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EKU Agriculture eNews, Fall 2015

Vol. 3, No. 1 - Fall 2015

Please Join Us for our Coming Events: 

  • EKU Dairy Show:  Friday Oct. 16th, 2015, EKU  Meadowbrook, 4 p.m.
  • Homecoming Chili Cook-off: Saturday, Oct. 24th, 2015, A.B. Carter Bldg. 11:00 a.m.

Inside this Issue:

A Message from our Chair - Dr. John Settimi

The Fall 2015 semester is starting to settle into a rhythm. The silage has been harvested, the summer vegetables are winding down, and we have welcomed a wonderful new group of students. As the summer transitions into fall, it’s a good time to take stock of everything that has happened in the Agriculture Department.

Looking back over the past few years, it seems that ‘change’ has become the one thing that has stayed the same! The Department has seen changes in the faculty, programs, courses, buildings, and farm operations. We’ve also noticed that since the arrival of our new president, that EKU as a whole is following the Department’s lead in upgrading and renovating facilities and academic programs.

As you read through this newsletter, I think that you will be pleased to see all of the great things that the faculty are engaged in. I do want to specifically mention a few of the changes that have occurred with the faculty:

This year we saw the departure of Dr. Laurie Rincker, Associate professor of Animal Science and Pre-vet advisor. She and her family moved to Illinois to take up farming as a full-time career. Dr. Rincker developed many connections around the state and region, and had received many accolades for her teaching. Fortunately, the Department was able to attract a Kentucky native, Dr. Andrea Sexten to fill the position. We fully expect Dr. Sexten to continue to move the program and the Department forward. You can read more about her below.

We are lucky to have Dr. Steve Black back with us again to teach Floral Design. We also have been very fortunate to have enlisted Dr. Anne Rodiek to teach courses in Equine Science. Dr. Rodiek recently retired as the Chair of Equine Science at Fresno State University in California. Her presence has made an impact on our ideas for equine studies.

This year, we are once again hoping to attract a promising faculty member in the Agribusiness area. Over the past two years, the courses have been ably taught by visiting faculty members Xile Li and Na Zuo.

Finally, the Carter Building will be open to welcome alumni at homecoming this year. As usual, the faculty will each be making their favorite Chili recipe. Be sure to stop in, say hello and taste some chili. Hope to see you then!

EKU Agriculture Welcomes Dr. Sexten

Dr. Andrea Sexten was raised on a commercial cow-calf and tobacco farm in Nicholasville, Ky., where she was very involved from a young age. Growing up, Andrea also showed registered Tennessee Walking Horses and was very active in her local FFA chapter.

She earned two B.S. degrees from the University of Kentucky in 2005 in Animal Science and Agricultural Biotechnology. She also completed her M.S. in Animal Science at the University of Kentucky in 2007. From there she went on to Oklahoma State University where she earned her Ph.D. in Ruminant Nutrition in 2010. After earning her Ph.D., she accepted a position in the Department of Animal Sciences and Industry at Kansas State University where she developed the KSU Department of Animal Sciences and Industry Undergraduate Research Program, taught courses in livestock nutrition, and advising students. Her research interests included the interaction of nutrition and gene expression on cattle performance. 

Andrea joined the Department of Agriculture faculty here at Eastern Kentucky University this fall and will be teaching several animal science and production courses. She will also be advising the Agriculture Honor Society Delta Tau Alpha (DTA). Andrea and her husband, Austin, have a one-year-old son, William.  They currently live on a small farm in Jessamine County and enjoy cheering on their favorite college teams, spending time with family and friends, and being active in church.

Swine Production Students Earn PQA Plus Certification

Sept. 17, 2015, Mr. Ron Bowman from Nelson County Extension and Mr. Will Stallard from Casey County Extension came to campus to deliver the Pork Quality Assurance (PQA) Plus training and certification to the Swine Production class (AGR 328). 

PQA Plus is a producer education and certification program sponsored by the National Pork Board and Pork Checkoff. The program provides training to ensure U.S. pork products are of the highest quality and the safest available, along with information to ensure producers can measure, track, and continuously improve animal well-being. 

Seven students along with Dr. Sexten went through the training and successfully completed the test for certification. This training and certification is a great way for our students to be on the forefront of animal care and management.

EKU Agriculture Introduces Dr. Cody Domenghini

After approximately three years without a tenure track professor teaching landscape horticulture courses, I was hired in August 2014. This is the first Alumni Newsletter the department has published since I joined the department, so I will first introduce myself. I owned and operated my own landscape business in California for eight years before moving my family to Kansas so my wife and I could attend graduate school at Kansas State University. I completed my Ph.D. in horticulture in 2012 where I evaluated water use and drought stress of common ornamental landscape species and turfgrasses. I taught for two years at Illinois Central College in East Peoria, Ill., before joining the Agriculture Department at EKU. With one year under my belt, I am excited about the direction the landscape horticulture program is headed!

