Why Impact Statements?

Impact statements demonstrate how our work makes a difference in the lives of people, communities, and the environment.  Documenting the results of our efforts is also increasingly expected by funders and stakeholders. Those of us in the public sector identify and illustrate how our work makes a difference in our clientele’s economic, environmental, and social well-being through impact statements and impact reports.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture asks land-grant universities to collect and submit information on "impacts" of teaching, research, and Cooperative Extension programs.

At the federal level, impact statements are shared with members of Congress and other key decision makers. In Virginia, impact statements are used to highlight the value of our work to the Congressional delegation, members of the Virginia General Assembly, and other supporters and stakeholders.

Impact reporting is important because it:

  • Helps us reflect on and improve our work.
  • Demonstrates the difference we make in people’s lives, communities, and the environment.
  • Improves visibility of programs (local, state, national).
  • Generates support.
  • Is a repository of results for speeches and other communication.
  • Helps us focus on issues, initiatives, and program themes.
  • Builds greater understanding of our programs by the public. Illustrates our accountability.

Impact reporting is important to land-grant faculty and staff because:

  • Good impact reports can enhance performance appraisal as well as promotion and tenure/continued appointment.
  • Stakeholders are asking for it.
  • It lessens urgent requests for program examples, etc.
  • Your work receives more visibility.
  • Your work is exposed to potential funders.
  • It can summarize and celebrate a job well done.

What is Impact?

Impact means the reportable and verifiable difference a land-grant program makes in the lives of people. Impacts are the documented results of a program, course, or research project.

Impact reporting:

  • Illustrates the importance of the land-grant effort.
  • Describes the positive change we make in social, economic, and environmental conditions in Virginia, the nation, and around the world.
  • Provides public accountability.
  • Shows the economic value of our work through:
    • Increased income.
    • Savings.
    • Increased productivity.
    • Value added.
    • Expected values of outcomes.
    • Alternative opportunity cost of capital.
    • Willingness to pay.
    • Multiplier effect.
    • Increased quality of life (health, education, etc.).
    • Non-market benefits (cost effectiveness, e.g.).
    • Values of indirect outcomes.
    • High rates of return on investment.
  • Provides teaching/learning, research/discovery, and extension and outreach/engagement program accountability.
  • Shows a return on investment.
  • Fosters better public understanding of the whole picture of teaching/learning, research/discovery, and extension and outreach/engagement.
  • Provides a reputation that improves future funding opportunities.
  • Increases awareness of programs within the institution.
  • Helps us reflect and learn from our work.

An impact statement is a brief summary, in lay terms, of the economic, environmental, and/or social impact of our efforts. It states accomplishments and their payoff to society by answering the questions:

  • Who cares?
  • So what?

Our impact audiences include:

  • State officials,
  • Federal officials,
  • Local governing bodies,
  • The general public,
  • Peers,
  • External funding sources,
  • Industry representatives,
  • Alumni, and
  • Students.

These audiences have:

  • Some influence and control over our programs.
  • Want information for decision-making.
  • Have many people competing for their attention.
  • Want quantifiable differences brought about by investments in our programs.

Writing an Impact Statement

An impact statement:

  • Briefly summarizes, in lay terms, the difference your teaching/learning, research/discovery, and extension and outreach/engagement efforts have made.
  • States accomplishment and creates strong support for programs.
  • Answers the questions... "So what?” and “Who cares?"
  • Conveys accomplishments in simple language free of technical jargon.
  • Is submitted by faculty for three to five efforts each year.

Audience for impact statements:

Your impact audience is the public: local, state, and federal officials, your peers, external grantors, and industry representatives. Keep in mind that both basic and applied studies have impacts.

Impact statements follow a simple formulaI:

  1. Describe the issue or problem statement (relevance) in simple terms appropriate for your principal audience.
    • Why are we doing this teaching/learning, research/discovery, and extension and outreach/engagement program?
    • What needs were expressed?
    • What was the situation/problem, and why was it a problem?
    • What college initiative and/or Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) planned program is addressed?
  2. Provide an action statement (response).
    • What did you do?
    • What were the key elements?
    • Who was the target audience?
    • What resources were expended?
  3. Describe the impact (results).
    • The impact of your works is in the answer to the question "What is the payoff socially, economically, and environmentally?"
    • What happened to the audience as a result of the work described?
      • What knowledge was gained?
      • What skills were increased?
      • What practices/behavior changed? How many people changed?
      • How much money was saved?
      • Were policies changed as a result?  
      • What were the end results (quantitative and qualitative)
    • How was evidence collected to document the impacts (surveys, observation, etc.)?
    • What was the scope of the impact (campus, regional, statewide, etc.)
  4. Who was responsible?
    • List collaborators or contributors.
  5. Your name and contact information.


Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship (AAEC 3454)

Relevance:  Small businesses account for over 50 percent of the U.S. gross national product. This is a significant potential career outlet for my students. Further, innovation and entrepreneurism are becoming increasingly more important in the corporate environment, allowing organizations to adapt to rapidly changing environments.

Response:  My students learned the basics of conceptualizing, opening, and managing a small business. Principles, such as goal setting, strategic planning, market analysis, labor management, marketing management, financial management, and contingency planning, will serve these students in whatever career they decide to pursue.

Results: Students gained an appreciation for the amount of time, effort, and planning that goes into managing a small business. Further, students gained real-world experience by working on assignments involving nine actual businesses. These real-world assignments provided students with experience working in pragmatic situations. Further, the business owners gained additional ideas and insight from the student projects. In the future, the course evaluation will incorporate student assessment through a student survey.

Collaborators:  I taught this course with the assistance of five undergraduate teaching assistants -- Sarah Marpet, Caitlin Blaskewicz, Ritchie Vaughan, Steve Moritz, and Brandy Foster.      

Contact: Alex White

Agricultural and Food Biosecurity:
Glucosinolates as Biofumigation Agents

Relevance: Cover crops and green manures are beneficial in sustainable organic farming because they provide nutrition, aeration, and weed suppression for the subsequently cultivated crops. Crucifer crops contain glucosinolates, natural products uniquely associated with crucifer plants. Some crops have glucosinolates with a biofumigation potential. The nematicidal properties of Brassica spp. used as cover crops are well-documented and are due to the breakdown of glucosinolates in the soil that leads to the formation of a safe, natural pesticide for nematode control. However, the range and additional benefits of biofumigation have had limited documentation.

Response: In collaboration with organic transitions research, this project monitors the glucosinolate content of various crucifer cover crops used in the program. The long-term plan is to design experiments to address the possibility that different glucosinolate compounds and their concentration in the cover crop biomass will influence the rhizosphere microbial community of the subsequent crops.

Expected Results: With the inclusion of a microbial ecologist in the collaboration, the project will identify both positive and negative effects due to the biofumigation activities of glucosinolate breakdown in the rhizosphere.

Collaborators: Ron Morse and Brinkley Benson

Contact: James Tokuhisa

Agricultural Systems:
Utilization of Biodiesel-Derived Glycerol Waste for Producing Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Relevance: The crude glycerol is the primary by-product in the biodiesel industry, which is impure and of little economic value. Converting crude glycerol into omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids provides a viable alternative for glycerol disposal and its surplus problems, and also provides consumers with a health food with therapeutic capabilities to fight cardiovascular diseases, cancers, Schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s.

Response: This study examines the feasibility of using crude glycerol as a carbon source for growing algae, which produces omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. The effects of impurities contained in crude glycerol on algal biomass composition are further examined.

Results: The research showed that crude glycerol resulted in a comparable growth performance and omega-3 fatty acid production level with the control, in which glucose was used as a carbon source. The methanol and soap residues contained in crude glycerol negatively influenced the cell growth; therefore, these two impurities need to be removed. The algal biomass does not have any heavy metal contamination, thus, it can be used as a safe food product and/or animal feed additive.

Collaborators: None

Contact: Wen, Zhiyou

Animalsand Animal Products:
Enhancing In Vitro Production of Porcine Embryos

Relevance: Oxidative stress during oocyte maturation hinders nuclear and cytoplasmic maturation and may cause cell death. The formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) as a result of oxidative stress disrupts proper cell function. The biochemical mechanisms and oxidative stress pathways have not been extensively studied in the porcine system. Additionally, no research has been conducted to determine how antioxidants affect oxidative stress in maturing oocytes. This project will enhance scientific understanding of the role of oxidative stress in fertilization and early embryonic development and may aid in reducing infertility and enhancing embryo viability. This enhancement could have tremendous economic application through increasing the efficacy of in vitro embryo production, including enhancing the efficiency of producing transgenic animals, as well as serving as a model for examining the potential effects of oxidative stress on infertility in humans.

Response: This project will: 1) determine the mechanisms of oxidative stress in maturating oocytes, 2) determine how the oocytes alleviate oxidative stress, and 3) determine how antioxidants affect the oxidative stress mechanisms. The project focuses on superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione (GSH) peroxidase, catalyse, and intracellular GSH concentrations with respect to DNA fragmentation evaluated using the single cell Comet assay.

