How is it almost over?!

By: Karthik Dhanireddy, Ai Mochida, Joey Yoon, Brittany Scheffler, and Rebecca Richardson

It’s hard to believe that it’s the final Tuesday at The Governor’s School for Agriculture. Time really goes by when you’re having fun. Looking back now, there have been plenty of memorable experiences that have helped shape our view on agriculture and life in general. We couldn’t be more thankful for getting into such a unique program and having the best summer of our lives. Keeping up to today’s date, there are a lot of things going on. Some of them are fun, while some are just nerve racking.

This week is the week when everything involved with global seminar is due. That involves posters, brochures, papers, etc. It feels like it was just yesterday that we were trying to understand what our research topic was about. Time sure does go by fast. Our group was a unique mix. We were all new to one another, and we were all hesitant about revealing our ideas at the beginning. However, at this point in time, no one is afraid of saying anything. It could be the stupidest idea ever, or even the most brilliant idea. Everyone is comfortable around one another and that’s what makes us so productive as a team. As we come to a close with our brochure and poster, we could not be more satisfied. We’ve put everything we’ve had into these items and hopefully the end result is satisfying. Conversely, this feeling of satisfaction wasn’t always there. There were disagreements between our members over trivial things, such as the color of the poster and brochure. However, we were quickly able to resolve these conflicts and move forward and achieve a beautiful poster and brochure.

Switching gears, this week also marked the beginning of our second elective class. There were five electives to choose from: Aesthetic Horticulture, Food Sheds, Neurology, Robotics, and Watersheds. Aesthetic horticulture focuses on putting together different flowers to create a beautiful display of nature. Food sheds focuses on the flow of food feeding a particular population, whereas watersheds focuses on the flow of water feeding into a particular community. In addition, neurology goes into depth about the brain and robotics goes into depth about modern technology. All of these electives are career oriented and they expose a new field and area. Furthermore, all of these tie back into the central theme of agriculture as they show how important the agriculture industry is and what it’s responsible for.

Overall, Governor’s School has provided us numerous opportunities and we are all glad to have been part of such an amazing program. It’s hard to believe that it’s coming to an end, but we all know that the memories we’ve made here will last a life time. Hopefully we rock the symposium and win awards! Group 19 is more than happy to be part of this program. We would like to thank all of the GSL’s, Samantha Won, and Dr. Curt Friedel for making all this possible! Thank you!

In the Research Paper ICU

By: Group #13

“Get me 3 ccs of brainpower, STAT!” Our first draft of the research paper had to be taken to the ICU when our GSL realized that we hadn’t used respectable sources, didn’t have a clue about proper format in a scientific paper, and, worst of all, we weren’t really on topic. For a moment, we were despondently certain that our project had suffered heart failure at the pronouncement, and we didn’t know if we could revive it, but we did know that failure would never be an option.

We spent a long evening in emergency surgery before our GSL, Garret, finally approved our revised draft. In the process, we discovered a deep well of resilience within ourselves and realized that C. S. Lewis was right when he said “Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn”. Our group has certainly learned that asking for help early on is a wise choice. It tends to prevent brutally long hours of frantic activity in the research paper ICU.

By now, the patient has walked out of the hospital, and our group learned more about carbon sequestration than we ever imagined. More importantly, however, this experience has taught us a life lesson: an ounce of prevention truly is worth a pound of cure.


GSA Dance: Better than High School Prom?

By: Group #20

At Governor’s School last week, we were pleasantly surprised to find out about an upcoming dance. Some wondered about the futility of having a dance when we should be learning about agriculture, and others complained about how the dance was ‘required’ for all Governor’s School for Agriculture students. When we arrived at the YMCA location, with the words, ‘thrift shop’ labeled on at the entrance, a few wondered if they had chosen the place solely for its cost-effectiveness. 

Once the dance started, however, and everyone began sliding side-to-side with their glowing bracelets, any shyness that was hanging around the group evaporated and the mood quickly changed. With energetic jumps, shouts, and squeals, the GSA students, for the most part, were enjoying themselves. The quality of this dance surpassed our high school prom, in which dancing was few-and-far in between. 

From a broader perspective, the dance was an opportunity to bond with fellow students before entering the last and final week of Governor’s School. By this time, many had already made friends and were enjoying the dance in their respective groups. All in all, this dance changed the atmosphere of Governor’s School going into the final week.

