Tag Archives: AREC

Tommy Hines — November Employee of the Month

Tommy Hines, senior research specialist at the Eastern Shore AREC, has been selected as the November Employee of the Month.

Tommy Hines (on left) receiving award from Steve Rideout

Tommy Hines (on left) receiving award from Steve Rideout

Tommy’s nominator praised his work ethic and expertise, noting that he has “served as a technician in weed science at the Eastern Shore AREC for 41 years.” Most of this time has been spent supporting Henry Wilson’s weed science research and Extension program. Tommy is respected by growers, industry, and former and current graduate students for his knowledge and research abilities.

With Wilson’s recent retirement, Tommy has gone above and beyond to ensure that grower and industry needs are met. He has maintained an Extension and research program in vegetable and field crop weed science to ensure that growers are provided the most up-to-date information. He is also currently helping to mentor a Ph.D. graduate student in the process of completing his degree.

Tommy’s reputation and hard work are evident and well-respected. He has helped ensure that weed science research and Extension continue at the Eastern Shore AREC and that vegetable and field crop growers in the commonwealth are provided necessary information.

Congratulations Tommy!

Photo unavailable at the time of publication.

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Inside the ARECs: Eastern Shore AREC

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.

Ramon Arancibia

Ramon Arancibia

The Eastern Shore Agricultural and Research Extension Center in Painter, Virginia recently welcomed two new faculty members. Assistant Professor of Horticulture and Extension Specialist Ramon Arancibia and Assistant Professor of Food Science and Technology and Virginia Cooperative Extension Specialist Laura Strawn came on board this fall.

Both Arancibia and Strawn are furthering the center’s mission to support the sustainability of agriculture in Virginia through vegetable and field crop research, Extension, and education programs.

The goal of Arancibia’s horticulture research and extension program is to improve sustainability of Virginia’s vegetable crop industry. His research activities are concentrated on sustainable production systems such as organic production; plasticulture, including mulching, rowcover and high tunnels; and micro-irrigation in vegetable crops. Arancibia’s outreach activities are focused on building a bridge between researchers, Extension personnel, and stakeholders to address their needs with tangible results that will enhance the quality of life within the community.

Laura Strawn

Laura Strawn

Strawn, who comes to Virginia Tech from Cornell University, is focused on food safety. Her research examines the ecology and epidemiology of food-borne pathogens — specifically Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes — in produce production environments. Her recent studies have investigated the use of geographical information systems modeling to predict pathogen prevalence based on remotely-sensed landscape and meteorological factors, the association between pathogen presence and management practices to quantify likelihood of contamination in produce fields, and the application of subtyping-based source tracking of pathogens in the produce production environment.

In an interview with Americanfarm.com, Strawn said that she envisions her work with GIS could be developed into a program that could show an area of a field that had a high food safety risk due to its proximity to surface water, impervious surfaces, animal pastures, or moisture in the soil.

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Inside the ARECs: Hampton Roads AREC hosts Farm to Fork event

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.

On Sept. 21, the Hampton Roads Agricultural Research and Extension Center partnered with Buy Fresh Buy Local Hampton Roads to host the fourth annual “Farm to Fork” local food celebration.

Hampton Roads AREC event

Buy Fresh Buy Local is a grassroots organization dedicated to connecting consumers to locally grown foods and products.

Fourteen of the area’s best chefs each worked with a local producer to create tasting dishes using fresh, seasonal ingredients from the farms and waters of Hampton Roads. Some of the highlights were Terrapin Restaurant’s black pepper cantaloupe sorbet, made with Mattawoman Creek Farm melons, and pulled pork supplied by Rainbow’s End Farm and prepared by Country Boys BBQ.

“ ‘Farm to Fork’ is a terrific way for the Hampton Roads AREC to support local farmers and watermen and to additionally expose a non-agriculture audience to agricultural research and Virginia Tech and Virginia Cooperative Extension programs,” says Peter Schultz, director of the Hampton Roads AREC.

In addition to experiencing the gastronomic bounty of the area, there was a live animal exhibit by Gum Tree Farms, and musical stylings by a local band.

