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Online course for Virginia forest landowners begins May 15

people standing in woods

Course participants may attend an optional field trip. Retired forester Charlie Huppuch (left) explains concepts of active forest management to participants.

Virginia forest landowners looking to gain an understanding of how to keep their woods healthy and productive can do so in the comfort of their own home.

Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment are offering an online course to help private landowners become better stewards of their land.

The 12-week Online Woodland Options for Landowners course, which runs from May 15 to Aug. 4, teaches basic management principles and techniques for both novice and veteran private forest landowners. Materials provided include four reference books and access to an online a tree identification tutorial.

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Virginia Tech Beef Cattle Health Conference set for Jan. 28

Last year’s Beef Cattle Health Conference set an attendance record with more than 300 cattle producers and students participating in lectures and demonstrations.

Last year’s Beef Cattle Health Conference set an attendance record with more than 300 cattle producers and students participating in lectures and demonstrations.

The Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Cooperative Extension, and Farm Credit are hosting the Virginia Tech Beef Cattle Health Conference on Jan. 28 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Designed to give beef cattle producers an opportunity to learn strategies to improve the health of their herds, the conference will take place in the auditorium at Virginia Tech’s Litton-Reaves Hall, located at 175 West Campus Drive.

The conference will open with presentations from three faculty members in the veterinary college’s Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences.

John Currin, clinical associate professor of production management medicine, will speak about the Veterinary Feed Directive, a new Food and Drug Administration approval process for the use of antibiotics in animal feed. Sierra Guynn, clinical assistant professor, will give presentations on pinkeye and fly control.

Following a morning break, the conference will feature special guest Andrew Griffith, assistant professor of agricultural and resource economics at the University of Tennessee, who will discuss the economic outlook for the beef cattle industry. Morgan Paulette, an agriculture and natural resources Extension agent for Pulaski County, will then give an update on the New River Valley’s Virginia Quality Assured program.

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Brandon Monk named Virginia FFA executive director

Brandon Monk

Brandon H. Monk

Brandon H. Monk has been named executive director of Virginia FFA.

The high school agricultural educator, who hails from Frederick County, Virginia, enters his new role as executive director with experience in Virginia FFA program development and working with the National FFA organization as a conference facilitator.

“FFA is primed for growth in Virginia,” Monk said. “Now, more than ever, our industry leaders, government officials, and secondary education administrators are looking for hands-on opportunities to engage students in practical skills that translate into career success. FFA and agricultural education programs have been providing that platform for years. I am looking forward to doing our part as an association to share the story of youth in agriculture as we grow leaders.”

The National FFA Organization is committed to the individual student and provides a path to achievement in premier leadership, personal growth, and career success through agricultural education.

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2016 Virginia Farm to Table Conference to be held Dec. 6-8 in Weyers Cave

The 2016 Virginia Farm to Table Conference — a three-day event focused on local and regional food and agriculture, practical applications for soil health and farm profitability, and other food system topics — will be held from Dec. 6-8.

The fifth annual conference will be held at Blue Ridge Community College’s Plecker Workforce Development Center in Weyers Cave, Virginia. The event brings together community partners and engaging speakers who have broad experience and knowledge of food, farming, and the environment to talk about the farm-to-table movement and how you can get involved.

“The Virginia Farm to Table Conference continues to have something for everyone attracted to issues surrounding food, farms, health, and communities,” said Kathy Holm, USDA-NRCS assistant state conservationist for field operations. “We will have thought-provoking speakers, stimulating panel discussions, networking opportunities, and wonderful locally sourced food available.”

Early-bird registration pricing is available until Nov. 30, and rates will increase significantly after that.

More details and registration are available at the conference website.

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Virginia Cooperative Extension offers tips for controlling mosquitoes

Mosquitoes commonly occur throughout all parts of Virginia. They are not only annoyances but also potential carriers of disease, including the Zika virus.

Mosquitoes commonly occur throughout all parts of Virginia. They are not only annoyances but also potential carriers of disease, including the Zika virus.

While the commonwealth boasts an abundance of outdoor activities to enjoy, Virginia summers have their drawbacks, too. Whether you’re hiking the Blue Ridge Mountains or hosting a backyard barbecue, chances are you’ll find yourself swatting at pesky mosquitoes.

Mosquitoes commonly occur throughout all parts of Virginia. They are not only annoyances but also potential carriers of disease, including the Zika virus. Virginia Cooperative Extension reminds residents that understanding basic mosquito habits and taking steps to disrupt their lifecycles can reduce the threat significantly.

The key to controlling mosquitoes is removing the standing or stagnant water where they thrive and reproduce, according to Eric Day, manager of the Virginia Tech Insect Identification Lab.

“The big pest mosquitoes in Virginia are container breeders, so in natural situations their larvae are developing in tree holes, which are holes in trees that collect water,” Day says. “In yards and around businesses, they are going to be breeding in locations such as stopped-up gutters, birdbaths, old containers, tires, or any structure that collects and holds water.”

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