Major Events in Major Courses

By: Ishan Arora, Hannah Kvasnicka, Elly Meng, Rena Miu, and Tyler Souza
All Governor’s School students were split into major courses since the start of govschool, but this was only used for counting off for attendance. However, this week marked the beginning of major courses! Group 17 shares some of their favorite memories of the major courses.
Hannah Kvasnicka was part of the Animal Science major where they went on a different field trip every single day of the week! They cut up swine uteri, viewed a stallion collection, handled cattle, and visited a meat center. Her favorite was cattle handling, and although she was no cattle whisperer, she really enjoyed the hands-on experience with livestock.
Elly Meng was a member of the Agricultural Economics major. Unlike Animal Science, they stayed in an air-conditioned classroom environment to learn about the fundamentals of the U.S. economy. Topics they covered included how to make $20 million, Jesus being a communist, and gender inequality in income for the same occupation. She really enjoyed discussing gender inequality in the workforce because it was made personal and the entire class was really engaged in debating the topic.
Tyler Souza was in the Food Science major. The first day of class he won a $15 gift card to Burger King for winning Food Science Bingo! Tuesday was a little more disappointing; they made burgers that they weren’t allowed to eat. But Tyler learned that after a lot of prodding from thermometers, the meat is not hygienic to eat anyway. The rest of the week included education on MRE’s or Meals Ready to Eat and more food safety. Tyler was surprised by his enjoyment of MRE’s, especially after he learned about the science behind easily made food for the military in combat.
 Ishan Arora was in the Agricultural Engineering major course where the students went to a stream lab located at Stroubles Creek. The objective of the lab was to help restore the stream to it’s natural health. They dug holes, planted trees, and collected water samples. They focused on the topic of water quality. Ishan discovered that surface water actually has influence on ground water. He found the engineering process interesting, because there was a lot of experimenting and problem-solving involved.
Rena Miu is in the Plant Science major where the students learned about propagation techniques and garden care. Each day, the major met at the VT greenhouses. She particularly liked propagating succulents that the students will be able to take home at the end of governor’s school. Her favorite activity was taking a tour of the 3 Birds Berry Farm; the plant science majors got an exclusive tour of the farm a day before the entire govschool camp went berry picking.
These major courses definitely gave more specific insight on the agricultural relevance in our daily lives. Many kids would choose to spend their summer at the beach and vacationing, but group 17 can agree that all governor’s school kids have made the better choice.

Having a Berry Good Time

By: Victoria Luu, John Hurst, Yevin Kim, Habiba Feroze, and Catherine Salamone

 The end of the third week of Governor’s School is rapidly approaching and the Governor’s School of Agriculture has been bustling with activity. This week has been crunch time, riddled with group project deadlines and classes.

This week we started our elective and major classes. Elective classes included Sustainable Agriculture, Veterinary Medicine, Oncology, Computer Science, Animal Reproduction. Sustainable Agriculture took a beautiful ride up to Catawba Sustainability Center where students were able to learn about different sustainability projects that are being held there. Veterinary Medicine had several different professionals came in and gave the students a glance at what their field is like. Oncology students listened to lectures about cancer and treatments and they were also able to practice stitching in the lab. Computer Science learned how to code and solve problems with the help of programs. Animal Reproduction had a lot of hands on activity where they got to dissect cow testicles and other organs of different animals. 

We also started our major classes. Plant science learned about propagation, pests, and the newest technology available to create plants needed. They were also able to plant flowers from seeds as well as propagation. Animal Science has been out in Kentland Farms learning how to do various tasks like collecting sperm from a horse and using a thermometer on a cow. Food Science were able to try MREs, which is military food. Agricultural Economics had many heated debates in the classroom on some controversial topics. Agricultural Engineering followed an underground stream and tested water samples in a watershed.

Though everyone has been working hard and learning lots, we didn’t forget to make time for fun, which is what summer is all about.

Yesterday, right after dinner, 99 students took a trip to “3 Birds Berry Farm,” a quaint, family-owned farm. After trudging down the steep slope in front of Berry Hill, each of us were given a pint-sized cardboard box to fill up. Although the pint-sized containers seemed pretty big at first, we soon found out that berry picking was a lot more fun than any of us expected. We were able to pick blueberries and blackberries.

Major Things Happening At Governor’s School

By: Seena Hornarvar, Joyce Kuo, Monika Grabowska, Lucia Lu, and Alison Bryant

The third week has begun at the Virginia Governor’s school for Agriculture, and the students are now taking courses in their various majors: Plant Science, Animal Science, Agricultural Engineering, Agricultural Economics, and Food Science.

