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ALUMNI AWARDS FOR EXCELLENCE IN EXTENSION

Charles Swann

By Charlie Stott

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 28 - April 18, 1996

Charles W. Swann, Virginia Cooperative Extension Peanut Specialist, is a 1995 winner of the Alumni Association Extension Excellence Award.

"Dr. Swann has developed an Extension program supported by research that provides relevant new knowledge to improve production efficiency and profit in peanuts, and a number of other crops in Virginia," said Glen Heuberger, director of Virginia Tech's Tidewater Agricultural Research and Extension Center (AREC), where Swann works.

"As the peanut specialist, he has developed and implemented educational programs that introduce new technology and useful information to benefit all segments of the state's large peanut industry," Heuberger said. "The peanut specialist is unique because he is involved with all segments of the industry-growers, shellers, and manufacturers-to produce quality products. Dr. Swann's educational programs address all these aspects of the industry."

While Swann joined Tech's faculty in 1988 to work with the many segments of the peanut industry, his responsibilities soon increased dramatically. In 1990 Swann also assumed the responsibilities of the weed-science specialist working with soybeans and corn as well as peanuts.

"He's done an outstanding job in building educational programs for the efficient, safe, environmentally sound, and effective weed-management systems for peanuts and crops that are grown in rotation with peanuts in southeastern Virginia," Heuberger said.

At the beginning of the decade, there were only a few hundred acres of cotton in Virginia. By 1995, however, cotton acreage had grown to 108,000 acres. This sudden expansion from a minor crop to a major economic component, with four new cotton gins being built in the commonwealth, required scientists to respond with research and information for producers, most of whom had never grown cotton before.

Swann again assumed additional responsibilities for this new enterprise. His co-workers nominated him chairman of the Cotton Leadership Committee, which quickly organized to help Virginia scientists and Extension agents to address the needs of growers of a crop that requires intensive management.

During his career at Virginia Tech, Swann has been regularly recognized by his peers for his high quality work. In 1994, he received the Dow Elanco Award for Excellence in Extension from the American Peanut Research and Education Society. He also received the award of National Distinction in Extension Programs from the National Association of County Agricultural Agents and the Outstanding Extension Worker Award from the Weed Science Society of America.

Swann earned his B.S. and M.S. in agronomy at the University of Wisconsin and his Ph.D. in agronomy and plant physiology at the University of Minnesota in 1968. Later that year, he joined the faculty at the University of Georgia and remained there until coming to the Tidewater AREC in Suffolk in 1988.

Jerry Swisher

By Mary Ann Johnson

Jerry Swisher has solved several problems for the dairy industry and his solutions help protect groundwater for all Virginians. His solutions have received nationwide attention and are being adopted in other states, as well as here in Virginia.

Swisher, Virginia Cooperative Extension area dairy-science agent at Harrisonburg, exemplifies Extension and is the recipient of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association Extension Excellence Award.

Swisher developed the dairy loafing-lot rotational management system, for which he received the 1995 U.S. Department of Agriculture Certificate of Appreciation Award for his pioneering leadership.

The system helps dairy producers protect groundwater by establishing and managing sod areas that will withstand treading by dairy cattle. The number of lots needed, stocking rates, fencing requirements, and procedures were all determined under his leadership. He worked with the Division of Soil and Water Conservation, which supports the system's establishment on dairy farms as a means to reduce soil erosion and water contamination.

The Division of Soil and Water Conservation adopted the system as a Best Management Practice and provides cost-sharing funds to help offset the costs to dairy producers who install it.

Swisher also is working on a grazing management system described as having wide-spread application and financial implications that could result in significant savings in heifer rearing.

Swisher has been an Extension agent since 1973 and has specifically been working with dairy producers since he joined the Augusta County staff in 1978. Helping youth who were interested in the dairy industry has been a highlight of his work for many years.

He has been a coach for the 4-H Dairy Cattle Judging Team for many years, including helping to coach the 1994 team which won first place at the national contest.

"Swisher's work with the team through the 1980s and 1990s showed his understanding of the subject matter as well as his ability to help the youth who will be the future of the industry," said Jerry Jones, director of Agriculture and Natural Resources for Extension.

Swisher studied dairy science at Virginia Tech, graduating in 1972, and received his master's degree in 1981. He served as Extension agent in Madison County and Augusta County before being named area dairy Extension agent for the Northern Extension District in 1988. In addition to the USDA award, he received the National Association of County Agricultural Agents Distinguished Service Award in 1995 and the Epsilon Sigma Phi Extension Team Award in 1992.