Online course and conference offered to Virginia forest landowners

BLACKSBURG, Va., Jan. 23, 2015 – Virginia forest landowners looking to gain an understanding of how to keep their woods healthy and productive can do so in the comfort of their own home.

Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment are offering an online course to help private landowners become better stewards of their land.

The 12-week Online Woodland Options for Landowners course, which runs from March 2 to May 23, teaches basic management principles and techniques for both novice and veteran private forest landowners.

Materials provided include four reference books and a tree identification CD in addition to online reading materials and assignments. Natural resource professionals and experienced landowners serve as mentors for the students and help with questions via the course Group Discussion Board.



Carnegie Foundation touts Virginia Tech’s community engagement work

two female student working in a garden

Hannah Perlman, left, a junior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences majoring in human nutrition, foods, and exercise; and Kristina Lundquist, a junior in the College of Engineering majoring in mechanical engineering, pull weeds in a landscaping project at an elementary school in Christiansburg. The project included moving garden beds to the playground for children to work on and clearing a space by a creek to hold science classes.

BLACKSBURG, Va., Jan. 7, 2015 – Renewing recognition first won in 2006, Virginia Tech has achieved community engagement classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

In a rigorous application process, the foundation required the university to prove that over the past several years Virginia Tech has practiced community engagement that is “deeper, more pervasive, better integrated, and sustained.”

“Because of our scientists and extension specialists, food is safer and its supply is more secure, water is cleaner, grain is better able to withstand disease, and Virginia’s farmers have better access to markets,” wrote former Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger in an opinion piece he co-authored for The Richmond Times-Dispatch in 2012, which was included in the Carnegie application. “Computers are faster and more energy efficient. Football players are better protected from head injuries. CHARLI, Virginia Tech’s first untethered, autonomous, full-sized walking humanoid robot, takes mechanical engineering to new heights with each step.”

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2015 Virginia Winter Forage Conferences focus on red meat, forages, and human health

BLACKSBURG, Va., Dec. 22, 2014 – The Virginia Forage and Grassland Council and Virginia Cooperative Extension will host the 2015 Winter Forage Conferences in four locations Jan. 20 through 23.

This year’s conferences will provide participants with information and examples of how healthy soils, forages, and ruminants improve human health and well-being. Speakers will illustrate the role of healthy soils as the foundation for a vibrant forage system that supports a ruminant livestock herd supplying high-quality proteins for human nutrition and health.

cow grazing

A beef cow grazing at the Shenandoah Valley Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Raphine, Virginia.

The keynote speaker will be Peter Ballerstedt, the forage product manager at Barenbrug USA.

Ballerstedt writes a blog focused on diet, health, and human nutrition called “Grass Based Health.” His areas of expertise include forage production, utilization, and forage-based livestock production systems and their role in human nutrition.


Virginia Tech to host beef cattle health conference in Blacksburg, Jan. 31

BLACKSBURG, Va., Jan. 12, 2015 – The Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine and Virginia Cooperative Extension are hosting the Virginia Tech Beef Cattle Health Conference on Saturday, Jan. 31 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Designed to give beef cattle producers an opportunity to learn strategies to improve the health of their herds, the conference will take place on the veterinary college’s Blacksburg campus, located at 245 Duck Pond Drive.

beef cattle in pasture

The Virginia Tech Beef Cattle Health Conference will include presentations on several topics to help beef
cattle producers improve the health of their herds.

The morning program will include presentations from faculty members in the veterinary college’s Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences and elsewhere, including:

  • Dr. John Currin, clinical associate professor of production management medicine and Extension veterinarian, on “What can we afford to do with the current price of calves and feed?”
  • Dr. Hillary Feldmann, food animal ambulatory and production medicine intern, on “Current issues with cattle poisons”
  • Jon Vest, Floyd County Extension agent, and Terry Slusher, a beef cattle producer in Floyd, Virginia, on “Tweaking your handling facilities”
  • Dr. W. Dee Whittier, professor of production management medicine and Extension veterinarian, on “The cost to create a pregnancy: Artificial insemination and natural service”
  • Dr. Terry Swecker, professor of production management medicine and clinical nutrition, on “Stretching hay”
  • Dr. Sierra Guynn, clinical assistant professor of production management medicine, on “Water-related cattle disease”
  • Dr. Kevin Pelzer, professor of production management medicine and epidemiology, on “Current health issues”

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Extension agents now certified to teach inclusion and diversity principles across state

BLACKSBURG, Va., Dec. 16, 2014 – Nine Virginia Cooperative Extension employees recently came to Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus where they participated in a week-long inclusion and diversity program.

All 9 are now qualified to take what they have learned back to their respective communities to teach others how to create and maintain environments in which all community members feel valued and respected.

Participants included:

  • Jennifer Bowen, Prince Edward County
  • Tara Brent, Northumberland County
  • Katherine Carter, Botetourt County
  • Corey Childs, Warren County
  • Sam Nagurny, Fairfax County
  • Daniel Nortman, York County
  • Molly Parker, Bath County
  • Drexel Pierce, Greensville County
  • Christina Ruszczyk-Murray, Northampton County

During the week-long program, participants attended several Diversity Development Institute workshops, including Fundamentals of Diversity, Fostering Inclusive Environments, and Communicating Respectfully in a Diverse World. At the end of the week, they received their Diversity Ally Certificate.

The Diversity Ally Certificate is one of the many certificate programs offered through University Organizational and Professional Development in Virginia Tech’s Department of Human Resources. A total of 73 faculty and staff members have earned the certificate, which is open to all Virginia Tech employees who want to develop their skills in diversity and inclusion content and practice.