In the spring of 2015 John Duvall, Mrs. Hagan, and I took 15 horticulture students to Raleigh, N.C., to compete in the PLANET (Professional Landcare Network) Student Career Days event. Eastern Kentucky University students competed in 25 out of the 28 events and placed 27th out of 65 schools. Students who attended include: Michael Cain, Lauren Campbell, Matt Goode, David Hardy, Jake McKinley, Molly McKinney, Christina Newton, Marcus Pearson, Will Rogers, Ashley Schenck, Jennifer Spranger, Sam Tarazon, Jake Walson, Dustin Young and Jeremy Zabierek.

Additionally, the program has planted over 50 landscape plant species to enhance the look of the Carter and CRAFT buildings on campus and to add plants to the plant list studied in the OHO 365 – Landscape Plant ID course. Name plates will be installed this fall and the plants will be maintained by various landscape horticulture courses. Our next step is to further develop the display gardens behind the greenhouses and shop that were started by Mr. Tom Knight years ago. We have many plans to improve and further develop the program – it’s a great time to be studying horticulture at EKU!

EKU Grown – Produce from the Red Barn Garden

The Fruit and Vegetable Production concentration within the Horticulture Program is up and running! In the spring/summer of 2015 a vegetable garden was established by the old PLANET building located near the Ashland building on campus and is now called EKU Red Barn Garden. Student workers, Brian Gesner and Angela Abney; our Horticulture Technician, John Duvall; and myself (along with help from my wonderful family) designed, installed, and maintained the garden which includes 30+ vegetable varieties ranging from ornamental gourds to herbs and other edibles.

The mission of the Red Barn Garden is to support student learning through hands-on experiences while preparing students for a career in fruit and vegetable production. Students in my OHO 374 – Vegetable Production course this fall will be using the garden to gain practical knowledge in growing, harvesting, and marketing vegetables. Additionally, the OHO 373 – Fruit Production course will be designing and implementing a fruit orchard this fall and winter.

In August 2015 we started selling produce, potted plants and bouquets at a roadside stand on the service road between the greenhouses and Eastern Bypass. Students in the program help design the bouquets with flowers grown primarily in our greenhouses. The roadside stand is open every Thursday from 3:00 to 5:00 PM and gives students an opportunity to follow a product from the start of a seed to the sale of the produce it created. Like us on Facebook @ EKU Red Barn Garden to follow our progress.

EKU Meadowbrook News - Mr. Rick Griebenow

It’s finally standing! We have the building constructed for Meadowbrooks’ beef handling facilities. The next step is to the tub and alleys built.  Metcalf Metal is working on them and we hope that they will be in place by the first of the year. 

Stateland Dairy also made headlines this year. One of our Brown Swiss embryo transfer calves, Sun-Made Valentina ET was an Honorable Mention Milking Yearling for 2014, placed 7th at the Central National Show and 1st and Best Udder at the Southeastern National Show.

Hagan’s Happenings

It’s all fun and games now! After a few years of changing the Horticulture curriculum with the changing times we’ve finally reached a peaceful point. Students who were taking classes during the change over from old class offerings to new class offerings have had interesting advising appointments to say the least. Substitution paperwork was immense and the absence of any other Horticulture faculty was felt and lamented. But now we’re settling into these new programs and we’re (particularly John Duvall and myself) so happy to have Dr. Cody Domenghini on board. 

EKU Turfgrass has a native grass garden, Belgard Pathway, and USGA based putting green surface going in as the result of the work of several classes. The dual purpose is to provide a demonstration garden to the public of how lawn size can be reduced and lawn intermixed with native plants for attractive appearance, reduced maintenance, and water conservation and also to demonstrate golf course sustainability changes. The project was designed by my Spring 2014 Horticulture Capstone Course. The project was then approved for funding by the faculty and the Fall 2014 Turf Management Class started preparing the site and conducting consumer preference surveys which illustrated people’s willingness to see change in current lawn systems. The results of these surveys I have shown at a couple of conferences but they will also be available in the garden mailbox when completed. The Spring 2015 Irrigation & Horticulture Equipment class installed the USGA modified soil system, drainage, and irrigation. And now the Fall 2015 Turf Management class is installing the plant material and pathway. 

The EKU Turfgrass Club, with officers Matt Goode, Will Rogers, and Jake Walson, are starting fundraising activities to attend the national STMA and GCSAA conferences in Spring 2016. In addition, we hope that the turfgrass students will continue to compete in the National Association of Landscape Professionals Student competitions.  Luckily this year it is over spring break so we don’t have to miss class to do it!

I certainly hope to see many of you at our Homecoming Chili Cook-off on Oct. 24th.  In addition, I hope to see the turfies among you at the Ky Turfgrass Council Conference Oct. 19-21st. There are big changes going on in the KTC so we’re using this conference to focus on our past—recognizing our past Presidents and Bunton Man of the Years--as we move into the future.

