2017-18 Award Winners
J. Christopher Bergh
J. Christopher Bergh, a professor and Virginia Cooperative Extension Specialist in the Alson H. Smith Jr. Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Winchester, is the 2018 recipient of the college's Andy Swiger Land-Grant Award.
An expert in fruit crops, Bergh has worked tirelessly to help Virginia growers overcome many obstacles to producing the healthy, high-quality products that our markets demand. His work in mating disruption has been especially helpful to growers, enabling them to diminish damage to fruit from internal feeders while reducing pesticide use.
In addition to hands-on pest management assistance, Bergh has focused on putting vital information into the hands of as many growers as possible — authoring a blog and numerous publications, and traveling extensively to present his research at workshops, trainings, and meetings. He has also leveraged more than $1.8 million in federal, state, and private sector support and won numerous awards for his outstanding work.
The college's former director of recruitment and advisor for the Virginia Tech Chapter of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS), Natasha Saunders arrived at Virginia Tech in April 2017 and hit the ground running.
During her time with the college, this energetic, caring, and hospitable young woman helped MANRRS students become much more active in the community while expanding the chapter to include nearly 30 members. Saunders also developed a high school/junior MANRRS pipeline as an avenue for student enrichment and recruitment.
Her passion for serving underrepresented students, her commitment to equity and inclusion in the recruitment process, and her tireless activities on behalf of the CALS community are deserving of this honor.
A professor and Extension Specialist in the School of Plant and Environmental Studies, Greg Evanylo has developed an internationally recognized research program that applies agronomic sciences to improve scientific understanding of the management of municipal, industrial, and agricultural byproducts.
Evanylo's work has aided in the development of state regulatory programs in biosolids' use, water reuse, agricultural and urban nutrient management, composting, and soil amendment registration. Management practices based on his research are being implemented by land managers in the U.S. and around the world. Over the past 15 years, he has published 35 peer-reviewed articles and received more than $5.5 million in grant funding.
A professor in the School of Plant and Environmental Studies, David Schmale has pioneered aerobiology research aimed at understanding how pathogens are transported over long distances through the atmosphere.
Schmale's research and innovative advances have changed the technological landscape for crop biosecurity and revolutionized the study of microbial life in the atmosphere. Over the past 10 years, he has attracted more than $12 million in sponsored research, published 51 peer-reviewed manuscripts, and trained 11 doctoral and three master's students.
As the sole administrative assistant in a unit with three Extension agents, a program assistant, and 100 Extension volunteers, Sandy Seals has become proficient in her administrative responsibilities and in learning many policies, procedures, and guidelines during her short tenure with Bedford County Cooperative Extension.
Because of her initiative, positive demeanor, work ethic, and constant smile, Sandy's effectiveness and ingenuity are demonstrated on a regular basis. For example, in response to requests from volunteers, she developed computer presentations using software with which she was initially unfamiliar.
A self-starter who often takes the initiative to enhance Virginia Cooperative Extension’s services and public image within the community, Sandy is a model for customer service throughout VCE.