Online Agronomy MS students are Growing their Stories
- Continued from Home Page
The department offers two tracks for its agronomy master’s degree. Option I is a traditional thesis research track while Option II is a professional project track.
Most students chose the project because it fits their professional goals, according to Leah Sandall, Distance Education coordinator for the department. She added that the thesis option is still available if the student has an approved on-site supervisor.
“Option II in Agronomy does not have to focus on field research; it can be a resource that can be used in Extension or education,” Sandall said. Students often re-purpose their projects for Extension or company publications.
Three May graduates said they selected University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s online Agronomy and Horticulture master’s degree due to its good reputation among the seed companies and based on recommendations from colleagues and supervisors. Some companies even offer tuition reimbursement as part of their benefit packages.
Leslie Gilles, from Kress, Texas, said her supervisor favored the University of Nebraska-Lincoln since he received his Ph.D. there. She also knew her employer, DuPont Pioneer, would support her efforts for a more advanced degree.
“The courses that I had to take looked very interesting and since I was working at Pioneer Hi-Bred in the breeding program (with) yield-trial testing under stress, I decided to pursue a (specialization) in Crop Physiology and Production,” Gilles said.
Hope Blackburn, from Lehi, Utah, was also able to combine her interests and her career as a high school agriculture teacher into a Plant Science curriculum to distribute to all Agriculture teachers in Utah.
“Prior to completing my project, I learned that agriculture teachers across the state of Utah did not feel comfortable teaching an advanced plant science course because of the genetics and biotechnology units within the curriculum,” Blackburn said. “For my project, I designed classroom-ready curriculum for the genetic and biotechnology units within the course.”
Matthew Duncan from Cairo, Ga., developed a project of inoculating corn with Fusarium verticillioides (a fungus) using three different inoculation methods.
“The goal of the experiment was to determine if inoculation would increase disease pressure in disease screening nurseries in Georgia and North Carolina,” Duncan explained.
Duncan said he decided to pursue his degree at Nebraska because of its great reputation and because other colleagues were pursuing their degrees here.
All three graduates agreed that the best benefits for taking online courses are the ability to keep working and living within their own communities while giving a boost to their careers.
“The online program allowed me to continue in school while working full time,” Duncan said.
“I was able to continue my work as an agriculture teacher throughout the entire program, even with the traveling that I am required to do,” Blackburn said. “I have always had an interest in genetics. The opportunity to specialize in plant breeding was very appealing to me. The program was perfect for my busy schedule.”
The degree will also help these new graduates advance in their careers.
“One of my goals as an educator is to encourage students to be life-long learners,” Blackburn said. “I felt that I should also further my education. The knowledge I acquired from this degree will help as I teach students plant science topics as I now have a better understanding of the agronomy & plant breeding industries.”
“This degree will help immensely with my career path,” Duncan said. “Since I work in research and development, education is highly valued. A master’s degree is desired for higher positions, and will allow me more upward mobility within my company. The knowledge I’ve gained has also helped me fine-tune the specific area of plant breeding I want to go in to.”
New Course teaches balance in maximizing crop yield and suppressing weeds
Have you ever wondered how plant scientists help farmers maintain the delicate balance between maximizing crop yield while keeping weeds in check? As farmers contend with more herbicide-resistant weeds, plant breeders must worry about developing additional herbicide-resistance traits in crops if weeds will quickly become resistant, too. Breeding herbicide-resistant crops is especially challenging when weed relatives can become resistant through gene flow.
A new spring 2017 course taught by Dr. Melinda Yerka at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) will cover this subject between Jan. 9-Feb. 17. “Environmental Impacts of Crop Genetics: Weed Evolution” will examine how selective pressures are applied to plant populations both in breeding programs and to weed populations growing in fields, to understand outcomes in plant response and competitive ability.
Dr. Yerka’s passion for education on this topic will provide a solid base for learners to understand the importance of this area in the success of agricultural production. This one-credit online-only class will be ideal for those interested in plant breeding and genetics. This includes upper-level undergraduates, master’s and Ph.D. students, and lifelong learners in the Plant Breeding & Genetics professional certificate.
