Jason Grant, director of the Center for Agricultural Trade
The new Center for Agricultural Trade at Virginia Tech is paying big dividends for the commonwealth and the nation.
Recently the center found itself in the midst of the highly contested international trade relations negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The topic? The heavily protected global dairy market.
The center relentlessly produced up-to-the-minute export models during the negotiations, which were under discussion until the eleventh hour. The models provided clear-cut export scenarios that put the realities of trade tariffs into sharper focus. The International Trade Commission and the Office of the Chief Economist — a political body that reports directly to the president of the United States — used the models.
Part think tank, part classroom, and part idea incubator, the center’s mission is to become the leader in creation and dissemination of information on agricultural policy for legislators, educators, and industry leaders.
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Senior Virginia Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development Agent Ruth Wallace (left) stands with a group of children and adults in Senegal. In March of this year Extension and the 4-H Positive Youth Development in Agriculture Program traveled to the West African nation to scale up programming in the region. Reggie Morris, 4-H Youth Development Extension agent in Alexandria, is pictured in second row, second from right.
When it was time to take nominations for officers of the 4-H Positive Youth Development in Agriculture program in the Senegalese village of Toubacouta, one young woman stood out.
As Aida Nathalie Dieng’s hand shot up almost unconsciously to volunteer for the position of president, she spoke in a determined way about why she wanted to serve as the leader of the club in her village, and toward the end of her speech tears began to run down her cheeks.
“Having the opportunity to be heard is empowering, and even moving,” said Kathleen Jamison, professor emerita and Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist in 4-H youth development.
Jamison and her team recently took the mission of Virginia Cooperative Extension’s 4-H Positive Youth Development in Agriculture program to the West African nation with the goal of building ties between children, families, and communities to give individuals the ability to live sustainable and meaningful lives that exemplify 4-H mission goals.
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Students from the Ndoumbouji primary school 4-H club stand with their 4-H leader in front of the school garden.
In a Senegalese village, children grow vegetable seedlings and organize money-raising sumo-wrestling events in a 4-H Positive Youth Development program launched in March.
At the Ndoumbouji primary school, where the main focus is gardening, “the teachers told us that every break they have, the students run to the garden,” says Ozzie Abaye, a Virginia Tech professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “The group wants to try to expand the garden project outside of the campus.”
The 4-H program, part of the Virginia Cooperative Extension at Virginia Tech, is designed to motivate “young people to understand agriculture, to become agriculturalists, and to be involved in family farms and their communities,” Abaye says. But the effect spanned generations. When a 4-H club meeting was called, “the entire community turned out. They are very happy that the kids are involved in doing something meaningful.”
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.”
Jacob Cantor (right) presents a poster to Virginia Tech President Timothy Sands (left), Provost Mark McNamee (center), and Erin Ling (background), coordinator of the Virginia Household Water Quality Program, illustrating the results of his outreach on the Eastern Shore.
BLACKSBURG, Va., Feb. 10, 2015 – Jacob Cantor’s path to educating residents on Virginia’s Eastern Shore about household water quality started in faraway Oaxaca, Mexico.
A senior from Fairfax, Virginia, majoring in biological systems engineering in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cantor became interested in how his academic training could benefit international development projects. So he volunteered south of the border at the Hunger Project working with clean cookstoves and water quality issues in a small village.
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