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Online course aims to put public gardens on a community mission

garden seen file photo

Cornell has joined an effort to teach public garden educators how to use natural assets as a resource for learning and social change within their communities.

[Cornell Chronicle 2015-03-17]

Cornell has joined a national online education effort designed to help public garden educators transform their natural assets into community resources for scientific knowledge and social change.

The first online class co-hosted by Cornell, a free six-week online course called EECapacity for Public Garden Educators, wrapped up last month and is part of an ongoing national environmental education training program. Lectures were delivered as a series of live videos, with opportunities for participants to answer questions and provide feedback on Facebook.

Overall course goals included re-evaluating how national educators can engage the public with environmentally conscious and community-centric gardens, according to course developer Donald Rakow, Ph.D. ’87, associate professor of horticulture.

“Courses like this point out realistic and achievable ways that gardens can contribute to more livable and equitable communities,” said Rakow. “Public gardens must move beyond their traditional roles of curating and displaying diverse plant collections and conducting research, education and conservation programs, and truly address the needs of the surrounding communities.”

Read the whole article.

Advice for gardeners who suffer from pollen allergies

Marvin Pritts

Marvin Pritts

From Marvin Pritts, Horticulture Section chair, in the April 2015 issue of Better Homes and Gardens:

Work when pollen counts are low. And watch out for wind, says Pritts, Ph.D. “Dry, windy weather prompts plants to shed lots of pollen, so that’s the worst time to be outside.”

Bring on the blooms. Surprise! The more colorful and ornate the flower, the less likely it is to make you sniffle: Bright flowers pollinate by attracting insects, which then spread the pollen. Their pollen is usually on the flower or an insect. Plain-looking flowers simply release pollen into the air (and your nose), explains Pritts. He says bright-colored flowers — such as mums, lilies, gerberas and alstroemerias — are friendlier to allergy sufferers. Just don’t bring your nose in very close for a whiff!

Plant Breeding Symposium March 20

pbicon24th Annual Cornell Plant Breeding Symposium
Domestication: The crossroads of cultural and natural diversity

Friday, March 20, 2015 ▪ 8:30am-4:45pm ▪ 135 Emerson Hall
Free registration for in-person and webinar attendance.


  • Contrasting patterns of genetic diversity between village dogs and purebred dogs – Adam Boyko, Cornell University
  • Discovery approaches within an industry context: How can crop native traits help inform the forward problem? – Bob Meeley, DuPont Pioneer
  • Agrobiodiversity as coupled systems: interactions of cultural and natural diversity amid global environmental and socioeconomic changes – Karl Zimmerer, Penn State
  • Tale of two underutilized tree crops: Where did they come from and where are they going? – Nyree Zerega, Northwestern University
  • Evolutionary genetics of maize adaptation: domestication and beyond – Jeff Ross-Ibarra, UC Davis
  • Hopi corn, the soul of Hopi culture – Leigh Kuwanwisiwma, Hopi Cultural Preservation Office

Sponsored by DuPont Pioneer and organized by the graduate students of Plant Breeding and Genetics.

Reveal photos on exhibition at Mann Library

RevealMagnMagnsouReposted from the Cornell Chronicle’s Essentials blog [2015-03-12]

James L. Reveal, botanist and adjunct faculty member in the School of Integrative Plant Sciences, was internationally known for his work in plant systematics and the history of botanical exploration. He was also an extraordinary photographer.

The newest exhibit in Mann Library provides a window into his images, which bring into focus the fantastic shapes, intricate patterns, myriad textures and vivid colors present in even the smallest flower blossoms.

Wild Flowers for a Winter Season” originally was planned in collaboration with Reveal, who died in January. During his long career, he made more than 500 published contributions to botany and collected more than 9,000 plant specimens from North America, Central America and China. He was an authority on plant nomenclature and on the history of American botany and the botany of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, about which he wrote several books and articles. He has been honored with four plant species and one genus named for him by his colleagues.

At Mann, Reveal was known as a frequent library patron and enthusiastic believer in the importance of rich library collections for rigorous taxonomy. This posthumous exhibit of his photographs offers a tribute to his love for the field of botany and his dedication to the pursuit of good science.

It will be on display in the Mann Gallery through March, and a slideshow is available online. The exhibit has been made possible through the support of the Elizabeth E. (Betty) Rowley Fund for Mann Library and the Cornell School of Integrative Plant Sciences.

Dreer seminar video: Plant explorations across bio-geographic regions of South Africa

If you missed Monday’s Horticulture/Dreer Award seminar, Plant explorations across bio-geographic regions of South Africa, with Horticulture PhD candidate and Dreer Award winner Miles S. Sax, it’s available online. And be sure to visit Miles’ Dreer South Africa blog.