Students will learn how to connect applied weed ecology studies with plant breeding, genomics, and biochemistry resources to identify mechanism(s) of herbicide resistance or other adaptive traits. Students will also learn how to assess the environmental impacts of new crop traits in greenhouse, field and landscape-level environments. Understanding the connection between genotype and phenotype in all plant species within an agroecosystem will improve systems-based thinking and lead to interdisciplinary collaborations within the plant sciences to improve sustainability.
The course will be held in the Campus eXtension virtual classroom at http://campus.extension.org/. Lectures have been recorded and students are expected to complete reading assignments for each day's lecture. The pre-requisite for this class is AGRO 412/812 Crop and Weed Genetics.
Dr. Yerka will be available to answer questions via email (email@example.com), telephone (402-472-2811) or in her office by appointment. Please contact Kathy Schindler at firstname.lastname@example.org for registration information and if you need the permission code.
For more information about the class, see the webpage at http://bit.ly/2eM6gKe.
Nebraska native Keaschall joins UNL Agronomy and HorticultureForty-two years have passed since Joe Keaschall stepped onto the University of Nebraska–Lincoln campus as a self-described farm-boy freshman from Ravenna, Nebraska. Now, he returns to his alma mater as an experienced scientist and research director with 38 years of plant breeding wisdom, looking forward to sharing his experiences and cutting-edge science with UNL graduate students.
Keaschall joined the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture faculty, Aug. 15, as the new plant breeding professor of practice. He comes to UNL from DuPont Pioneer where he was the corn product program director for Latin America and the Southern/Western United States. He also served on the leadership team for the Ag Traits group which focused on the identification and integration of engineered genes for drought, nitrogen-use efficiency and yield enhancement.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in agronomy with high distinction from UNL. The late Dave McGill, agronomy professor, served as his adviser, and according to Keaschall, was the first mentor to inspire him with the amazing world of genetics. He had the opportunity to work in corn breeding for a year under the late Charlie Gardner, another distinguished agronomy professor — an experience which Keaschall said helped solidify his desire to continue in plant breeding.
He earned a master’s degree in plant breeding and genetics at UNL, working with Emeritus Professor Jim Specht in soybean breeding, and went on to earn a doctorate in plant breeding and genetics at Purdue University in sorghum breeding.
After graduating from Purdue University he became a corn breeder for Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. at Windfall, Indiana where he worked for 11 years. He later became a research director for DuPont Pioneer for 19 years. Keaschall then had the opportunity to relocate to Lincoln as a research lead for DuPont Pioneer in the Western Business Unit regional office.
An extremely successful corn breeder with Pioneer, Keaschall was responsible for developing one of the parents of the highest-volume hybrid ever sold in the United States. He helped develop systems for conversion of “conventional” lines to contain and express biotech traits, like insect resistance.
“He can provide insight to process/systems, and requirements to ensure biotech products can succeed,” said Keaschall’s predecessor, retired UNL Plant Breeding Professor of Practice Tom Hoegemeyer.
Keaschall’s research involves drought tolerance improvement and yield enhancement and stabilization of crops in Nebraska and the world. He helped develop Aquamax drought tolerant products and understands precision phenotyping. That, Hoegemeyer said, is an important part of technology students need to understand.
“Joe has taught, both formally and informally, at many levels, and brings knowledge in both academic disciplines and practical ideas and techniques in plant breeding,” Hoegemeyer said. “He understands the relationship of plant breeding to business and business decision-making.”
After living in Indiana and Iowa for 27 years, Keaschall says he’s excited to be back at UNL. He grew up on a crop and livestock farm near Ravenna and always remained a Nebraska Cornhusker fan.
This fall semester Keaschall is teaching graduate courses in plant breeding — AGRO 816A: Heterosis and AGRO 815D: Cross-Pollinated Crop Breeding — in Plant Sciences Hall on UNL East Campus. He will also teach AGRO 816B: Haploids & Doubled Haploids in Breeding in the spring.
Keaschall feels Hoegemeyer set a high standard for the plant breeding professor of practice position in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture. “My goal is to inspire and educate future plant breeding scientists and research associates,” he said.