Results: Results indicated that when SOD was inhibited, the GSH peroxide levels and length of DNA migration significantly increased (P<0.05). Catalase levels significantly decreased (P<0.05) and intracellular GSH remained unchanged. When GSH peroxidase was inhibited, the SOD levels and catalase levels significantly decreased (P<0.05) but the intracellular GSH and DNA migration length significantly increased (P<0.05). The supplementation of 1.5mM N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) and 1.5 mM NAC-amide (NACA) had multiple effects on the enzyme levels. Specifically, supplementation of 1.5mM NAC or 1.5 mM NACA significantly decreased (P<0.05) the length of DNA migration when other enzymes were inhibited compared to no antioxidant supplementation. The mechanistic pathway that the oocyte utilizes to alleviate oxidative stress is very complex and includes many locations to target for regulation. Oxidative stress due to the accumulation of ROS is not an absolute phenomenon. There are a multitude of levels of oxidative stress so the oocyte can adapt to the fluctuating environment. However, if the cell cannot adapt to high levels of oxidative stress, the ROS produced are detrimental to the cell. These results indicate that antioxidant supplementation may alleviate the free radicals associated with the oxidative stress in the maturing porcine oocyte.

Collaborators: None

Contact: James Knight

Biotechnology and Genomics:
Early Warning Systems for High Risk Plant Pathogens: New Tools for Plant Biosecurity

Relevance: Improved technologies are needed to anticipate, prevent, prepare for, and respond to the introduction of high risk plant pathogens (HRPPs) into the United States. Many HRPPs are transported over long distances in the atmosphere (e.g., stem rust of wheat, soybean rust, and tobacco blue mold), threatening agriculture in the United States from inside and outside the country. The ability to detect, monitor, and forecast the movement of HRPPs in the atmosphere is essential for establishing effective quarantine measures, preventing the spread of plant disease, and preventing potentially damaging events targeted at the nation’s agriculture and food supply. The Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has a key initiative in infectious diseases.

Response: In 2007, the Schmale lab developed and implemented self-controlling aircraft to study the movement of HRPPs in the atmosphere, tens to hundreds of meters above the surface of the earth. The program cuts across traditional boundaries of scientific disciplines, blending advanced technologies in biology and engineering. A three-year grant proposal of nearly $1 million was funded by the USDA-NRI for this work.

Results: In 2007, over 130 sampling flights were conducted tens to hundreds of meters above agricultural fields at Virginia Tech’s Kentland Farm. The findings resulted in a regional evaluation of disease spread potential for HRPPs, assisting growers and producers by providing an early warning system for these diseases. This work led to measurable improvements in the management of agricultural ecosystems through emergency control measures, infrastructure and human resources, and reporting and communication. The project developed new tools necessary for on-site detection of HRPPs collected from the atmosphere and identified limits of long-distance transport for HRPPs. This work continues to help predict/forecast the distribution and spread of HRPPs in the atmosphere.

Collaborators: Virginia Tech faculty in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Engineering, Cornell University faculty, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station faculty

Contact: David Schmale, III

Economics and Commerce/International:
Valuing Environmental and Health Benefits from GM Crops

Relevance: The benefits of many genetically modified crops stem from environmental or health effects resulting from reduced pesticide use. Few studies have attempted to place a value on these types of benefits, in part due to measurement difficulties.

Response: An experimental technique was developed and applied to value environmental and health benefits from a genetically modified product. The elicitation process involved was inexpensive and replicable in diverse settings allowing for comparable values to be collected from a variety of stakeholders. The technique was tested in the Philippines using multiple-virus resistant tomatoes and fruit and shoot borer resistant (Bt) eggplant.

Results: In the Philippines, it was estimated farmers are willing to pay $9.00 per person for research leading to GM products that significantly reduce pesticide use on tomato and eggplant. This estimated economic value, in addition to estimated direct economic benefits, can help governments decide whether benefits exceed risks when they are asked to approve, release, or expedite the regulatory process for transgenic products. Research to estimate the health and environmental benefits of biotechnologies helps policy makers understand the full value of the technologies, and helps them to design regulations that protect human safety and environmental quality without sacrificing economic and other benefits from the increased production and sales of the affected commodities.

