C of I Newsletter

2014. 05. 23

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C of I celebrates the Class of 2014

Commencement (251)

One by one, The College of Idaho’s graduating seniors crossed the Boone Hall steps and received their diplomas from President Marv Henberg.

It was the culmination of a beautiful spring morning May 17 in Morrison Quadrangle as the C of I celebrated the Class of 2014 and welcomed its newest group of alumni to the fold.

“I am so proud of the Class of 2014 and all that you have accomplished here,” Henberg said. “And I know that you will achieve even greater things in the years to come.”

The graduates and a capacity crowd of family, friends and supporters heard remarks from Henberg, senior speaker Tyler Guryan and commencement speaker Chris Farnsworth ’93, a bestselling author whose path to a writing career began at the C of I.

Farnsworth, best known for his “The President’s Vampire” series of novels, spoke about society’s fascination with apocalypses while encouraging the graduates to focus more on how they can contribute to a better future.

“The only thing we know for certain about the future is that we have to live there,” Farnsworth said. “The only choice we get is what kind of future we want to create; zombies or jetpacks? It’s up to you. It’s time to stop waiting for the end of the world, and start working to save it. Good luck.”

Guryan, an international political economy major from Boise, gave a candid, humorous and self-deprecating speech, assuring his classmates that college has been a worthwhile experience – even if it left some graduates with more questions about the future than they had when they arrived.

“Our path is ours to determine,” Guryan said. “The College of Idaho has given us the ability to seek our true passions, and to commit to them when we find them. We have not built paths here; we have built foundations. Some of us just don’t know what we are going to build on them yet.”

The College would like to thank all those who made commencement such a special and memorable day, particularly the graduates, their families and the hardworking staff who made the ceremony possible. We invite you to enjoy our commencement album – including shots of each graduate receiving his or her diploma from President Henberg – on the C of I Flickr site, which also has a Baccalaureate album. Photographer Pete Grady also took portraits of each graduate, which are available for viewing and purchase online. In addition, the full remarks of Tyler Guryan and Chris Farnsworth are featured on the College’s YouTube channel.

Congratulations once more to the Class of 2014!

Coyote softball team rallies to reach NAIA World Series

Softball Champs (12)

Nickayla Skinner and the C of I softball team were down, but not out.

Improbably, the C of I senior and two-time Cascade Conference Pitcher of the Year had one of the worst outings of her career, walking seven in a 10-2 loss to Oregon Tech in the first game of the NAIA Softball National Championship Opening Round at Symms Field.

What happened next was even more remarkable. Skinner and the Coyotes roared back to life on Day 2 of the double-elimination tournament, knocking off Dickinson State 7-2 and steamrolling top-seeded Cal State San Marcos 10-2 to earn a championship rematch with Oregon Tech.

With Skinner pitching every inning, the Coyotes completed a remarkable tournament run, defeating the Owls twice – 2-1 and 10-0 – to earn a trip to this weekend’s NAIA World Series in Columbus, Ga.

“Unbelievable,” C of I coach Al Mendiola said. “I don’t know if there’s a word that can define Nickayla. She does things that amaze people.”

Skinner dominated during the Coyotes’ four-game run to the title. In her tournament turnaround, she walked four while striking out 27 and allowing just five runs – including one in a championship doubleheader versus the Oregon Tech squad that got the better of her in the tournament opener.

In the clinching victory, Skinner also launched a two-run homer, had three total RBIs and crashed into the backstop to make an incredible catch on a foul popup. When senior Kendall Pavey squeezed the ball for the final out, the Coyotes’ all-time winningest pitcher was mobbed by her adoring teammates.

“I knew it was going to happen,” Skinner told reporters after the game. “We have more heart than everybody. I think we have more camaraderie on the team, and that’s what wins games.”

Oregon Tech coach Greg Steward described Skinner as a “buzz saw,” but there were multiple heroes for the tournament host Coyotes. Freshman catcher Destiny Turner had five RBIs in the four wins. Senior third baseman McKensie Stanton also swung a hot bat, highlighted by a grand slam versus Cal State San Marcos. Outfielders Paige Gabiola, Briana Brace and Ashley Van Horne provided clutch hitting and base running. Sophomore shortstop Katie Rowe and junior first baseman Alexis Macias were solid both at the plate and in the field.

Overall, it was an unforgettable team effort for the Coyotes (33-16), who open play at the 10-team NAIA World Series this morning versus No. 10-ranked Lindsey Wilson (Ky.). Read more about the Coyotes’ trip to nationals in the Idaho Press-Tribune and Idaho Statesman, and get all the latest softball updates at www.yoteathletics.com.

Plant hunters: C of I team researches Idaho's flora

Botany Research

Click here to view more photos of the C of I botany research team at work.

“Try this miner’s lettuce,” says College of Idaho botany professor Don Mansfield, tearing off a couple leaves of a small plant growing along the edge of Currant Creek Trail in the Boise Foothills.

