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.
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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From soybean fields to hemlocks forests, experts from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Virginia Cooperative Extension are developing ways to deal with and control the hitchhikers, interlopers, and otherwise nasty pests known as invasive species.
Jacob Barney, assistant professor in the Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science, is just one of a team of faculty members studying invasive species and protecting Virginia producers from their destruction.
“The top 10 pests that we deal with now are non-native, and we spend lots of money to control them,” said Eric Day, an entomologist with Virginia Cooperative Extension and manager of the Insect Identification Lab in the Department of Entomology.
Meanwhile Assistant Professor Jacob Barney in the Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science, collaboratively studies another invasive species — Johnsongrass — a weed that chokes out crops on farmland because of its fast-growing and extensive root structure.
Barney will study what makes Johnsongrass a globally successful weed and use the research to establish a model for studying other weeds and how to predict invasiveness.
Another most-wanted intruder, the brown marmorated stink bug, is an annoyance to homeowners, but the real problem is the millions of dollars in damage it causes to crops across the Mid-Atlantic region.
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Ellen Powell, left, of the Virginia Department of Forestry talks about creating backyard wildlife habitat to participants at the 11th Annual Woods and Wildlife Conference.
BLACKSBURG, Va., Jan. 15, 2016 – Owners of woodlands large and small are invited to learn how to maximize their property’s potential at the 12th Annual Woods and Wildlife Conference on Feb. 20. The event, hosted by Virginia Cooperative Extension, in collaboration with Virginia’s natural resource agencies, companies, and associations, will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Daniel Technology Center at Germanna Community College in Culpeper, Virginia.
This all-day conference welcomes first-time and returning individuals, families, and managers to learn about woods, wildlife, and other natural resources. It will provide multiple links to information, sources of assistance, and a better understanding of natural resources while exploring myriad forest issues relevant to woodland owners.
“This conference will address the latest issues and trends in forest and wildlife management,” said event founder Adam Downing, Virginia Cooperative Extension forestry and natural resources senior agent. Participants can tailor their day by attending sessions targeted to their needs. Sessions include Fighting the Alien Plant Invasion, Deer in the Neighborhood, and Legacy: The Engaged Family.
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BLACKSBURG, Va., May 1, 2015 – More than 150 major rivers and streams flow into the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia’s most well-known estuary. This historically significant body of water has also provided livelihoods for fishermen, recreation for locals and visitors that flock to the region, and of course has been a vital water source for residents for hundreds of years.
The environmental woes of recent decades, however, have made the bay more memorable for the major challenges that have been foisted upon its delicate ecosystem.
Virginia Tech researchers in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences have been working on several fronts to develop novel strategies to preserve the Chesapeake Bay while also implementing ways to balance population growth with sustainable uses of the bay, including as a water, food, and recreation resource.
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BLACKSBURG, Va., Aug. 15, 2014 – Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment, in collaboration with Virginia’s natural resource agencies, companies, and associations, will hold their 38th Annual Fall Forestry and Wildlife Field Tours starting Sept. 29.
The tours offer landowners, natural resource professionals, and other interested Virginians the opportunity to spend a day in the field visiting a variety of properties that are actively managed for timber and wildlife. Participants will visit private, industry, and public lands that center on multiple-use management opportunities and practices.
“The field tour series is the longest running program of its kind in Virginia, and perhaps even the country,” observed Jennifer Gagnon, coordinator of the Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program.
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