Category Archives: Past Issues

Nominations for the 2016 TEDxVirginia Tech event are now being accepted

University faculty, staff, students, alumni, and New River Valley community members are encouraged to submit nominations for speakers for the TEDxVirginiaTech event on Nov. 10. Deadline for submissions is April 15. Self-nominations are welcome and encouraged.

In recent years, CALS has had a strong presence at the event and we’d love to keep the college engaged in the program. Students and faculty members from the college that have given talks include Elizabeth Galbreath, David Schmale, Austin Larrowe, and Susan Duncan.

The theme of this year’s event is “Spark.”

To nominate yourself or someone else, visit the nominations website.

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TED Talks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.

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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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2-factor authentication to become mandatory on July 4

In an effort to protect university and personal data, Virginia Tech has introduced a 2-factor authentication protocol to login to university data systems such as HokieSpa, Banner, Timeclock+, and MyVT.

This 2-factor authentication increases security against online attacks or phishing scams at the point of login, and protects personal and university resources. While it is currently possible to defer enrollment, on July 4, it will become a requirement for all faculty, staff, and students at Virginia Tech.

2-factor authentication works with several different devices that you may have in your possession – your smartphone or cellphone (using an app, text, or phone call), your landline, or various types of hardware tokens. Users are encouraged to enroll before July 4, and to register at least two devices to be used for authentication.

To enroll, choose the ‘Enroll’ option when logging in to HokieSPA or My.VT. Additional information is available at – assistance is also available 24-hours a day at (1-4357).

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CALS Women’s Month panel highlights diversity of experiences

Who knew that Rebecca Cockrum used to work with elephants? Or that Holly Scoggins is a leading expert on hops in Virginia, and Elizabeth Gilbert spent a life-changing two years researching poultry science in Sweden?

CALS Women in Agriculture Panel

A dynamic group of leading women in the college composed a panel on Wednesday, March 23 in Fralin Auditorium. The event was held as part of Women’s Month, and the discussion was moderated by CALS Grants Coordinator Nancy Dudek. Panelists included:

Discussion topics ranged from the value that women bring to agriculture and life sciences to the importance of nurturing relationships with mentors throughout one’s career. Several panelists emphasized the need for women to receive equal pay for equal work, and the need to focus on letting an individual’s skill set, talents, and hard work – rather than their gender – ultimately matter in the workplace. Several of the panelists had a family history of farming. This background contributed to their interest in working with food, animal, and crop production in their careers, and shaped the values they hold today.  Ultimately, the discussion was rich with varied experiences and perspectives, and was inspiring to the audience of 50 people who attended.

This event was sponsored by the CALS Diversity Council.

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National Health Outreach Conference on April 6-8 in Roanoke

Virginia Cooperative Extension will host the 2016 National Health Outreach Conference in Roanoke, Virginia, from April 6-8.

The 2016 National Health Outreach Conference theme is All Aboard: Building Partnerships for a Healthy America. This conference was formerly referred to as the Jeanne Priester Health conference and is intended for health professionals, health educators, health policy makers, and anyone interested in learning more about physical and mental wellness. The goal is to offer a participatory and collaborative conference joining organizations and agencies to encourage working across systems locally, regionally, and nationally to address current and future health and wellness education, practices, and needs. The conference is designed to share innovative and creative strategies to develop and disseminate health and wellness information in neighborhoods, communities, and states.

The objectives of the conference are to increase participants’ knowledge of

  1. Successful practices that lead to healthy and safe community environments.
  2. Applications that help people access clinical and community preventive services.
  3. Models for empowerment in health practices for individuals and families.
  4. Best practices that lead to addressing health disparities and health literacy in communities and families.

The conference begins on April 6 at 12:30 p.m. with participants having the choice of either several tours or the preconference.

Visit the conference website for more information and the conference schedule. For more information, please contact Eric Bowen at 434-645-9315.

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Mike Weaver receives 2016 Supervisor Spotlight award

Professor Michael Weaver is being recognized for his commitment to work-life harmony.

Weaver is the 2016 recipient of the Hokie Wellness Supervisor Spotlight Award.

In recognition for his commitment to work-life harmony, Michael Weaver is the 2016 recipient of the Hokie Wellness Supervisor Spotlight Award.