Online Master's Degree & Certificates Rank as Most Affordable
The online Master's of Agronomy and graduate Horticulture and Grasslands Management certificates at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln recently scored #9 in a ranking of the Most Affordable Online Colleges for Agriculture Degrees for 2016. OnlineU selected 14 affordable schools that have annual tuitions under $22,000. For details, see the OnlineU website.
Advanced Plant Breeding Classes Begin Aug. 22
Do you currently work in the plant breeding industry but don't have time for a semester-long class? If so, try our trio of 5-week long advanced plant breeding classes: Self-Pollinated Crop Breeding, Germplasm & Genes, and Cross-Pollinated Crop Breeding.
Students may take these classes as a series or as a single class depending on the information they need to learn. They may also register as an academic student or as a professional student depending on academic or career goals. For further details, visit the webpages and then contact Kathy Schindler, administrative associate.
Are you interested in Plant Breeding & Genetics but never had time to pursue it? Do your co-workers talk about plant breeding and expect you to know what they mean? Does the conversation at planning meetings or at the water cooler center on the next greatest variety leaving you lost in the terminology?
If these sentences describe you, then a non-credit online class called “Plant Breeding for Non-Plant Breeders” may be just the course for you. Taught by Dr. Keenan Amundsen through the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, this summer class runs every summer for 10 weeks.
Students learn about the history and milestones in plant breeding, plant biology, evaluating plant performance and stress tolerance, genes and germplasms, breeding strategies, marker-assisted breeding, as well as cultivar and germplasm management and release. Students should have had undergraduate science courses, including introductory plant science and genetics.
The course will be delivered online with no in-person attendance required. Students simply work at their own pace. Course content is through Campus eXtension Online. After registration, participants receive an Enrollment Key (Password) to enter the system.
Computer system requirements include an updated browser and email, common plug-ins such as Adobe Reader, virus protection, flash player and speakers. There is no textbook and course content is a mixture of online lessons, course notes, presentations and videos.
(Summer 2016) - Dr. Steve Baenziger met Katie Farmer in Yuma, Ariz., this spring helping with triticale and wheat increases. Katie is an online Plant Breeding & Genetics professional certificate student who took online classes from Dr. Baenziger last fall. Learn more about the core certificate classes he teaches on our modules webpage.
Goodding Center Receives Update
The Goodding Learning Center was remodeled last year. Take a few minutes to watch this video from Vimeo showing the spaces and technology being used in the center.
Mundorf recognized as 2014 Certified Crop Advisor of the Year
Tim Mundorf (at right), an online graduate student with the UNL Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, was honored as the 2014 Nebraska Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) of the Year. The award was presented by Jeff Wilmes (left side of picture), chairman, Nebraska Agri-Business Association, at the association’s Summer Convention Aug. 12-13 in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Mundorf currently works as a Laboratory Field Representative for Midwest Laboratories, Inc. in Omaha (https://www.midwestlabs.com/).
Mundorf is pursuing his master’s of science degree in Agronomy with a specialization in Soil and Water Sciences through the department’s online program. He is advised by Professor Charlie Wortmann. Mundorf earned his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Nebraska-Omaha in 1991. An Iowa native, Mundorf grew up on his family’s farm near Griswold.
The Nebraska Certified Crop Adviser Program (CCA) is a professional certification program offered by the American Society of Agronomy (ASA). The CCA Program requires educational standards and examinations in order to obtain the CCA designation. More information is available at http://www.necca.org/.
Congratulations Dr. Steve Baenziger on the National Association of Plant Breeders lifetime achievement award! Given to him in 2015, this award recognizes an individual who has given distinguished long-term service to the plant breeding discipline in areas such as breeding/genetics research and publication, education (graduate or undergraduate training), Extension outreach, and regional, national and/or international leadership.
(Summer 2015) - After a competitive national search, the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) has selected Leah Sandall as the coordinator of the department’s very successful distance education program. Sandall officially starts the position on August 17.
