REAP 2014, “Sowing Into Your Future”

August 1, 2014

REAP participantsThe Research Extension Apprentice Program (REAP) has just come to a close after 2 weeks of learning, fun, relationship-building, and skill development. REAP is a program for high school juniors and seniors that are interested in Agriculture and/or Human Sciences. The program is 2 weeks long and provides on-campus room and board for the students along with conducting many fun and educational activities. The goal of the program is to educate students in research and extension related topics in a fun and interactive way, and motivate them to pursue a career in Agriculture or Human Sciences.

From June 15th to June 27th, the students attended a series of workshops and activities that were designed to teach the students skills that can help them be more efficient and maximize their potential and introduce them to some of the basics of Agriculture and Human Sciences. They discussed topics such as, the power of meditation, basic nutrition, the benefits of juicing, the power of forgiveness, and effective time management. The students also attended curriculum oriented seminars conducted by CARC researchers and scientists where they learned the basics of different agriculture and human sciences. They learned about chemistry, different types of soils, natural resources, environmental systems, hydrology, veterinary medicine, growth and development of livestock animals, and more.

The students were also able to visit the George Bush Library in College Station where they toured the museum and learned about former President George H. W. Bush. They also took a trip to Peckerwood Gardens in Hempstead where they were able to observe several different types of rare and uncommon plants.

The program came to an end on June 27th with a closing program for the students, parents, faculty, and staff in which the students were able to give emotional speeches and reflect about their experience in the program. The closing program also featured speeches from faculty and staff members of CEP and CAHS including a motivational speech from Dean of CAHS, Dr. Alton B. Johnson. Some of the students also took turns as Master of Ceremonies, and some entertained the crowd with dance and spoken word performances.

REAP 2014 turned out to be a success, and all the participants enjoyed their experience and their time at PVAMU. They all left with new friends and new skills to help them stay motivated and be successful and attend college, hopefully, at PVAMU CAHS.

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More photos from the REAP 2014 event can be found at the CAHS Facebook and Instagram pages

By Jakari Bates

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Agriculture students excel at 2014 National MANRRS Conference

April 7, 2014

Christopher Wong and Robert Woodie McClennon Jr., College of Agriculture and Human Sciences (CAHS) students, received accolades at the 29th Annual National Career Fair and Training Conference of the Society for Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) March 27-29 in Birmingham, AL.

Wong won 1st Place and a $300 monetary award in the Undergraduate Research Poster Contest for his research on “The Effect of Heat Treatment on Oil Absorption of Agricultural Fibers.” He conducted his research as a Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU) Honors Program student during a 2013 summer research program at North Dakota State University. Wong is a sophomore agriculture major with a concentration in agronomy.

McClennon won 2nd Place and a $200 monetary award in the Impromptu Public Speaking Contest for his discussion of the following question: “Across the country, some 23 million Americans live in inner city and rural locales where the scarcity of supermarkets drives people to convenience stores, pharmacies and fast food restaurants as their vendors of first resort. What programs should be implemented to promote broad based access to healthy food across different socio economic groups?” McClennon advanced to the national competition after winning 1st Place in the MANRRS Regional Competition in Austin, Texas, in October 2013. He is a senior agriculture major with a concentration in animal science.

The two students were among eight PVAMU students attending the conference which included approximately 850 representatives from government, industry and higher education institutions around the United States. The 2015 MANRRS Conference will be hosted March 26-28 in Houston.

2014 MANRRS Contest Winners

2014 MANRRS Contest Winners Christopher Wong, left, and Robert McClennon Jr., right.

Texas Sustainable Strawberry Production

March 31, 2014

strawberryPrairie View A&M Unversity’s Cooperative Extension Program along with the Cooperative Agricultural Research Center in the College of Agriculture and Human Sciences is partnering with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension to conduct research on ways to increase the production of strawberries, a highly valued commodity, in Texas. This project is being funded by a one-year grant from the National Strawberry Sustainability Initiative funded by the Wal-Mart Foundation and administered by the University of Arkansas Center for Agricultural and Rural Sustainability.  The university farm at Prairie View is just one of several project locations that have been set up around the State to utilize both university research facilities and the resources of farmer’s sites in the community.

