Graduate Extension Scholars program reaches peek and is in full bloom

What’s all the buzz about? The Graduate Extension Scholars program, of course! The GES program, led by Hannah Scherer in the Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education, is designed to increase graduate student capacity for engaging with stakeholders to develop high-quality educational programs for youth; encourage partnerships between researchers, secondary schools, and communities in Virginia; and expand youth awareness of and interest in STEM research opportunities in agriculture.

The program is currently operating in its second year, hosting four graduate students with various backgrounds. Each of the teams work closely together to develop and implement curriculum modules that highlight the specific research interest of the scholar.

From left to right: Andrew Weaver, Sarah McKay, Robert Bass, and Michael Barrowclough

From left to right: Andrew Weaver, Sarah McKay, Robert Bass, and Michael Barrowclough

This year, a dynamic group of scholars traveled throughout the state of Virginia, making stops in Appomattox, Charlotte, Washington, and Augusta counties and Richmond city. Andrew Weaver, a Master’s student within the Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences has worked closely with Edward McCann and Darla Marks in Appomattox and Charlotte counties, focusing his curriculum module on small ruminant parasite management. Utilizing lambs as the small ruminant teaching model, this module discusses in detail parasite biology and life cycles, highlights economic impacts from parasites in small ruminants, and management of parasites. The module wraps up with a lamb carcass evaluation.

Michael Barrowclough, a Ph.D. candidate within the Department of Agricultural & Applied Economics, has worked closely with Crystal Peek and Mary-Katherine Rhudy in Washington County, discussing the understanding and development of an agribusiness with middle-school aged youth. Barrowclough’s module teaches students about the wide range of business possibilities available to them through agriculture. This module aims to develop students’ understanding of why and how agribusinesses are developed and will give them the opportunity to plan for their own agribusiness.

Sarah McKay, a master’s student also within the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, teamed up with Kristin Carr and Marie Rothwell in Augusta County. McKay’s curriculum module focuses on understanding business structures, markets, and risk management strategies. The concepts and skills learned throughout this curriculum module enable students to have a better understanding of business structures, especially cooperatives, and introduces them to strategies to manage risk exposure in commodity markets. These are crucial skills and understandings for students to have as they prepare for a career in agribusiness.

Robert Bass, a Ph.D. student within the Department of Agricultural, Leadership, & Community Education, coordinated with Sarah Morton in Richmond City. Bass’ focus has been to better understand the attitudes and perceptions of under-represented youth in Richmond city, regarding agricultural practices and careers. Within his curriculum module, he utilizes concepts of vermiculture, gardening, and sustainable agriculture to assess the current knowledge and student perceptions.

As spring approaches, the GES program is in full bloom. The GES teams have demonstrated phenomenal work in the design and implementation of the curriculum modules and we are looking forward to continued success with the program in the future!

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