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Feeding the Growing World

Last week, Extension faculty and staff from across Nebraska met at the annual state extension conference for professional improvement opportunities, networking and envisioning programming for the future that will make a significant impact on many lives. One of my favorite professional development sessions was “Cancer with Joy” featuring a stage four, thirty-three year old woman who defeated all odds. In her presentation she emphasized the important of facing things with positivity. While most of us know this already, it was an excellent reminder for everyone to face life with positive energy.  She discussed how research shows that people who are happier usually live longer and can battle health challenges better.  

Another major item discussed was the challenges UNL Extension has in contributing to meeting the food demands for the world’s growing population. According to the United Nations, the world’s population hit seven billion on October 31, 2011. The United Nations is projecting the world population to reach 9.3 billion by 2050. As co-leader of the Crops for the Future Extension group, worked on how our programming efforts can help lead the charge in not only making producers more profitability, but the larger goal at hand, being to feed the world. The Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at UNL have prestigious faculty such as Stephen Baenziger working to solve this problem and Extension will bring that research to the forefront of producers.

Wrapping up the conference, faculty were able to watch UNL’s month Heuermann Lecture which featured Stephen Baenziger, a small grains breeder in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture at UNL. Baenziger said that not only will the population reach a over 9 billion, but a wealthier population, will eat the equivalent of what would feed 12 billion today which is causing agricultural scientists to race the clock to produce enough food. His resume was just as impressive as his presentation! The Heuermann Lecture series focuses on providing security in the areas of food, natural resources, and renewable energy for people, as well as on securing the sustainability of rural communities where the vital work of producing food and renewable energy occurs. Learn more about his presentation and past lectures.

Through the Heuermann Lectures, Nebraskans and others can participate in conversations with diverse leaders in various walks of life who are working to meet the world’s food and food-related challenges. The next lecture will be “Conflict & Resolution on the Missouri River” with Bob Kerry on December 12, 2011 at 4:00 p.m. at Hardin Hall in Lincoln or through the web. The 2011 flooding of the Missouri River spawned what is just the latest in a series of conflicts that stretch back to European settlement of land influenced by the river, notes Bob Kerrey, former Nebraska governor and U.S. senator. Kerrey’s Heuermann Lecture focuses on three critical moments when the resolution of conflicts regarding the Missouri River produced federal and/or state laws that continue to affect lives today.

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