Jack's Insights October 2017

By Jack Whittier, Director

UNL Panhandle Extension District and Panhandle Research and Extension Center

As I am out and about across the Panhandle, it is common for someone to inquire of me, “What’s going on in the University of Nebraska Panhandle District?” So, in this month’s “Jack’s Insights” I’ll focus on three topics to answer to this question. First, our current recruiting to hire an Extension Educator to be based in Box Butte county with a focus area of “Learning Child;” second, an update on our research feedlot and how we are moving forward in this program; and third, an open invitation for our Panhandle stakeholders to participate in a one-day summit in Lincoln to “…address critical issues in Nebraska and motivate individuals to join together to find sustainable solutions, while thinking globally and acting locally.”

First, a Learning Child Extension Educator position: Nebraska Extension has eight specific educational program subjects; one of these is “The Learning Child.” Early child development clearly has a societal impact by helping lay the foundation for learning and future development of the child. We are currently seeking a person who will focus in this discipline as an Extension Educator to be located in Alliance and support Learning Child programming in this region. Qualifications include a master’s degree with one degree in child development, human development, early childhood education or closely related field. 

This position will begin applicant review on Oct. 13.  More details and the application process are located at https://employment.unl.edu/postings/55994. I know from personal experience Nebraska Extension is a great place to work, and I encourage anyone interested in this exciting career opportunity to consider applying, or if you know someone who may be, please pass this information along.

Next, what’s happening at the Panhandle research feedlot?  Our model is going very well to have Dr. Robbi Pritchard from South Dakota serve in a consulting role as a bridge until the next feedlot specialist is located and hired.  Among other things, under Robbi’s leadership, preparation is underway to conduct a research study comparing shredded vs. chopped corn silage in feedlot cattle diets. 

In brief, this study will compare the feeding value of two methods for processing whole-plant corn silage.  The comparison is between conventional silage chopped into approximately 1-inch pieces and a patented, newly developed corn plant conditioning process termed Shredlage®.  This product has shown higher milk yield and improved health in dairy cows by increasing availability of starch to the animal, and reducing the need for fiber supplements like straw, thereby resulting in cost savings.  This concept and product will be evaluated for its effect on feedlot cattle performance in a study that will begin in late October.  Stay tuned as this project gets under way.

Lastly, I refer back to the topic of Jack’s Insights two months ago in August.  In that column I spoke of the six priority areas that guide research, teaching and extension programs at UNL’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources (IANR).  These priority areas are currently being refined and refocused under the leadership of Dr. Mike Boehm, the new IANR Vice Chancellor.  The areas are Science Literacy, Stress Biology, Healthy Humans, Healthy Systems for Agricultural Production and Natural Resources, Computational Sciences, and Drivers of Economic Vitality for Nebraska. (For more specifies see http://ianr.unl.edu/priority-areas ). 

      I’m extending Mike’s invitation noted on the website (http://ianr.unl.edu/ianr-fall-conference) for stakeholders in the Panhandle to participate in a fall summit on Wednesday, November 8th in Lincoln titled "Growing Nebraska: Leveraging Partnerships, Programming and Research."  According to Mike’s invitation, “This day-long event will address critical issues in Nebraska and motivate individuals to join together to find sustainable solutions, while thinking globally and acting locally. Participants will get a unique blend of vision, inspiration and knowledge from provocative speakers and leading researchers. Topics to be discussed include creating a better quality of life, educating tomorrow's leaders, igniting a passion and feeding a growing world! … This event is free to attend, space is limited and will fill quickly.” RSVP at the above website.

      Mike’s vision for this summit is to convene approximately 150 thought leaders from across Nebraska with the same number of researchers, teachers and extension professionals within the university.  I welcome anyone interested in going to Lincoln for this event to contact me.  I am coordinating car-pool and lodging arrangements and would be happy to have you join me for this opportunity to be involved as voices from western Nebraska in shaping the future of agriculture and natural resource direction at the University of Nebraska.

      So, above I have noted three exciting things that are currently in full swing at “your university.”  You are always welcome to call, email or visit me at the Panhandle R&E Center on north Avenue I in Scottsbluff.  My email is jwhittier2@unl.edu, and my call phone is 308-765-0218.  Have a productive month!