Finally a PhD Candidate!

I had my preliminary, aka oral exam for my PhD on Monday, and passed! This exam is basically a verbal exam given by my PhD committee, which is a committee of four faculty members that vote on whether my research and abilities are PhD caliber… and if I actually get my PhD). The oral exam is about a three hour long, verbal exam with the goal of evaluating my knowledge and skills as a PhD level soil scientist. PhD students take this exam at the end of their traditional coursework to ensure that they have the knowledge needed to continue.

Now that I passed, I am no longer just a normal grad student, I am called a “PhD candidate” which means I’m smart enough to get a PhD, but I just haven’t finished my research and dissertation yet. That will come soon enough. For the time being, I’m going to relax… and work hard to get my research done on time. It also means I can officially start my job search. That is all for now.

Thanks for stopping by!


Hello everyone.

Stacy’s father, Gene Schacherer passed away on Monday. Stacy and I are both back in Estherville now. The visitation is this afternoon, and the funeral is on Saturday. It’s been really tough for the family lately, but the community has been very supportive. Please keep Stacy, and the Schacherer family in your thoughts and prayers.

Gene Schacherer, 1944-2013

Here is Gene’s obituary:


  • BORN: January 12, 1944
  • DIED: February 4, 2013

In Lieu of Flowers, the family prefers memorials.

Eugene Gregory Schacherer the son of LeRoy and Elizabeth (Reuland) Schacherer was born January 12, 1944 in Estherville, Iowa. He died on Monday, February 4, 2013 at Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota at the age of 69.

He received his education in Wallingford Schools, St. Patrick’s Catholic School, and Estherville High School.

On August 7, 1971 he was united in marriage to Carmen Hansen in Jackson, Minnesota. Following their marriage the couple made their home in Wallingford, Iowa. Gene lived all of his life in Wallingford. He was a farmer and raised cattle. He also worked for a time at Stylecraft in Milford. He was a well-known woodworker with many of his family heirloom type creations adorning many area homes of both family and friends. He donated oak gun cabinets to area fundraisers until his health caused him to cut back on his woodworking activities.Gene loved and cherished his family and friends. He was always willing to give a helping hand wherever needed. He was totally amazed and humbled by the support of the local community when he battled his cancer.

He was a member of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Estherville. Gene was also a member of Pheasant’s Forever; Elk’s Lodge; Emmet County Relay for Life and spent several years as a volunteer with the Wallingford Fire Department.

Left to cherish Eugene’s memory are his wife of 41 years, Carmen; children; Brenda Harris and husband, Richard of Estherville; LeRoy Schacherer and wife, Amber of Osceola, Iowa; Corrie Schacherer and Shane Paskert of Emmetsburg: Randy Schacherer and wife, Melissa of Wallingford; Stacy Moorberg and husband, Colby of Raleigh, North Carolina; JudySchacherer of Ames; seven grandchildren, Weston, Hunter, Dylan and Macy Harris; Emily Miller; Layla Carney and Owen Schacherer; siblings, Mary Herum of Estherville; Lucille McCombs and husband, Lloyd of Ruthven; Louis Schachererand wife, Shirley of Estherville; Lorraine Origer and husband, David of Graettinger; Margaret Hunt and husband, Marvin of Dolliver; and many nieces and nephews.

He has been preceded in death by his parents; infant twin daughters, Elizabeth and Grace; infant twin sons, Brian and Brent; sister, Dolores Umscheid and several nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles.

Happy Groundhog Day – 2013

Hello all,

Stacy and I sent out our annual Groundhog Day card and letter last week to family and a few friends. Since I’ve been a little too busy with grad school lately, I haven’t really updated this blog as often as I should, despite there being a lot of big news in the last 12 months. I’ll repost our letter here. Consider this our “catching up on blog posts” post.

The 2013 Moorberg family Groundhog Day card.

The 2013 Moorberg family Groundhog Day card.

Happy Groundhog Day everyone!

It’s that time of year again when giant rodents all over America come out of hibernation and predict the change of seasons for all of us based on the sighting of their own shadow. That also means it’s time for us to reflect on the last year. This last twelve months have been pretty busy for us. Stacy is still working at the hospital. She’s also been busy working on a variety of crochet projects, including some afghans that will be auctioned off to benefit the Relay for Life. Some other notable projects include an afghan wedding gift for Colby’s mom and husband (more on that later), and some bearded stocking hat Christmas presents for Colby and his brothers.

Colby has been busy with school and research. As you read this he’ll be just finishing up with his preliminary exams for his PhD, and will be preparing for the oral exam to become a “PhD candidate”. He’s also been homebrewing in his free time, making a bunch of different styles of beer and hard cider. Some notable recipes include the “10YR Amber Ale” (a soil science inside joke), the “Hot Mess Pale Ale” (included 10 roasted Anaheim peppers that were soaked in tequila prior to fermentation), and the “MoBro American Black Ale” which was brewed during “Movember” (more on that later) and  included five ounces of hand-picked hops from the Department of Soil Science’s hop field trial plot.