McDermott’s Memories

I decided to take a different approach and dedicate this article to the agricultural education alumni. The list of graduates below is made up of some real quality people. I am the lucky one to have worked with them and when my career is finally over, (it’s getting closer every day), I can look at this list and be proud of their accomplishments. I ask that each of you make an effort to come to the homecoming agriculture alumni gathering that will be held on October 24th. If any of you that are reading this can fill in any of the blanks, please email me at There is a chance I left someone off the list, my apologies if I did.  Here we go!

  • Marc Adams, Meade County high school principal, 1st graduate of EKU’s new CTE/Ag Ed program
  • Ray Marcum, Meadowbrook Farm Manager, EKU dual degree holder
  • Katy Mittens, (Hill), former ag teacher at Clark County and now a mother.
  • Frank Gifford, Ag teacher at Robertson County, 2/3’s of the high school students take his classes
  • Nick Roy, Extension agent Adair County
  • Brad Anglin
  • Candrea Bingham, Ag teacher at Owsley County
  • Dustin Estridge, Ag teacher at North Laurel high school
  • Ashley Adkins, Extension agent in Clay County and the only student teacher to use permanent marker on a white board in my 30 year career.  Ashley always was “special.”
  • Kristi Schenk, lives in Alaska
  • Jaimie Antrobus, Ag teacher in Pendleton County, keep her away from shoe buffing machines.
  • Jessica Lanham, Corbin
  • Lori Ware, heard she was working in a bank and still sitting on her world champion ass, (mule).  See for yourself at
  • Courtney Miller, College coach at Knox County and still chasing cops.
  • T. J. Adkins, Extension agent in Pulaski County
  • Natasha Parsons, (Meadors), regenerating the earth’s population.
  • Amanda Haynes, Ag teacher in Ohio
  • Christen Roy, Ag teacher in Garrard County
  • Sandy Smock, Ag teacher at the Kentucky School for the Deaf
  • Pansy Strickland, retired
  • Ray Cloud, Laurel County
  • Mary Adams, (Jennings), English and part-time ag teacher at Rockcastle County.
  • Gary Selby, Extension agent in West Virginia, (traitor).
  • Matt Davis, Ag teacher at Owen County high school.
  • Derek Adams, Horticulturist EKU campus, he married well!
  • Dustin Johnson. Ag teacher at Lynn Camp high school in Knox County.
  • Harvey Lewis Mink or Lewis Harvey Mink- Ag teacher at Locust Trace and drag car racer.
  • Terra Pig, (Stafford), Ag teacher at Clark County and farmer.
  • Bethany Mattingly, Ag teacher at Seneca high school in Jefferson County
  • Sara Neumeister, regenerating the earth’s population
  • Morgan Kendrick, Ag teacher at Mercer County middle school and a sheep farmer.
  • Natasha Evans
  • Megan Shearer, Ag teacher in Georgia
  • Ben Prewitt, Ag teacher in Tennessee
  • Hannah Stewart, Ag teacher at Buckhorn high school, it is in Perry County
  • Daniel Dunaway, Ag teacher at Spencer County, newly married
  • Courtney Burke, regenerating the earth’s population

Pratt’s Ponderings

It’s been a while since my last newsletter. While away from the day to day Department of Agriculture activities and teaching responsibilities, I was still on campus. In 2009 EKU was fortunate to get several large grants and appropriations to investigate biofuels. For the last 4+ years I was involved in directing the multi-departmental research effort along with our corporate partner, General Atomics. I got involved because of the “bio” part of biofuel production. We were looking at mechanisms to release the stored photosynthetic sugar energy from plants to feed to microorganisms to produce oils and ethanol. Essentially the same mechanism that ruminant microbes use break down forages for their energy. We were able to demonstrate our technology at a pre-pilot scale (200 gal. batches). Switchgrass and woody residue from the forest industry were used as our biomass source. However the techno-economic analysis predicted the cost to produce fuels was about 25 percent more expensive than conventional petroleum products at commercial scale (when crude oil was at $80/barrel). As our external funding was drying up and the price of crude oil was decreasing we terminated the program and I have returned to teaching. After all that is why I came to EKU over 27 years ago and really enjoy being back in the classroom. I get to tell the same old lousy jokes to a fresh group of students.

A few notes on the family for you older Alumni that were around when our daughters were running around the halls. Karen, my wife of 29 years is working at EKU in the Division of Natural Areas as an administrative assistant and putting on educational programs for school groups at EKU’s Maywoods Natural Area. Bethany, our oldest daughter (she was born my first semester at EKU in 1988), is all grown up and we are planning a September wedding. She is working in Louisville as Program Director at the non-profit organization – Food Literacy Project. Essentially she is working in and promoting urban agriculture. Kaylyn, our other daughter, is now a Registered Dietician and working in Tulsa, OK.

When you are in the Richmond area, please feel free to drop by and say hello. Or we can visit at Homecoming this October. I love to talk to former students

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