BEAD – Bio Energy Awareness Days

Bio Energy Awareness Days (BEAD) is a celebration of agriculture’s role in seeking energy independence for this nation. It is held on the Summer Solstice (end of June) each year in Washington, DC to recognize that the sun is the ultimate source of energy. It is an annual feature of the USDA, land grant and other universities and colleges, as well as private sector celebration of research, development and education programs in agriculture related to energy science. The first BEAD (BEAD I) was held in 2007 in the South Building and received substantial attention from USDA and other agencies with responsibilities and programs in energy science. Bead II (2008) was held at two locations (Whitten Building lawn and the National Arboretum) and had participation by the groups from BEAD I and in addition the private sector and the land grant universities and other universities and colleges. BEAD III (2009) will be more comprehensive and will be held on The National Mall to attract even more attention to energy science and the public/private partnerships.

Bead II was held during the Summer Solstice, June 21-23 2008. It was organized by USDA/REE with the assistance of the National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy (NCFAP), and co-sponsored by the other mission areas and agencies of USDA and 25X’25 Alliance. Exhibits and events were showcased at the USDA Whitten Building, as well as the U.S. National Arboretum.

A key feature of BEAD II was the Grand Challenge competition for colleges of agriculture at land grants and other institutions of higher education. The challenge was to look into the future 10 years and envision what the energy economy would be like, and then to indicate how the university (and its partners) could service the new energy economy. In addition, there was a responsibility to indicate how the university would get from where it is currently to the structure proposed for servicing the energy economy 10 years hence. Ideas were elicited for all programs: extension, education and research. Universities submitted a paper describing their vision, and the applications were judged by members of 25X’25 Alliance and USDA/REE. There were 13 winners from around the country, including land grant and non land grant universities. Bio Energy products identified in these visions included everything from corn and soy to wood chips, algae and other feed stocks. Much interest was drawn to the Whitten Building lawn for the exhibits by the Grand Challenge winners, from both private sector and Federal agencies.

Another feature of BEAD II was university exhibits of technologies that they are developing for the agriculture and energy age. These exhibits were presented at the National Arboretum and included 31 universities. Exhibits ranged from extension programs related to the development of switchgrass to a pilot gasifier on a semi truck to an exhibit related to growing feed stock along roadsides as a way of increasing the potential for production of energy feed stocks. Presenters of these exhibits were given recognition by the 25X’25 Alliance and USDA/REE.

The third feature was a “Power Plant Garden” at the U.S. National Arboretum–21 plants with energy production capacity or potential were planted with signs describing the growing areas and how the plants are or will be processed into energy. This is a living demonstration that was dedicated during BEAD II but will be permanent at the U.S. National Arboretum.

The awards ceremonies and recognitions included a number of important key speakers from USDA, DOE and the 25X’25 Alliance. From UDSA, the speakers included Deputy Secretary Conner, who also conducted a news conference leading off the BEAD II events, REE Under Secretary Buchanan, RD Under Secretary Dorr, DOE Under Secretary for Science Orbach, and the U.S. National Arboretum Director Elias. From the 25X’25 Alliance the speakers were Duane Acker, former President of Kansas State University and Former USDA Under Secretary Science and R. Bruce Arnold, Consultant for Biomass Utilization for Pulp and Paper, Director of Pulp Assets at Scott Paper Company.

Plans are currently under way for BEAD III. The universities are enthusiastic about participating and the private sector and government agency exhibitors are ready to be involved again. From the questionnaire sent to BEAD II participants, we have learned that all enthusiastically support and will participate in a BEAD III event on the Mall.