promising students whose financial circumstances pose a barrier to education. So far CALS has awarded 34 such scholarships totaling $56,000—assistance made possible by CALS alumni who contribute to the program.

Wisconsin’s rural young people need that help. Rural per capita income is 20 percent less than in metropolitan areas, and 40 percent of CALS students demonstrate significant financial need. Rising tuition costs make their distress even more acute.

Wisconsin Rural Youth Scholarships make a difference. “Before receiving the scholarship I was working almost 30 hours a week while going to school full time. This ultimately led to spending less time on school,” says Jacob Salzman, a recent landscape architecture graduate from Fall River. Getting the scholarship in his senior year allowed him to focus on studies and projects that helped him land a job upon graduating.

But it’s not just the kids who benefit. In the long run, educating rural youth can have a profound effect on their home communities. “I already have committed myself to a career in food animal veterinary medicine here on Wisconsin’s dairy farms while being involved in and committed to the dairy industry,” says Holle.

In other words, Wisconsin Rural Youth Scholarships aren’t just cash awards—they’re an investment in Wisconsin’s future.

The UW Foundation maintains more than 6,000 gift funds that provide critical resources for the educational and research activities of CALS. To help support Wisconsin Rural Youth Scholarships, visit: http://www.supportuw.org/giving?seq=8105

Give: A Very Dairy Future

“I hope to pursue a career as a dairy geneticist or research the human genome,” says Bethany Dado, 17, of Amery, who plans to double major in dairy science and genetics. And at the Wisconsin Junior State Fair in August, the high school senior won a statewide award to help her achieve those goals.

While 15 young people received the James W. Crowley State 4-H Dairy Leadership Award for their outstanding dairy projects, Dado was one of only two top winners—along with Morgan Behnke, of New Glarus—to also receive a $500 scholarship toward her dairy education.

“It’s really a privilege to interview these young people who all wear their passion for the dairy industry on their sleeves,” says award judge Ted Halbach, director of CALS’ Farm and Industry Short Course. “Doc Crowley would be pleased with the leadership skills these young people have demonstrated both in school and with their 4-H project.”

The award program is offered in memory of James W. Crowley, a longtime UW–Extension dairy specialist and a strong supporter of youth in dairy. In addition to the awards, the James W. Crowley Dairy Management and Extension Fund supports a robust summer internship program offering outstanding UW–Madison students a chance to work under the supervision of UW–Extension agents. Nearly two dozen students have benefited from this experience over the past 11 years.

Recipients of Crowley awards or internships often go on to become leaders in the dairy industry. Dado describes her award experience as highly motivating.

“Although I always try to do my best during my dairy activities, the Crowley award did motivate me to take it to the next level,” she says.

“It was always in the back of my mind as I served as a leader in 4-H activities.”

The UW Foundation maintains more than 6,000 gift funds that provide critical resources for the educational and research activities of CALS. To help support the James W. Crowley Dairy Management and Extension Fund, visit: http://www.supportuw.org/giving?seq=13137

Creepy Crawlers

Just ask Erinn Powell, who has introduced dozens of them to squealing schoolchildren as an Insect Ambassador. The CALS entomology program sends undergrads and graduate students on show-and-tell missions to area schools, clubs and organizations to teach audiences about where insects live, how they survive and the positive things they do for our environment.
The encounters are transformational, says Powell—especially when it comes to scary-looking creatures like the cockroaches. “I love the moment when at first a child is stiffly holding the cockroach with her eyes closed,” she says, “and then suddenly she loosens up and smiles when she realizes that its exoskeleton is really very smooth and interesting to look at. Her friends gather around and they take turns petting the cockroach.”
Other favorites include Goliath and Hercules beetles, walking sticks, butterflies and hornworms. All insects are reared in the lab, ensuring cleanliness, and none can sting, bite or transmit disease. Private gifts help the Ambassadors maintain the insects and pay for supplies.
The UW Foundation maintains more than 6,000 gift funds that provide critical resources for the educational activities of the college. To help support the Charles F. and Patricia R. Koval Insect Ambassadors Program and programs like it, visit www.supportuw.org/giving?seq=2410

Nothing perks up a classroom like the presence of a Madagascar hissing cockroach.Just ask Erinn Powell, who has introduced dozens of them to squealing schoolchildren as an Insect Ambassador. The CALS entomology program sends undergrads and graduate students on show-and-tell missions to area schools, clubs and organizations to teach audiences about where insects live, how they survive and the positive things they do for our environment.The encounters are transformational, says Powell—especially when it comes to scary-looking creatures like the cockroaches. “I love the moment when at first a child is stiffly holding the cockroach with her eyes closed,” she says, “and then suddenly she loosens up and smiles when she realizes that its exoskeleton is really very smooth and interesting to look at. Her friends gather around and they take turns petting the cockroach.”Other favorites include Goliath and Hercules beetles, walking sticks, butterflies and hornworms. All insects are reared in the lab, ensuring cleanliness, and none can sting, bite or transmit disease. Private gifts help the Ambassadors maintain the insects and pay for supplies. The UW Foundation maintains more than 6,000 gift funds that provide critical resources for the educational activities of the college. To help support the Charles F. and Patricia R. Koval Insect Ambassadors Program and programs like it, visit www.supportuw.org/giving?seq=2410