Aquaculture Ambassadors a Big Hit at Hampton Bay Days

By Julia Robins, Staff Writer

Early in September, the 32nd annual Hampton Bay Days festival attracted an estimated 200,000 people seeking to learn more about the Chesapeake Bay. Among the weekend’s popular attractions was a booth operated on Saturday by the Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture Ambassadors (SFAAs).

“We could hardly set up and break down our tents without a visitor inquiring about our display,” says George Wenn, a Hampton University senior and SFAA.

All day long, children ran to the SFAA booth to look at the many tanks containing eels, cobia, and black sea bass, among others. People of all ages lined up from start to finish of the day to hear about sustainable seafood and bay species.

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Virginia Tech alumni and former faculty members inducted into Virginia Livestock Hall of Fame

Top row, left to right: William E. Blalock, Patricia Ann (Keller) Douglas, and Arden N. Huff. Bottom Row: John H. Parker and Louis Andre (Andy) Swiger

Top row, left to right: William E. Blalock, Patricia Ann (Keller) Douglas, and Arden N. Huff. Bottom Row: John H. Parker and Louis Andre (Andy) Swiger

BLACKSBURG, Va., Sept. 24, 2014 – A group of Virginia’s livestock and horse organizations will induct five new members into the Virginia Livestock Hall of Fame located at the Alphin-Stuart Livestock Teaching Arena on Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus.

The 2014 inductees will have their portraits hung in the arena during a ceremony to be held Saturday, Sept. 27, at 10 a.m. Family, friends, and the public are invited to attend.

The portrait gallery was relocated in 2012 to the Alphin-Stuart Livestock Teaching Arena from the Meadow Pavilion at the State Fair of Virginia in Doswell, Virginia.

“The Livestock Hall of Fame allows Virginia’s beef, sheep, dairy, pork, and horse industries to recognize those who have made outstanding contributions to the commonwealth’s livestock industry,” said Ike Eller, a retired Virginia Cooperative Extension animal scientist who chairs the hall of fame committee. “We are proud to celebrate the accomplishments of this year’s honorees. They join a distinguished group of leaders who have helped make Virginia’s livestock industry what it is today.”

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Virginia Tech and Virginia Cooperative Extension offer workshop on agroforestry practices

BLACKSBURG, Va., Oct. 1, 2014 – Landowners interested in learning more about two agroforestry practices — silvopasture and riparian buffers — can attend a daylong workshop on Saturday, Nov. 8 in Warrenton hosted by Virginia Tech’s Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation and Virginia Cooperative Extension.

Many practices fall under the broad category of agroforestry, which is the integration of trees into agricultural systems. Silvopasture combines trees with forage and livestock production in a mutually beneficial way. Riparian buffers are bands of trees planted parallel to creeks to reduce erosion and intercept pollution from adjacent farmland.

Trees in agroforestry systems can be managed for timber, livestock fodder, fruits, nuts, florals, and more, offering landowners opportunities to produce marketable forest products in addition to agricultural products. Incorporating more trees into the landscape also plays an important role in improving soil health and water quality.

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Virginia Cooperative Extension Day at state fair to feature exhibits, hands-on activities for families

A Master Gardener explains composting techniques at last year's state fair.

A Master Gardener explains composting techniques at last year’s state fair.

BLACKSBURG, Va., Sept. 19, 2014 – Virginia Cooperative Extension welcomes fairgoers to learn more about its programs through a day of exhibits, demonstrations, and fun activities at the State Fair of Virginia.

Virginia Cooperative Extension Day will be held Sunday, Sept. 28, from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. at the Meadow Event Park in Doswell, Virginia. The event will feature educational exhibits on food safety, 4-H youth development programs, gardening, emergency preparedness, nutrition, the environment, aquaculture, and much more.

“Virginia Cooperative Extension Day will be a great place for people to see what Extension is all about and to learn about programs that are available to help them in their everyday lives,” said Joe Hunnings, co-chair of Virginia Cooperative Extension Day at the State Fair. “Extension has a lot to offer, and we want to encourage the public to take advantage of these programs.”

Fairgoers will be encouraged to embark on a mission to visit the Extension exhibits located around the fairgrounds. Each area has information, free giveaways, and hands-on activities for all ages. Attendees who complete the mission will receive a Virginia Cooperative Extension drawstring backpack, while supplies last. Maps and more information will be available at the fairground entrance.

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Learn how to prepare your farm for severe weather

It is important for farmers to know the steps to take to protect their farms, families, and workers if severe weather strikes.

It is important for farmers to know the steps to take to protect their farms, families, and workers if severe weather strikes.

BLACKSBURG, Va., Sept. 15, 2014 – September is National Preparedness Month and it is a good time for farmers to know the steps to take to protect their farms, families, and workers if severe weather strikes.

“Planning is essential to reducing the potential damage from hurricanes, tropical storms, and winter storms,” explained Michael Martin, Virginia Cooperative Extension emergency response and preparedness coordinator. “Preparing now can help farmers avoid learning hard lessons later.”

To prepare, farmers need to have backup plans for electricity for their barns and other critical farm facilities. “Livestock operations should maintain emergency plans that address power needs and on-site feed capabilities,” said Martin. “Farmers should have a transfer switch properly installed so they can use a generator. A properly installed transfer switch is critical for the protection of farm facilities and utility workers.”

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