Tag Archives: AREC

Inside the ARECs: Nemo found at Virginia Seafood AREC

IMG_1218[1]_resizedWhen the sequel to the popular “Finding Nemo” movie came out this summer, conservation biologists were worried that the same thing that happened to wild fish populations would happen all over again – demand for the clown fish species to adorn fish tanks would go up. That demand would lead to more pressures on fragile reef ecosystems where ornamental fish are taken from their natural habitat.

But this time around, the fish had the Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research Center on their side. There, clown fish are being bred in an aquaculture environment, which helps keep native fish in their natural habitat while creating an economic boon for the aquaculture industry.

“One of the reasons this project is going so well is that is good for both the environment and for local seafood producers,” said Mike Schwarz, a Virginia Cooperative Extension aquaculture research specialist. “The demand is rapidly increasing for ornamental fish but we have to meet this demand in a sustainable way.”

Schwarz and other researchers at the VSAREC have been working with a number of aquaculture sector stakeholders from Virginia clear across to California to help them figure out the best ways to raise ornamental fish and their babies. Complicated, as the young of most marine ornamental fish, including “nemo’s” require live feeds in the early stages of life, a complicated process.

“At the AREC, we are developing a wealth of knowledge that producers can use to capitalize on this trend in ornamental fish,” he said.

Beyond the cute clown fish, VSAREC faculty and staff are trying to predict the next big demand for ornamental fish. Beside the tanks filled with clownfish are ones filled with other blue, green and purple fish, as well as seahorses bobbing up and down happily.

Who knows, maybe the next blockbuster will be Seabiscuit the Seahorse? If it is, Schwarz will be ready.

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In memoriam: Daniel Powers, assistant farm manager, Virginia Tech Southern Piedmont Agricultural Research and Extension Center

Daniel “Danny” Powers, who worked at the Virginia Tech Southern Piedmont Agricultural Research and Extension Center for 38 years, died on Aug. 16.

Powers was the assistant farm manager at the Blackstone, Virginia, facility, where he was remembered as both a mentor and a kind and joyous friend.

“Danny was a part of our family,” said Carol Wilkinson, director of the AREC. “He was an instrumental part of the successes we had here over the years and he was a constant source of compassion to everyone who had the pleasure of knowing him. He will be deeply missed.”

An avid golfer and member of the Nottoway River Country Club, an obituary about Powers said he “went to the 19th hole in Heaven.” He was also remembered as someone who was steadfastly loyal to his family and friends.

He is survived by his wife, Sharon Barlow Powers and their three sons, Jason (Stephanie), Patrick (Amanda), and Nicholas; four grandchildren, Hailey, Kolby, Jordan, and Tanner; and a much-anticipated granddaughter, Kathryn. Powers is also survived by his mother, Jane Edmunds Powers; his brothers, Chuck and Dick Powers (Jane); his mother-in-law, Hilda Barlow; a host of nieces and nephews; and many friends who loved him dearly.

Donations in Powers’ memory can be made to the Wounded Warrior Project, P.O. Box 758512, Topeka, Kansas, 66675.

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Inside the ARECS: Seafood AREC

Inside the ARECs: Seafood AREC, Spanish publicationThe Agricultural Research and Extension Centers are a network of 11 centers located throughout the state that emphasize the close working relationship between the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station and Virginia Cooperative Extension. “Inside the ARECs” highlights the work and accomplishments of these 11 centers and will appear in every Insights.

Virginia’s seafood industry is characterized by succulent and diverse fruits de mer. But behind the gastronomic delicacies is also a nimble industry that meets the demands of consumers in not only production, but also safety. Core research and extension programs at the Virginia Seafood AREC focus on seafood safety; seafood quality of wild caught and cultured animals and products; business and marketing support for the commercial and aquaculture industries, engineering, thermal processing, intensive saltwater recirculating aquaculture; and education/outreach for industry and consumers.

The Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center is an important partner in ensuring that seafood is processed safely in the commonwealth. The AREC offers food safety training to employees of commercial seafood processors. The training follows the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points guidelines, recognized through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which are a worldwide standard for commercial food processing. Employee training is critical to make certain that standards are met.

The center also offers a unique service to the industry in Spanish language training, which helps ensure that employees are able to understand the importance of food safety in the processing operations.

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David Dunaway – March Employee of the Month

Congratulations to the March Employee of the Month – David Dunaway! He is an agricultural technician at the Eastern Virginia Agricultural Research and Extension Center.  