For Memorial Day weekend, Stacy’s sister, Brenda and her kids, and sister, Corey came to visit us. It was the kids’ first time to the coast so we took them down to Wilmington, NC. There we visited the USS North Carolina (picture on the card). We also checked out the North Carolina Aquarium, and then headed to the beach so they could swim in the ocean for the first time.

In June we took a trip to the North Carolina Zoo for our fourth anniversary. It was a really fun trip, and one of the best zoos we’ve visited. We also did some traveling out of the state for some big events on Colby’s side of the family. In May we flew to Iowa to see Colby’s brother Matt graduate from Iowa State University with his bachelor’s degree in Agronomy. It was nice to have a break and get back to Iowa at the end of the semester to partake in the celebrations. Congrats to Matt!

In September we flew to Wisconsin to participate in Colby’s mom’s wedding. Ruth married her husband, Buck in the end of September in an outdoor ceremony with the foliage at peak colors. It was a pretty wedding, and a great opportunity to see all of the Green family. Congrats to her and Buck!

In November Colby’s grandmother, Dorothy turned 90 years old. It’s quite the achievement! We couldn’t make it back because Colby still had class, but we were celebrating from afar and over the phone. Also in November, Colby’s dad came down to Raleigh to celebrate Thanksgiving with us. All three of us also had a blast that weekend at a NC State football game (two of the pictures on the card).

There isn’t too much news from Stacy’s side of the family, other than everyone is healthy, especially Stacy’s dad who is now three years cancer-free!

Our beagle, Maisie is doing well. She’s had a new buddy for the last twelve months though. Forrester (the tri-color beagle on the card) is our current foster dog with the Triangle Beagle Rescue, and is our sixth foster dog so far. He is a senior foster dog who is around 11 years old. The older foster dogs don’t usually get adopted too quickly, so we’ve had him for a while. If we still have him by the time Colby finishes his PhD, he just might end up becoming a permanent member of the family.

As usual, we’ve done a lot of cycling this year. We took part in just one charity ride though.  We rode in the inaugural Velo4Yellow bike ride in September which raised money for the Livestrong Foundation. Off of the bike, Colby also organized a team in his department for “Movember”, a charity that raises money and awareness for men’s health issues, testicular and prostate cancer in particular. For “Movember”, each of the participants, referred to as “MoBros”, grow mustaches during the month of November. The team of four MoBros raised over $760! Colby also helped out with his Masonic Lodge’s barbecue fundraisers that sell hundreds of plates of Eastern Carolina style barbecue and brought in over $8,000 for the North Carolina Masonic Home for Children, and the Masonic and Eastern Star Home.

As you can tell, it has been a busy year. During all that, Colby has also been feverishly working on his PhD research. He submitted his first paper for peer review last November, but is still waiting to hear any news on that paper. He’s also currently working on finishing up his three PhD experiments, which will be wrapped up by the end of the spring semester. The plan is for Colby to complete the data analysis and writing as soon as possible, successfully defend his dissertation, complete his PhD, publish his current research, and become gainfully employed by the end of 2013. There’s a lot to do between now and then though, as Colby’s PhD adviser would surely tell you.

We hope all of you are doing well, and we’re always happy to get news from home – whether it is over the phone, in a letter, in an email, or on a Google+ hangout. We’d love to hear from you! If you want to keep up with us, Colby posts occasionally on <colbyandstacy.wordpress.com> with big news, or interesting stories and adventures. Colby also has his soil science blog <colbydigssoil.com>, just in case you want to learn about soil science, or Colby’s research.

 Happy Groundhog Day!

Stacy, Colby, and Maisie

So that’s our news from the last 12 months. As it turns out, Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow, so he is predicting an early spring. However Sir Walter Wally, the groundhog from the North Carolina Natural Science Museum, did see his shadow, so apparently North Carolina is still a ways away from spring weather. Also, Foursquare offered a Groundhog Day badge.

Happy Groundhog day everyone!

Movember 2012

Every November men from around the world grow moustaches in honor of Movember. Movember is an organization and activity that raises awareness of men’s health issues such as testicular cancer, prostate cancer, and other illnesses. Most of all, it helps start discussions about these issues and encourages men of all ages to go get their annual checkup. Here’s a short description about Movember from it’s US website:

During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of men’s faces, in the US and around the world. With their Mo’s, these men raise vital awareness and funds for men’s health issues, specifically prostate and testicular cancer initiatives.

Once registered at http://www.movember.com, men start Movember 1st clean shaven. For the rest of the month, these selfless and generous men, known as Mo Bros, groom, trim and wax their way into the annals of fine moustachery. Supported by the women in their lives, Mo Sistas, Movember Mo Bros raise funds by seeking out sponsorship for their Mo-growing efforts.

Mo Bros effectively become walking, talking billboards for the 30 days of November. Through their actions and words they raise awareness by prompting private and public conversation around the often ignored issue of men’s health.

At the end of the month, Mo Bros and Mo Sistas celebrate their gallantry and valor by either throwing their own Movember party or attending one of the infamous Gala Partés held around the world by Movember, for Movember.

