Virginia Cooperative Extension launches portal to help agricultural producers and buyers connect


BLACKSBURG, Va., June 10, 2015 – One of the many important parts of making a living as an agricultural entrepreneur is not only being a successful producer, but also finding markets for your goods.

An online tool called MarketMaker now offers a portal to a virtual marketplace that will provide increased access and acquisition of Virginia products, further connecting the farm to the fork. Farmers and ranchers, fisheries, farmers markets, processors and packers, wineries, restaurants, and individual consumers can benefit from the online resource.



4-H students honor history while working toward a better future at 2015 State Congress

4-H clover on the Virginia Tech Drillfield

4-H members stand in the organization’s signature clover formation on Virginia Tech’s Drillfield.

BLACKSBURG, Va., June 10, 2015 – More than 500 teens, volunteer leaders, and Virginia Cooperative Extension agents will gather on Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus next week for the 95th annual Virginia 4-H State Congress. This year’s theme, “Living the Legacy – 4-H Forever,” draws on the history of 4-H and demonstrates the power of 4-H to assist teens in developing leadership, citizenship, and life skills through hands-on educational programs.

A special guest during the June 15-18 congress is Taylor Ray Holbrook, a singer who competed on the popular TV shows “The Voice” and “American Idol.” Holbrook, a former 4-H’er from Lee County, Virginia, began pursuing a music career after he was seriously injured on the job as a lumberjack. After achieving Internet fame on the social media platform Vine, Holbrook competed on season 14 of “American Idol” and season eight of “The Voice.” Since then, he’s spent time in Nashville writing and recording songs.


Virginia Cooperative Extension provides tips on protecting bird flocks from avian flu


BLACKSBURG, Va., June 1, 2015 – Virginia Cooperative Extension is reminding people with backyard chickens and small commercial flocks to remain vigilant to protect their animals from the avian flu.

To date the current outbreak includes two strains of the virus known as H5N2 and H5N8, neither of which has spread to Virginia. Its closest proximity to the commonwealth has been in wild birds in Kentucky and a backyard flock in Indiana. It is not thought to be a threat to human health.

However, agricultural authorities are requesting that backyard, hobbyist, and small, local poultry producers take precautions to prevent the flu from spreading to Virginia.


Virginia 4-H students place seventh at 2015 National LifeSmarts Competition

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BLACKSBURG, Va., June 1, 2015 – A team of Henrico County 4-H students represented Virginia at the 2015 National LifeSmarts Championship, a national consumer education competition held April 17-20 in Seattle. The game-show style competition tested the team’s knowledge of consumer-related topics such as personal finance, health and safety, the environment, technology, and consumer rights and responsibilities.

The 4-H team, called WYSIWYG — an acronym for What You See Is What You Get — is composed of:

  • Joshua Hyde of Henrico County;
  • Stephen Baker of Henrico County;
  • Curtis Cantwell of Henrico County;
  • George Evans of Goochland County; and
  • Emily Royster of Louisa County.


Extension encourages residents to plan ahead during National Hurricane Preparedness Week

BLACKSBURG, Va., May 21, 2015 – Virginia Cooperative Extension is encouraging residents to plan ahead during National Hurricane Preparedness Week, which is May 24-30.

Hurricanes are one of the most common natural disasters in Virginia. In addition to high winds, other hazards also follow hurricanes including storm surges, heavy rainfall, inland flooding, and tornadoes. Hurricane season begins June 1, so begin planning now. To help individuals with planning, the Virginia Department of Taxation is having a Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday from May 25-May 31. Many items needed for emergency planning are exempt from sales tax including batteries and flashlights, bottled water, tarps, first aid kits, portable radios, and more. The Virginia Department of Emergency Management has a complete list of eligible items.