A Final Thank You for 2017!

Special thanks to Daniel Steger, Dayo Omosa, Grace Grossen, Jacob Jewis, Meagan Satira, and Katlyn Clary for their assistance with this post. Rock star GSLs!

These last four weeks came and went very quickly here at the Governor’s School for Agriculture. The students have now left and gone back home, hopefully with good friends and a greater knowledge of agriculture. In conclusion of the Governor’s School for Agriculture the students were honored to hear the First Lady of Virginia speak and then get recognized for their hard work and accomplishments throughout the month.

The GSLs posing with First Lady of Virginia, Dorothy McAuliffe (center white dress), at the Governor’s School for Agriculture final banquet.


Virginia Governor’s School for Agriculture was very exciting. For the Governor’s School Leaders (GSLs), the month long residential program, first, presented the platform to mentor and positively influence gifted and talented high school students especially, igniting and stimulating their passions for agriculture and related fields. Gov.4Next, it provided us the opportunity to meet new people and make new friends (friendships) both among the GSLs and also among the students. Further, it was great to see the students learn from experienced professors and graduate students from different backgrounds and fields in Agriculture while they interact with each other and also make new friendships in the Governor’s School. It was rewarding to finish the month with the symposium, where the students were able to show the knowledge that they had gained through their experience.

To cap it all off was the presence of the First lady of Virginia, Dorothy McAuliffe at the banquet. Gov.1Her attendance at our event signaled to everyone the commitment of the Virginia state government to positive youth and agricultural development. To motivate the students, the first lady shared with them her experience with agriculture while growing up in the State of Florida. She also shared on the importance of positive youth development and why she is passionate about it. Finally, she encouraged the students to pursue careers in agriculture in order to tackle the economic, political, and scientific challenges confronting our society today. This opportunity was truly once in a lifetime and a perfect final note for this year’s students, families, and invited guests.

2017 would not have been as outstanding without each any every student, leader, presenter and staff member! Lots was learned and much was shared. We look forward to having some of you return as GSLs for future years, and hope you all can find a way to better your agricultural community today, tomorrow, and forever. Continue to grow!


Until next time…

The Governor’s School for Agriculture Team

Electing our Electives: Students Branch Out

By: Cara George, Caroline Flood, Cypress Utley, Jennifer Yan

Throughout the last three days, Governor’s School students have been branching out into Elect.1the five minor courses. Students have been spending mornings in their elective classes that they selected the previous week. These electives have been highly anticipated by the students due to both the interesting subjects they could choose from and the chance to learn something new outside of their major.

The first day the problem solving students visited a sustainable tomato farm. This farm was special because it was all indoors! They also did a pasta tower challenge testing their team-building skills. During this they also learned about systems thinking. Finally they visited another sustainable farm that blended with nature, which provided breath-taking views.

Around 20 students learned about restoring community foodsheds as their elective course. Students got to tour the dining services farm at Kentland and helped move watermelon vines. On the last day of elective class, students went to a community garden and helped to make a path out of wood chips and clean up the garden. At the community gardens students were able to see different garden styles and plants, representative of different cultures of people that have used the gardens to grow plants.


Another minor option was animal reproduction. Students have been dissecting animal reproductive tracts (pregnant and not), practicing artificial insemination on “Breeding Bessy”, and participating in many crafts. Through this, students have learned about different parts of the reproductive tracts and the hormones that are produced. This helped the students to further understand animal reproduction and anatomy.

Aquaculture is the farming of aquatic organisms like fish and mussel. Learning about Elect.4aquaculture and the biology of marine animals, students have been spending time in the wet labs. Hands-on-activities like trout dissections and cooking seafood have students actively engaged in learning about fish anatomy and healthy seafood consumption.

Throughout the aesthetic horticulture class, students worked on putting together mound bouquet arrangements, keeping in mind the elements and principles of design that they had reviewed prior to beginning the bouquets. One of the students from Plant Science jokingly commented, “This was the first time we ever got to touch a plant!” Jokes aside, the students in this elective have been working hard on their arrangements that they put together in class. Because their hard work, these arrangements will be featured as centerpieces for Friday night’s banquet.


The Final Week

By: Kavya Iyer, Janessa Jiang, Hannah Kim, Chelsea Le Sage

Intro to Electives

By: Kavya Iyer

This week, the Governor’s School students had the opportunity to discover another Final.1characteristic of college, choosing minors. These classes were intended for students to understand and entertain their interests in other fields of agriculture besides those chosen from their major. Some of the electives were Final.8Aesthetic Horticulture, Animal Reproduction, Aquaculture, and Problem Solving. These were considered as the ‘minors’ and were primarily meant for students to pick topics that interested them for fun, hands-on activities. The Horticulture students made beautiful flower arrangements and the reproduction class learned and dissected organ systems. Most students got to visit the beautiful Hahn Horticulture Gardens, where there was a koi pond and a small, but aesthetic waterfall lush with foliage.