It’s a pretty fun activity, as you can tell by watching this awesome video:

That’s the fun side of things. Here’s a more serious video that shows just what Movember efforts go to:

I did Movember back in 2010 along with three other grad students from the NCSU Dept. of Soil Science. Our group is doing it again, this time with representatives from the faculty, the Dept. of Crop Science, and the soil science undergrads. Our group ends Movember with three contests – most money raised, best moustache, and most moustache powder sugar retention (after eating a doughnut). The last two contests will be judged by the female grad students in our department.

If you would like to support my fundraising efforts in this worthy cause, your kind donation would be greatly appreciated at http://mobro.co/colbymoorberg. Thank you in advance.

By the way, if you want to watch some more great videos about Movember, I suggest the Movember & Sons YouTube Channel, and the MadeMan YouTube Channel.


11-9-12 Mo update:

My “Mo”, as of Movember 9th

Bug Pictures

Bugs have been part of daily life for me lately. I’ve been spending a lot of time in the field lately, and it’s also the peak of mosquito season right now, so there’s that. Ticks have also been numerous at my research site this year.

However, not all bugs are bad. This summer I attempted to grow some tomatoes. They were a heirloom variety, and didn’t do very well. They finally put on a bunch of tomatoes in late July, but they never ripened. I just let them be, then these little guys chowing down on them the other day:

Antherea polyphemus caterpillar

Antherea polyphemus caterpillar

They are Antherea polyphemus caterpillars that will eventually turn in to one of these beautiful creatures:

Antheraea polyphemus moth. Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons

As I do my field work at my wetland research site, I stir up a lot of bugs as I go through the grass and trees with my ATV. I see a ton of spiders. I even have to set up a branch on the front of the ATV to sweep the spider webs off of the trail before I collect them with my face. One spider web in the wetland is distinctive though. The garden spider, , is a beautiful spider that has a vertical zig zag on the bottom half of it’s web. Here’s the one I saw:

Argiope aurantia 

That’s it for now. I just wanted to share some cool photos I caught with my phone lately.

Thanks for stopping by!


“Hate Week”

This Saturday is the annual match-up between the Iowa State University Cyclones and the University of Iowa Hawkeyes. Stacy and I are both proud ISU alums, and thus, we hate the Hawkeyes. Many fans of both teams have termed the week leading up to the game “hate week” because of all of the trash talk between the two fan bases. To contribute to the Hawkeye hate, I’ll send you to a post I did in 2010 for Hawkeye jokes. That post is annually my most popular post on this blog.

As an example of the usual discourse of “hate week”, check out this shirt being sold by the comical ISU fan blog called Wide Right and Natty Light:

HATE WEEK BEGINS: Celebrate With A Trolly AHF Shirt!

Which is one of the best “trolling” t-shirts I’ve seen, and an obvious reference to the Hawkeyes’ ANF (America Needs Farmers) stickers:

I’ve always thought those stickers were dumb (coming from a University that doesn’t even have an agriculture program) and were likely just a ploy to get more fans among the Iowa farmers.

Aside from the jokes, I’m predicting a one to two-touchdown win for the Cyclones. I’m also predicting the Iowa fan base (and my two Iowa fan brothers) to look something like this afterwards:


Pray for Colby’s Mom

My mother, Ruth Moorberg, and her fiance, Buck, were in a bad motorcycle accident on Friday, August 24. From what I understand neither one of them remember the accident and they both woke up the next morning in separate hospitals. Neither one of them were wearing helmets.

My mom had a bad concussion and had to get stitches and staples to help mend her head injury. I spoke with her last night and she said the concussion was causing her to get migraines. She got released from the hospital on Tuesday of last week I think.

Buck also had a concussion, along with a broken wrist, broken hand, and five broken ribs. He also had to have his ear sewn back onto his head. He was in intensive care for the first day. Buck got released from the hospital a day after my mom.

I have to give a special thanks to my brothers for going to stay with my mom in the hospital and making sure she was settled in at home when she was released. We found out about the accident Saturday evening. Matt (my older brother) went to visit her Sunday and stayed through the middle of the week. Joe (my younger brother) went to visit her when she got released and stayed the the start of the weekend. It’s about a one-day drive for me so I’m glad they were able to take care of things for us.

I’ll try to keep everyone updated with her improvement. Mom and Buck’s wedding is scheduled for September 29, so I hope they are healed up well enough by then.

If you ride a motorcycle, ATV, or even a bicycle, please never ride without a helmet. Stacy and I are avid cyclists and I can’t imagine ever riding without a helmet. I’ve been a cyclist for a decade, and in that time I’ve seen enough crashes on bicycles where the cyclists would have died had they not been wearing a helmet. Instead a simple piece of equipment like a helmet (regardless of how dorky they look) allows those cyclists to ride another day… and that’s on bikes that go upwards of 30 mph! I can only imagine how much of a difference a helmet would make in a highway speed crash. Please wear a helmet.