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.
An equine enthusiast and owner and breeder of racehorses, American philanthropist Paul Mellon established the Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension (MARE) Center in 1949 through a generous donation of land and facilities.
The center is located on a farm that covers 420 acres in the heart of Northern Virginia’s hunt country, and is home to Virginia Tech’s world-renowned sporthorse breeding program.
In order to stimulate translational research, foster agricultural outreach, and to enhance research and Extension activities at the Southwest Virginia, Shenandoah Valley, and Southern Piedmont Agricultural Research and Extension Centers, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences awarded five capacity building grants which are intended to provide seed funding to improve competitiveness for extramural grants and to provide opportunities to the faculty to more fully utilize and support these AREC facilities.
The Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station and Virginia Cooperative Extension jointly funded five projects for a total of about $250,000. The funded projects are listed below.
This past summer, a group of animal and poultry sciences students traveled to England, Scotland, and Ireland to compare animal behavior and management between the United States and United Kingdom. During a two-week study abroad program, the group interacted with community members, farmers, researchers, and policymakers to learn how animal care differs in the United Kingdom.
Cynthia Wood, associate professor in animal and poultry sciences, led the program which focuses on research and applications of applied animal behavior and management.
The group stopped at the Roslin Institute in Scotland to attend several applied animal behavior research presentations. The Roslin Institute is where Dolly the sheep, the first mammal cloned, was born.
Students toured London’s Writtle College, one of the largest land-based institutions, including its companion animals program that houses peacocks. The program also included visits to beef cattle farms in Scotland, a livestock auction farm and homestay with a farmer in Ireland, dairy farms where they sampled fresh goat cheese, and some close encounters with a prized stallion and foals in Dublin.
Five Virginia Tech Hokies made a team effort to prepare and compete at the All-American Quarter Horse Congress Horse Judging Contest in Columbus, Ohio and came out victorious. Each Hokie received individual recognition for their evaluation skills in the limited collegiate contest, which culminated in four of the top ten individuals overall hailing from Virginia Tech.
The team photo includes (from left):
- Shelley Brown of Gloucester, Va., who placed fourth in halter judging
- Andrea Oliver of Charlottesville, Va., who finished fifth in halter, tenth in performance, second in reasons, and sixth overall
- Hannah McDonald of Cross Junction, Va., who placed third in halter, eighth in performance, fourth in reasons, and third overall
- Taylor Ford of Lewisburg, W.Va., who placed second in halter, eighth in reasons, and seventh overall
- Hannah Geisler of Westport, Conn, who placed ninth in halter, eighth in performance, and fifth overall
Caitlin Miller joined the Prince Edward Extension Office on September 25 as the new Family and Consumer Sciences Agent. This position will focus on continuing to establish and build a thriving local food system. Caitlin received her bachelors from Virginia Tech in crop and soil environmental science with a minor in civic agriculture and food systems. During her time at Virginia Tech, she participated in two study abroad programs in Honduras. With her diversified work experience she has an understanding of how a flourishing local food system can enrich a community and is looking forward to building support and lasting partnerships among the producers, residents, businesses, and institutions of Prince Edward County and the surrounding regions. Caitlin can be reached at 434-392-4246 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Laura Siegle joined the Amelia County staff on September 10 as the Extension Agent in agriculture and natural resources. She earned two bachelors degrees from Virginia Tech — one in animal and poultry sciences and the other in dairy science. She also earned her masters in career and technical education-agricultural education from Virginia Tech. Her education is matched by the time spent managing and working on farms. Throughout her time in school, she worked with cattle, sheep, goats, horses, and hay crops and assisted with numerous 4-H events. Prior to joining Virginia Cooperative Extension, she was working as an agricultural technician at Southern Piedmont AREC. She can be reached at 804-561-2481 or email@example.com.
If you have traveled on Tech Center Drive lately, you may have noticed a new sign at the poultry barns on Chicken Hill. In acknowledgement of Distinguished Professor Emeritus Paul Siegel’s service, generosity, and academic legacy, and in recognition of past and future benefits to the university, the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors has named the poultry research facilities the Paul B. Siegel Poultry Research Center. A dedication ceremony is planned for May 2012.
Siegel is a longtime faculty member at Virginia Tech in the Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences and has served the university for more than 50 years.
He has significantly advanced the quality of poultry education and research through his mentorship initiatives and lifetime commitment to the education and development of poultry industry professionals. His tremendous academic accomplishments include teaching more than 2,000 students and directing more than 50 master’s theses and doctoral dissertations.
Siegel’s research and teaching focus on the effects of selection on growth, reproduction, and immunology of chickens. He has published more than 400 journal articles, books, chapters, and reviews involving the role of genetics on the nutrition, disease, immunology, physiology, and behavior of poultry.
The American Poultry Historical Society inducted Siegel into the American Poultry Industry Hall of Fame — the industry’s highest honor — for devoting more than 60 years to researching and teaching poultry science. He also recently received an honorary doctorate from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala, Sweden.