“This is a wonderful and exciting event that brings together a community of people to experience and celebrate the wonderful local food found in Hampton Roads,” said Buy Fresh Buy Local Director Kirsten Halverson.

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Virginia Tech receives award for quantifying soil health research

Researchers at Virginia Tech recently received a USDA grant for “Quantifying Soil Health: Measuring the Impacts of Tillage and Cover Crop Practices on Nutrient Retention and Soil Physical, Biological and Chemical Properties.”

Modern agricultural practices, such as monoculture cropping systems and mechanized tillage, have resulted in widespread soil degradation, erosion and biodiversity loss. The resultant degraded, “unhealthy” soils require increased inputs such as fertilizers and irrigation in order to maintain productivity.

In recent years, however, proactive agricultural producers, extension agents and agencies have worked together to develop management methods such as cover cropping and conservation tillage that restore, maintain or improve the health of agricultural soils, thus reducing production inputs and improving soil properties.

The overall objective is to increase the acreage of land that is being managed with conservation tillage including no-till and multi-species high-residue cover crops, by demonstrating and quantifying the physical, chemical and biological properties of soils managed under conventional tillage, conservation tillage and conservation tillage with high-residue multispecies cover crops.

This project will incorporate several innovative strategies to increase the awareness and practice of soil health management tactics, building on a legacy of interrelated investigation, outreach and extension.

Ryan Stewart from the Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences will serve as the PI on the grant. Mark Reiter from the Eastern Shore AREC, Wade Thomason from the Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences, Michael Strickland from the Department of Biological Sciences, and David Reed from the Southern Piedmont AREC are the Co-PIs. Congratulations!

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Inside the ARECs: Tidewater Centennial

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.

Plow-based mule-powered tilling systems were the latest technology when the Tidewater Agricultural Research and Extension Center started its operation in 1914. Today, tractors guided by GPS-guided steering systems do the heavy lifting at the center.

Along with Virginia Cooperative Extension, the Tidewater Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Suffolk, Virginia celebrated its centennial this year, and though a lot has changed about how research is performed, the mission to serve growers in the area has remained the same.

Tidewater AREC

The Tidewater Agricultural Research and Extension Center started with one person, 20 acres of rented land, a mule, and a tiny white frame two-room building. It has grown to 24 full time employees, 379 acres of land, and 33 buildings and other structures. This off-campus field station of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University began operation on April 6th, 1914 near the town of Holland in southeast Virginia as The Nansemond County Experiment Station. The name was later changed to Holland Experiment Station and then Tidewater Field Station. Numerous name modifications have occurred over the years with Tidewater remaining constant as this is the principle area of Virginia served by the center. The present name, Tidewater Agricultural Research and Extension Center, represents its dual research and extension role.

As the result of a state appropriation of approximately $3,500, E. Taylor Batten, an agronomy graduate of Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and Polytechnic Institute was hired as the first superintendent. During the early years of the center, Batten worked single-handedly or sometimes hired local labor to assist in conducting field experiments on peanut, corn, soybean, and cotton. One of the important buildings at the center that houses graduate student and technician offices, a peanut quality laboratory and scientific literature is affectionately named “Batten Hall” by the faculty and staff at the center.

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Stephen Urick — August Employee of the Month

Stephen Urick, lab and research specialist at the Seafood AREC, has been selected as the Employee of the Month for August.

Stephen is a lab and research specialist II at the Seafood AREC in Hampton, Virginia. During the past two years, he has met and exceeded any job requirements on a consistent basis. Stephen’s nominator says that he “works harmoniously with others, is a team player, and is quick to offer assistance to coworkers whenever it is needed. Stephen is steadfast in his commitment to quality and demands excellence from himself, showing exceptional perseverance. He is devoted to the goals and objectives of the research and Extension programs at the AREC.”

In addition to his work duties, Stephen goes the extra mile to mentor and support governor’s school students, graduate students, and international interns. His dedication and service to the students and interns has been exemplary, with particular attention to detail in the way he manages and instructs the students. His nominator also noted they regularly receive praises about Stephen from students and interns both during their time at the VSAREC, as well as during exit interviews. It is clear that the interns have a high degree of respect for him, appreciate his dedication and service to their needs, and benefit from his knowledge, skills and abilities. This international component is a high impact program at VSAREC, and a significant amount of this credit for this program goes directly goes to Stephen.

