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.
Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) is on the front lines of helping our communities be the healthiest they can be. Having a healthy eating pattern and being active is key to good mental and physical health and quality of life. Protecting the skin from sun damage when working and playing outdoors at all ages significantly reduces the risk of skin cancer.
As community health educators and representatives of VCE, we have the opportunity to set the example and to model a commitment to a healthy lifestyle. The Healthy Meetings Initiative invites you to join your colleagues in developing a culture of health within VCE and among the clients that we serve.
By signing the Healthy Meetings Pledge, you are agreeing to:
- Make your programs and meetings an example of healthy living;
- Document your healthy meetings on the Healthy Meetings Checklist (see VCE Publications);
- Share your successes with pictures on the VCE Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages, when possible;
- Use hashtage #VCEHealthyMeeting to spread the word;
- Let us know what you did by answering the end-of-the-year survey that will be distributed to all individuals and units that sign the pledge during the year.
Sign the pledge here, and join your VCE colleagues in creating communities of health!
Colorectal cancer is the third-most commonly diagnosed and third-most fatal cancer in men and in women in the United States and Virginia. New screening methods have allowed for both the early detection of colorectal cancer and its prevention through the removal of intestinal polyps before they become cancerous. Early detection of colorectal cancer is crucial to successful treatment and increases survival rates from 13.1 percent, when discovered at an advanced stage, to 90 percent, if detected at an early, localized stage. In addition to screenings, a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, a healthy eating pattern, and appropriate weight maintenance is pivotal to decreasing risk of colorectal cancer.
In February 2016, Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) joined the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable’s “80% by 2018 Initiative” to eliminate colorectal cancer as a public health issue. Conducted for VCE employees, a colorectal cancer awareness campaign urged eligible members to get screened for colorectal cancer and encouraged everyone to adopt healthy lifestyle practices that reduce colorectal cancer risk. The campaign’s key message is that “colorectal cancer is preventable, treatable, and beatable.”
The campaign resulted in healthful changes in diet, exercise, and screening. VCE staff reported increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables they eat every day and substituting white meats for red and processed meats. Half of those asked said they had started exercising, and many increased the time or intensity of their exercise. Most importantly, the actual colorectal cancer screening rate among all VCE employees increased from 52.7 percent in fiscal year 2016 to 73.3% in fiscal year 2017 — a 20.6 percent increase in screening.
The goal within VCE is to reach a colorectal cancer screening rate of 80 percent by 2018, but we are going beyond just educating ourselves. Extension agents are introducing the initiative to the communities they serve. Agents will work with employers in their counties to conduct the “Colon Cancer Free Zone” worksite campaign, which increases employee awareness of colorectal cancer as a preventable disease and helps move them to action. If we work together, we can reach the goal of 80 percent colorectal cancer screening of all eligible Virginians by 2018.
If interested in conducting the “Colon Cancer Free Zone” campaign at your worksite, please contact Carlin Rafie at email@example.com or 540-231-3162.
Leading an organization, community group, or gathering of any size can be stressful and frustrating without the skills necessary to engage and manage a group.
To help make meetings more productive, Virginia Cooperative Extension is offering a two-day training that teaches effective facilitation principles and practices.
The Strengthening Your Facilitation Skills training offers participants the opportunity to learn and demonstrate facilitation skills, observe facilitation challenges, and identify practices that will prepare them to develop and guide the facilitation process. Those who have completed the program report feeling more comfortable planning and leading meetings.
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Each summer, Virginia Cooperative Extension offers more than 40 college students and recent graduates the opportunity to work on a team that changes people’s lives and betters communities.
Aldyn Abell, a 2015 Extension intern, spent her summer at the Extension office in Orange County. Among her numerous responsibilities, she helped plan and deliver ocean-themed lessons at 4-H Cloverbud Day Camp.
Through the 10-week program, interns work alongside Extension faculty members gaining experience in youth development, agriculture and natural resources, and family and consumer sciences.
Thomas Vasilopoulos, a 2015 intern, spent his summer with the Extension office in Arlington County. Although he was double majoring in integrated science and technology and Spanish, he found himself doing all sorts of tasks within the office, including helping to design programs and teach children at three different schools.
“They didn’t really hesitate to give me a lot of responsibilities,” Vasilopoulos said. “Extension hired me to make a positive impact in this office, and that’s what I wanted to do.”
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