Donald Turner named 2015 Virginia Farmer of the Year

Michael Parrish and Donald Turner

Dinwiddie County Unit Coordinator and Senior Virginia Cooperative Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent Mike Parrish (left) and Swisher Sunbelt Farmer of the Year Donald Turner in one of Turner’s tobacco fields (right).

Virginia Cooperative Extension has recognized Donald Turner of Turner Family Farms in North Dinwiddie, Virginia, as the 2015 Virginia Farmer of the Year. He joins nine other state winners as finalists for the overall award which will be announced on Tuesday, Oct. 20 at the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Ag Expo farm show in Moultrie, Georgia.

Turner has farmed for 41 years and is currently a diversified row crop farmer. This past year, he farmed 1,166 acres of cropland plus another 165 acres in timber for a total of 1,331 acres.

He also produced about 4,000 bales of wheat straw last year.

“We bale enough straw to deliver what the market requires,” Turner said in an interview with Sunbelt Ag Expo.



Virginia Urban Agriculture Summit to be held in Richmond on Oct. 22-23

A young man carring a box through a field.

Virginia Tech Director of Dining Services Alex Hessler (above) will speak on a panel along with other college faculty about urban agriculture during the Virginia Urban Agriculture Summit.

From backyard chickens to rooftop apiaries, beginning farmers are looking to urban agriculture as an increasingly popular and sustainable way to combat food insecurity and build a sense of community in cities and towns across the commonwealth.

Commonwealth residents who are interested in finding out more about urban farming can attend the third annual Virginia Urban Agriculture Summit from Oct. 22-23 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Richmond.

The event, which is being sponsored in part by Virginia Cooperative Extension, will feature summit keynote speakers and panelists who will address the current state and future of urban farming operations in the United States, as well as visits to the Harding Street Community Agricultural Center in Petersburg and the Tricycle Gardens in Richmond.

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Honorees to be inducted into Virginia Livestock Hall of Fame on Virginia Tech campus

Portraits of Olive Kendrick, Richard H.L. Chichester III, Allen Harper, Gary Minnish, and David Notter.

(From L to R top) Olive Kendrick Britt, Richard H.L. Chichester III, Allen Foster Harper (From L to R bottom) Gary L. Minish, and David Notter

Five individuals will be inducted into the Virginia Livestock Hall of Fame for 2015 at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24, at the College of Agriculture and Life Science’s Alphin-Stuart Livestock Arena on Virginia Tech’s campus. The event is free and the public is invited to attend.

The ceremony will include an unveiling of the portraits of the 2015 honorees, which will be permanently displayed in the arena. The new Hall of Fame members, who hail from academia and industry, have demonstrated outstanding and uncommon contributions to the livestock industry.

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Virginia Cooperative Extension launches language interpretation service for clients

Virginia Cooperative Extension has initiated a free language interpretation service in order to better serve Virginia’s increasingly diverse population. The service provides telephone-based interpretation by a human operator in 200 different languages.

The new translation service is aligned with Extension’s mandate to serve underrepresented populations and meet civil rights compliance laws.

Nearly 500,000 Virginians have limited English proficiency.

“If you have limited English skills, there is no reason to let that stop you from visiting an Extension office,” said Joe Hunnings, director of planning and reporting, professional development and civil rights compliance. “Virginia Cooperative Extension can serve you by connecting you to one of our Extension agents through a telephone-based interpreter. This service is free to our clients.”

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4-H conducts world’s largest science experiment on National Youth Science Day

Hundreds of thousands of youth across the world will participate in the eighth annual 4-H National Youth Science Day experiment on Oct. 7. This year’s experiment, “Motion Commotion,” will combine a speeding car collision and a distracted driving demonstration in an activity that investigates the physical and human factors of motion.

4-H NYSD is the world’s largest youth-led science experiment. This national rallying event is an interactive learning experience that gets youth excited about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM subjects, and spotlights the many ways youth around the nation are engaging in 4-H science programs year-round.

Youth will conduct the two-part Motion Commotion experiment using everyday materials, including a toy car, modeling clay, ruler, calculator, and cellphone, to explore physics in the real world. In the first phase, youth will construct a simulated runway to analyze the speed, momentum, and kinetic energy of a car in motion and will explore the science behind collisions. In the second phase, they will lead an experiment that uses the same physics principles to demonstrate the consequences of distracted driving.

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