Tag Archives: AREC

In memoriam: David Allen Fiske, superintendent of the Virginia Tech Shenandoah Valley Agricultural Research and Extension Center

David Allen Fiske, superintendent of the Virginia Tech Shenandoah Valley Agricultural Research and Extension Center, died on Friday, Nov. 16, 2018.

David Allen Fiske, superintendent of the Virginia Tech Shenandoah Valley Agricultural Research and Extension Center (SVAREC) in Raphine, Virginia, died on Friday, Nov. 16, 2018. He was 59.

Fiske was born on Sept. 14, 1959, in Charlottesville. An outdoors lover, he spent his youth on his family’s cattle farm and was a member of the Aldie, Virginia, community. He was a loving son, brother, and uncle. Fiske was also a dedicated agriculturalist, a community volunteer, and a caring friend to many in his community.

“David was a wonderful superintendent and a model employee at Virginia Tech. He was passionate about advancing research and Extension programs on the livestock production systems at the Shenandoah Valley AREC,” said Saied Mostaghimi, director of the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station and associate dean in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “In addition to devotion to his work at the AREC, David always found time for his colleagues and friends and interacted well with many organizations and stakeholders. He will be missed greatly, and we are all saddened by his loss, but he will never be forgotten by those who were fortunate enough to have known him.”

After graduating from Loudoun County High School in 1977, Fiske attended the University of Nebraska, earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agribusiness and agricultural economics.

Since Feb. 1, 2000, he has served as superintendent of the Virginia Tech SVAREC in the Shenandoah Valley. In this capacity, Fiske has been responsible for all aspects of the center’s operations; providing leadership to the AREC’s staff and Extension specialists and agents; overseeing all research and Extension project, such as the extensive livestock-forage systems project; and managing the center’s more than 900 acres.

“Over last two years, David had become a mentor to me and someone I hold in the highest esteem. He has helped with numerous decisions in the last year and always welcomed my questions and visits,” said Tait Golightly, superintendent of the Virginia Tech Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension Center. “He has touched thousands and thousands of people’s lives. His way of teaching, without making you feel small or making himself seem bigger, was wonderful, no matter how grand his achievement was.”

Prior to holding this position, he served the commonwealth as a Loudoun County sheriff dispatcher, a Fairfax County firefighter, and a Virginia Cooperative Extension agent in Nelson and Augusta counties. In 1995, he also began working as operations manager with Rollins Ranches, one of the largest cow-calf ranches in the country.

Fiske was dedicated not only to his family and friends but to many organizations. They included the Aldie Volunteer Fire Department (inactive), the Raphine Volunteer Fire Company, the Virginia Forage and Grassland Council, and the Augusta County FFA/4-H Market Animal Show and Sale. He also served as previous president of the Augusta County Fair.

He was preceded in death by his mother, Betty W. Fiske. He is survived by his father, Richard H. Fiske, and by his special and dear friend, Jacqueline “Jackie” Parr and family. Fiske is also survived by three siblings, Ellen Stewart (Bob), Billy “Tiger” Fiske, and Nancy Freeman (Dan). He had six beloved nieces and nephews: Nicole Varn (Nathan), and children Daven, Grady, and Anslee; Alex Stewart; Zach Daly; Will Fiske; Morgan Stewart; and Kara Freeman. Fiske is also survived by step-niece Amanda Dellerba (Chris) and daughter Camden and step-nephew Mark Freeman.

A celebration of life service was held on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018, at 11 a.m. at the Old Providence Presbyterian Church, 1005 Spottswood Road, Steeles Tavern, Virginia, followed by reception and fellowship.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be given to the Raphine Volunteer Fire Company, P.O. Box 142, Raphine, Virginia 24472.

— Written by Zeke Barlow

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Inga Haugen embraces her roots in her role as library liaison

Library liaison Inga Haugen discusses tobacco research with Southern Piedmont Agricultural Research and Extension Center director Carol Wilkinson and faculty member Ford Ramsey.

Library liaison Inga Haugen discusses tobacco research with Southern Piedmont Agricultural Research and Extension Center director Carol Wilkinson and faculty member Ford Ramsey.

Farming analogies roll off Inga Haugen’s tongue like hay bales off a baler.

“I love baling and stacking hay bales. Do you have any that I can stack? Sometimes I just miss it!,” said Haugen, the University Libraries’ liaison librarian for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Baling hay, milking cows, and enjoying wide-open spaces are part of Haugen’s history.

She grew up with her two brothers, Olaf and Thor, on Springside Farm near Canton in southern Minnesota. Her father, Vance Haugen, was an Extension agent for the University of Wisconsin, and her mother, Bonnie, ran their 100-head dairy farm. Her family also owns a 160-acre farm near Oklee in northern Minnesota, a century farm that has been in the Haugen family for more than 100 years. “It’s called Apocalypse Acres, because my dad always said we’d get crops off of it three years out of 10,” joked Inga.

As a library liaison for the college, she provides workshops and services for College of Agriculture and Life Sciences faculty, including those in the Agricultural Research and Extension Centers (AREC) across Virginia. Throughout the year, she visits the ARECs to provide updates from Newman Library and offer information about research data management, new library resources, and potential collaborations with Haugen’s library colleagues in digital libraries, research impact, data services, and the library studios.