As student research assistants McKayla Stevens and Lauren Polito nibble on the leaves, Mansfield notes “you can make a great salad with them” before pointing out the hemlock growing right next to it, one of the most poisonous plants in North America.

Such is the nature of Southwest Idaho’s botanical diversity—an edible plant can grow next to a toxic one, with the typical passerby unaware of the difference, or of the important role each plant fills in the region’s ecosystem.

That’s where Mansfield and his C of I student researchers come in. For decades, C of I research teams have crisscrossed Southwest Idaho documenting the region’s unique and largely unknown flora.

On this sunny May day, the C of I team is on the lookout for biscuitroot, a perennial herb with small yellow flowers that is native to western North America. Dozens of species of biscuitroot are present in Idaho, yet they are largely undocumented and very little is known about the genetic diversity and related ecological factors influencing the plant.

“It’s in just about every ecosystem in the Pacific Northwest and Intermountain West and it was very important in terms of food and medicinal purposes for Native American groups,” Mansfield said. “That makes it very interesting in terms of its ecological and ethnobotanical diversity.”

Digging for answers

Barely 100 feet down the trail, the C of I team spots its first biscuitroot in an unusual location, a dry creek bed. Mansfield guides the students through a checklist of items to note: soil type, soil depth, the slope of the ground, whether the soil has been disturbed, the dominant grass surrounding the sample, and so on.

Recording the data takes 10 or so minutes per site, with Mansfield sharing tips that he’s learned from decades of field research.

“How do you tell whether there’s clay in the soil without testing it in the lab?” Mansfield asks Stevens and Polito as he picks up a pinch of soil to demonstrate a simple field technique. “You see if it’ll form ribbons when you roll a bit of soil between your fingers.”

Polito, a junior biology and environmental studies major who is focusing on the biscuitroot research this summer, helps collect a sample to preserve in the C of I’s Tucker Herbarium and for DNA sequencing before noting the GPS coordinates of the collection site.

This summer, Polito will be collecting biscuitroot specimens, analyzing their DNA, and comparing the physical features of newly-collected specimens to those that have been collected elsewhere.

“We’re trying to dig up some answers to questions about biscuitroot,” said Polito, who’s planning to pursue graduate work in wildlife biology. “Getting out there and collecting specimens, learning the process of field work and learning how to do DNA analysis is really helpful preparation for what I’d like to do.”

Half a mile down the trail, the team comes across several more plants that appear to be part of the same population group, though the soil and terrain are much different.

“This part of southwest Idaho is an interesting area and a great place for botanical research,” Mansfield said. “You have Lake Idaho deposits of sand and then you get the basalt of the Columbia Plateau, as well as the granitic batholith where Bogus Basin is, so we’re at this interesting junction of three geological features that contribute to the diversity of our flora in this area.”

Mansfield notes that biscuitroot is also known as desert parsley and the students stick their noses into the flowers to smell how the moniker came about.

“This is what we’re trying to figure out, if what makes sense when we think about it in the classroom or lab is actually what we see in the field,” Mansfield said.

Going places

While each student working with Mansfield pursues an individual research project, they all support the College’s larger effort to better understand the flora of the Owyhee region. In 2011, Dr. Manfield received a nearly $370,000 National Science Foundation grant for that project, which has included establishment of SWITCH (Southwest Idaho: The Comprehensive Herbaria), an online resource for botanical research and education (pnwherbaria.org).

Other botanists throughout the United States and abroad are making use of the SWITCH database, and even pitching in to help advance the C of I’s research. This summer, the College will host the annual Idaho Botanical Foray from June 26–29 in the headwaters of the Owyhee River. The annual event, sponsored each year by a different Idaho university, draws dozens of botanists who converge on a single, understudied area to catalogue the plants inhabiting it.

Meanwhile, the four students conducting research with Mansfield this summer are learning not only about Southwest Idaho’s botany, but also, in collaboration with Boise State University scientists, DNA sequencing, database management, bioinformatics and a range of field techniques.

Stevens, a freshman biology major who plans to go to medical school, said getting a chance to do research so early as an undergraduate was an opportunity she couldn’t pass up.

“I’ve been interested in scientific research since I was really young,” she said. “I know pre-med versus botany, they sound completely different. But it’s a great opportunity to gain field research experience, and do DNA sequencing to track down patterns and compare morphological features. Those are all skills that are important looking at going on to a career in medicine.”

Mansfield intentionally identifies C of I freshmen with an interest in science and research to get them involved early in their college careers. Learning a variety of scientific techniques, seeing how professional biologists work and developing communication and observational skills all contribute to many different occupations, he said.

“I’ve had students go on to medical school and research careers. A recent graduate went into a marine biology graduate program and another just finished a graduate degree and took a job at a national preserve in New Mexico,” Mansfield said. “Our students just jump at the opportunity to get experience with research after their freshman year. They realize that they can go on to do whatever interests them and answer interesting questions.”

C of I history major to study in China

Brady Harrison

Graduate school is a popular destination for many College of Idaho alumni, but 2014 graduate Brady Harrison is taking a road less traveled to continue his education.