(Images by Kavya Iyer in Hahn Horticulture Garden)


All About Aquaculture

By: Hannah Kim

Aquaculture is defined as the breeding, rearing, and harvesting of plants and animals in all types of water environments including ponds, rivers, lakes, and the ocean. In the fast paced 21st century, trying to placate the rapidly growing population continues to be a problem that the 21st century population must find a solution to. Aquaculture also includes a system known as stock restoration or “enhancement” which is a form of aquaculture in which fish and shellfish are released into the wild to rebuild wild populations or coastal habitats. Aquaculture in the United States refers to not just seafood supply but also refers to restoring habitats at-risk species. Currently, Aquaculture is constantly changing based on consumer trends. While fishing can be devastating to the environment, aquaculture, if done correctly can be beneficial to the ecosystem by supplying product but also by keeping the surrounding environment safe. Aquaculture will be a sustainable and reliable source of seafood for years to come.


Above, please find a short video about US Aquaculture


Petal to the Metal

By: Chelsea Le Sage

In preparation of the upcoming Governor’s School Banquet, twenty students selected aesthetic horticulture as an elective course. Within the three day period each student learned the proper care and techniques of flower displays, demonstrating his or her knowledge with a final mound bouquet arrangement. Not only did this course offer insight to a career in the agricultural field, but emphasized the knowledge, harmony, time, and craftsmanship put forth in every flower arrangement. For many students this was their first time being exposed to aesthetic horticulture, which generated an even deeper appreciation of the art.

Image one: Learning to cut the stems of foliage and flowers


Image two: Flower selection for bouquets


Image three: Trimming and placing flowers


Image four: Final product

Images by Chelsea Le Sage


By: Janessa Jiang

Although the course, Aesthetic Horticulture, is meant to be a semester-long class, we were able to learn the basics and create our own flower arrangement in the three-day period. On the first day, the principles of design and elements of design were introduced. With this knowledge, we evaluated different flower arrangements in categories such as color, texture, shape, and balance. While the first day of the course was focused on exposure to the topic and basic knowledge, the second day of the course shed light on the different applications and techniques used in flower arranging. Foliage was provided to give the students a hands-on experience with plants, specifically how to trim the stems. After choosing our flowers, the third day of the course was spent on creating our own flower arrangements that are going to be displayed at the GSA banquet at the end of the week.


Overall, the last week provided students with new perspectives in areas of agriculture different from their major courses. The elective courses were a great way to end the memorable four weeks at Virginia Tech. 🙂

Holy Cow! Animal Reproduction and Aquaculture

By: Charlotte Peterkin, Cassy Schooling, Kathleen Love, and Karen Deng

This past week, we had the privilege of selecting an elective course within the governor’s school curriculum. We chose to participate in the animal reproduction course offered. In this course, we learned about all aspects of animal reproduction systems and the various cycles and hormones associated with ovulation, pregnancy, and estrous (the reproductive cycle of a female mammal). The accumulation of this course was the dissection of impregnated bovine reproductive tracts.

Repro.1We were given a tray, a razor, and the placenta of the cow. What happened next? We made precise cuts on the outer placenta and out spilled the amniotic fluid! After draining the fluid from the placenta, we located the fetus with its umbilical cord attached, nestled in the amniotic sac with caruncles surrounding it. We had an udderly good time!

Picture taken by Charlotte Peterkin

Having the opportunity to see later term fetuses was a unique opportunity that most people do not ever get the chance to have. Many people understand the theory behind reproduction and pregnancy, but you get a whole new perspective when you get to see all the parts and mechanizations for yourself!

Other students had the opportunity to participate in other elective courses, one of which explored the aquaculture and seafood industry. In this three day course, the students Repro.2listened to lectures describing the seafood industry, the anatomy of fish, and the science of raising healthy fish intended for eventual human consumption. The students each dissected a full trout in order to learn about the different organs such as the stomach, pyloric caeca, liver, and swim bladder. On the final day, they cooked mussels and shrimp as an exercise to learn about proper handling of seafood to prevent foodborne illness. Unfortunately, so many of the mussels were dead prior to cooking that they were deemed too risky to eat for fear of contracting foodborne illness. However, the students still enjoyed cooking both foods and enjoyed a delicious meal of steamed shrimp flavored with garlic, parsley, cajun seasoning and chesapeake bay seasoning. The food was shrimp-ly marvelous!

Picture taken Marissa Yee

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