The latest edition of Innovations features stories on the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences‘ (CALS) top students, faculty, researchers, and alumni.
For CALS students, research opportunities don’t have to wait until graduate school. Thanks to financial awards such as Pratt Scholarships, undergraduates can start working on projects early in their academic careers and during the summer months.
Hannah Parker (human nutrition, foods, and exercise ’17; animal and poultry sciences ’17)
A group of CALS students spent two weeks in Ecuador trekking in the Amazon, scaling the Andes, and exploring the Galapagos to understand food security and production on a global scale and, more importantly, to use agriculture as a means to help the world.
Joe Parr, a 1983 horticulture graduate, is director of horticulture for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment’s Busch Gardens Tampa and Adventure Island, where he creates enormous topiaries in the shape of lions, snakes, butterflies, dolphins, and even Oscar the Grouch.
Read these stories and more online at news.cals.vt.edu/innovations.
Gone are the days when residents had to visit their local Virginia Cooperative Extension office to obtain a copy of the latest publication. Today, the entire publication library is available at everyone’s fingertips on the VCE website. Although the mode and distribution method of these materials has evolved, VCE publications remain a popular go-to source for research-based information.
Today, VCE’s library comprises more than 3,000 publications on everything from growing apples to protecting groundwater. Last year the VCE publication website received more than 4.6 million page views, and more than 1.8 million VCE publications were downloaded.
“Many things have changed over the years with Extension, but our publications continue to be very popular,” said Robert Grisso, associate director of agriculture and natural resources for VCE. “They are just one of the many ways that we provide the public with information to help them solve problems.”
Since its humble beginnings in 1914, Extension’s goal has remained consistent — to put knowledge into the hands of the community to better the livelihoods of its residents. Although the pioneer publications were crafted on typewriters, typeset, and printed on a press, their subjects were similar to what one might find today. Topics including improved agriculture practices, nutrition and health tips, food preparation, lawn and garden advice, and 4-H projects are all represented in both early and modern materials.
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The state’s big trees might seem even a little “bigger” on the Virginia Big Tree Program’s newly redesigned website.
“The website lists information about the largest trees in Virginia,” said Eric Wiseman, associate professor of urban forestry and arboriculture and a Virginia Cooperative Extensionspecialist in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment. He serves as coordinator of the Virginia Big Tree Program.
“We hope this redesign will encourage even more individuals to use the website,” Wiseman said. “We aimed for a simpler, intuitive layout that will be easier to use on mobile devices.” He added that updating the website in time for Arbor Day, celebrated this year on April 29, seemed appropriate.
Virginia’s big trees are those that are the largest of their species, measured by height, trunk circumference, and crown spread. The website lists the five largest trees of more than 300 different species and includes photographs of the honored trees as well as their location, the names of the individuals who nominated them, and in some cases, the name of landowner.
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Raymond Comer, a 40-year veteran of the coal mines, points out a petrified tree in a darkened mine in Pocahontas, Virginia, to student and Save Our Towns field reporter Hannah Samlall of Warrenton, Virginia, a senior majoring in communications.
Virginia Tech’s Save Our Towns, an online video series released in monthly episodes, haswon first place in Best Community Affairs in PR Daily-Ragan’s 2015 worldwide Corporate Social Responsibility Awards competition.
Ragan Communications provides conferences and online training to public relations, media relations, and other communications professionals.
Virginia Tech and other award winners produced “incredible initiatives that rocked the world with transformative change,” judges said. Runners-up in the Best Community Affairs category included a project by MasterCard that paired science-and-technology mentors with hundreds of schoolgirls around the world.
Winners in other categories included Ketchum, one of the world’s largest public relations agencies, with a ConAgra Foods-sponsored project involving children against hunger; and Teva Pharmaceuticals for its three-year partnership with Volunteers in Medicine to offer free medical care to the uninsured.
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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.”