The project is evaluating a number of different variables such as locations within the State, different varieties growing in fields vs. high tunnels, plastic culture, row covers, and organic production. One of the primary objectives of the project is to uncover some of the common problems a producer is likely to experience growing strawberries in a given region of the state; then document these issues along with recommended solutions increasing the likelihood of success once the producer goes into production.

Very few strawberries are produced locally in Texas and most are imported from California or Mexico making them very expensive for local consumers.  Fact is, strawberries are a very attractive, “high value”, alternative crop for Texas producers.  With high value also comes “high risk”. One of the goals of this project is to identify the production risk associated with growing strawberries and develop production practices that mitigate the risk.  As this project develops, coordinators will be seeking to recruit more producers to participate in the project.

Follow this project on facebook at

Billy Lawton By Billy Lawton,
Program Leader, Agriculture and Natural Resources
Cooperative Extension Program

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PV Livestock Club Demonstrates Outstanding Performance

February 8, 2014

FWLSR2In the first time that Prairie View A&M University has competed at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo in the Dairy Goat Competition, Prairie View’s Livestock Club members Robert “Woodie” McClennon, Theo Reed and Bryce Peterson, along with advisors Scott Horner and Dwight Rhodes brought home 1 reserve champion and 3 champion ribbons.  The winning goats were a 7 year old Alpine milking doe named Agalea, shown by Brice Peterson; a 2 year old Alpine milking doe named Bree, shown by Woodie McClennon; and a dry yearling Alpine named Caryn also shown by Woodie McClennon.  The team also showed the second place best 3 females in the show that had over 200 goats competing.

Following through on the partnership with Dallas County’s DeSoto Independent School District via the One Kid at a Time project was the project’s lead principal investigator, Dr. Joice Jeffries, standing on the side lines  to cheer on both the DeSoto students and the PVAM youth that were participating at the Fort Worth show. The Livestock Club worked closely with the students from the DeSoto ISD middle school, mentoring the youth that are participants in the One Kid At a Time Project. Club members helped the youth with the final show preparation,  grooming of their goats and worked with them to show how best to exhibit their animals.  The middle school youth fared well, showing their goats to many middle and upper class placings in a very competitive show.

7 Ways to Advertise Agricultural Products

July 3, 2013

advertised vegetablesIn agriculture, marketing is the process of selling agricultural products and/or services to consumers and hopefully make a profit. This is generally done through innovative advertisement and promotions. If you plan to directly market your products, it is a good idea to come up with a plan to advertise what you have for sale. Some ways to advertise your products include:

1. Flyers are an inexpensive way to promote your products. Flyers can be distributed door to door in targeted neighborhood and / or at local businesses. They can advertise your specific products and provide contact information and directions to your agribusiness.

2. Newsprint can provide readers in your local community with information about your agricultural operation and advertise what you have to sell.

3. Radio provides a means to inform a local listening audience about products available for sale. It is an excellent means of promoting agricultural goods and services.

4. Internet provides another means to display your goods and services to the general public. Your website can provide a list of goods of services, pictures related to your agribusiness, contact information and pricing information. Items can even be purchased directly from the site. Remember, it is very important for you to keep your website up-to-date if you want individuals to continue coming back to it.

5. Word of Mouth is one of the most efficient ways to promote your agribusiness. It goes hand in hand with your business reputation and can be very positive it customers are recommending you to other customers.

6. Promotional Items such as pencils and pens can be a relatively inexpensive way to promote your products. However, as promotional items become more complex with items such as shirts and caps, the price of these advertisement tools can become somewhat expensive.

7. Social Media is also a very low cost way to interact with consumers. You can communicate with them in real time and display pictures of your operation products you have for sale. The largest expense you would have invested is time.

Remember that advertising is a form of communication and is a valuable component of marketing. If done correctly, it can help to persuade or encourage a potential customer to purchase your agricultural goods or services since we ultimately want to make a profit in our agribusinesses.