Food Science
In Food Science, students learned about food processing, packaging, and how to correctly cook hamburgers to eliminate any risks of obtaining food poisoning. In fact, the optimalphoto temperature for fully-cooked hamburger meat is 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Students also had a chance to eat MREs, or Meals Ready to Eat, that are given to U.S. soldiers in the field. These unassuming brown bags actually carry a full meal, encompassing side dishes, a main course, beverages, and snacks such as skittles or beef jerky. These meals have a shelf-life of four years due to the use of preservatives and salt to maintain freshness. Although these meals come unheated, they provide you with a heating pouch that contains chemicals inside that react with water. By simply pouring a little water in the plastic pouch, heat is created, and soldiers can place the pouches containing their main course meals into the heated pouch and “microwave” their food. Thanks to food science, soldiers can enjoy a hot meal anywhere in the world.
Plant Science
Students in Plant Science learned that plants are the foundation of agriculture. Everything from the crops in the field to the sustainability of livestock boils down to the growth of plants. Plant science is the basis for which makes all agriculture possible and the topic has never been more important than now, as the human population continues to grow exponentially. Plant science is dedicated to finding new and efficient ways to produce more nutritious crops, more efficiently. Students also learned that plant growth is affected by a multitude of factors including: climate, disease, land availability, etc. And only by studying their growth patterns and understanding how plants are propagated can farmers overcome these obstacles.
Agricultural Economics
Seena’s major is Agricultural Economics. Or better said, everything that’s not economics yet is economics. For example, in the economics class today a great discussion, or argument that is, erupted when someone slightly mentioned pay gaps for women and men. Suddenly, all the women in the class were fighting about women’s rights, a concept not quite in most economics curriculum. However, despite veering far off track, the discussion illustrated key points in society’s structure today, with respect to the differences in economic paths of men and women.

Not only did the economics class veer into gender roles, but earlier the class even discussed the collapse of 2008. Quickly, the students moved from simple supply and demand to the complex workings of the economy with its subprime loans, securities, and stock crashes. But even despite quickly varying topics with different implications, Dr. Mike Ellerbrock handled the topics with excellence and related them back to economics. Economics definitely is everywhere.

Agricultural Engineering

In Engineering, students visited the nearby Stroubles Creek to learn about Biological Systems Engineering (BSE) at

IMG_5093Virginia Tech. The BSE team is currently researching the sources and consequences of water pollution at the stream, which is not the cleanest. Students gained a better understanding of how water quality is determined and how it can be improved, learning about Best Management Practices (BMPs) to control water pollution and Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) to calculate the maximum amount of pollution that can enter a body of water before it is declared impaired. Today, the students were able to take water samples from the stream to test for microbes, as well as to measure dissolved oxygen concentrations in the stream. They also helped plant a tree close to the stream to act as a buffer against runoff and erosion. Tomorrow, they will analyze the results from these tests.
Animal Science
This week in Animal Science has been a blast! everyone in the major has had the opportunity to get up close and (very) personal with the horses and cattle that are located on Virginia Tech’s campus. The first day everyone was able to have a chance to get an in depth look into the reproductive system of a cow and sow. After, we were able to get a look at what the rest ofphoto 1 the week had in store for us! The next day we made our way to the horse ranch and gathered up in the loft of the barn to watch the handlers collect a stallion. We were able to watch how they teased the mare and stallion and the process that they used to safely collect the stallion without injuring him or the handlers. The process went by quick and easy, and within a few minutes one of the handlers set up a slide from the collection and we were able to take turns looking into the microscope. Wednesday, everyone went over to the beef cattle farm and certain volunteers from the group had the opportunity to try and herd one of the steers away from the herd. A couple of other volunteers were able to check the temperature and the heart rate of one of the steers that was herded into the chute. On Thursday, the group went back to the beef cattle farm and were taught how to identify different body types of the steers they had and we also had the chance to watch an ultrasound be performed on a steer. The whole process that they did was incredibly interesting and we could see exactly how big or small the rib-eye would be on that certain steer.
Overall, the Animal Science major by far has had the most fun and hands on experiences with the livestock at VT. Everyone was interested and excited the whole time, and some were even able to document their visits with the animals by taking pictures with them. Animal Science is the major to be in for sure.