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Concentration Areas

During the application process, a prospective student should identify one of the concentration areas described below that best matches his or her interests and professional goals. Each concentration has a coordinator who can help answer more specific questions.  Feel free to contact the concentration coordinator listed below.

Concentration Areas

The field of applied animal behavior is a complex field which requires a thorough knowledge of the environmental determinants of behavior, the ability to observe and measure behavior, and the practical skills to change an animal’s behavior or to train a client to do so. 

The applied animal behavior and welfare concentration is designed for students who are interested in animal behavior and the welfare of animals in applied settings and want to expand their understanding of behavioral principles to improve the lives of animals and their caregivers. The coursework satisfies the course requirements to become an Associate Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist through the Animal Behavior Society and the hands-on work can be geared towards satisfying the case-study or research paper requirements for certification.  Courses offer an evidence-based, comprehensive perspective on animal behavior and principles of effective behavior change, drawing from the fields of applied behavior analysis and ethology. The courses focus on critical inquiry into the causes of behavior and solutions to behavior and training issues, problem solving in applied settings, ethical training methods and professional interactions, and leadership in the field of applied animal behavior. As part of their coursework, students will complete a hands-on project and have the option to participate in a week-long hands-on workshop on training, behavior, and welfare with a lead instructor in this emphasis.

Upon completion of the OMALS degree with a concentration in Applied Animal Behavior and Welfare each student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of behavioral principles from the fields of applied behavior analysis and ethology.
  • Identify, describe, and measure behavior and its environmental determinants in a variety of applied scenarios.
  • Assess the influence of biological and psychological principles on behavior in applied settings.
  • Construct and implement training and behavior plans for diverse behavioral/training scenarios using evidence-based behavioral principles, and following industry best practices and ethical guidelines.
  • Critically and empirically assess the efficacy of behavior and training interventions using appropriate research methods and utilize those assessments to modify future intervention decisions.
  • Communicate evidence-based behavior and training principles and solutions to diverse audiences.
  • Synthesize the biological and psychological factors that influence behavior.
  • Serve as an industry leader promoting evidence-based best practices and scientific approaches.

Graduates can also look forward to pursuing careers in the following sectors:

  • Animal shelter or nonprofit director
  • Director of Animal Behavior & Welfare (Animal care & behavior)    
  • Dog, cat or horse behavior consultant
  • Animal shelter or sanctuary behavior manager
  • Animal shelter or sanctuary manager
  • Private animal trainer or behavior consultant
  • Service dog provider
  • Scent dog handler and/or trainer
  • Captive animal (zoo/sanctuary) trainer or behavior consultant
  • Management in animal welfare organizations
  • Domestic animal behaviorist or behavior consultant
  • Exotic animal behaviorist or behavior consultant
  • Domestic or exotic animal trainer

Faculty

Concentration Coordinator

Erica Feuerbacher

Assistant Professor

enf007@vt.edu

540-231-1393

3460 Litton-Reaves Hall

Blacksburg, VA  24061

Research and recommendations in the fields of nutrition, exercise, and health continue to evolve at a rapid pace.  As we strive to enhance human performance and prevent and treat lifestyle-related disease, the ability to translate current science into practical guidelines, interventions, and programs is paramount.

The Applied Nutrition and Physical Activity concentration is designed for students with a science, health-related, community, or education background who wish to advance and expand their nutrition and physical activity knowledge and skills.  Courses offer an evidence-based perspective on applied nutrition and exercise across the healthspan.  A focus on critical inquiry, problem solving, leadership, and successful business practices in nutrition and physical activity is carried throughout.

Upon completion of the OMALS degree with a concentration in Applied Nutrition and Physical Activity each student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a foundational understanding of nutrition and physical activity sciences and their application to health promotion.
  • Demonstrate an in-depth knowledge in applied nutrition, physical activity, or public health policy as dictated by the student’s area of specialization.
  • Apply research methods in nutrition, physical activity, or public health to design, implement, and evaluate projects or programs.
  • Apply nutritional, exercise, or public health policy practices to assess and implement best practice interventions for health and well-being.
  • Communicate nutrition, exercise, or public health messages across diverse audiences.

Graduates can also look forward to pursuing careers in the following sectors:

  • Cooperative Extension
  • Health Education
  • Corporate Wellness/Corporate Fitness
  • Academia
  • Industry
  • Athletics and Fitness
  • Allied Health Professionals
  • Leadership roles in nutrition and dietetics (specifically for individuals who already have the RD/RDN credential)

Faculty

Concentration Coordinator

Madlyn Frisard

540-231-9994
frisardm@vt.edu 
HNFE
225 Wallace Hall
Blacksburg, VA 24060 

Increasingly, individuals within the agricultural and life sciences are asked to train others on new techniques or equipment, develop programming that engages the public, or communicate new concepts in a variety of different settings to a diverse group of people.

The Education concentration is designed for individuals desiring to advance their teaching/learning, leadership, extension and communications skill sets in this dynamic and evolving field. This in-depth program will provide concrete strategies for assisting individuals and communities with diverse needs and interests, and providing them with the abilities to acquire and retain the information shared, including youth and adult program management, program curriculum design, STEM integration in agriculture education, and service to international service and partnerships. 

This program is designed to advance your position as an agricultural leader, educator, and communicator.  Upon completion of the OMALS degree with a concentration in Education each student will be able:

  • Examine the scholarly literature and illustrate connections to the practice of teaching and learning
  • Design, implement and evaluate educational curriculum, programming and outreach in agricultural and life sciences
  • Integrate research based agricultural, leadership, and community educational models into practice
  • Perform and evaluate research applications in agricultural, leadership, and community education
  • Evaluate the use of technology in agricultural, leadership, and community education curriculum

Graduates can look forward to pursuing careers in these occupational roles:

  • Cooperative extension agents
  • Public school educators
  • Post-secondary instructors
  • Corporate consultants
  • Community program managers, coordinators, and program evaluators

Faculty

Concentration Coordinator

Donna Westfall-Rudd

Associate Professor

540-231-5717

mooredm@vt.edu

264 Litton-Reaves Hall

Blacksburg, VA. 24061

Description

The Environmental Science concentration will provide students with the knowledge and skills to solve real-world environmental issues. As a student in this program, you will interact with faculty and professionals in the field. Working through hands-on activities you will gain a greater understanding of environmental science theory and practical application. This tailored educational experience will position you to effectively and strategically lead in this field.  Upon completion of the OMALS degree with a concentration in Environmental Science each student will be able:

  • Demonstrate breadth and depth of interdisciplinary knowledge related to complex environmental issues and processes.
  • Design, implement, and evaluate an assessment and mitigation plan for diverse at-risk ecosystems.
  • Apply a variety of regulatory practices, standards, or policies related to water and soil quality and use.
  • Identify, analyze, and evaluate evidence-based literature and practice related to water and soil quality.
  • Apply research methods to design, implement, and evaluate sustainable approaches of environmental management for a variety of at risk ecosystems.

Graduates can look forward to pursuing careers in the following sectors:

  • Environmental science fields, including the areas of advocacy, law, policy, and regulation (national and international levels)
  • State and federal regulation agencies (Departments of Environmental Quality and Natural Resources, to name a few)
  • Natural resources and conservation
  • Renewable energy and green industry
  • Health department
  • Non-profit
  • Municipalities
  • Horticulture

Faculty

Concentration Coordinator

Matthew J. Eick
(540) 231-8943
eick@vt.edu
185 Ag Quad Lane
236 Smyth Hall
Blacksburg, VA 24061

 

Description

The Food Safety and Biosecurity concentration will build on a student’s knowledge of food safety, security, sanitation, and microbiology. It is designed for individuals interested in the microbiological safety of food, water and the environment, including the development and enforcement of laws and regulations affecting food production and processing, the implementation of food safety management programs, and the biosecurity of food supplies in developing countries.

Upon completion of the OMALS program with a concentration in Food Safety and Biosecurity each student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate breadth and depth of knowledge of evidence-based food safety and food biosecurity practices.
  • Apply scientific literature to critically evaluate the practices of legal and regulatory issues on food safety and food biosecurity
  • Demonstrate in-depth knowledge of fundamental concepts relevant to food safety and food biosecurity practices across diverse agriculture scales (local, state, national, and global).
  • Design, implement, and evaluate food safety and food biosecurity management programs and practices.
  • Identify sources of food safety and food biosecurity information and distinguish reliable sources from unreliable sources.

Graduates can look forward to pursuing careers in the following sectors:

  • Medical and health services manager
  • Agricultural manager
  • Food scientist and technologist
  • Plant manager
  • Quality control manager
  • Agricultural inspector
  • Agricultural science technician
  • Food science technician

Faculty

Concentration Coordinator


Joseph D. Eifert
Associate Professor
(540) 231-3658
(540) 231-9293 (Fax)
jeifert@vt.edu
401-B HABB1 (0924)
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Description

The Leadership Studies concentration prepares individuals with interdisciplinary skills to be well-rounded agricultural professionals, developing leaders, educators, and communicators to lead, teach and communicate about current agricultural issues facing society today. 

Students will gain the expertise necessary to lead in a diverse and multicultural environment. Programmatic emphasis is placed on leadership in a global society, problem-solving, and the role of agricultural professionals as agents of change in our communities throughout the world.  Upon completion of the OMALS degree with a concentration in Leadership Studies each student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate leadership for effective problem solving with groups, organizations, and communities.
  • Critically analyze leadership theory and practices through scholarly inquiry.
  • Examine social responsibility in diverse and multicultural environments.
  • Design, implement, and evaluate collaborative leadership efforts in real-world settings.

The leadership concentration can prepare people for jobs such as

  • cooperative extension agents
  • leadership roles in education
  • corporate consultants
  • project managers
  • program coordinators and directors 

Faculty

Concentration Coordinator

Eric K. Kaufman
Associate Professor
(540) 231-6258
(540) 231-3824 (Fax)
ekaufman@vt.edu
2280 Litton-Reaves Hall
Blacksburg, Virginia 24061

Description

The Plant Science and Pest Management concentration will prepare students in agriculture-related roles to have a broader understanding of the diverse industry, including issues concerning production, business, economics, communication, pest management, and regulations.  

Students will gain a sophisticated understanding of this interdisciplinary field with specialized skills in areas such as weed science, plant pathology, and crop management.  Upon completion of the OMALS degree with a concentration in Plant Science and Pest Management each student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate in-depth multidisciplinary knowledge of fundamental concepts relevant to plant science and pest management practices across diverse agriculture scales (local, state, national, and global).
  • Examine and apply the evidence-based literature to resolve relevant complex plant science and pest management issues within multiple agricultural sectors.
  • Design, implement, and evaluate plant science and pest management programs and practices across diverse scales of agriculture.
  • Analyze the research applications/models/procedures to demonstrate interconnections between plant science, pest management, and human ecology, and animal health.
  • Apply multimedia strategies to communicate topics and concepts that enhance plant science and pest management practices in diverse communities and scales of agriculture.

Graduates can look forward to pursuing careers in the following sectors:

  • Private industry, including several career paths:
    • Golf course management
    • Farm, orchard, and vineyard management
    • Grounds managers, landscape or park management
    • Agriculture consulting
    • Agriculture-related suppliers and manufacturers (seeds and planting material, pesticides, fertilizers, equipment)
  • Government and soil conservation service agencies, including  United States Department of Agriculture and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
  • Education, teaching (high school and technical college)
  • Green industry professionals (greenhouse and nursery growers, garden center managers/personnel)
  • Extension agents

Faculty

Concentration Coordinator

Anton Baudoin

Associate Professor

540-231-5757
abaudoin@vt.edu
Plant Path Physiology & Weed Science
170 Drillfield Dr 417 Price Hall
Blacksburg, VA 24061