The Kohl Centre at Virginia Tech: Beyond-the-Classroom Learning Opportunities in the Agricultural and Applied Economics Department.

Kimberly L. Morgan, Extension Economist, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech

KohlThe Kohl Centre Foundation serves a dual mission to: 1), provide business, financial, marketing and management advice, using the resources of VT faculty and students, in the entrepreneurial spirit of Dr. Dave Kohl; and 2), facilitate action-oriented, immersive professional development project opportunities for Kohl Centre teams in response to identified clientele needs in agribusiness and other sectors of the economy. Our primary goal is to develop and implement a branded beyond-the-classroom program that provides undergraduate student experiences in applying the concepts of firm-level strategic decision-making based on economic analyses.

 The Kohl Centre provides opportunities for faculty-led student project teams to engage in strategic and tactical decision-making processes specific to existing needs identified by firms or individuals. Kohl Centre project team members craft integrated solutions related to market, financial, institutional, production and human resource risks faced by clientele. During each project, students work directly with Kohl Centre clients & College of Agriculture and Life Sciences faculty experts across a range of diverse subjects. Kohl Centre students learn to apply classroom skills to critical needs and knowledge gaps identified by project partners, a process facilitated by VT campus and filed faculty, consultants, , and other individuals Specifically, students will focus on three measurable learning objectives: (1) to present ideas orally and in writing; (2) to work with diverse partners in a team environment under time constraints; and (3) to shape and direct their own work and contributions.

The Kohl Centre students are expected to establish networks across colleagues, firms, communities and associations, representing public & private sectors, and will gain valuable experience working on a team to complete the projects. A primary benefit to participation on a Kohl Centre team is the opportunity to develop and document leadership and service experience while providing timely solutions to clients. Each student will create individual team portfolios of completed projects across diverse fields using a variety of media, including strategic plans, newsletters, white papers, policy briefs, video, television, radio and online portals.

All College of Agriculture and Life Sciences undergraduate students are eligible to register for the Kohl Centre class. Participation in the course requires a commitment of time and effort to research and activities conducted on campus and in the field. Students may receive variable graded credits based on time requirements, project complexity, and students’ experience levels. To facilitate a portfolio of experiences and networking opportunities beyond the course, students are encouraged to participate in the Kohl Centre for multiple semesters.

A critical component of the Kohl Centre dual mission is the involvement of private businesses, non-profit organizations, and alumni in all aspects of the projects, from idea generation to project team facilitation to selection of Kohl Centre graduates for internships, training programs, and career positions. If you or your connections are interested in investing in the Kohl Centre Foundation through support of student experiential learning, shared experiences with student and faculty Kohl Centre teams, or connecting with VT graduates with demonstrated project experience, we want to hear from you!

For additional information about the Kohl Centre 2014 Project Course, please contact Dr. Kim Morgan at klmorgan@vt.edu or 540-231-3132. If you are interested in supporting the Kohl Centre Foundation, please contact Dr. Steve Blank at scblank@vt.edu or 540-231-2609

Dr. Dave Kohl, Professor Emeritus, Virginia Tech University. Dr. David M. Kohl was a professor of Agricultural Economics from 1978 until his retirement in 2003. He taught over 10,000 students in his courses in Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship, Agricultural Financial Management, Farm Business Management, Agribusiness Management, and Agricultural Management and Problem Solving.

David’s Extension work had a national and international focus on agri-lender, agribusiness, and producer education in finance, business management, and strategic management of small and mid-size agricultural and rural enterprises.

David’s applied research centered on the areas of marketing and business development of agricultural loans, agricultural credit scoring systems, and intergenerational transfer of small business enterprises. His recent work has focused on analyzing best management practices for optimum agricultural business performance and examining enhanced productivity levels in online and blended training for agricultural lenders.

David has published over 500 articles in academic journals, in the popular press, and through Extension. His peers and the industry have recognized him with 11 major teaching awards and 15 public service and Extension awards. He is a two-time recipient of the prestigious American Agricultural Economics Association’s Outstanding Teaching Award. Kohl is only one of five professors in the 87-year history of the Association to receive the award twice.

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