David Dunaway (left) receiving his Employee of the Month plaque from Robert Pitman, director of the Eastern Virginia Agricultural Research and Extension Center

David Dunaway (left) receiving his Employee of the Month plaque from Robert Pitman, director of the Eastern Virginia Agricultural Research and Extension Center

Dunaway’s nominators praised his work ethic noting that he  has worked at the Eastern Virginia AREC for almost 17 years. During that time he has learned, grown, and taken on more duties at a higher level than he was originally hired for. He has assumed additional duties and responsibilities of a more complex and/or varied nature that include advising faculty and staff with regard to equipment needs, modifications, and safety; construction or modifications of research equipment; serving as a crew chief for harvesting operations; and assisting with training of summer wage employees.

His equipment and machinery knowledge and expertise are sought and utilized by campus faculty who conduct research projects at Warsaw. In the spring of 2016, he learned to operate a new auto-steer system that was installed on one of the tractors in minimal time.

During extremely busy times, we frequently find ourselves planting one crop and harvesting another simultaneously. Dunaway can be trusted to take charge of whatever task and/or team he is given for the day and keep things on track and rolling. 

As the March Employee of the Month, Dunaway will receive a plaque, gifts from the college, will have his photo displayed in the case in Hutcheson Hall, and will be eligible for the 2015-16 Employee of the Year award.

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Inside the ARECS: Southwest Virginia

The Agricultural Research and Extension Centers are a network of 11 research centers located throughout the state that emphasize the close working relationship between the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station and Virginia Cooperative Extension. “Inside the ARECs” highlights the work and accomplishments of these 11 centers and will appear in every Insights.

Southwest Virginia ARECThe Southwest Virginia Agricultural Research and Extension Center sits on 208 acres in Glade Spring, Virginia, and is an important partner in providing beef cattle research for producers.

In this region of the commonwealth, stocker cattle operators and cow-calf producers alike, gain management and marketing insight from programs provided by the AREC.

The center recently conducted a study to test whether or not a certain specialty starter ration would increase weight gain efficiency and be financially beneficial for cattle ranchers to utilize in their stocker calf back-grounding systems — beef production systems that maximize use of pasture and forages from the time calves are weaned until they are placed in a feedlot.

It’s just one initiative the faculty and staff perform as part of a strong program in management systems for beef cattle, including a heifer development program where animals meet the standards set forth by the Virginia Premium Assured Heifer program. Stocker cattle are back-grounded for 45 days to meet Virginia Quality Assured Program standards.

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Inside the ARECs: Eastern Virginia

The Agricultural Research and Extension Centers are a network of 11 research centers located throughout the state that emphasize the close working relationship between the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station and Virginia Cooperative Extension. “Inside the ARECs” highlights the work and accomplishments of these 11 centers and will appear in every Insights.

The Eastern Virginia AREC was originally established in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1912 with a research emphasis on forage crops. After the center was moved to Warsaw in 1950, its focus shifted to breeding, variety testing, and cultural practices for corn, small grains, and soybeans.

Today the Eastern Virginia Agricultural Research and Extension Center is home base for the soybean breeding project and the center for small grain field research, and it is helping Virginia lead the way in research for burgeoning industries such as the craft beer industry where barley is big money. As the superintendent of the Center, Bob Pitman oversees and manages the operations of the AREC and works closely with several researchers to meet their needs.

The Eastern Virginia AREC is helping to spur the craft beer industry in the commonwealth through small grains research such as barley.

The Eastern Virginia AREC is helping to spur the craft beer industry in the commonwealth through small grains research such as barley.

Carl Griffey, W.G. Wysor Professor of Crop Genetics in the Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences, is one of the professors with an active research program at the Eastern Virginia AREC. He is developing barley lines from local Virginia grains that will have the potential to malt well (sprouting and drying of the grain for use in beer making). Griffey collaborates with faculty from the Department of Food Science and Technology to test which varieties are more suited to malting.

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Ames Herbert wins Insect Research and Control Conference award

Ames Herbert was named as the 2016 recipient of the Insect Research and Control Conference Award for Excellence in Cotton Integrated Pest Management. This is a very prestigious national award, presented at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences. The award recognizes the outstanding career contributions of an individual to applied arthropod integrated pest management across the U.S. Cotton Belt. Herbert was recognized for excelling in industry, research, extension, or educational programs that have benefited the cotton industry. The annual recognition is sponsored by Dow AgroSciences and consists of an inscribed trophy and a monetary reward. The award was presented to Herbert at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences in New Orleans, Louisiana on Jan. 6.

Herbert is a professor of entomology at the Tidewater Agricultural Research and  Extension Center. He has an extensive program that emphasizes profitable yet environmentally sound methods to manage pests in the wide variety of row crops grown in Virginia. As a testament to his excellence, he was selected for this national award even  though cotton is not as significant a commodity in Virginia relative to the southern states. Herbert is highly respected and works collaboratively with grower and industry groups, Extension agents and university researchers. Herbert serves both as Extension project leader for the Department of Entomology and the state IPM coordinator.

