‘Classes Without Quizzes’ to entertain and educate

The half-day program will feature speakers on a variety of current topics.

by James Schlemmer

For those who’ve ever wondered if hair clippings repel rabbits, what a pet really wants for dinner or what area wine producers do to improve taste, then the University’s eight mini-seminars next month might have the answers.

The April 14 “Classes Without Quizzes,” hosted by the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource

Sciences alumni, is a way for University faculty to display the most recent scientific research to the public and raise awareness about the changing environment.

CFANS Alumni Relations Director Mary Buschette said the broad range of topics appeal to a vast group of people.

“We bring alumni back to campus,” she said. “We have high school students up to people in their 90s.”

In addition to the eight mini-seminars, the half-day education program features a keynote speech, “Climate Change in Minnesota: Implications for a Citizen’s Agenda.” The speech will be presented by University climatologist Mark Seeley and WCCO-TV anchor Don Shelby.

Shelby said the issues in renewable energy and global climate changes have to be dealt with sooner rather than later.

“When the Earth is doing well,” he said. “We do well.”

Shelby, who for several years reported on the issue of renewable energy through WCCO-TV’s Project Energy series, said people might not be interested in the topic initially, but that’s why events such as this one are so important.

on the web

For more information about registration, go to: www.cfans.umn.edu/cwq

“We had to educate people,” he said. “People don’t come to the table interested.”

This will be Seeley’s third time speaking at the program. He will discuss many issues, including agriculture, national resources and the effects on transportation. Seeley said the event, now in its sixth year, is growing.

“It has the ability to capture the public and inform them; it’s evolving to being a popular University event,” he said.

Horticulture science professor Jeff Gillman will lead an hour-long seminar titled “The Truth about Garden Remedies.” Gillman said he hopes to make his seminar more interactive and less of a lecture.

“We’ll be talking to the alumni, letting them know what the University is doing,” he said. “It’s a really interactive class where I get to talk to alumni ranging from ages 23 to 80.”

Other University faculty will lead seminars addressing such topics as: nutrition, economics of ethanol and livestock and the health of pets.

Buschette said people come to hear the new research, but there are some elements that people expect at the event.

“We always have people into gardening,” she said. “Mark Seeley always tells great weather stories.”

First-year agricultural education student Ksana Harrison participated in the event the last two years as part of her high school science fair. Harrison will help out again this year and she encourages other students to attend.

“It’s cool because it is not necessarily school-related, but you want to learn it,” she said. “It’s good for networking as well and learning about new strategies.”

Harrison said there is something for everybody.

“It is great if people are willing to learn and meet new people,” she said. “Anyone would (enjoy it) as long as they are open-minded.”

Shelby said with all the talk in the news about renewable energy and global climate change, it will be a very timely event, but he warns that despite the momentum of the movement, a lot of work still needs to be done.

“We need to follow science,” he said.

While he applauds former Vice President Al Gore for getting the word out about the issue, Shelby said Gore might have divided people even more.

“The problem is that he is already associated with the Democrats,” he said. “I’m not sure he has done the world a great favor.”

But for some students, the cost of the seminar, at $15 for students, isn’t worth it. The seminars cost $25 for the general public.

Elementary education senior Maika Vang said the seminars sound interesting, but she wouldn’t pay to attend.

“I think interest is low for a student in my field for

$15,” she said. “If they had a live band or something, maybe, but that much money just for information Ö If it was $5, I might go.”