“The Department of Agronomy and Horticulture has had excellent upward trajectory of their distance education opportunities for over a decade,” said Dr. Roch Gaussoin, Professor and Head of the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture. “The appointment of Ms. Sandall as coordinator of the program will not only sustain the current momentum, but accelerate it.”
“Leah Sandall has a unique skill set and experience in distance education that will enhance, improve, and challenge us to rethink higher education in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture,” said Dave Lambe, Associate Professor of Practice. Lambe was co-chair of the search committee that recommended Sandall for the position and also serves on the department’s Distance Education Committee.
Sandall received her master’s and bachelor’s degrees in Agronomy from UNL. As a graduate student, she specialized in Plant Breeding and Genetics. In addition, Sandall spent time as an undergraduate teaching assistant (T.A.) and discovered her fondness for teaching and helping students. Sandall has worked as a Lecturer/Instructional Designer in the department since 2010. Prior to that she worked as an Extension Assistant with the Pesticide Safety Education program. A native Nebraskan, Sandall was raised near York, Neb.
“In this position I have the opportunity to work in the areas of teaching and Extension with faculty and staff across the state, and at other institutions, to develop online courses and educational materials,” Sandall said.
In her new position, Sandall will focus on both teaching and Extension activities by overseeing the Plant and Soil Sciences eLibrary (http://passel.unl.edu ), the online masters in Agronomy and five online certificate programs (in Horticulture, Grassland Management and Plant Breeding & Genetics).
“I will also be teaching an online course (AGRI 115: Biotechnology – Food, Health and the Environment) so this position allows me to combine my interest in teaching and experience in Extension.”
Away from work, Sandall enjoys spending time with her family and friends, walking around Holmes Lake and biking on Lincoln’s bike trails. She also enjoys traveling, nationally and internationally, and trying all kinds of new foods along the way.
Sandall said she likes to continually learn because that leads to personal and professional growth. She spent six weeks in Spain a few years ago and furthering her Spanish skills is one of her lifelong goals.
UNL classes begin August 24th. Visit http://agrohortonline.unl.edu for more information about Agronomy and Horticulture online programs and classes.
Distance Education Program Unveils New Website
(Lincoln, Neb) - The Department of Agronomy and Horticulture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and its Distance Education Committee are pleased to announce its new website in June 2015: agrohortonline.unl.edu.
The Distance Education program in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture offers an online Master’s of Science (M.S.) degree in Agronomy, three Horticulture graduate certificates, one Grasslands Management graduate certificate and one Plant Breeding and Genetics professional certificate. The department’s faculty and staff also work closely with the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR) to advise students and support the Master’s of Applied Science (M.A.S.) in Horticulture.
These graduate and certificate programs offer online courses that allow recent graduates and mid-level career professionals to continue their education while staying in their current communities and careers. The Department of Agronomy and Horticulture offers more than 30 online graduate or undergraduate classes in agronomy or horticulture-related subjects.
For more information about the online Agronomy and Horticulture programs, visit the new website, or please contact Kathy Schindler, email@example.com or Leah Sandall, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Online Weed Science classes meet dual purposes
Online classes give practitioners, professionals and students the opportunity learn about Weed Science from the comfort of their home or office.
The Department of Agronomy & Horticulture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will offer three Weed Science classes next spring that allow participants the chance to earn both academic credit at UNL and Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for the Certified Crop Advisor program. The three classes are:
- AGRO 107: Invasive Plant Species: Impacts on Ecosystems offered Jan. 11-May 6, 3 credits
- AGRO 412/812 Crop & Weed Genetics offered Jan. 11-Feb. 26; and
- AGRO 822 Integrated Weed Management offered Feb. 15-May 6.
The Certified Crop Advisor program is through the American Society of Agronomy (ASA) and the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA). The CEU credits may be split between five categories: Nutrient Management, Soil and Water Management, Pest Management, Crop Management and Professional Development.
A description of the courses are as follows:
AGRO 107, Invasive Plant Species: Impacts on Ecosystems, taught by Robert Vavala.
