Phillip K. Blevins
Phillip K. Blevins, unit coordinator and Extension agent in agriculture and natural resources for the Virginia Cooperative Extension, has received the 2017 Alumni Award for Excellence in Extension.
Sponsored by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, the Alumni Award for Excellence in Extension is presented annually to two Virginia Cooperative Extension faculty members who have made outstanding contributions to the land-grant mission of the university. One award goes to an Extension specialist and the other is given to an Extension agent. Each award winner receives $2,000.
Blevins responds to the needs of the community through extensive programming. Beef cattle is a major commodity in Washington County, Virginia, so Blevins has dedicated a significant amount of time to enhancing this area. In 2010, he initiated the Master Cattleman program, which provides educational foundations for more than 400 participants, as well as giving producers hands-on workshops with experts.
Adrianna Vargo, director of grower services at Charlottesville’s Local Food Hub, has collaborated with Virginia Cooperative Extension to get critical information to growers regarding the Food and Drug Administration’s new Food Safety Modernization Act. Its aim is to make the food supply safer by shifting the focus from responding to food contamination problems to preventing them from occurring. The policy is the most sweeping reform of U.S. food safety laws for both human and animal foods in 70 years.
As part of its grower services program, the Local Food Hub’s Adrianna Vargo conducts a mock audit of Singing Earth Farm in Augusta County.
Vargo and Extension have acted as boots-on-the-ground liaisons for more than 60 growers throughout Virginia and in North Carolina by providing critical workshops to ensure producers will be able to comply with FSMA legislation.
“One of the aspects of this legislation that has been a huge concern for growers is water testing. FSMA requires so many more water tests throughout the growing season,” Vargo said. “Extension has been an invaluable resource for training. They have been very inclusive and responsive to growers’ needs.”
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Dan Eversole (left) teaches students like John-Robert Helsley about Charolais cattle
The Virginia Tech Beef Cattle Center received the 2017 Outstanding Seedstock Producer Award at the annual membership meeting of the American-International Charolais Association in Corpus Christi, Texas, this spring. Dan Eversole, associate professor of animal and poultry sciences and director of beef cattle programs, received the award on behalf of the university.
The Beef Cattle Center’s Charolais herd consists of 40 purebred breeding-age females. Charolais were introduced to the Virginia Tech Beef Cattle Center in 1998 through donations and the support of Charolais breeders across the country, led by the late Mary diZerega of Oakdale Farm in Upperville, Virginia. Charolais, a breed of taurine beef cattle from the Charolais area in eastern France, are white colored and are often crossbred with Angus and Hereford cattle.
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The 2017 Bristol Junior Steer and Heifer Show will take place May 10, at the Washington County Fairgrounds in Abingdon, Virginia. The 73rd annual show will begin with the steer exhibition at 9 a.m.
The event is a partnership between Virginia Cooperative Extension and University of Tennessee-Tennessee State University Extension, and it includes 4-H and FFA members from both Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee.
Youth exhibitors will compete in steer, heifer, and showmanship classes; project record books; and an educational beef skill-a-thon, as well as for college scholarships. Participants have been caring for their project animals for several months in preparation for the show.
The Bristol Junior Steer and Heifer Show is a time-honored event that started in downtown Bristol in 1944. Goals of the event include teaching youths about the beef cattle industry, where their food comes from, and life skills. Participants learn responsibility, decision-making, communication, relationship building, and teamwork.
For more information, contact Walter Malone in the Sullivan County Extension Office at 423-279-2723. The office is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-noon and 1-5 p.m.
As the freshwater shrimp in his ponds continued to grow and multiply, Charles Carter knew he had a good product to sell.
Dan Kauffman (left) is helping shrimp producers expand their markets through shrimp boils.
In his second year of production, Carter wanted to create product buzz in order to sell a portion of his production to local consumers. Carter was already selling his product wholesale as a member of the Virginia Aqua-Farmers Network Cooperative, but he also wanted to market retail.
And he knew just where to look for assistance — Virginia Cooperative Extension.
Enter Dan Kauffman, Extension seafood marketing specialist at the Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Hampton.
Kauffman had been helping freshwater shrimp producers get their products to market, which also involved another part of his résumé — his fondness for shrimp boils.
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