Collaborators: Jason Maupin

Contact: George Norton

Food, Nutrition, and Health:
Technical Assistance to a Seafood Processor

Relevance: Technical and scientific assistance allows seafood processors to increase profitability. One of the largest seafood processors in Virginia was notified by their main customer (Campbell’s Soup Company) that they needed to modify the textural properties of their clams without affecting flavor and quality.

Response: The company asked for scientific and technical assistance to improve the texture of their clams. This research included experiments at the VSAREC to determine the best approach to tenderize clams without affecting flavor and overall quality. After several different experiments, a logical and cost effective approach was determined.

Results: The Virginia Seafood processing company developed a new approach for tenderizing clams. Campbell Soup Company will use this method to produce more tender clams for its soups and other products.

Collaborators: Robert Lane

Contact: Michael Jahncke

Natural Resources and Environment:
Development of Novel Methods to Assess P-Cycling Processes in Soil

Relevance: The scarcity of information on the transformation of phytic acid (myo-inositol 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6-hexakisphosphate), myo-IP6), to nutrient P (orthophosphate) remains a stumbling point in efforts to develop a thorough understanding of the P-cycling process in environmentally sensitive soil including P-burdened manure amended soils, soils where organic pools dominate (e.g., Histosols) or soils with very low total P content (e.g. tropical soils). This situation is particularly troublesome since inositol phosphates, including myo-IP6, comprise up to 58% of soil organic P. Phytase plays a key role in the biogeochemical P-cycling process because of its effectiveness in catalyzing hydrolysis of one of the most prominent organic P compounds in soil, phytic acid. Presently, there are no reliable methods available for measuring phytase activity in complex natural environments (e.g., soil, sediment, and rumen). What is needed to solve this dilemma is a direct, highly specific, sensitive, convenient assay; capable of accurately measuring the fate of phytic acid during phytase-catalyzed dephosphorylation.

Response: This project developed a new approach for measuring phyase activity using a novel chromophoric substrate analog of phytic acid, 5-O-[6-(benzoylamino)hexyl]-D-myo-inositol-1,2,3,4,6-pentakisphosphate (benzamido T-IP5) that permits direct measurement of the phosphate ester bond-hydrolysis reaction. Further, T-inositol phosphate intermediates, benzmido T-IP4, T-IP3, T-IP2, T-IP1 and the final product, benzamido T-myo-inositol are readily quantified using reversed phase high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) with UV detection. Since the detection of benzamido T-IP5 and T-inositol phosphate intermediates relies on the same UV-sensitive benzamido chromophore, which is not affected by the number of phosphate groups present on the inositol moiety, the parent compound, benzamido T-IP5, can be used as an external standard for the quantification (on a molar basis) of all phosphorylated intermediate species.

Results: The novel chromophoric substrate analog of phytic acid, benzamido T-IP5, is apparently capable of serving as an artificial substrate for measuring soil phyase activity. The new molecular probe will provide soil/environmental scientists with a convenient tool they can use to evaluate the fate of phytate-P in soil and sediment environments.

Collaborators: none

Contact: Duane Berry

Pest Management:
Improving Disease Control and Profitability in Virginia-type Peanuts

Relevance: Land area planted to peanuts since 2002 has declined steadily as a result of the high cost of production and reduced market value of peanuts. Annual escalations in costs for fuel, fertilizers, seed, and chemicals for pest and disease management have compounded problems in the sustainability of peanut production.

Response: Three field trials in 2006 and 2007 evaluated variety selection and tillage practices for increasing profitability and disease control. Each trial included Virginia- and runner-type varieties with traits adaptable to the shorter growing season in Virginia. Disease incidence was monitored in all trials and management inputs recorded. Yield, grade and value of harvest were determined in each trial.

Results: Virginia- and runner-type peanuts performed similarly in conventional and strip tillage, but varieties were significantly different in disease, yield and value. Perry, GA 05E, and Florida Fancy under heavy pressure by Cylindrocladium black rot (CBR) were superior to other Virginia-type cultivars for yield and value. Florida 07, GA Green, and McCloud under heavy CBR pressure had superior yield and value among runner-type cultivars. Without disease pressure, Florida Fancy, GA 05E, Phillips, and Champs had the highest yield and value of Virginia-types, and Florida 07 and McCloud were the best performers of runner-types. Strip tillage can reduce fuel and labor costs ($30/A) compared to conventional tillage and may qualify for government payments for reducing soil erosion by wind and water. The cost of land plaster ($35/A) can be eliminated in growing runner types since they are not likely to require supplemental calcium. At seeding rates of 100 lb/A for runner-types and 120 lb/A for Virginia-types, the difference in seed costs for runners ($0.63/lb) compared to Virginia-types ($0.66/lb) can save $16/A. Overall, these findings indicated that the value of peanut production can be increased by $132 to 181/A for Virginia types and $214 to 237/A for runner types sold at the USDA market loan rate of $335/ton. With contract rates in 2008 reaching $600/ton for Virginia types and $450/ton for runner types, the profitability of Virginia types could exceed that of runner types.