Nelson Daniels, Ph.D. By Nelson Daniels, Ph.D.,
Program Specialist, Agriculture and Natural Resources
Cooperative Extension Program

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“Armed to Farm” Keeping Small Farms in Business

July 3, 2013

A recent poll conducted by the Southern Risk Management Education Center at the University of Arkansas during one of its listening sessions, asked African American Farmers and Ranchers from across the South to identify the top issues they faced in agriculture. The top three concerns identified were:

• Access to Capital

• Business and Financial Training

• Attracting the Next Generation to Agriculture

The programs listed below offer assistance and addresses all three of these concerns express by producers, by providing capital to start or support farming or ranching operation, business and financial training to assist in managing the operation and support to young farmers and ranchers to help them get started and become profitable helping to attract the next generation into agriculture and helping our land become more sustainable.

Farmer with wooden box full of ripe vegetables

The Farm Service Agency Rural Youth Loan Program:

The FSA Rural Youth Loan Program providing access to capital, the program offers low interest loans to rural youth between the ages of 10-20 years old to establish and operate income-producing projects in connection with their participation in 4-H, FFA and similar organizations. The maximum loan amount is $5,000.00 and can be used to buy livestock, seed, supplies or buy, rent or repair equipment, and tools. Once the young person receives the funds they must be a part of an organized and supervised program of work designed to provide practical business and financial training. Young people that participate in the program are more likely to develop a fondness for production agriculture and an appreciation of the business of agriculture. More information on the Rural Youth Loan program as well as application forms can be obtained at or contact your local Cooperative Extension Agent.

Texas Department of Agriculture Young Farmer Grant:

Texas Department of Agriculture Young Farmer Grant provides support to young agricultural producers who are starting or expanding agricultural businesses in the state. You must be 18-45 years old. Develop a strong agricultural business plan and provide matching funds. Grants are offered on a competitive base. The goals of the grant is to; create, enhance or sustain the applicant’s agricultural operation; improve overall agricultural productivity in Texas and increase the number of agricultural enterprises in Texas that are owned and operated by young farmers. Grants range from $5,000.00 to $10,000.00 and are offered twice per year. The website for additional information and application is

Farm Service Agency Microloan Program:

Microloan is a program was developed to better serve the unique financial needs of small and family operations, beginning and socially disadvantaged producers. The program offers more flexible access to credit and will serve as an attractive loan alternative to small farmers facing limited financing options. The application process for Microloans is requires less paperwork. Microloans can be used for all approved operating expenses as authorized by the FSA Operating Loan Program, including Start-up expenses, seed, fertilizer, utilities, land rents, livestock, hoop houses and equipment. Applicants will need to show that they have business experience or be willing to follow a self-guided apprenticeship or mentor program. Eligible applicants may obtain loans for up to $35,000.00 at a very attractive interest rate. More information and application may be obtained at, or contact your local Cooperative Extension Agent.

The three programs above were developed to increase and sustain the number of young people in agriculture. The key take home point for each of these programs is we must treat your farming or ranching operation as a business. The Cooperative Extension Program at Prairie View A&M University stands ready to offer producers the assistance they need to become successful. Please contact myself or one of our county staff for more information on our programs.

Billy Lawton By Billy Lawton,
Program Leader, Agriculture and Natural Resources
Cooperative Extension Program

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New Hope for Farmers: Fighting Hunger

May 1, 2013

WorldFoodDayPrairie View, TX—Imagine eating one meal a day or worse no meal at all or watching your child/children perish because there is no food to eat or the food is unaffordable. Unimaginable for many in developed countries, especially people in the United States of America, huh? Unfortunately, the grim reality is that there are 925 mil- lion hungry people in the world. And alarming considering the wealthiest nation, USA, has about 14.5 percent of households that go hungry.

The hunger issues of many nations are based on food scarcity, but the USA’s hunger problem is perpetuated by poverty. To directly reduce hunger, nations must come together and confront the issue head on. In accordance to the challenge, Prairie View A&M University’s College of Agriculture and Human Sciences joined the movement to combat hunger during World Food Day (WFD). Taking action in the community and around the world amidst growing concerns of the world’s food supply is the path to resolution.

