Jack's Insights - April 2020

Dr. Jack Whittier

By Jack Whittier, Director

UNL Panhandle District and Panhandle Research and Extension Center

As I consider what to write for this column for the month, I get the sense that all of us have had about all we want to hear about corona virus. So, I will only briefly mention that the University of Nebraska is working hard to continue to meet the needs and expectation of all of you.  We know we are “the people’s university”, and as such have an obligation to continue to serve, teach, research, and extend. Therefore, I assure you the work goes on, even in the face of unchartered waters. 

For the most part, we are working remotely, just as most of you are if your profession enables that approach.  However, we also understand that there are many aspects of agriculture where a remote approach is just not feasible - particularly at this time of the year with cropping season and calving upon us. Since production agriculture is a key part of the food supply system, we know that doing our part to keep this system functioning is critical.

Be assured we at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center are striving to do our part now, just as we have done in the past and will do in future. If you need help, have a question, or just want to talk, you can still reach out to our specialists and educators by email, cell phone or even by good old U.S. mail.  I have always freely given out my cell phone number and email address so that any and all can contact me whenever. Here they both are, please reach out if I can help: cell 308-765-0218; jwhittier2@unl.edu.

Last month, in Jack’s Insights, I wrote about a group of interns from India we are currently hosting at the Center.  While the approaches we are using to give these students a valuable experience have modified due to the pandemic, we are working hard to see that they have a meaningful experience during their stay in the Panhandle. I have had the chance to work with four students with backgrounds in animal and veterinary science. Dipak Santra and Bijesh Maharjan, our Alternative Crops and Soil Management specialist, respectively, are working with the five students with agronomy backgrounds.

Even though their experiences have been limited primarily to classrooms and laboratories, it has been fun to see their bright and inquisitive minds soak in this western Nebraska connection. Perhaps the cautions about social distance and travel will change before they return home so we can provide a more “show and tell” experience.

Some of you likely saw a news release announcing that I plan to retire later this summer. Yes, this is correct.  However, I plan to continue to contribute to Jack’s Insights at least until that time, and who knows, perhaps even beyond. I guess it would not be “Jack’s Insights” without Jack, would it.  Have a great month, and stay negative – COVID-19 negative, that is!

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