Collaborators: Jiahuai Hu

Contact: Pat Phipps

Plants and Plant Products:
Developing Novel Germplasm of Mountain Laurel

Relevance: Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) is an evergreen blooming shrub in the family Ericaceae, found in the entire eastern portion of the United States from southwestern Maine to northern Florida. It is one of the most desirable ornamental plants of landscape architects. However, only a few of the over 80 cultivars of mountain laurel on the market are able to survive in the southern reaches of its range. This explains the great demand for cultivars able to easily establish, grow, and perform in warmer locations. Demonstrating a genetic basis for the inability of most cultivars currently in trade to survive in the south would establish the need for a breeding program designed to create a greater variety of commercially available Kalmia germplasm that can reliably perform in the southern landscapes.

Response: The only viable Kalmia breeding program in the U.S. is located in Connecticut. In 2007 this project was established to determine whether or not there are ecotypes of mountain laurel. Ecotype determination will be accomplished through several comparative studies. First, germination rates and dynamics of seed collected from natural standings from the northern (N) and southern (S) limits of the mountain laurel habitat will be compared within a gradient of temperatures. Next the whole plant growth, development, and physiological responses will be studied in N and S genotypes, as well as of cultivars considered as industry standard (IS) subjected to contrasting environmental parameters. The photosynthetic rate, the chlorophyll fluorescence parameter Fv/Fm, and the dynamics of dormancy completion will be determined in all three groups of plants grown in two environment controlled growth chambers simulating the environmental conditions of northernmost and southernmost natural ranges of mountain laurel. Additionally, an analysis of small heat shock proteins and 25 kDa dehydrin productions will be performed to uncover the differences in genetic potential for heat and cold acclimation in all three groups of plants. Such differences may in part explain not only heat tolerance and freezing tolerance, respectively, but could possibly be used as markers for determining inheritance of these traits.

Results: By the end of 2007 methodology was developed and experiment parameters designed. Representative germplasm was collected and propagated to achieve best possible uniformity of age and size of the experimental material. Seed populations from open pollination of native or well established cultivated Kalmia plants grown in warm locations across Virginia were created. Several thousand seedlings were germinated and now grow in a controlled environment chamber. A total of 31 accessions have been collected from Florida, Alabama, and South Carolina. The effect of various pre-treatments on the seed germination rate and dynamics has been established in several Kalmia genotypes collected from colder and warmer localities in Virginia.

Collaborators: Virginia Nursery and Landscape Association

Contact: Rumen Conev

Improving Childcare in Southside Virginia

Relevance: According to the Virginia Department of Health data and statistics, 68 percent of women and 85 percent of men in Virginia with children under age six are employed outside the home. According to the National Association of Childcare Resources and Referral Association, 364,654 children in Virginia are in need of quality childcare. According to Kids Count, children in quality childcare develop more advanced language skills, display more advanced cognitive development, experience more success in school, and demonstrate more positive social skills.

Response: To enhance the quality of early childhood education, Extension conducted childcare provider trainings reaching participants from 11 cities and counties in Southside Virginia. One hundred eighty-six participants representing family day homes, childcare facilities, public school pre-K, Head Start, and other groups attended to learn about effective guidelines for successful early childhood program operations and increase quality childcare for 2,814 children this year.

Results: Knowledge change was assessed by a post evaluation and behavior change was identified by a six month follow-up evaluation. As a result of attending these training sessions, participants reported the following knowledge gains:

  • 72 percent learned new ideas to help children get along with others
  • 81 percent learned new activities to promote early language and literacy development
  • 79 percent children learned healthy food choices and new activities to increase physical activity
  • 75 percent learned new ideas for dealing with stress at work

On a six month follow-up survey 27 percent of the participants surveyed returned the completed survey. These assessments showed:

  • 82 percent of providers have made changes to help children get along with others
  • 64 percent have started including activities to help children explore the world around them through math and science
  • 82 percent have started procedures that will help control illness in their center
  • 45 percemt have started using more movement activities in their center
  • 45 percent have started using more activities to help children learn to read.