Invasive plants can be found nearly everywhere on Earth. The flora of our planet is constantly being redistributed by either natural or human forces. The change in locations of plant species has affected, and continues to affect, ecosystems around the world. In this course, students will learn how invasive plants are able to establish in regions outside of their native range. Students will develop an understanding of the importance of invasive plants at the global scale and learn how species, which are fairly benign in one ecosystem, can have significant negative impacts in others. Students may earn three undergraduate credits and 5 CEUs for the Certified Crop Advisor program – two in Crop Management, one in Pest Management, one in Soil & Water, and one in Nutrient Management. This class also fits the ACE 9 requirement for UNL undergraduate students. More information is at http://agrohortonline.unl.edu/agro_107_invasive_plants.
AGRO 412/812, Crop & Weed Genetics, taught by Dr. Don Lee.
Application of classical and molecular genetic principles to the explanation of variation observed in plant families and populations. Interpretation of information gathered from whole plant trait observation and from molecular analysis. Relationships between crops and weeds. Examples from genetic studies on both crop and weed species are the basis of course. Students may earn 1 graduate or undergraduate academic credit and 5 CEUs – 3 in Crop Management and 2 in Pest Management. A web page may be found at http://agrohortonline.unl.edu/crop_weed_genetics2.
AGRO 822, Integrated Weed Management, taught by Dr. Stevan Knezevic.
Principles and application of Integrated Weed Management (IWM). Noxious and invasive weed species. Crops and weed control. Plant population shifts. Use of herbicides and the biologically effective dose. Critical period of weed control and weed threshold. Herbicide tolerant crops. Students may earn 1 graduate academic credit and six CEUs in Pest Management. Further details may be found at https://agrohortonline/agro-hort822-int-weedmngt.
For more information about any of these classes, contact Kathy Schindler, administrative support associate with the Department of Agronomy & Horticulture distance program, email@example.com, 402-472-1730.
2015 Summer Classes start June 8
Sign up for UNL's online plant breeding & genetics courses.
Learn about the latest technologies in plant genetics from experts in the field by earning your Plant Breeding and Genetics Professional Certificate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). Online summer classes at the UNL Department of Agronomy and Horticulture offer the chance to earn professional credit for the certificate, earn CEUs (continuing education units) for Certified Crop Advisors, increase your specialized knowledge, and enhance your career opportunities.
Two refresher courses and one core course start on June 8, 2015.
Plant Breeding for Non-Plant Breeders
Course timeline: June 8 to August 14, 2015
This 1-credit course examines how plant breeders can develop new crop varieties to help meet the global demands for food, fuel, and fiber. Read more and register.
Course timeline: June 8 to July 10, 2015
This 3-credit course covers the biology of plants grown for food, fiber, fuel, and fun. Learn the mechanisms plants use to drive and control their growth, as well as to propagate and change to compete with other organisms in their environment. Read more and register.
**Certified Crop Advisors may earn 2 Crop Management, 1 Pest Management, 1 Soil & Water, and 1 Nutrient Management CEUs from this course.
Crop Genetic Engineering
Course timeline: June 8 to August 14, 2015
This 2-credit core module is designed to provide students with an introduction to genetic engineering. Students will learn the basic steps required to produce a genetically engineered crop with emphasis on procedures used to develop current crops and innovations that will lead to future products. Read more and register.
**Certified Crop Advisors may earn 6 Crop Management and 4 Pest Management CEUs from this course.
You must enroll by June 1, so don't wait—sign up for courses now!
Warm Regards, Kathryn Schindler, MA Administrative Support Associate, Distance Education for UNL Agronomy and Horticulture
First Plant Breeding & Genetics certificate earners
By Kathy Schindler
Three seed-industry professionals are well on their way to Feeding and Energizing the World.
Amy Gonzalez and Dylan Ward, both from Syngenta, and John Maxwell from Condor Seed Production, recently earned their Plant Breeding & Genetics Certificate through the Department of Agronomy & Horticulture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The distance students earned their certificates after completing 12 professional credits (non-academic) in plant breeding and genetics.
The slogan for the certificate program is to "Feed and Energize our World." To match the slogan, a key goal for graduates is to help develop more productive and efficient plant and grain varieties. By 2050, the world population is expected to reach 9 billion, according to the United Nations. That means farmers must meet the world's estimated food demand by growing more food with fewer resources.
