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.

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.

Virginia Governor’s School for Agriculture: Wild and Wonderful

By: Mary Croghan, Abdullah Choudhury, Kelly Fish, Meghan Chen, and Ester Wisdom

Move in day at Virginia Tech was rather eventful; in the madness of meeting new people and trying to settle in, the Southern Virginia sky opened on us little Gov School Goers and began to pour. Luckily, the ever changing Hokie weather only added interest to our day. The experiences the five members of Group 16 have had are as diverse and exciting as the dynamic sky floating above us.

One of the best activities Mary Croghan participated in was the Cascade Hike that occurred the first week of Governor’s School. The hike bonded Mary and her peers, and gave her a chance to see a breathtaking natural wonder of Virginia! Abdullah Choudhury is the only boy in Group16, but his computer skills and sense of humor lets him hold his own in the group! Like Mary, he was amazed by the beauty of the Cascades, and he thought the hike was a fantastic way to spend a Saturday with friends.

Kelly Fish had a similarly amazing experience with belly dancing! She never danced in a class before, but learning to belly dance gave her the opportunity to hang out with people who love to try new things also! Meghan Chen is a member of the Agricultural Engineering major, and the group planted trees as one of their first activities together! Unfortunately, she pulled her back sowing the saplings. Luckily, she pulled through, and has learned a lot about humanity’s responsibility to ensure water quality!

Ester Wisdom is a member of the Veterinary Medicine elective! The elective’s first day of class greeted them with a quirky room and a brilliant teacher, Doctor Yi. Doctor Yi explained to the students about all sorts of animal toxins, ranging from rat poisons to detergents! Finally, the kids got to enjoy grapes, chocolate, and macadamia nuts, which are all coincidentally toxic to animals.

The Virginia Governor’s School for Agriculture is a once in a lifetime experience. While other teenagers sleep half the day away and pig out on junk food, we have had the opportunity to see and learn in a way that is usually only available with a college tuition. There is hard work involved in our summer at the home of the Hokies, but here in Group 16, we would not change our few weeks of Governor’s School for the world.

Letters from Gov School

By: Mary Duong, Jack Mu, Jacob Poudrier, and Mary Keenan

Going into the Governor’s School for Agriculture, one simply has no idea what to expect, but your predictions don’t make the program seem too fun. You expect a heavily structured and almost patronizing atmosphere created by the leaders in addition to being surrounded by weird nerds 24/7. This perception soon gets flipped around once you realize that you too are a weird nerd and that together, everyone at this place is odd and quirky but so awesome. There is a lack of high school-style cliques that are ever-present in Northern Virginia especially. The atmosphere here is something so rare and special.

Every day at Gov School is so long and so short at the same time, and you are forever struggling with feelings of homesickness and never wanting to leave this place. The classes have some definite ups and downs, from testing pollutants to sampling bugs. As far as teachers go, they are all very enthusiastic, some bringing cookies to class and others are rather zealous about reproductive systems (shoutout to Sammie). In addition to these classes, there are endless opportunities, from belly dancing classes to simply hanging out with your friends, ordering a pizza, and cheering so loudly for your favorite team in the World Cup.

While we all miss parts from home, like our favorite pets or our parents’ cooking (that would be a remarkable alternative to D2), this experience is undeniably a great one. They say this is a kind of prequel to college, and if that statement has any truth, we’ll be in for a good time within the next year or two. Though seemingly a month-long extension to the school we tirelessly complain about for months on end, Gov School is much more. While we are academically challenged and given, at times, a lot of work, it’s all worth it. We are over halfway through this remarkable experience, and we’re certain we’ll miss this experience and the amazing people we’ve met here. Nerd camp is definitely the move.


And So It Begins!

Hello readers! Welcome to the blog for the 2013 Summer Governor’s School for Agriculture at Virginia Tech! This is the place to go for news, pictures, and updates on the students’ experience and the program’s progress over the summer.


As will be the norm for the rest of the summer, the students had a busy morning and a great start to the program with lectures by Professors Mike Ellerbrock and Dan Swafford. Dr. Ellerbrock started the program’s first class with a discussion about the concept of diminishing marginal utility, an economics term that many of the students – but not all – were unfamiliar with. The rest of the course was spent learning about price versus cost, supply and demand, and several other foundational economics concepts.

For the next hour, students learned about wind turbines and wind farms as the first part in a series about sustainable energy presented by Professor Swafford. Other topics to be discussed include solar energy and alternative fuels. On Friday, the class will culminate in a field trip to Volvo that will give students a hands-on opportunity to learn about the state of sustainable energy and the role they can play in the future of this discipline. Professor Swafford will also be directing students in the Robotics elective later in the month and helping them construct and control robotic devices as part of a friendly competition.

During the rest of the day, students spent their time socializing with roommates and new friends, exchanging phone numbers, and making plans to hang out. It’s looking like an exciting month lies ahead for the Governor’s School students and leaders, so check back soon for more updates!

— Lauren Jones, Governor’s School Leader