Many believe that modern agricultural practices and food control are tools to build corporate profits and monopolies rather than feed and nourish the world’s inhabitants. Fortunately, the current administration commit- ted to strengthening agriculture in poor countries and ending world hunger through the Feed the Future pro- gram. When one in seven people are undernourished, it proves that small farmers are underutilized because they offer a breadth of resources to feed the world. This year’s WFD theme “Agricultural Cooperatives: Key to Feeding the World” is critical in curbing the hunger pandemic.

Local farmers provide a sound business environment if the government establishes favorable policies, transparency in laws and regulations because they have grassroots commitment. “There is an environmental need for cooperatives to develop, form, thrive and compete with big businesses. Having cooperatives are better for tracking where our food is produced; hence improving food security. For instance, Sysco Foods flies food from Australia to our neighborhoods making silos a huge issue,” says Jay Crossley of Houston Tomorrow, a non-profit that explores urban issues and growth in the Houston, TX region.

Too many in this world are struggling to find their next meal. However, there are programs in the USA to en- able the vulnerable to find a way out of hunger and poverty. To raise awareness on food, health and nutrition programs, program director, Faye Walker, and third year student, Jordan MaClin from CAHS’ Human Nutrition and Foods, prepared a humble meal. The meal comprised of rice, beans and corn muffins had the audience asking “Where is the meat?” and engaged conversation about food insecurity. Clearly, this meal was a means to understand the situation people face around the world and here in America.

By Staff Writer: Kelley A. Redmon

Research Scientist Seeks to Improve Yield and Quality of Sweet Potatoes

May 1, 2013

Dr.GaoPRAIRIE VIEW, TX – Seeking knowledge-based solutions to improve the yield and quality of sweet potatoes is the major research focus of one of the College of Agriculture and Human Sciences’ newest members, Dr. Ming Gao. Coming on board in August, 2012 as a research scientist, Dr. Gao brings his extensive research experience in sweet potato genomics and biotechnology to expand and enhance Prairie View A&M University’s research in basic and applied plant sciences.

“My research will help us understand how the formation of storage roots, commonly called sweet potatoes, is initiated and regulated genetically in sweet potato plants,” said Gao. “In other words, discovering why some of the plants produce sweet potatoes and why some do not will assist us in devising novel ways to cultivate the plant to have a better yield as well as having a more uniform shape and size.”

Dr. Gao is also working on revealing the genetic mechanism that determines the amount and type of starch produced in sweet potatoes. Gao said that through breeding and genetic engineering, his research could lead to novel value-added cultivars that produce the desired amount of starch or starch with special properties or nutritional values.

Dr. Gao has a Ph.D. in Plant Physiology from Pennsylvania State University, a M.S. in Biology from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and a B.S. in Botany from Zhongsheng University in China. He has had extensive postdoc research training in biotechnology, genetic and genomics research on corn, wheat and green algae in world-class academic and private research laboratories in the United States, Canada, France and Germany before he started sweet potato research.

He was previously a senior research scientist /coordinator at the Center for Biotechnology and Genomics at Alcorn State University and led the research group to attract more than $3 million of external research funding from 2005 to 2012.

Dr. Gao has authored and co-authored numerous publications and is recognized internationally in his research field. He currently serves as a member of the editorial board for the “Journal of Biotech Research”, and has been a panelist for several biotechnology-related grant programs of the United States Department of Agriculture-National Institute of Food and Agriculture and Department of Energy in recent years.

For more information contact Dr. Gao at

Is the Drought Affecting You?

August 1, 2011

PRAIRIE VIEW, TX – The current drought in Texas is reaching substantial proportions. Texas is experiencing one of the worst droughts in the state’s history according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. This particular drought is affecting farmers, ranchers, and landowners throughout the state of Texas, so where can these individuals go for advice? The Cooperative Extension Program is ready to help and is hosting a workshop on August 6 at Prairie View A&M University in the Carden-Waller Cooperative Extension building located on the corner of L.W. Minor and E.M. Norris streets.