“I love them best, these are my people,” said Haugen. “I understand their needs and can help them with their important work. Growing up on the farm, I saw first-hand the importance of ARECs. The information that they provide farmers could mean the difference between a red bottom line and a black bottom line in a farm’s checkbook,” said Haugen.

Haugen’s recent travels took her to Hampton and the waterfront Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center (VSAREC) where the Hampton River opens to the James. There, she taught a workshop about the new search tool Discovery Search, digital object identifiers to track impact of published research, citation management tools, and opportunities to collaborate with the University Libraries’ studios, such as the data visualization studio.

In turn, she learned about the latest research being conducted in their labs. Graduate student Sam Ratcliff described his research in shrimp reproduction that could potentially cut hatchery costs in half for the ornamental shrimp industry. The VSAREC is known for its conservation projects, seafood quality and safety expertise, and applied marine hatchery research and extension that all directly support the Virginia seafood industry — a growing industry that employs close to 7,000 Virginians.

Her second stop of the two-day trip was the Southern Piedmont Agricultural Research and Extension Center (SPAREC) in Blackstone.  There, center director Carol Wilkinson, Department of Agriculture and Applied Economics faculty member Ford Ramsey, and Haugen discussed a collaborative research project that utilizes the center’s 30 years of data about flue-cured tobacco, also known internationally as Virginia tobacco.

Haugen’s goal is to take that data, currently in paper form, and transform it to digital files stored in VTechData in order to make it more accessible for future researchers.

When Haugen learned about Ramsey’s research interest, she suggested that he visit the SPAREC and meet Wilkinson. Haugen knew about the unique and precious data he was searching for because she was making plans to digitize it.

Wilkinson and Ramsey discussed the best way to gather information from the tobacco production data and explored possible research collaborations. “I met Inga and mentioned my interest in studying historical tobacco variety trials. Someone in my position would never think to come out here. This is invaluable,” said Ramsey.

Wilkinson and Haugen have worked together on a variety of projects, including new areas of research in industrial hemp.

“The University Libraries is central to anything I want to do,” said Wilkinson. “All of a sudden I have to learn about hemp. ‘Inga, where do I find information about industrial hemp?’ Her answer is always ‘I can help you with that.’ Inga has broadened my horizons about all of the things my librarians can do.”

– Written by Ann Brown

 

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Avoid spreading boxwood disease when decorating for the holidays

Dr. Hong inspecting a boxwood bush.

Chuanxue Hong, Extension specialist in ornamental horticulture, reminds people to be cautious when decorating with boxwoods this holiday season so they don’t spread the boxwood blight.

Virginia Cooperative Extension is cautioning the public to take measures to avoid spreading the devastating boxwood blight when decorating for the holidays this year.

Clippings in wreaths and garlands have the capacity to spread the disease, which could decimate English and American boxwood populations along the East Coast.

Researchers say that boxwood blight could threaten the plants in the same way that the chestnut blight destroyed trees in the 1930s.

“The boxwood is not just a plant. It’s part of Virginia’s cultural heritage,” said Chuanxue Hong, Extension specialist in ornamental horticulture at the Hampton Roads Agricultural Research and Extension Center.

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Evaluation pays off for producers

Sheep producers are finding new ways to put dollars in their pockets with some help from Virginia Tech’s Southwest Virginia Agricultural Research and Extension Center.

Mandy and Chris Fletcher, of Abingdon, Virginia, have purchased rams from the ram test sale for the past four years and have improved their flock’s genetics by selecting for growth and parasite resistance. As their flock’s genetics have improved, the Fletchers have seen a decrease in health care costs and flock mortality.

Mandy and Chris Fletcher, of Abingdon, Virginia, have purchased rams from the ram test sale for the past four years and have improved their flock’s genetics by selecting for growth and parasite resistance. As their flock’s genetics have improved, the Fletchers have seen a decrease in health care costs and flock mortality.

The center, located in Glade Spring, is home to the Southwest Virginia Forage-Based Ram Test. The ram test, now in its fifth year, is the only program in the U.S. that evaluates rams through a forage-based performance test designed specifically to quantify growth and parasite resistance. The test provides a mechanism for ram lambs to be evaluated and compared to rams from other flocks in a standardized environment. At the conclusion of the test, the ram lambs that are offered for sale come with a vast body of production data.

“Internal parasites are among the leading health concerns for sheep,” said Scott Greiner, Virginia Cooperative Extension sheep specialist and professor of animal and poultry sciences. “They can pose dramatic economic losses for many producers, especially those in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions of the U.S. where forage-based production is an ideal management system for livestock.”

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How to select and care for your Virginia-grown Christmas tree

man looking at pine tree

There are several things to consider when selecting your natural-grown Christmas tree.

Shopping for the perfect Christmas tree can be one of the highlights of the holiday season. There are several things to remember about buying a cut tree that will ensure that it stays fresh throughout the holidays.

“Size is the consideration when selecting a tree,” says Kyle Peer, superintendent, Virginia Tech Reynolds Homestead Forest Research Center. Before shopping, measure the floor area and the ceiling height of the spot where the tree will be. Peer reminds tree shoppers that about an inch will be cut off the tree’s bottom, but a stand can add several inches to the tree’s height.

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