Harrison, a history major from Caldwell, will spend the next two academic years in China earning a master’s degree in Chinese politics and economics at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. His studies will be supported by a Chinese Government Scholarship as he pursues a career in international trade.

“I believe the experiences I’ve had here and the courses I’ve taken have prepared me to live in China, and to thrive there,” Harrison said. “The faculty and staff have been a great help to me, and I feel like the history department has really prepared me for graduate school.”

Harrison’s interest in China began during his freshman year, when he took a course from C of I history professor and China expert Dr. Jeff Snyder-Reinke. Over his four-year college career, Harrison continued to take classes in Asian studies and Chinese history from Snyder-Reinke in addition to a Chinese language course with Fulbright instructor Yueh-Chih Lin and an independent study course on Chinese literature and film.

During his sophomore year, Harrison had the opportunity to study abroad at Shanghai Normal University in China. The following summer, he sparked an interest in international trade by traveling with the Western United States Agricultural Trade Association to Shanghai though an internship with Koenig Winery and Distillery. Harrison’s work with Koenig focused on expanding the winery’s business market share on the Chinese mainland. He hopes to one day work as an international trade analyst, serving as a bridge for Idaho companies to export their products around the world while also introducing international goods to Idaho markets.

In August, Harrison will embark on his third trip to China to begin his graduate studies. And while the prospect of studying abroad may be intimidating for some, Harrison encourages students to give it a try.

“I definitely think it’s something more students should pursue,” Harrison said. “The [scholarship] money is there, the academic quality is there, and it’s a great learning opportunity – especially for well-rounded students like we have at The College of Idaho.”


Spring/Summer 2014

College Events Calendar

Every Friday

Orma J. Smith Museum of Natural History hosts public open house, 1-5 p.m., Boone Hall basement. Click for more information.

May 23-24

C of I track and field team competes at NAIA Outdoor Nationals, Mickey Miller Blackwell Stadium (Gulf Shores, Alabama). Click for live results.

May 23-29

C of I softball team competes at NAIA World Series, South Commons Softball Complex (Columbus, Ga.). Click for live stats.

May 28

Alumni GOLDen Happy Hour featuring Professors Jasper LiCalzi and Steve Maughan, 5:30 p.m., Highlands Hollow (Boise). Click for more info.

May 29-30

C of I Staff Association Yard Sale, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday and 8 a.m.-noon Friday, Terteling Library Lawn. A portion of the proceeds help fund student scholarships!

June 12

C of I Alumni, Family and Friends Picnic, 6 p.m., Municipal Park (Boise). Click for more info.


Track Champs

Congratulations to Coach Pat McCurry and the C of I women's track team, which won its second consecutive Cascade Conference championship May 10 in Nampa. Click here to read more about the victory in the Idaho Press-Tribune. Nichole DeGrange, Hillary Holt, Jasmine Hurd, Sora Klopfenstein and the 4x100 relay team won conference titles for the Coyotes, who wrap up their season this weekend at NAIA Outdoor Nationals in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

C of I student Seth Raver's summer internship with NASA received coverage in several local media outlets, including a story in the Idaho Press-Tribune and a big feature by KIVI Channel 6 News.

C of I political economy professor Dr. Robert Dayley recently was published in The Fair Observer, a web journal that publishes in-depth articles on current global issues. Dayley’s article, titled “The Real Face of Thai Political Reform Today,” explores the ongoing political conflict in Thailand.

Hearty congratulations to C of I President Marv Henberg, who has received the distinguished honor of being named Unlimited Breadstick Philosopher – along with all rights, privileges and honors pertaining to that lofty position – by the University of Olive Garden. For the full context of this prestigious award, watch President Henberg ponder the question of unlimited breadsticks during his commencement remarks.

Tickets to The College of Idaho’s 2014 football season are on sale, and seats in all sections remain available to fans who wish to experience the return of small college football to Idaho this fall! Click here to read more about football ticket sales, or here to purchase your seats online. Go Yotes!

Recent C of I graduate Jordan Bowman was featured in an Idaho Press-Tribune article prior to commencement. Bowman, an outstanding vocalist, sang the national anthem and the College Hymn during the ceremony.

Matt Fouts

Congratulations to recently graduated C of I student President Matt Fouts '14, who on May 9 was awarded the Concordia University School of Law Book Award by the C of I Department of Political Economy.

New C of I women's basketball coach Mark Owen recently announced his first four signees, as reported by the Idaho Press-Tribune. Meanwhile, the Coyote men's team added guard Marck Coffin, a Caldwell High product, also reported by the IPT.

C of I political economy professor Dr. Jasper LiCalzi has been busy breaking down the Republican primary races for the local media, including KIVI Channel 6 News.

Defensive lineman Garrett Pirtle of Twin Falls High has joined the C of I football program, as reported by the Twin Falls Times-News. The Idaho Press-Tribune also had a story about the 13 most recent Coyote football signees.