Greg Peck joined the faculty as an assistant professor of horticulture at the Alson H. Smith Jr. AREC. Peck joined the AREC in late April as the tree fruits horticulturist with an Extension/research appointment. Peck earned his Ph.D. from Cornell University in 2009 and his master’s degree from Washington State University in 2004. Both degrees were in horticulture and involved studies of orchard management systems, including organic and integrated approaches compared to more conventional production systems.

Mike Martin, southwest district director, successfully defended his dissertation, “Influence of Human Resource Practices on Employee Intention to Quit,” which was conducted with Extension agents across the southern region.

Melissa Chase, former Giles/Bland FCS agent, is now the food safety program manager. Her responsibilities in the new role include planning, developing, and evaluating educational programs for community-based implementation that support retail and consumer food safety, food preservation, and master food volunteer initiatives across the commonwealth. Melissa has articulated a solid vision for expanding master food volunteers, as well as retail and consumer food safety programming. She will offer professional development training and technical assistance to Extension faculty, paraprofessionals, volunteers, and other audiences/partners related to these initiatives.

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