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Big Orange. Big Ideas. They’re fueling UT Knoxville on its journey to become a Top 25 public research university. Here are two faculty members who are bringing big ideas to life in the classroom, through their research and through community service.

Mark Fly

Mark FlyMark Fly grew up on a farm along the Duck River in Maury County near Fly, Tennessee, where he gained a deep appreciation for the outdoors. Now, he has made it his mission to spread his love of nature to a generation glued to electronic media.

Fly is professor of wildland recreation and environmental psychology in the Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. He coordinates the wildland recreation concentration within the forestry major and is the founder and director of the Human Dimensions Research Lab, a survey research center.

“Mark’s efforts to help reconnect youth with Tennessee’s natural resources have the potential to fundamentally change the lives of the next generation in ways that will positively impact the appreciation and stewardship of our forests, farms, and waterways,” said Keith Belli, head of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries.

With Tennessee State Parks and the Paris/Henry County Economic Development Corporation, Fly is developing an Every Child Outdoors (ECO) Center at Paris Landing State Park to teach outdoor recreation skills to children and families.

“In addition to learning to have fun outdoors, families are learning skills that lead to healthier and greater self-reliance,” Fly said.

“I am very concerned for our children. Tennessee children are increasingly suffering from obesity, diabetes, ADHD, depression, and vitamin D deficiency, all of which are things that increased physical activity outdoors would help curb.”

“Most people in outdoor professions and many scientists like me pursued their career out of a love for nature derived from their childhood experiences, so who will be our park rangers and environmental scientists if children are not taught to love the outdoors?” he said.

Fly developed and uses the “Sustaining Life Education” model at the ECO Center. It combines environmental science and health education with sustainability practices. The goal is to sustain the health of children into adulthood and sustain nature which, in turn, sustains us.

An example is the children’s gardening project at the ECO Center, which is funded by the Tennessee Department of Health. There, fourth-grade students learn about gardening, healthy eating, and outdoor education.

Fly is currently expanding the program to Austin-East High School, Pond Gap Elementary School, and the Knoxville Botanical Garden in collaboration with Keep Knoxville Beautiful, Tribe One, the UT Landscape Architecture Program, the University-Assisted Community Schools Project, TeamVOLS, and his wildland recreation planning class.

In his spare time, Fly enjoys nature photography, and writing poems about nature, and farm life.

Amy Fulcher

Amy FulcherGot pests, weeds, or sickly plants? Need information and help?

Amy Fulcher has an app for that.

Fulcher is an assistant professor for sustainable ornamental plant production and landscape management in the Department of Plant Sciences.

“Though she has been with us only slightly more than a year, Amy just completed a proposal of more than $9 million for a USDA Coordinated Agricultural Project involving not only the research offices but also the research foundations of six other land-grant universities,” said College of Agricultural Science and Natural Resources Dean Caula Beyl.

The project they’re developing is “IPM Pro,” an iPhone/Blackberry application for landscapers and nursery growers, with a light version for homeowners, and is on the verge of being released to the market.

The app will send alerts when certain pests are in season to harm nursery stock, particularly woody ornamental plants. It also will provide basic information about insects, weeds, or diseases that could affect plants, as well as tips about how to identify and control them effectively. Plus, the app will send timely reminders for tasks, like mulching, pruning or applying chemicals.

In addition, the app will recommend pesticides and allow the user to generate pesticide records they are required to maintain. Once created, these notices will be e-mailed to the user’s personal computer.

“The goal of the app is to increase environmental and economic sustainability by assisting nursery crop growers, landscapers, and homeowners utilize integrated pest management techniques,” Fulcher said. “We’ve worked with focus groups and feel like the time is right, that this product will be well received by the industry.”

UT is spearheading the project with help from experts at North Carolina State, Georgia, Kentucky and Maryland, Clemon University and Virginia Tech.

Fulcher is also part of a multi-disciplinary team of UT faculty conducting research on woody ornamentals. Her outreach and research efforts focus on sustainable nursery production, particularly regarding plant water use and efficient irrigation technologies, integrated pest management, ecophysiology, and root biology.

Fulcher earned her bachelor’s degree in agriculture at Western Kentucky University, master’s degree in horticultural science at North Carolina State University, and her doctorate in crop science from the University of Kentucky. She is also an International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist.

C O N T A C T :

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,