Contact: Patsy Pelland

Campaign Encourages County Employees to Maintain Their Weight over the Holidays

Relevance: Current data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that more than 60 percent of Virginia's adult population is overweight or obese. Many adults have commented that the holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Years is the most difficult time to maintain a healthy lifestyle and avoid the temptation to overeat.

Response:  A "Maintain, Don't Gain" Holiday Challenge e-newsletter series was created and distributed electronically to 238 county employees in Fauquier, Fairfax, Culpeper, Prince William, and Spotsylvania counties. The newsletter contains educational information regarding nutrition, physical activity, stress maintenance, healthy recipes, and more. Participants submitted their weight at the beginning and end of the eight-week holiday period, and incentives were provided for those who maintained their weight. The program was expanded to include face-to-face gatherings of participants to provide additional training and encouragement.

Results:  An online survey was conducted to measure the knowledge, attitudes, and behavior change of participants. The educational effort was successful with 90 percent reporting they had lost or either maintained weight during the healthy holiday challenge. Comments included: “I found it easier to say NO with all your helpful information. I have found it easier to say yes to the gym. Although I am not a big fan of water I try to get my daily intake. Thanks to Week 7 of the campaign.”; “I would like to receive more information from the VA Coop Extension office. They have a range of subject matters that would be interesting to know about such as the items listed in the last newsletter edition. (Learning more about preparing healthy meals, learn about your credit score or how to buy a home or car, learn about how to fertilizing your yard affects the environment, classes/lectures offered, etc.”

Contact: Mena Forrester

Wool Pool Economically Benefits Producers

Relevance: Regional medium-grade wool and mohair producers are limited in their ability to market their wool due to a low commodity price tied to economy of scale production. Shearing cost in relation to wool value is of utmost concern to producers. The Clarke Area Wool Growers Association, the Loudoun Valley Sheep Producers Association, and the Jefferson Wool Growers asked Cooperative Extension to help producers realize increased revenues for their wool.

Response: The Loudoun Extension staff worked with the sheep Extension specialist and Mid-States Wool Growers Association to provide a regional wool marketing opportunity for producers. Wool was collected and shipped to Mid-States Wool Growers, Ohio, for weighing, grading, sorting, and repacking in comingled, graded bales. Mid-State purchased the wool and paid producers by the pound on a greased weight basis.

Results:  Forty-eight producers representing VA, MD, PA, and WV collected 17,800 lbs of raw wool that was marketed through Mid-States Wool Growers in Ohio on contract at 40 cents per pound. This allowed wool producers to cover shearing costs and avoided disposal of the wool in ways that have negative environmental impact or fill landfill space. This effort also helped producers realize a .50 per lb. increase in the value of the wool shipped compared to individual sales of less than 2,500 lbs. and associated shipping costs for the producers.

Collaborators: VCE Agriculture and Natural Resource agents, West Virginia Extension Agriculture and Natural Resource agents, Virginia Extension Sheep Specialist and local producer wool grower associations

Contact:  Corey Childs

Improving Profitability for Wheat Producers

Relevance: Wheat production in 2008 received much interest due to increased demand and high prices. Wheat production has historically been an important part of the row crop scheme in the lower middle peninsula of Virginia and accounted for more than 10,000 acres in 2008. To stay productive and competitive, wheat producers need updated information on varieties, production practices, new technologies, and marketing strategies.

Response: Wheat producers in the lower middle peninsula received small grain production research results and information through e-mails, newsletters, and mailings. The group also requested that wheat varieties be planted in on farm plots for visual comparisons. These plots were planted in the fall and evaluated during the winter and spring. Producers attended a field day to see and learn about the varieties from Extension agents and researchers. The group also discussed the current market situation and marketing strategies at this event.

Results: In 2008, more than 60 percent of these growers selected varieties to plant in the fall based on visual and statistical data gathered at the field day. Use of this data in their operations could benefit them by increasing income by $35 per acre. Wheat acres in the lower middle peninsula could benefit by over $350,000. Ninety percent of the producers stated that as a result of attending this field day, they could more easily identify wheat diseases and were better prepared to make treatment decisions. Sixty percent of the attendees stated they received valuable marketing information that they will use in their individual marketing program.

Collaborators: Keith Balderson, Jason Benton and Dr. Wade Thomason

Contact:  David Moore

Local Foods Initiative: Connecting Producers and Consumers

Relevance: There is a trend of increased public demand for locally-grown produce, meats, and dairy products over organically grown products, many of which must be transported long distances to reach markets. This movement has been accelerated with recent continued fuel cost increases.

Response: Extension faculty and researchers have assisted producers and raised public awareness about the local foods movement. Local growers of fresh produce have been assisted with marketing strategies and tools, including an internet site and other educational opportunities such as an agriculture conference hosted by Congressman Rick Boucher. This conference provided information on developing markets for locally-grown meats, fruits, and vegetables delivered by many experts and practioners. Also, a workshop on state and federal regulations and risk management issues of directly marketing eggs, meat, dairy, fruit, vegetable, and value-added products was held, along with a good ggricultural practices information session. Lastly, assistance was given to several farmers' markets.

Emerging Results: While it is difficult to assess the monetary impact a year’s worth of work has had on the local economy, producers participating in this program indicate the demand for their products is increasing faster than in years previous. Some producers will expand operations to meet this need, thanks in part to this program. Other evidence of local food demand includes a new farmers' market opening and another farmers’ market planning a renovation and enlargement project due to increasing numbers of farm vendors and overwhelming consumer demand. This market also initiated a yearly farm visit by the market director and Extension faculty. Several inquiries and subsequent assistance have resulted from this face-to-face interaction. Many of the long-time producers have shared that they see a more helpful and responsive effort from Extension. Last but not least, this work helped increase the productivity and marketability of the small family-owned farm, keeping it in production, sometimes via a conservation easement.

Collaborators: Jon Vest, Danny Neel, Wythe Morris, Dr. Denise Mainville, Jesse Richardson, Christine Gabbard, Andrew Sarjahani, Dr. Elena Serrano, Beth Obenshain, Jenny Schwanke, Melissa Pilkington, Becky Haupt, Dennis Dove and Tenley Weaver

Contact: Barry Robinson

Virginia 4-H History Bowl Boosts SOL Scores

Relevance: To make the greatest impact in the area of citizenship, it is critical that young people understand the history of the society in which they live and work. The Virginia education system recognizes this and has developed Standards of Learning (SOL) in Virginia History in which all 4th-grade students must be proficient to pass the associated exam.

Response: To increase knowledge and understanding of Virginia history and increase Virginia History SOL scores of Washington County 4th-grade students, Washington County 4-H developed the 4-H History Bowl contest.

Results: Washington County School System administrators attributed the following results to the Virginia 4-H History Bowl:

  • Washington County 4th-grade students' SOL history scores increased by nine points in 2006, and up another 1.3 percent county-wide in 2008.
  • The county champion school in the 4-H Virginia History Bowl competition increased their SOL scores by seven points.
  • Of the four members on the champion team; three scored 100 percent and one scored 96 percent Virginia History SOL proficiency.
  • During testing at individual schools, the Supervisor for Elementary Education, Dr. Janet Lester, called the Washington County Extension office elated over incoming test results.

Collaborators: Crystal L. Peek, Washington County 4-H Extension Agent, Phil Blevins, Washington County Agricultural Extension Agent

Contact: Crystal L. Peek

The Campbell County 4-H Teen Counselor Program…Building Tomorrow’s Leaders

Relevance: The 2008 Campbell County situation analysis listed “Structured activities to build life skills and leadership in youth” as a priority focus area for programming. Research shows that youth development is a pressing issue facing the United States today. “The future of the nation, and the future of world civilization, will soon rest in the hands of today's youth. To become productive and contributing individuals who can be effective and proactive in determining the course of tomorrow's world, today's youth must develop positive leadership knowledge, attitudes, skills and aspirations. Preparing today's youth for their roles as tomorrow's leaders is a challenge we all
face." (Cox, 1996)

Response: The 2008 Campbell County 4-H teen counselor program provided teenage youth opportunities to build life skills and leadership. Teenage youth must complete an application, interview, and reference checks to be a counselor. Those selected participate in intensive camp training to supervise approximately 200 campers for a week long residential camping program. Senior teen counselors are elected by their peers to the positions of teen junior camp director, teen junior camp assistant director, or group leader. All teen counselors participate in a camp planning committee.

Results: The Campbell County 4-H teen counselor program had 41 teen counselors in 2008. Teen counselors assisted and led camp classes, evening programs, and afternoon recreation events. All teen counselors were placed in a leadership role as the primary supervisors of 4-H campers ages 9-13. The positions of Teen Junior Camp Director and Teen Junior Assistant Director gave teens the responsibility of supervising their peers in counselor duties, program organization and planning, and camp classes taught. The Campbell County 4-H counselor program opened the door to other leadership opportunities. For example, during the 2007-2008 4-H year three Campbell County 4-H members were elected to positions on the Virginia 4-H State Cabinet. This provided Campbell County with more cabinet members than any other county in the state.

