Dining on the Wild Side

food line for the wildlife buffet event

Not your ordinary culinary delights: smoked beaver, squirrel, venison, moose. These and much more were served to adventurous eaters one Saturday in February when student members of the UT Wildlife and Fisheries Society hosted their 47th Annual Wild Game Dinner. The largest crowd ever, more than 600, lined up for the feast. As usual, it was a covered-dish affair, where guests contributed to the meal and donated to the society.

The fundraiser enables the roughly 100 student members to participate in professional meetings and conferences and a variety of field-based projects assisting conservation partners with management and research activities. Most recently, the students have begun a large-scale effort to study American woodcock on public lands in East Tennessee.

The funds also help the students compete in the Southeastern Wildlife Conclave. In 2015, UT’s team won the event, which is considered the SEC Championship Tournament for higher-education wildlife programs.

All are welcome, so contact the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries at 865-974-7346 if you’re interested in attending the 2017 event.

UT Student Company Wins ‘People’s Choice’ in National Competition

Team FarmSpec: Wiggins, Butler and Scott
Team FarmSpec: Wiggins, Butler and Scott

Graduate students Shawn Butler and Austin Scott from the UT College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources in Knoxville, along with UT Martin student Daniel Wiggins, developed patent-pending technology that claims to more effectively terminate cover crops, therefore saving farmers money. Their company, Farm Specific Technology (FarmSpec), won $25,000 in start-up funds as the “People’s Choice” in the national Farm Bureau Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge for their idea and “Shark Tank” style presentation. In 2014, they won $5,000 in start-up funding from a UT pitch competition to advance student ideas.

Butler is pursuing a master’s degree in plant pathology; Scott is completing a master’s degree in crop sciences; and Wiggins is finishing a bachelor’s degree in agriculture with a concentration in agricultural science. All have worked as student research assistants at UT’s West Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center in Jackson, Tennessee.

CASNR Enrollment Up!

The numbers are in, and they’re up again. Enrollment in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources has risen for the fifth straight year, from 1,117 in 2011 to 1,472 in 2015. In fact, enrollment has more than doubled in the last 15 years, and the retention rate for enrollees is a whopping 88 percent. One reason is the dedicated and caring faculty. Another is the high demand CASNR students are enjoying in the workforce. Right now, there are essentially two jobs open for every graduate, and recent data indicates that agriculture is one of the top five highest-earning degree programs. Graduate student enrollment is up, too.

At the College of Veterinary Medicine, the retention rate for students moving from their first year to second year has risen from 93 percent to 99 percent, and the medical center is now treating almost 22,000 patients annually, including small companion animals, farm animals and equine species, and exotics such as avians and reptiles.

Follow the UTIA metrics online from the Institute’s homepage: ag.tennessee.edu.

CAFSP Develops App to Assist U.S. Food Inspectors

FDA app screen on a smart phone

The Center for Agriculture and Food Security and Preparedness at the College of Veterinary Medicine developed and released a Cultural Foods Safety app for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The app assists federal, state, local, territorial and tribal food regulatory officials when they encounter unfamiliar, culturally based foods during inspections. It can function even when an Internet connection is poor and provides inspectors with information on food safety issues and control measures associated with culturally based foods. It also links to regulatory guidelines. The app is available in Apple’s App Store, on Google Play and the Windows Store.