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Virginia Tech's Program for Community Vitality

Farm Management Update, June 1997

By Jeff Alwang of the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech

A new initiative in the College of Agriculture provides technical assistance and applied research and education to rural communities to help them solve the problems they face and prepare for the future. The Program for Community Vitality (PCV) in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics is a comprehensive effort to integrate teaching, applied research, and extension/public education to empower and strengthen the capacity of Virginia's communities to enhance their quality of life. The program is a model for creating a "living laboratory" and extending the land grant university into the lives of all Virginians. It stimulates student involvement in community problem solving, creates a bridge between local leadership and on-campus expertise and instruction, and focuses scarce resources to the solution of critical economic problems facing localities.

VT PCV staff can assist communities with programs in the following areas:

Land Use and Land Policy Issues

Economic Development

Public Finance and Management

PCV is a response to a demonstrated need felt by leaders in Virginia's communities. For example:

Structure of the Program

PCV is a new model that coordinates all three elements of the land grant mission. It focuses on solving real problems faced by local governments and community organizations, but involves on- and off-campus instruction, traditional extension, and applied research. PCV...

These activities result in the empowerment of community leaders and citizens to enhance the quality of life for all residents by providing them with the skills, understanding, and information to make better decisions. VT PCV programs are rooted in the philosophy that local involvement of citizens is crucial to long-term community vitality.

Relationship to Cooperative Extension Field Staff

Most of the ongoing PCV activities began as information requests from extension field staff. It is hoped that as field staff encounter problems related to economic development, land use, or local government, they will contact PCV staff directly for assistance. In general, the program is one of ongoing education, not of discrete problem solving. As such, it involves continued involvement of resident faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students with field agents as the bridge.

On-campus resources are being used to develop program material, and to guide applied research and public education toward those areas where faculty involvement is critical.

Current VT PCV Staff

Dr. Jeffrey Alwang
215-I Hutcheson Hall
Dr. Michael Chandler
217 Hutcheson Hall
Dr. Donald P. Lacy
217 Hutcheson Hall
Dr. R. David Lamie
309 Hutcheson Hall
Dr. George McDowell
311 Hutcheson Hall
Ms. Pamela Gibson
217 Hutcheson Hall
Mr. Edward Van Eenoo
217 Hutcheson Hall

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