In recognition for his commitment to work-life harmony, Michael Weaver is the 2016 recipient of the Hokie Wellness Supervisor Spotlight Award. He is pictured here receiving his award with Susan Terwilliger (left) and Holly Gatton.

According to his colleagues, Weaver, a professor in the Department of Entomology and the director of Virginia Tech Pesticide Programs, recognizes the importance and unpredictability of family and the need for flexibility in the workplace.

“Dr. Weaver embodies an esprit de corps that motivates us all,” said Holly Gatton, project manager for the Department of Entomology.

Weaver is credited with mentoring employees as they pursue advanced degrees and supporting their work-life balance needs.

“I don’t think I do much more than anyone else to deserve recognition for my supervision. It is always a learning experience,” he said. “I just happen to be blessed with some super co-workers. They are supportive and quite easy to manage.”

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From the Dean — April 2016

Alan Grant, dean

Alan Grant, dean

Dear colleagues,

The college hosted a networking event for students, faculty, and industry leaders at the Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade in Richmond March 7. More than 60 attendees had the opportunity to share career advice and talk about agricultural trade over a reception and dinner sponsored in part by First Bank & Trust Company. Gov. McAuliffe spoke at the conference and announced that Virginia saw $3.19 billion in agricultural and forestry exports in 2015. Virginia Tech continues to be a significant partner in growing exports through research, outreach, and education initiatives.

March 21 marks the two-year anniversary of the opening of the HABB1 Building — 93,500 square feet of pilot plants, research labs, and support facilities focused on a wide range of food science and biological systems engineering research. We can point to multiple success stories, the most recent of which is the new ­­­brew house and malting system that adds another component to the fermentation program. Many of our students now have additional opportunities to study the science of fermentation and its application in the food processing and pharmaceutical industries, and our faculty is better able to serve these industries through related research and Extension programs.

I hope you take the time to attend the next Beyond Boundaries Town Hall Meeting Monday, April 4, from noon to 1 p.m., in the Squires Commonwealth Ballroom. President Sands, Provost Rikakis, and the leadership team will report on the progress of this major initiative in which CALS will play an important role.

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Customizable 4-H Camp and event fliers

The CALS Office of Communications and Marketing has been working with 4-H and Office Max to develop some 4-H flier templates. There are two templates currently available on the Office Max website. One is a 4-H Junior Camp flier and the other is a general 4-H event flier (three versions). Both of these fliers are customizable. 

After logging into the site, click on the “Order From Your Catalog” icon in the middle of the page.

Once you enter the VCE catalog, click on the “Custom Text Pubs” tab listed in the left hand column.

To order a flier, click the “Customize” button for the flier you wish to create. Enter your text in the fields provided. In order for your photos to show properly on the flier, you will need to resize the photos to the dimension listed before you upload them. This will ensure that the photos will fit properly.

After you have entered your information and photos, you can preview the flier to make sure that the content is in the right places. Once you have the flier the way you want it, you can save it and proceed to place your order.

We are in the process of creating more versions of the general 4-H flier as well as some templates for general VCE events.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact Lori Greiner at 540-231-5863. 

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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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Brian Plum named assistant director of development for leadership gifts

Brian Plum

Brian Plum

Brian Plum has joined the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences as assistant director of development for leadership gifts.

Plum’s responsibilities include fundraising for the college’s leadership gifts program through identifying, cultivating, and soliciting individual donors to the college and Virginia Cooperative Extension. He will travel throughout the region in order to build and strengthen relationships with new and existing donors, and will collaborate with other fundraisers on major gift asks.

“The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is fortunate to have Brian on board,” said Vernon Meacham, the college’s director of development. “Securing annual current-use support for our college’s highest priorities is a critical need, and Brian brings the skills and enthusiasm to be successful in that area.”

Plum brings more than 10 years in related experience to Virginia Tech. He was a community organizer with Together Colorado, where he created a regional recruitment effort that drew in 15,000 new members. Prior to that, he raised a budget of over $140,000 as lead organizer of the Interfaith Movement Promoting Action by Congregations Together, commonly known as IMPACT, in Charlottesville.

Plum also has extensive knowledge of agriculture and life sciences. During a recent two-year sabbatical, he visited 28 countries, expanding his understanding of the importance of environmental stewardship. Over the course of that sabbatical, Plum worked as an English as a Second Language teacher in China, Guatemala, and Laos, and was the volunteer coordinator for a medical mission in Guatemala.

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