Registration begins at 9:00 a.m. followed by the workshop that starts at 9:30 a.m. Some of the topics include: livestock forage program, non-insured crop disaster assistance, supplemental revenue assistance, tree assistance program, livestock indemnity and emergency forest restoration. The workshops will focus on how to survive not only this drought, but other droughts that may be coming in the near future.

According to Billy Lawton, program specialist, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Cooperative Extension Program, many farmers have resorted to selling their animals because they can’t feed their cattle while others are consuming significant amounts of water to feed their crops. Many   farmers are running their water systems for 24 hours in order to keep the crops growing.

“No summer crops mean no winter hay for the cattle,” stated Lawton. “Many farmers are feeding their cattle hay in the summer because the grass is not growing. More wildfires are being ignited because of the dryness in the air due to the drought.” Lawton also said that the drought is having an economic effect resulting in higher cost production. “Food prices are rising, and no hay production for the farmers means a tough winter is ahead.”

For more information about the workshop contact Billy Lawton at 936/261-5117, or Dr. Alfred L. Parks, professor, Prairie View A&M University, College of Agriculture and Human Sciences, at (936) 261-2529, Information can also be found at

Writer: Dontrelle Caldwell, PVAMU Business Marketing Major and Gloria J. Mosby, program director – Communications PVAMU Cooperative Extension Program

Prairie View Smith County Ag. Agent Hosts Senator John Cornyn’s Visit to Tyler East Texas Food Bank Community Garden Project

June 6, 2011

TYLER, TX – U.S. Senator John Cornyn made a visit to the Tyler East Texas Food Bank Community Garden Project in honor of its first anniversary and second harvest on May 31. Prairie View A&M University Cooperative Extension Smith County agricultural agent, George Green, along with Smith County Sheriff J.B. Smith, Judge Sam Griffith of the 12th Court of Appeals, and members of the East Texas Food Bank gave the Senator a detailed tour of the garden that is helping to feed hungry East Texans.

U.S. Senator John Cornyn, second from right, tours the Tyler East Texas Food Bank Community Garden Project with Cooperative Extension Smith County agent, George Green, left, Smith County Sheriff J.B. Smith and Judge Sam Griffith.

Senator Cornyn viewed the four acres of land and supplies that were donated by local businesses and commended the volunteers, the Smith County Sheriff’s Office, and agent Green for partnering to make this innovative project successful.

Cornyn said that the Community Garden Project was a great example of what can be done in the state and hoped that it could be replicated throughout Texas.  Currently there are peas, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet corn, beans and peppers planted in the garden.

Smith County Sheriff J.B. Smith initially had the idea for the garden project in February 2010 because statistics show that out of a total population of 174,706 in Smith County, 67,779 of that total are at risk of hunger. Sheriff Smith approached the East Texas Food Bank with a plan to provide fresh produce to those in need and the plan blossomed into reality.

Prairie View Cooperative Extension Smith County ag. agent, George Green, shows off potatoes that were harvested at the Tyler East Texas Food Bank Community Garden.

Green was already working with the Tyler Growers Association, the East Texas Food Bank and volunteers on several of his agricultural projects, and he teamed up with Sheriff Smith, the Smith County Sheriff’s Office, and Judge Sam Griffith to form this successful partnership.  Green and the Smith County Extension office are providing the farming expertise for the project, and the Sheriff’s Office is providing Smith County prisoners to work the land.

In a previous news release provided by the East Texas Food Bank, Sheriff Smith was quoted as saying that the community garden project was a win-win situation because there was an increasing need of the East Texas Food Bank and the prisoners needed something to do.

The first harvest of tomatoes took place at the garden in July, 2010. The second harvest in May yielded potatoes. Executive director of the East Texas Food Bank, Dennis Cullinane, expressed his appreciation for the garden’s success, and, as he stated previously, he knows that fresh produce is always in demand, and the Community Garden Project will allow the East Texas Food Bank to increase the nutritional value of food that is provided to the hungry.

For more information about the Tyler East Texas Food Bank Community Garden Project contact George Green at 903/590-2980,

Writer: Gloria J. Mosby, program director – Communications
Photos: Alecea Rush, communications specialist – Cooperative Extension Program