Category Archives: Community & Leadership

Virginia Cooperative Extension provides training in facilitation skills

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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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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Brian Hairston recognized for commitment to youth mentoring

Lopez presents Hairston the youth mentoring award

Cody Lopez, associate director for programming for College Mentors for Kids (right) presents Brian Hairston, Virginia Cooperative Extension 4-H youth development agent in Henry County/Martinsville, the Inspire Award for Youth Mentoring award.

College Mentors for Kids presented Brian Hairston, Virginia Cooperative Extension 4-H youth development agent in Henry County/Martinsville, its Youth Mentoring award as part of its 2017 Inspire Awards celebration held Feb. 23 in Indianapolis. Seven inspiring community leaders were named Mentors of the Year for mentoring excellence in the workplace and community by College Mentors for Kids.

Hairston was recognized by multiple mentees for mentoring through the 4-H program. “Brian Hairston is one of the most inspiring, down to earth people I know. He not only pushes you to go beyond your limited, but he is there with a helping hand along the way. He sees your abilities and potential before you do and never gives up on the bright future he sees ahead for you. Mr. Hairston has opened many doors for me by making me escape my comfort zone to go above and beyond in order to reach my goals.”

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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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