Reflecting On My First Year

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How the UT Institute of Agriculture Is Making a Difference

Spring will be arriving soon across Tennessee, and with it comes the promise of longer days and new growth. It is a season of celebrations and milestones.

This month marks one year since I joined the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) as senior vice chancellor and senior vice president. It is a remarkable organization. UTIA has a presence in all ninety-five counties in Tennessee and provides Real. Life. Solutions. through its land-grant mission of research, teaching and outreach, including UT Extension. UTIA is one of only a handful of agricultural institutes across the U.S. This distinction demonstrates the importance of agriculture and its partnering industries in Tennessee.

Here at UTIA, we have so much to celebrate.

  • Enrollment in the Herbert College of Agriculture is strong, allowing us the privilege to prepare tomorrow’s leaders in agriculture and natural resources. Our students are gaining hands-on experience in the classroom and in real situations, such as providing the products for the new on-campus UT Creamery.
  • Our Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries marked 2023 with a new designation. As the School of Natural Resources faculty, staff and students can provide even more services to the state’s vital forestry, wildlife and fishery industries.
  • The College of Veterinary Medicine, which shapes the future of human and animal health through both teaching and research, is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary in 2024. The college recently opened the doors of its first major expansion of instructional space—a 20,000-square-foot Teaching and Learning Center. The new Center for Veterinary Social Work, the culmination of a long-standing collaboration between the UT College of Social Work and the College of Veterinary Medicine, focuses on the welfare of all species through excellence in global interprofessional practice.
  • UT AgResearch won $104 million in competitive research grants and contracts, an astounding 228 percent increase from the year before. Our scientists are making astounding inroads for the future of the state’s food, fiber and even fuel industries.
  • More than 15,000 people attended field days at our UT AgResearch and Education Centers in 2023 to learn about topics from gardening, cattle and crop production, and preserving our environment. UT AgResearch also hosted the U.S. Precision Livestock Conference, which brought together farmers, producers and researchers from across the country interested in using real-time monitoring to improve animal health and well-being within a herd or flock.
  • UT Extension has an office in every Tennessee county and thanks to a $2.2 million increase in legislative funding approved in 2021, Tennessee’s 4-H program is now fully staffed in all ninety-five counties. The hundred-year-old program is the largest youth organization in Tennessee with more than 138,000 members in grades four through twelve, and Tennessee 4-H is one of the largest 4-H club programs in the nation. Extension agents with specialties in agriculture and natural resources, family and consumer sciences, 4-H and youth development, and community and economic development are ready to assist anyone who calls.
  • In 2023, UT Extension faculty and staff made nearly 200,000 onsite visits and 27 million digital contacts, bringing research-based information to Tennesseans and those beyond our state. Did you know that for every $1 of public funds invested in UT Extension, $8.29 is returned to our state?

These are just a few of the ways UTIA is making a difference. On behalf of the more than 2,200 faculty and staff spread across our great state of Tennessee, I invite you to visit our website to learn more about how we provide Real. Life. Solutions. every day. That is a brand promise we take to heart. Our researchers, UT Extension agents, faculty, staff, and students believe in what we do, and we see the impact. I hope you will take time to visit your local UT Extension office, attend our field days and events, and visit our offices, classrooms, and laboratories.

The future of Tennessee agriculture is bright, and I am excited to see what the next year holds.

Keith Carver

UT Institute of Agriculture Senior Vice Chancellor and Senior Vice President


Lisa Stearns

UTIA Marketing and Communications