More seminar videos: Horticulture | School of Integrative Plant Science

Dreer seminar: Plant explorations across bio-geographic regions of South Africa

Xanthorrhoeaceae Aloidendron dichotoma (green) and Homo sapiens var. Miles Schwarz Sax (red)

Xanthorrhoeaceae Aloidendron dichotoma (green) and Homo sapiens var. Miles Schwarz Sax (red)

March 9, 2015 at 12:20 p.m. to 1:10 p.m.
404 Plant Science.
Also available via Polycom to A134 Barton Hall in Geneva.

Monday’s Horticulture Section seminar will feature Miles Schwarz Sax, Ph.D. candidate, Graduate Field of Horticulture and 2014 Frederick Dreer Award recipient. The award funded Miles’ travels in South Africa.

Internationally recognized as a biodiversity hotspot and home to roughly 10 percent of the vascular plant biodiversity on less than 1 percent of the earth’s land surface, South Africa has a long been admired as a botanical wonder. With charismatic endemic plants such as Proteas, Pelargoniums (geranium), Bird-of-paradise and Calla lilies, the horticultural introductions from this region have had impacts across the world.

The Frederick Dreer Award, administered by the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science, offers wonderful opportunity for one or more students to spend 4 months to up to a year abroad pursuing his or her interests related to horticulture. The application deadline for the current cycle just closed. But you can view the application and instructions to start planning ahead for the 2016 award.

Pritts defends health benefits of fresh produce

Horticulture chair Marvin Pritts appeared on WSYR news March 3 to respond to the Environmental Working Group’s annual release of its “dirty dozen” list of produce most likely to have pesticide residues.

Pritts says the list shouldn’t discourage you from eating produce:

“I don’t think you’ll find very many scientists at all that would conclude that pesticide residue on conventionally grown produce is a problem. Most, I think 99.9 percent, would say it’s far better to eat that healthy apple or strawberry than it is to avoid it because you think there might be a pesticide residue on it,” said Pritts.

Seminar video: The role of botanic gardens in bio-cultural conservation

If you missed Monday’s Horticulture Section seminar, The role of botanic gardens in bio-cultural conservation with Christopher Dunn, E. N. Wilds Director, Cornell Plantations, it’s available online.

More seminar videos:

Cornell joins Land Grant peers in announcing new ‘Impacts’ website

Cornell berry breeder Courtney WeberReposted from Station Notes, [2015-03-02]

March 2, Cornell University joined a number of its peers nationwide in announcing the official launch of the National Land-grant Impacts website, a centralized online resource that highlights the teaching, research and extension efforts by Land-grant universities.

The website provides access to university or regional-specific impact stories, which document the research and extension programming planned, performed,and implemented by Cornell and other land-grant universities. The website, as a cooperative effort of these institutions, represents a collective voice for the agricultural experiment station and cooperative extension arms of the land-grant universities.

“The Land-Grant Impacts website is a new tool that will better inform the American people and the international community of the significant agricultural research, education and extension impacts taking place at land grant universities across our nation, which offer practical solutions to today’s critical societal challenges,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “This website will help policy makers and the public learn more about this work that is partially supported with NIFA funding.”

Read the whole article.

Students learn about educational diversity in Taos

Cornell students Adrienne Wilson, Steven Ingram, Emma Korolik, Andrew Key and Brenda Martinez headed to Vista Grande High School in Taos, N.M., during winter break as part of a service-learning course developed by Education Lecturer Bryan Duff.

Cornell students Adrienne Wilson, Steven Ingram, Emma Korolik, Andrew Key and Brenda Martinez headed to Vista Grande High School in Taos, N.M., during winter break as part of a service-learning course developed by Education Lecturer Bryan Duff.

Cornell Chronicle [2015-03-02]

In a service-learning odyssey that is still unfolding, a small group of Cornell University students headed to Taos, New Mexico, this January for an immersion into “expeditionary learning,” and rural school culture and diversity.

The course, Innovative Schools Advocacy and Research Team, is the brainchild of Bryan Duff, education lecturer in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and a 2013 Engaged Learning + Research fellow. Last fall, he issued a call for students to join a small, multidisciplinary team headed to an underresourced high school in the mountains northeast of Santa Fe.

“I wanted students to see an expeditionary learning school in action for more than the short field trips I had arranged in the past,” Duff said. “And I wanted students to spend time in a rural school because most of us get little personal or media exposure to such schools.”

Read the whole article.

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