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GRADUATE STUDENT SERVICE AWARD Ron Sheffield

By Susan Trulove

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 28 - April 18, 1996

"Though only 26 years of age, Ron Sheffield epitomizes the definition of the word servant," write three biological systems engineering faculty members. "Throughout his adult life, he has served others in many ways, and he truly has a `servant's heart' with his attitude of selfless desire to help others."

Ron Sheffield will receive the Graduate Student Service Award for 1996 on Founders Day.

Sheffield was cited for service to youth programs, community action, and the environment.

An Eagle Scout and Vigil Honor Member of the Order of the Arrow, Sheffield is assistant scout master for Troop 141 in Christiansburg. He is a registered merit-badge counselor for both soil and water conservation/engineering sciences and for swimming. He mentored more than 20 scouts who earned awards in 1994. He also organized and conducted a Junior Leader Training program.

He says of his own experiences as a scout while growing up in Dale City, "I learned that a good citizen is a steward of his community and surroundings."

In addition to scouting, he supports church youth fellowship programs such as Vacation Bible School, Youth Camps, and Youth Fellowships.

Community activities have included being a member of the Christiansburg Presbyterian Church Witness and Outreach Committee, supporting the two-cent/meal hunger program, missionaries in Central America, Montgomery County Emergency Assistance Program, Women's Resource Center, Montgomery County Shelter Home, and Montgomery County Mental Health Assistance through congregation and community-education and awareness programs. For example, Sheffield coordinated and moderated the "Evening in Africa" program to raise community awareness of what life is like in four African nations. He is also active in the New River Valley Habitat for Humanity.

A master's degree student in biological systems engineering, Sheffield has directed more than academic interest toward solving environmental problems. He is a registered volunteer with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, assisting area engineers, conservationists, and technicians with the design of agricultural conservation practices. He was a volunteer teacher for the 1994 Virginia Youth Conservation Camp, and a member of the Little River Watershed Association Advisory Board.

His research, with funding from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and the cooperation of groups and individuals in Floyd and Grayson counties, focuses on the effects of using alternative water sources for grazing cattle as a management practice to stabilize streams and improve water quality.

"Throughout my life, my parents have stressed the importance of community service," Sheffield says. "I have tried to follow their example."