Our Signature Programs
AgrAbility Virginia is a USDA funded Extension-based program housed in ALCE that works in partnership with Virginia State University and Easterseals UCP to enhance the quality of life of individuals and their families who farm, and have illnesses, injuries, or disabilities that are impeding their ability to work safely, effectively, and with dignity.
Agricultural STEM Initiative
Rigorous preparation in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) disciplines is crucial if the next generation of agriculturalists are to be prepared for the changing face of agriculture (National Research Council, 2009. It is also important to motivate future scientists to conduct basic research that addresses agricultural issues (National Research Council, 2010). Key components to these efforts are exposing youth to the diversity of the 21st Century STEM careers in agriculture and sparking their interest to moivate further study in STEM. Youth from non-agricultural backgrounds will benefit from learning about the applications of STEM in the context of agriculture, while youth who already have an interest in agriculture will benefit from learning the STEM concepts that underlie the practices they engage in.
The Center work at the nexus of food, community, and society to catalyze new food system possibilities that are essential to advancing the human condition in Virginia and beyond. Our aims include:
- Developing dynamic co-learning partnerships across Virginia Tech and the Commonwealth for improved collaboration among a diversity of stakeholders addressing the complexity of food system issues with emphasis on social equity and community sustainability.
- Launching community-based research initiatives that addresses historical and emergent issues related to healthy food access, farming system viability, ecological sustainability, and producer/food worker rights.
- Supporting community-university teaching and learning opportunities by leveraging existing, and creating new, service-based curriculum in food, farming, and community transformation.
Cooperative Problem Solving is the advancement of teaching and research of problem solving with specific attention to Adaption-Innovation (A-I) theory, and the corresponding KAI (Kirton’s Adaption-Innovation Inventory) as it relates to people, teams, organizations, and communities solving problems together. Current work associated with Cooperative Problem Solving includes: 1) Certification of individuals to utilize the KAI for teaching and research purposes, 2) Advancing a research agenda to discover cross-disciplinary application of A-I theory, and 3) Serve communities and organizations as a resource for improving performance in problem solving and the management of change.
Community Viability Matching Grants
Engaging Secondary Teachers in CALS Research for Agricultural Literacy
The Engaging Secondary Teachers in CALS Research for Agricultural Literacy program will establish a sustainable continuing professional education model to meet the challenge of training middle and high school educational professionals in the food and agricultural sciences.
The Governor's School for Agriculture provides hands-on, cutting-edge, scientific, and academic instruction for future leaders and scientists to develop their understanding of the scope, opportunities, challenges, academic and scientific rigor of agriculture, human health, natural resources, and veterinary medicine. Participants spend four weeks on the Virginia Tech campus interacting with prominent faculty members and resource people.
The Residential Leadership Community is one of 12 theme-housing options offered at Virginia Tech designed to help students develop skills to become more effective leaders. Participants complete six credit hours of foundational course work in leadership theory enhanced through experimental learning opportunities. The RLC populates the department’s minor in Leadership and Social Change.
The department provides leadership for Virginia Team Ag Ed. The team develops and disseminates curricula to 308 agricultural educators and 32,800 secondary agricultural education students. Formal and non-formal instruction includes continuing education course work, an annual teacher’s conference, and regional professional development opportunities. Department members coordinate statewide youth career and leadership development activities. Curricula and activities align with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics initiatives (STEM), agricultural career pathways, industry certifications, and state/national academic standards.
Virginia Team Ag Ed promotes local program success through collaboration and cooperation with organizations and agencies including:
Agricultural Education Supervisors | Association for Career and Technical Education | Farm Bureau of Virginia | National FFA Organization | Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services | Virginia Department of Education | Virginia FFA Association | Young Farmers of Virginia
In Virginia, agriculture and its related industries are an important part of the state's economic base, accounting for almost $79 billion in total industry output in 2006 (Rephann, 2008). The Commonwealth of Virginia can be in a position to lead the nation in feeding the world. Virginia is within a one-day drive of 2/3 of the U.S. population and the Virginia Port Authority is the deepest and most active Eastern port in the United States. The Virginia Tech Secondary Ag Coalition is working with local communities in rural Virginia to develop eight innovative model programs for workforce development. Programs are designed to build capacity for increasing the trained agriculture workforce across the Commonwealth with emphasis on providing high-quality learning experiences for students.
The Virginia Agriculture Leaders Obtaining Results program develops leaders who can effectively engage all segments of the Virginia agricultural community to create collaborative solutions and promote agriculture inside and outside of the industry. Over the span of 20 months, seminars will provide participants with regional, national, and international learning experiences.
Beginning farmers and ranchers nation-wide face unique challenges to achieve their farm goals and aspirations. The long-term goal of the Virginia Beginning Farmer & Rancher coalition (VBFRC) is to improve opportunities for beginning farmers and ranchers to establish and sustain viable agricultural opertions and ocmmunities in Virginia. To reach this goal, the VBFRC serves as a state-wide and coalition-based Extensioin program that supports the development and enhancement of whole farm planning curriculum and training, online resources, social networking, and farmer mentoring. Additionally, this program provides statewide professional development and capacity building the new farmer educator community in support of their outreach and education goals.The Virginia Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition Project is a collaborative initiative represented by beginning farmer stakeholders across the Commonwealth of Virginia: