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2016-17 Alumni Award Recipients

David Kohl inducted to Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Hall of Fame

Dr. David Kohl, Professor Emeritus of Agricultural and Applied Economics, of Blacksburg, VA, was inducted to the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Hall of Fame on March 31, 2017 at the annual college alumni awards ceremony.  Dr. Kohl joined the faculty in 1978 and has devoted his career to conducting dynamic instruction, extension and applied research in agricultural finance and management.

Alumni Awards 2017 - College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Hall of Fame Award

David Kohl - Hall of Fame Award Winner

A native of Belleville, NY, Kohl received his associate’s degree from Jefferson Community College, bachelor’s degree from Oswego State University, and completed his graduate degrees at Cornell University. For 25 years, Kohl was Professor of Agricultural Finance and Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at Virginia Tech.  He has received 11 major teaching awards while teaching over 10,000 students, and 25 major Extension and Public Service awards from Virginia Tech, Cornell University, and state and national organizations.  Kohl is a two-time recipient of the prestigious American Agricultural Economics Association's Distinguished Teaching Award.  Kohl is one of only five professors in the 100-year history of the Association to receive the award twice. 

To recognize his contributions not only to Virginia, but to the world’s agricultural community, several alumni, colleagues, friends, and agribusiness enterprises established the Kohl Agribusiness Centre in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech in honor of his long-term commitment to practical teaching, research, and extension.  Today the Kohl Centre offers relevant, beyond-the-classroom opportunities to students across all colleges. 

Dave Kohl took his passion for teaching off campus as well.  A visionary leader, he is Chancellor of Farm Credit University, which has had over 4,000 enrollments of lenders and producers using a blended online and face-to-face educational approach.

He is also a business coach and part owner of Homestead Creamery, a value added dairy business in the Blue Ridge Mountains.    

George Flick inducted to Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Hall of Fame

Dr. George Flick, university distinguished professor emeritus of food science and technology, of Blacksburg, VA, was inducted to the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Hall of Fame on March 31, 2017 at the annual college alumni awards ceremony.  Dr. Flick has spent his entire career bring academia, industry and government together to advance the seafood industry.

Alumni Awards 2017 - College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Hall of Fame Award

George Flick - Hall of Fame Award Winner

Dr. Flick set standards for safety, quality, processing and packaging for a significant percentage of the world's fishery products. Many of those processes and practices are still the benchmark against which any new ideas are judged. He brought together faculty from five of Virginia Tech's colleges to form the Commercial Fish and Shellfish Technologies group (CFAST), and carved out Virginia Tech's place in Virginia's Sea Grant Consortium. He made great contributions to the development of sustainable, environmentally-responsible recirculating aquaculture. He is a luminary in multiple professional organizations, with prodigious research grantsmanship, and a curriculum vita that runs for miles.

In addition to many awards received at Virginia Tech, Dr. Flick has also been recognized as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a Fellow of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT).  He was also awarded the Myron Solberg Award from IFT given to the person who has been instrumental in bringing academia, industry and government together to solve food industry problems.

Service to others is the characteristic that carries through Dr. George Flick’s career.  He has tirelessly been an advocate for the seafood industry and has been instrumental in forming lasting relationships that bring industry and government together to solve problems and create opportunities.  Dr. George Flick’s work has had lasting benefit to the US seafood industry and the state of Virginia.

Julie McIntire Divis named Outstanding Recent Undergraduate Alumna of Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Julie McIntire Divis, of Chicago, Illinois, a 2013 graduate of food science and technology, was named the Outstanding Recent Undergraduate Alumna of the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences on March 31, 2017 at the annual college alumni awards ceremony.

Alumni Awards 2017 - Virginia Tech Alumni Association Outstanding Recent Undergraduate Alumna of the College

Julie McIntire Divis - Outstanding Recent Undergraduate Alumna

She worked with Hillshire Brands (which later became Tyson Foods) until August 2016. In her short time, she had a successful career there and then went on to a position that afforded her more oversight and responsibility where she now has companywide responsibility over safety, quality and regulatory for a small startup company called PRE-Brands.

During her time at Tyson Foods, she helped bring new funding into the food science and technology department to support research by creating opportunities for the two entities to collaborate on product testing and development.

In addition to being a liaison between Tyson Foods and the department for process validation work, she has also led a campus recruiting program at Virginia Tech. Since she became employed with Tyson, every year undergraduate and graduate students have completed summer internships with the company. Due to these connections, Tyson has also become a company that many of our students strive to work for upon graduation.  

Bridgett McIntosh named Outstanding Recent Graduate Alumna of Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Bridgett McIntosh, of Middleburg, Virginia, a 2003 and 2006 graduate of animal and poultry sciences was named the Outstanding Recent Graduate Alumna of the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences on March 31, 2017 at the annual college alumni awards ceremony.

Alumni Awards 2017 - Virginia Tech Alumni Association Outstanding Recent Graduate Alumna of the College

Bridgett McIntosh - Outstanding Recent Graduate Alumna

Bridgett received her MS and PhD degrees in equine nutrition. During her career at Virginia Tech, she and others, helped establish the Middleburg Agriculture Research and Extension (MARE) center as one of the premier equine research centers across the country and the world.

Following graduate school she accepted a position at Blue Seal Feeds, Inc. where she helped the company advance their footprint in the market by supporting their sales force with technical input.  She was then hired into a tenure track position by the Department of Animal Science at the University of Tennessee, where she developed a nationally recognized program addressing the forage management and water quality needs of the horse industry. In recognition of her achievements, she was awarded the prestigious J.E. Moss Faculty Achievement Award, and the Cavendar Award for Best Publication.

In 2012, Virginia Tech had the opportunity to hire Bridgett away from UT and locate her in Middleburg at the MARE center where she serves as the Equine Extension Specialist. She has amassed a rather large group of individuals in Middleburg interested in understanding how the horse interacts with the environment in Northern Virginia and across the Commonwealth. 

John Parker recognized with the inaugural Honorary Alumni Award of Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Mr. John Parker of Dinwiddie, Virginia earned a B.S. degree in 1961 from North Carolina State University in the field of Animal Husbandry and began his distinguished career as a NC County Extension Agent.

Alumni Awards 2017 - Honorary Alumni Award

John Parker - Honorary Alumni Award

John was lured from North Carolina in 1972 to become the Executive Director of the VA Pork Industry Association, a position he held until his retirement in 2014.  He successfully managed and coordinated the state’s Pork Checkoff Program that is designed to strengthen and promote the pork industry in the marketplace.  The Virginia pork industry was well represented and benefited greatly from John’s interface both from within VA and outside our state boundaries.

Mr. Parker served on numerous departmental and college committees during his tenure as the VPIA Executive Director.  John was very instrumental in leading a delegation of livestock industry supporters to secure outside funding for the construction of the Alphin-Stuart Livestock Teaching Arena.

During the Dr. Swiger and Dr. Minish eras (mid ’80s through late ‘90s) John was a valuable resource member of these department heads’ Advisory Committees that solicited and secured over $400,000 for departmental research projects.

Mr. Parker was one of several industry leaders chosen by our College to serve on back-to-back selection committees for the department head position that Drs. McCann and Gerrard eventually filled in 2001 and 2009, respectively.  He also served on the selection committee as an outside stakeholder in two national Dean searches in the college, later occupied by Dr. Andy Swiger and Dr. Sharron Quisenberry.

John was selected in 1997 by the VT Block and Bridle Club as their Honor Awardee and was just recently inducted in the Virginia Livestock Hall of Fame in 2014.  The sole purpose of the Hall of Fame is to bestow honor and recognition upon Virginians who have made significant contributions to the Commonwealth livestock industry and its people.

He has been a member of both the VA Farm Bureau and VA Agribusiness Council since 1972 and has held numerous leadership roles in both organizations.

Parker has spent his entire career creating opportunities, awards, and scholarships for young people.  He served 50 years as the assistant swine superintendent at the National 4-H Livestock Judging Contest.

The swine industry, both state and national, has been the hub of Mr. Parker’s activities and accomplishments.  He has promoted pork through conference speaking engagements, fostered much needed research in the swine industry, has enhance working relationships among hog producers, has testified as an expert witness in a US District Court, and has enlightened non-agricultural segments of our population as to the importance of animal agriculture.

The pork industry in Virginia would not be in the position it is today were it not for John Parker’s efforts while serving VPIA for 43 years.  John Parker is very deserving and highly qualified to receive of the first-ever CALS Honorary Alumni Award.

Jessee Austin named Outstanding Alumnus in International Programs of Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Jessee Austin, of Kansas City, Missouri, received his B.S. and M.S. in animal science in 1999 and 2001, respectively.  He has spent most of his entire career with Smithfield Foods, the largest pork processor and hog producer in the world with 46,000 employees. Operations are present in 26 states and 12 countries where global sales total $14B. 

Alumni Awards 2017 - Outstanding Alumnus in International Programs

Jesse Austin - Outstanding Alumnus in International Programs

Jesse has climbed the corporate ladder within this organization at a very rapid pace. He started out as an assistant product manager where he scheduled production and supplied raw material for multiple pork processing facilities.

His ‘first taste’ of international trade occurred with he left Smithfield for a short period of time and joined the sales force of Seaboard Corporation in Shawnee Mission, KS. Jesse identified market trends where he developed and negotiated a customer base for a new pork processing facility with domestic/international sales.

Jesse returned to Smithfield in 2007 as a product manager to negotiate export sales and to identify sales opportunities with new and existing customers. As the Sales Director he coordinated production and sales for export to Japan. He advised senior managers of geopolitical and currency trends that impact Japanese demand and purchasing patterns. His wisdom aided in the orchestration of the two highest volume and profit years for the Japanese business. As a result, Jesse was promoted to General Manager and spent 20 months in Tokyo to manage the Japanese sales team. He investigated product quality and greatly facilitated market communications between Japanese customers and U.S. offices. During his stay in Tokyo, he was instrumental in expanding Smithfield Foods market share in Japan and increased Smithfield’s chilled volume by 145%.

Recently, Jesse became the Director of International Business Development in Kansas City, MO. He is tasked with developing executive strategies to promote international business growth and to create global business plans.

He is a member of the Smithfield Leadership Institute and was selected by upper management in 2014 as a ‘Top Gun’ in Smithfield Foods. 

David Leonard recognized with the Outstanding Alumni Leadership Award of Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Dave Leonard, of Lebanon, Virginia, received his B.S. degree in 1961 from the Department of Animal Science.  As an undergraduate student, Mr. Leonard was an active member of the Block and Bridle Club and livestock judging team and has continually supported these extracurricular activities at Virginia Tech as an alumnus of the Department.    

Alumni Awards 2017 - Outstanding Alumni Leadership Award

David Leonard - Outstanding Alumni Leadership Award

Mr. Leonard and his family own and manage a 550- head cattle and Quarter Horse operation in Russell County on 2,000 acres.  When the warmblood horses left campus in 2009 and were relocated at the Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension Center, Dave Leonard and his family donated a large band of Quarter Horse mares and a breeding stallion to the equine teaching program.  These stock horses have served the undergraduate teaching program by providing many experiential learning and applied research experiences to our students.  

He possesses a drive and passion for serving others that is inspiring and embodies the Virginia Tech motto Ut Prosim

Dave is the current Chairman of the Board for First Bank and Trust Company, which is the largest agricultural lender of 85 Virginia banks.  He is presently serving on the Board of Directors for the Virginia Livestock Hall of Fame, Virginia Agribusiness Council, Russell County Imagination Library and the Rotary Club.  Dave leads by example and is a ‘people person’ in the truest sense.  

He has chaired or been elected President of many prominent organizations such as the Virginia Association of Fairs, Richmond Federal Reserve Bank, and Virginia Cattlemen’s Foundation, to name a few.  He is a past member of the CALS Steering Committee for the Campaign for Virginia Tech ‘Invent the Future’ (2009-14).

For his tireless efforts and sincere thoughtfulness, he has received special recognition at many levels.  The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences honored Mr. Leonard in 1997 with the Ag Alumni Citation Award, which recognizes individuals for their contributions to the state’s agriculture industry and to the university.  In 1999 Mr. Leonard was selected by his VA Association of Fair peers as the ‘Fair Person of the Year’ and was inducted into the Virginia Angus Association Hall of Merit.  His portrait is hung in the Virginia Livestock Hall of Fame in the Alphin-Stuart Livestock Arena at Virginia Tech as an honoree in 2013.  Virginia Tech has bestowed membership to Dave into the Caldwell Society which recognizes alumni who have made lifetime contributions between $50,000 and $99,999.

Dave has demonstrated outstanding leadership skills, has performed extraordinary service, and is quite generous in his philanthropic contributions.  Mr. Leonard is a bonafide candidate for the Outstanding Alumni Leadership Award.

Elizabeth Galbreath recognized with the Outstanding Ambassador Award of Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Elizabeth Galbreath, of Street, Maryland, graduated in May 2017 with a B.S. in agricultural sciences with a concentration in applied economic management

She made the most of every moment over the last 4 years.  Her list of leadership experiences is extensive. To highlight a few, she has served as chancellor of Alpha Zeta, was a member of the Student Alumni Associates of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, and was the CALS Ambassador representative to the CALS Alumni Organization board of directors.    

Alumni Awards 2017 - Outstanding Ambassador Award

Elizabeth Galbreath - Outstanding Ambassador Award

She was been a campus ambassador and student advisory team member for Agriculture Future of America, a leadership and career development training program for future leaders in food and agriculture.

In 2015 she was a TEDx Virginia Tech speaker.

Elizabeth served as president of the college ambassadors. In this role, she organized the group to be more focused leaders. She worked with the other members of the ambassador executive committee to develop an ambassador marketing strategy to encourage more students in the college to join the ambassador program.

Elizabeth brought her Hokie pride and spirit to every college recruitment event. Elizabeth was and continues to be an excellent spokesperson for the college. Her knowledge of the college’s impacts along with her broad knowledge of the agricultural industry makes her the ideal spokesperson.

Elizabeth is always willingness to say “yes”, and be engaged. She always makes a difference and seeks ways to have her actions make a positive impact.

Fellow student Annemarie Bresson had this to say…

"Elizabeth Galbreath is the image of school spirit. This is an invaluable tool when it comes to recruiting for Virginia Tech and anyone who knows her knows that it is genuine. On any given day, Elizabeth is dressed from head to toe in maroon and orange. She is always talking about her latest involvement with the university. And you can bet that before she leaves she'll add in her known catchphrase, "You know what they say...go Hokies." I honestly don't think I could count the number of times she's said that to me and I could not be more grateful. She is a constant reminder of why I call this place home. And I know that this translates to prospective students as a sureness of why this could be their home too."

Susan Sumner, associate dean and director of academic programs stated, “Elizabeth is one of the most outstanding ambassadors I have had the privilege to work with.”    

George Norton recognized with the Outstanding Faculty Service Award of Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Dr. George Norton, of Blacksburg, Virginia has taught more than two thousand students during his career at Virginia Tech. He has served as major professor to 56 M.S. students and 21 Ph.D. students, well as serving on dozens of graduate committees within the agricultural and applied economics department and across the university.    

Alumni Awards 2017 - Outstanding Faculty Service Award

George Norton - Outstanding Faculty Service Award

Dr. Norton has worked tirelessly to support these students through grant funded research projects. As part of this effort, he has assisted 40 graduate students to go abroad to gather data for their dissertation and thesis research. He has also assisted 35 undergraduate students with research internships, including 28 who conducted overseas research.

He has guided the department’s graduate program; serving on the Graduate Advisory Committee in the department for 29 years, including 6 years as Director of the graduate program. Dr. Norton also has an extremely strong record of service within college. He has a similar body of accumulated service within the profession.

As part of internal efforts to increase the department’s international visibility, he has hosted short-term visitors from a number of countries, including the Philippines, Ecuador, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Honduras, El Salvador, and Niger.

Students find Dr. Norton approachable for professional or personal advice. Former advisees indicate that he has been the model for their own approach to serving students and for other professional activities after leaving Virginia Tech.

Dr. Norton’s commitment to service extends well beyond the University and his profession. Offering just a few examples, he assisted Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux Tribe in South Dakota with tribal farm planning several years ago (for which he was recently honored with a Tribal Robe by the Tribal Council). He was a Peace Corps volunteer in Colombia and assisted a Syrian agricultural economist and his family to escape the war in Syria. He has also served as board chair of UKirk Ministry at Virginia Tech.

Julian Alston, an AAEA Fellow from U.C. Davis, perhaps best sums up Dr. Norton’s lifelong commitment to service, “George Norton is one of those rare colleagues who stands ready to give generously of his time and energy to engage in work that does not involve personal reward but that does help someone else, either within the profession or in society more broadly. This old-fashioned quality of selflessness and willingness to serve – which George has in abundance – ought to be counted…”

Brenda French recognized with the Outstanding Staff Service of Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Brenda French, of Pembroke, Virginia has worked at Virginia Tech since 1978, beginning in the former College of Education (Technology Education and Agriculture Education) and later, in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences for biological systems engineering and agricultural and applied economics.    

Alumni Awards 2017 - Outstanding Staff Service Award

Brenda French - Outstanding Staff Service

She began working for the Agricultural Technology Program in 1992. Her title is Admissions and Student Records Coordinator but she does so much more than that.  She is the main point of contact for the Program. All students know her as the ‘go to’ person for any questions or concerns that arise from the time they submit their application until they graduate and as many of our alumni will attest, well beyond!

Her son, Jared, is a graduate of the Ag Tech Program, so this unique view allows her to relate effectively to the parents as well.

Seldom is there a time when someone isn’t in her office seeking help or just talking about life. Faculty, alumni, parents and current students rely on Brenda in countless ways and know that she is always willing to help. 

Alumni Awards 2017 - Oustanding Recent Undergraduate Alumnus

Recent Undergraduate Alumnus - group
Department Name
Agricultural and Applied Economics Tim VanReenen
Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education Zach Wakeman
Agricultural Technology Ian Watkins
Animal and Poultry Sciences Rebecca Webert (Funkhouser)
Biochemistry A. J. Prussin
Biological Systems Engineering Harsha Kittur
Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences Katie Harver (Hurder)
Dairy Science Laura Siegel
Food Science and Technology Julie Divis (McIntire)
Horticulture Mara Grossman
Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise Jordan Chang

Alumni Awards 2017 - Outstanding Recent Graduate Alumni

Recent Gradudate Alumni - group
Department Name
Agricultural and Applied Economics Genti Kostandini
Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education Cory Epler
Animal and Poultry Sciences Bridgett McIntosh
Biochemistry Graham Jack
Biological Systems Engineering Leslie Hopkinson
Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences Derik Cataldi
Dairy Science Katrina Olson
Entomology Scott Longing
Food Science and Technology Gabriela Lopez-Velasco
Horticulture Scott Lowman
Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise Carmen Byker Shanks
Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science Nicole Juba


Alumni Awards 2017 - Distinguished Alumni

Distinguished alumni - group
Department Name
Agricultural and Applied Economics Amanda Glover
Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education Carlton Everhart
Agricultural Technology Wesley Gwaltney
Animal and Poultry Sciences Burton Eller
Biochemistry Sherry Carty
Biological Systems Engineering Jay Harmon
Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences Michael Gore
Dairy Science Frank "Skip" Bartol
Entomology Donald Cochran (posthumous)
Food Science and Technology William Aimutis
Horticulture Edward Milhous
Human Nutrition, Food and Exercise Alicia White
Plant Pathology, Physiology and Weed Science David Langston