Stephen is indeed a tremendous asset to the VSAREC and the aquaculture program. He promotes the AREC and represents us well with the public. He is highly respected by his co-workers, students, and interns, and directly enhances our positive image on a state, regional, national, and international basis.

Congratulations Stephen!

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Inside the ARECs: Seafood AREC

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.

Some reports estimate the U.S imports as much as 90 percent of its seafood, making the seafood trade deficit second only to oil among natural resource deficiencies in United States.

Seafood ARECThe research that is conducted at the Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Hampton, Virginia, seeks to change that. Not only does the center encourage growth of the aquaculture industry in the commonwealth, but it also helps to maintain a safe seafood supply nationwide.

Virginia has seen particularly strong growth in the oyster industry and produced more than 500,000 bushels in the last year — a quantity that represents a 25 percent increase and has not been seen in almost a generation.

One of the focuses of the Seafood AREC is to control pathogens in raw oysters such as Vibrios.

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From the Dean — September 2014

Alan Grant, dean

Alan Grant, dean

Dear colleagues,

In early August, I had the pleasure of welcoming alumni and friends to the CALS Alumni Organization event on the evening before Ag Expo, the state’s largest annual field day. More than 70 alumni and friends of the college attended the event, held at Good Luck Cellars in Kilmarnock. We were joined by horticulture doctoral student Cain Hickey, who is based at the Alson H. Smith Jr. AREC and gave a special presentation on the state of the wine industry in Virginia.

This year’s Ag Expo was held at Bleak House Farm, operated by the Downing family in Lottsburg, Virginia. The theme, “Northern Neck Agriculture: 400 Years and Still Growing,” highlighted the important role of Virginia agriculture, the commonwealth’s largest industry, to the state’s economy. More than 1,800 people attended the event that included over 140 exhibitors showcasing the latest agricultural equipment, services, and technology. The program included many presentations by faculty, staff, and students.

Back on campus, the college held a welcome session for new students on Sunday, Aug. 24.  About 250 students attended the get-together. There are nearly 700 new students in CALS this fall, including freshmen and transfer students, along with 70 new students in the Agricultural Technology program. Of these incoming undergraduate students, 35 CALS students participated in Virginia Tech’s Summer Academy in July. Participation in the Academy has tripled since its inception in 2012.

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David Langston named director of Tidewater AREC

David LangstonDavid Langston, a professor of plant pathology from the University of Georgia, has been tapped as the new director of the Tidewater Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Suffolk, Virginia.

Langston has extensive experience in applied agricultural research and extension in plant disease management, which is extremely relevant to the center and its mission to further research in field crops including cotton, soybean, peanut, corn, small grains and alternative crops, in addition to swine management.

“I am delighted that David has accepted our offer to serve in this new role,” said Saied Mostaghimi, associate dean of research for the college and director of the Virginia Agricultural and Experiment Station. “I would also like to thank Allen Harper for his outstanding leadership of the Tidewater Agricultural Research and Extension Center over the past several years. We wish Allen the best in his retirement.”

Though Langston is arriving from Georgia, he is no stranger to the Hokie Nation and taking over at the center will be a homecoming of sorts for him.

“I’m excited about the position because I grew up on a farm only 20 minutes from the station and the Tidewater Agricultural Research and Extension Center is where I conducted my field research for my Ph.D.,” said Langston.

The full story can be found on Virginia Tech News.

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Save the date

Sept. 3: CALS Fall Kickoff and Ice Cream Social

  • Time: 4-6 p.m.
  • Location: Ag Quad
  • Contact: Jamie Lucero (jlucero@vt.edu | 540-231-9666)

Sept. 5: Tidewater AREC Pre-Harvest Field Crops Tour

  • Time: 8 a.m. – noon
  • Location: TAREC Hare Road Research Farm, Suffolk, Va
  • Contact: 757-657-6450

Sept. 20: CALS FallFest Homecoming Celebration

Oct. 11: Hokie BugFest

  • Time: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Location: Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center
  • Contact: Mike Weaver (mweaver@vt.edu) | 540-231-6543)
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