Carnegie Foundation touts Virginia Tech’s community engagement work

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.”

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.

“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.”

Virginia Tech is one of 361 institutions that holds the classification, which affirms that the university’s problem-solving partnerships with businesses and communities contribute to the public good and also imbue students with a sense of civic responsibility.

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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.


Virginia Tech helped hatch modern turkey industry

BLACKSBURG, Va., Dec. 15, 2014 – A.L. Dean was much more interested in birds such as warblers and robins than he was in turkeys when he was the head of the Department of Poultry Science at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in the 1920s.

But when Dean received a letter from a young Virginia Cooperative Extension agent from Rockingham County in 1922 inquiring about the possibility of artificially raising turkeys, Dean’s interest in turkeys took off.

That agent was Charles Wampler. What followed in the years after Dean offered Wampler encouragement in this new farming technique not only altered the life of these two men, but also changed the turkey industry forever. Wampler is regarded as the father of the modern turkey industry.

It all started with just 59 poults on Wampler’s first attempt after Dean’s advice. The U.S. turkey industry now raises more than 240 million turkeys a year in a similar manner. More than 22 million turkeys are eaten over Christmas.

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