Congratulations!

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Inside the ARECS: Reynolds Homestead Forest Research Center

The Agricultural Research and Extension Centers are a network of 11 research centers located throughout the state that emphasize the close working relationship between the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station and Virginia Cooperative Extension. “Inside the ARECs” highlights the work and accomplishments of these 11 centers and will appear in every Insights.

The Reynolds Homestead was built in 1843 as the Rock Spring Plantation by Hardin Reynolds, a successful farmer, merchant, banker, and tobacco manufacturer. The site is designated a State and National Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Registry of American Homes. The more than 800-acre property is comprised of the Forestry Resources Research Center, and also the restored historic home and a Community Enrichment Center, both of which are part of Virginia Tech’s Office of Outreach and International Affairs.

The Reynolds Homestead Forest Resources Research Center (FRRC) in Critz, Virginia was created in 1969 to study forest biology including genetics, physiology and soils. Specific projects include harvesting to increase forest health and productivity, site preparation, forest fertilization, loblolly pine physiology and forest herbicide testing. The Center integrates Extension, research, and outreach programs that impact many of the surrounding communities and the region.

Facilities include 780 acres, two-acre pond, house, apartment, laboratory and office space, greenhouse, field equipment, and an additional seven acres dedicated to the continuing education center and the Reynolds family museum house and cemetery.

Kyle Peer, superintendent of the Reynolds Homestead Forest Resources Research Center, is shown with the LEAF Trail kiosk he constructed. The kiosk is used by hundreds of visitors, students, and hikers each year who can learn about the site’s forestry research as well as the history of the Reynolds Homestead.

Kyle Peer, superintendent of the Reynolds Homestead Forest Resources Research Center, is shown with the LEAF Trail kiosk he constructed. The kiosk is used by hundreds of visitors, students, and hikers each year who can learn about the site’s forestry research as well as the history of the Reynolds Homestead.

Superintendent of the AREC, Kyle Peer, and Lisa Martin, senior program manager at the historic property, collaborate extensively on educational programming offered at the Reynolds Homestead.

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Inside the ARECs: New tractor yields economic and educational benefits for Kentland Farm

The Agricultural Research and Extension Centers are a network of 11 research centers located throughout the state that emphasize the close working relationship between the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station and Virginia Cooperative Extension. “Inside the ARECs” highlights the work and accomplishments of these 11 centers and will appear in every Insights.

Industry partnerships are becoming more prevalent in higher education, and agricultural technology students at the College of Agriculture and Life Science’s Kentland Farm are experiencing the value of industry partnerships in a big way.

One of the more recent industry collaborations in the college occurred between the college and Hoober Inc., a farming equipment supplier based in Ashland, Virginia. On Oct.13 the company donated a tractor to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences to support the college cropping operation at Kentland Farm and learning initiatives in the Agricultural Technology Program.

Ag Tech tractor at Kentland Farm

Pavli Mykerezi, director of Agricultural Technology Program, left, and Saied Mostaghimi, associate dean and director of Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station, look over the new tractor that Hoober Inc. is lending to the college.

The relationship came about because of Ian Watkins, an alumnus of the agricultural technology program, and employee of Hoober Inc. For several years Watkins has been bringing equipment from Ashland and exposing students in the program to precision farming expertise.

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John Mason – October employee of the month

Congratulations to the October employee of the month, John Mason! Mason is a research specialist from the Eastern Shore Agriculture Research and Extension Center.

John Mason receiving his award alongside Mark Reiter (left) and Steve Rideout (right).

John Mason receiving his award alongside Mark Reiter (left) and Steve Rideout (right).

Mason’s nominator explained that he “is always willing to assist with any protocol or task necessary in the Soils and Nutrient Management Program.” He manages to complete all tasks accurately, professionally, and with a smile. Since being hired into the program, he has learned and now leads plot implementation that covers all aspects from tillage, pesticide applications, treatment application, harvest, and quality measurements.

He also manages, educates, and assists graduate students, undergraduate interns, and hourly wage employees to make sure all tasks are done correctly and timely. Mason’s “professional attitude, happy go lucky outlook, and helpful manner makes him a pleasure to deal with on a daily basis. Mason works diligently and jokingly to suppress otherwise tense and high pressure moments.” His nominator also mentioned that Mason is one of the hardest working, supportive, and caring employees at the Easter Shore AREC.

As the October employee of the month, he will receive a plaque, gifts from the college, have his photo displayed in the case in Hutcheson Hall, and will be eligible to be considered for the 2015-16 Employee of the Year award.

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