UF/IFAS part of new website showcasing land-grant university impacts

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — To help inform agricultural producers, policymakers and the public about its accomplishments, the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is contributing to a new website, http://landgrantimpacts.org, that showcases projects by research and Extension programs at UF/IFAS and other land-grant universities nationwide.

By participating, UF/IFAS will raise awareness of accomplishments by its research arm, the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station, and its Extension unit, the Florida Cooperative Extension Service, said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources.

“We’re very pleased to contribute to this effort and inform our stakeholders about the great successes UF/IFAS faculty are having in research and Extension, which are two of UF/IFAS’ primary missions, along with education,” Payne said. “I’m often asked about the impacts of our work, and the Land-Grant Impacts website provides an excellent venue for us to demonstrate those impacts.”

The website provides brief narratives about individual research and Extension projects, submitted by land-grant institutions around the country. Florida is home to two land-grant institutions, UF and Florida A&M University. The database is searchable by state or region, as well as the year the posting was submitted and the subject matter the posting involves.

The subject matter is categorized by six focus areas – food security; nutrition and health; family, youth and communities; environmental stewardship; agricultural systems; and energy and bioproducts. UF/IFAS has strong programs in all six categories, said Jackie Burns, UF/IFAS dean for research and director of the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station.

“Our researchers have been very active in addressing issues of concern for Florida’s agricultural producers and residents, and I’m eager to have them communicate some of their most significant achievements,” Burns said. “I anticipate that the Land-Grant Impacts website will become a go-to source for anyone seeking information about projects that have yielded benefits for the state and the world at large.”

To assist users who may wish to learn more about material they’ve found at the Land-Grant Impacts website, each posting includes contact information for one person associated with the project. This feature enables growers, industry personnel and Florida residents to follow up with researchers and Extension personnel whenever needed, said Nick Place, UF/IFAS dean for Extension and director of the Florida Cooperative Extension Service.

“The Land-Grant Impacts website will help guide people to Extension faculty who can answer their questions and provide situation-specific advice,” Place said. “I believe that this website will be a valuable asset for our Extension program throughout Florida.”

Besides impact statements, the website contains information about the history of the U.S. land-grant university system, and how it has evolved since President Abraham Lincoln created it in 1862 by signing a bill known as the Morrill Act. The website also explains how the three missions of every land-grant university – teaching, research and Extension – relate to one another and how they educate students, improve communities and benefit the nation.

The Land-Grant Impacts website is supported partly by funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and organizers hope it will demonstrate the importance of public funding for land-grant institutions, Payne said.

“A team of experts recently estimated that every $1 of public funding invested in agricultural research by U.S. public universities returns an average of $20 in benefits, in the form of increased agricultural productivity that leads to lower prices for consumer goods, greater food security and increased economic prosperity for everybody,” he said. “The Land-Grant Impacts website will help us communicate the message that funding for land-grant institutions is an investment in a brighter future.”

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By Tom Nordlie, 352-273-3567, tnordlie@ufl.edu

Sources: Jack Payne, 352-392-1971, jackpayne@ufl.edu

Jackie Burns, 352-392-1784, jkbu@ufl.edu

Nick Place, 352-392-1761, nplace@ufl.edu