Got high-quality milk?

Nothing is quite as satisfying as a tall, cold glass of milk, but odd flavors can be off-putting to consumers.milk

Researchers at Virginia Tech have traced what could be one indicator of contamination when milk’s flavor profile turns sour — too much iron in cows’ water sources.

A collaborative research effort involving the departments of dairy science, food science and technology, biochemistry, and civil and environmental engineering discovered that iron in bovine water sources was causing oxidized flavors, degraded milk proteins, and general poor stability of milk products. High iron content also decreased the cow’s ability to efficiently process some types of nutrients, which decreases production levels and makes the animals susceptible to a host of other health issues including mastitis and other bacterial infections.

“We found that when iron was present in the water or we added iron, we got a flavor profile that was less than ideal,” said Susan Duncan, professor of food science and technology and one of the lead authors in the iron study.

“While producers may not see the effects of iron in their milk quality immediately, over time this could pose a problem for producers who might notice a decline in quality and sales for no apparent reason.”

Continue reading >>

New workforce opportunities for students

Agriculture is an evolving industry that is becoming more scientific and technical. These changes mean exciting new career opportunities, but students must be equipped with the skills and knowledge to meet employers’ ever-changing needs.

Holston High School students played an important role in finishing the inside of the barn that was built using the grant funds. Once the structure was up, they constructed walls and sides to keep the animals safe.

Holston High School students played an important role in finishing the inside of the barn that was built using the grant funds. Once the structure was up, they constructed walls and sides to keep the animals safe.

In an effort to help teachers prepare students for these jobs, Virginia Tech has provided six Virginia high school programs with Virginia Agricultural Education Centers of Innovation grants. This funding is made possible through the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services with matching funds from the Virginia Tech Foundation Fund for Community Viability.

“We are excited to work with agriculture teachers who are pushing traditional boundaries to broaden students’ education and career opportunities,” said Donna Westfall-Rudd, associate professor of agricultural, leadership, and community education and project leader for Virginia Agricultural Education Centers of Innovation.

Continue reading >>

Save

Civics comes to life at 4-H Day

More than 1,000 4-H members and volunteers visited Richmond last February to meet their state representatives and learn about Virginia’s legislative branch of government. Virginia 4-H has celebrated 4-H Day at the State Capitol for 21 years.

4-H members and volunteers at the annual 4-H Day at the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond.

4-H members and volunteers at the annual 4-H Day at the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond.

Virginia 4-H sponsors the annual trip for 4-H’ers across the commonwealth to express their gratitude to state delegates and senators who support 4-H youth development programs.

“The opportunity to watch our delegates in action is a real learning experience for our students,” said Chris Lichty, senior 4-H Extension specialist in Pulaski County. “They were in awe of seeing the discussion on the floor of legislative issues and how intense the debates got between members and delegates from the House and Senate.”

“This trip is an opportunity for lawmakers to put faces to the programming that the funding provides for young people all over the commonwealth.” said Cathy Sutphin, associate director of 4-H Youth Development with Virginia Cooperative Extension.

Continue reading >>

Save

Save

Water testing program helps get the lead out

Virginia Tech’s recent discovery of abnormally high amounts of lead in the Flint, Michigan, water system has made safe drinking water a hot topic. But while the water in Flint came from a municipal source, private water systems, such as wells, springs, and cisterns, are not immune to this problem.

Emily Hutchins of Blacksburg, Virginia, fills water collection bottles.

Emily Hutchins of Blacksburg, Virginia, fills water collection bottles.

Testing conducted though Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Virginia Household Water Quality Program has found high levels of lead in private systems around the state.

Kelsey Pieper, a researcher on the Flint team who received her doctorate from Virginia Tech, was the primary author on the study that found 1 in 5 private systems had lead concentrations above the Environmental Protection Agency standard for municipal systems. About 45 percent of the samples contained coliform bacteria and 10 percent contained E. coli.

Continue reading >>

Save

Virginia State University Has New College of Agriculture Dean

Dr. Donald Palm (left), VSU’s provost and vice president for academic affairs, shakes hands with Dr. M. Ray McKinnie on the announcement of his appointment as Virginia State University’s new College of Agriculture dean and 1890s administrator.

Dr. Donald Palm (left), VSU’s provost and vice president for academic affairs, shakes hands with Dr. M. Ray McKinnie on the announcement of his appointment as Virginia State University’s new College of Agriculture dean and 1890s administrator.

Dr. M. Ray McKinnie, who has been serving as the Interim Dean and 1890 Extension Administrator of the College of Agriculture at Virginia State University, has been formally appointed to the position. The appointment is effective immediately.

McKinnie, who arrived at VSU in July 2015 to serve as assistant administrator of Extension programs in the College of Agriculture, stepped into the interim dean position two months later after the resignation of Dean Jewel Hairston.

“Dr. McKinnie’s outstanding leadership during this past year that he’s served as interim dean has already benefited Virginia State University as a whole and its College of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension and Agricultural Research Station in particular,” said Dr. Donald Palm, VSU’s provost and vice president for academic affairs. “He has left no doubt in my mind he will continue to direct the college to even greater accomplishments and help VSU embrace its role as a top land-grant university.”  Palm also cited McKinnie’s vision for the department, his passion for student success and his commitment to faculty and staff development as key factors in the selection process.

Continue reading >>