Collaborators: Cherie Roberts, 4-H Technician

Contact:  Elizabeth Narehood

Browsing for food in Ethiopia

Relevance: In much of Ethiopia knowledge of the uses and limitation of browse species is not available. Also, the browse species observed infrequently are the one most preferred by animals, used for fire wood, fence materials, construction and medicinal purposes.

Response: In March and May of 2007, traveled to the Rift Valley and the Highlands of Ethiopia to assess the distribution, diversity, and utilization of browse species for small ruminants. The trip was sponsored by Farmer to Farmer Program (USAID). For the two two-to-three-week periods, we traveled through the Rift valley and the Highlands of Ethiopia. With the local agriculture experts and Extension agents as well as hundreds of villagers, we identified/quantified promising browse species for potential feed resource. To quantify the browse types and distribution, we used standard non-destructive and destructive techniques (measurements of height, number and distribution using GIS visual assessment techniques) as well as local knowledge regarding the use and persistence of the browse species. Based on the data we collected with the local farmers, we suggested that these types of plant species (plant used for multiple purposes, e.g., feed, fire, construction),need to be further characterized (implement management schemes to reduce disappearance of such species). By the end of the two, two-to-three-week periods, we developed practical methods to identify and manage those browse species with high feed values. Also based on our assessments at several different locations in the two major regions; deforestation, over-grazing, and soil depletion of public lands appears to be the greatest threats to long-term agricultural production and food security in these area.

Results: The impact of the interaction with the agents and villagers is expected to increase community-driven approaches toward land restoration and protection, which is known to be the most successful, and offer the greatest hope for long-term ecological stability and agricultural sustainability. By the time we returned the second time, we observed evidence of capacity building. Building on the collaborative opportunity, we had written and submitted a proposal related to improving the fragile integrity of the ecosystem through improved utilization of plant species (reduce overgrazing, maintain vegetation year round, reduce animal population and density, reduce erosion, reduce encroachment of undesirable species and improve integrity of the ecosystem). In addition to improving pasture utilization/health and maintenance as well as the assessment and improvement of browse species, a follow-up study is needed to examine: Alternative feed resources -- exploring the potential feed value of underutilized endogenous forage/browse species. An ecological study (ecologist/biologist) may help trace and reduce the increasingly disappearing native species (grassland and browse species).

Collaborators: Pat Donnovan, Virginia State University (Farmer to Farmer)

Contact: Abaye, Azenegashe O.

Assessing Impacts of Agricultural Biotechnologies in Asia

Relevance: Transgenic crops hold the potential to increase agricultural productivity and incomes, improve availability of low cost food for consumers, and reduce environmental and health hazards resulting from pesticide use. Economic benefits from these crops in Asia may help to reduce poverty and malnutrition in a region that contains more than half of the world's poor and malnourished. Acceptability of transgenic crops in Asia may be influenced by the magnitude of expected economic benefits that offset potential risks, hence the need to assess those benefits.

Response: With the collaboration of graduate students at Virginia Tech and consultants in Asia, economic impacts were projected for genetically modified rice, tomatoes, potato, eggplant, and papaya in the Philippines, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and India.

Results: Benefits of approximately $200 million over 15 years were projected for ringspot-virus resistant papaya in the Philippines. It appears that this product is on track for approval in that country, with second-stage field testing to occur in early 2007. Benefits for drought and salt tolerant (DST) rice in India were projected at approximately $500 million over 15 years. Expected commercial release of DST rice is a few years away or the benefits would be even greater. Benefits for Bt eggplant to reduce problems with fruit and shoot borer, the most serious insect pest on that crop, are projected at more than $100 million for India and more than $30 million for the Philippines over the next 15 years. Bt eggplant is likely to be released in India within two years. The estimated benefits over 15 years of multiple-virus-resistant tomatoes are $60 million in the Philippines and of late blight resistant potato are $89 million in Indonesia. These estimated economic impacts can help governments decide whether the benefits exceed the risks when asked to approve release or expedite the regulatory process for approving transgenic products. Approvals for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are beginning to occur in the Philippines and India, which may be due in part to recognition of potential benefits. Regulatory approval processes for GMOs have recently been established in Indonesia and Bangladesh.

Collaborators: Virginia Tech Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics and OIRED, Cornell University, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, University of the Philippines, US Agency for International Development, International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA)

Contact:  George Norton