Category Archives: Community & Leadership

Interns gain experience while serving the community

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.

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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Communities working together

Communities in the Northern Neck knew they had a problem. Young people were leaving because of a lack of jobs, the current workforce needed additional education, and there were few opportunities for those who wanted to stay in the area.

Furniture-maker Andrew Pitts is a member of the Northern Neck Artisan Trail.

Furniture-maker Andrew Pitts is a member of the Northern Neck Artisan Trail.

Four years ago these communities took steps to improve the situation by participating in the Stronger Economies Together program, which has allowed them to build a blueprint for regional economic success.

Today, the Northern Neck is putting its plan into action by engaging partners and leveraging the strengths of this diverse region. Communities have come together to form the Northern Neck Artisan Trail, which highlights the creative talents, foods, and agricultural products of the region, and to participate in the emerging Virginia Oyster Trail. The new trail offers visitors a way to enjoy Virginia’s seven different oyster regions, as well as to experience the unique culture of watermen in the Chesapeake Bay.

The region has received grant support from the USDA and the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development to create the Northern Neck Loan Fund to help emerging entrepreneurs and small businesses gain access to capital. The USDA recognized the Northern Neck Economic Development Plan for its commitment to strengthening the area’s economies and identified it as a model plan for the program.

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4-H’ers seek to nominate the Shenandoah Salamander as the state salamander

The Salamander Savers 4-H Club invites Delegate Bulova to attend Salamander Saturday. From left to right: Bela Kekesi, Jonah Kim, Delegate Bulova, Jacob Snawder, Gabriel Kim, Sam Kim, and Anna Kim

The Salamander Savers 4-H Club invites Delegate Bulova to attend Salamander Saturday. From left to right: Bela Kekesi, Jonah Kim, Delegate Bulova, Jacob Snawder, Gabriel Kim, Sam Kim, and Anna Kim

When Salamander Savers 4-H club went to the state capital last month, they had an idea. Why not use this opportunity to talk about what they love- salamanders! Four members of the group spoke to various delegates and senators trying to persuade them to help Salamander Savers nominate the Shenandoah Salamander as the state salamander.

Following the advice of Delegate Bulova, Salamander Savers will try again in October (when new legislation is considered), in hopes that a legislator will sponsor a bill in either the House or the Senate. In the meantime, the group will continue to do outreach programs, like Salamander Saturday on May 6 at Hidden Pond Nature Center (savethesalamanders.weebley.com), where they will talk to the public about what makes state-salamander2salamanders special and how anyone can help save the salamanders. If any other groups in Virginia are interested in helping the Salamander Savers advocate for the Shenandoah Salamander by passing out flyers, talking to your local legislators, or just telling friends, they would love your help. Please contact Anna Kim (puedosonar@gmail.com) for more information.

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Christmas Tree Primer: Cultural techniques and real-world experiences

Virginia Cooperative Extension will be holding a Christmas Tree Primer on March 31.christmas-tree-1828525_640

Attendees will get an overview of Christmas tree production techniques; identification and control methods for common Christmas tree pests and diseases; financing and market analysis; labor and liability issues; and grower experiences in Christmas tree production. Demonstrations and presentations will be given by industry professionals and Extension faculty.

The meeting will be held at the Warrenton-Fauquier Visitor Center located at 33 Calhoun Street, Warrenton, Virginia, from 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. The cost to attend is $15 and includes lunch and materials. Participants may register by contacting the Virginia Cooperative Extension Culpeper Office at 540- 727-3435 or ashawn6@vt.edu

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4-H Day at the State Capitol offers members an inside glimpse of Virginia’s legislative branch

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.

Eager 4-H members and volunteers from across the state will descend on Virginia’s capitol Jan. 24 to meet their legislators and learn about Virginia’s government at the annual 4-H Day at the State Capitol.

The trip to Richmond, sponsored by Virginia 4-H, gives participants the opportunity to become more familiar with the legislative process and to express their gratitude to state delegates and senators who support 4-H youth development programs. This year’s attendance is expected to surpass 1,000 members and volunteers.

“4-H citizenship projects and opportunities, such as 4-H Day at the State Capitol, empower young people to be well-informed citizens who are actively engaged in their communities. This trip allows members to see firsthand how our state government works,” said Cathy Sutphin, associate director of 4-H Youth Development with Virginia Cooperative Extension.

This year’s 4-H Day at the State Capitol will include a rally on the steps of the capitol. Virginia’s first lady, Dorothy McAuliffe; Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Sandra Adams; Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Basil Gooden; and Virginia Tech President Tim Sands have been invited to greet 4-H’ers. Members will also participate in various tours, attend House and Senate sessions, and visit other historical sites of interest in Richmond.

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