The certificate program is also designed so mid-level seed industry and plant-breeding professionals can learn cutting-edge technologies and methods online. By taking graduate classes, these professionals developed skills and expertise to help solve a global issue while increasing their knowledge and productivity, interacting with fellow learners around the world and advancing their careers.
"Those of us teaching courses in this Plant Breeding certificate are aiming for the best balance in creating learning that targets these professionals," said Dr. Donald Lee, interim chair of the department's Distance Education Committee. "We want to help them build their base in the genetics and plant breeding science and explore the latest applications of this science to create better seed products for farmers to grow."
"As the world's population increases, plant breeders are going to become more important than ever in finding solutions to meet the growing demand for food," Maxwell said.
It's important for plant breeders to keep up with the latest advances. Ward explained that the primary reason he enrolled in the certificate was to stay abreast of current plant genetics topics for his position on the business side of the seed industry.
"The plant breeding methods and technologies have changed a lot in the 10 years since I last worked in Research and Development." Ward said.
Maxwell and Gonzalez also wanted to expand their knowledge.
"After graduating in 2012 from the University of Arizona with a degree in Agribusiness Management, I felt like it was important for me to broaden my knowledge of agriculture," Maxwell said. "When I came across the Plant Breeding & Genetics professional certificate program, I knew this was my opportunity to do just that."
Gonzalez said, "Earning my Plant Breeding Certification through the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's cutting-edge distance education program has allowed me to accomplish my goal as a working professional and parent. I am grateful for being part of Syngenta, a company that invests in its people and supports personal growth."
The graduates have already seen positive results from taking plant breeding and genetic courses.
"I currently work for a seed production company in Yuma, AZ," Maxwell said, "and I have already benefited greatly from this professional certificate program. Besides applying the general knowledge of the courses, I'm able to employ plant breeding strategies in hybrid and open-pollinated seed production."
Ward said he will gain "from the increased understanding of the obstacles plant breeders face in their role. The complexity when working with a living organism will always be a challenge."
All three found the program to be just what they needed to advance their careers while allowing them to stay in their home communities.
"I appreciated the flexible schedule offered by the courses," Ward explained. "The instructors were very accommodating to unexpected work demands and the accessibility of the lessons allowed for viewing lectures in many locations."
The certificate earners also recommended the courses and certificate program to their peers.
"Anyone who is interested in getting ahead in the ever-changing field of agriculture should consider participating in this program," said Maxwell.
Ward said the certificate courses are a good opportunity for seed industry professionals to continue their education.
"The courses are challenging, thought-provoking and deal with timely topics," he said. "I highly recommend the Plant Breeding and Genetics Professional Certificate program."
"I would recommend the Plant Breeding Certification program to anyone who wants to further deepen their knowledge of plant breeding and genetics with a program that allows flexibility without compromising content."
Core courses in the certificate include: Crop Genetic Engineering, Crop & Weed Genetics, Self-Pollinated Crop Breeding, Cross-Pollinated Crop Breeding and Germplasm & Genes. Elective courses include Haploids & Double Haploids, Heterosis, Geneotype by Environment Interaction and two disease resistance breeding courses.
For a video on the benefits of the Plant Breeding & Genetics professional certificate program, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWrWb452a3s. For more information, view the Certificate website at: http://agrohortonline.unl.edu/plant-breeding-genetics-online-professional-certificate-program.
UNL's Online Graduate Education ranked high by US News & World Report
The University of Nebraska's online graduate education program was ranked fifth from U.S. News & World Report's 2015 Best Online Program rankings. For more information, see the article at the UNL newsroom website.
Plant Breeding & Genetics Videos are now on YouTube
A YouTube channel has been created for the Plant Breeding & Genetics videos at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqFHBKJJqGL_jjapZq5kbeg. Visit the channel to see how the Plant Breeding & Genetics professional certificate can help you with your goals. Then contact Kathy Schindler, firstname.lastname@example.org, to sign up for the certificate.