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ALUMNI AWARDS FOR EXCELLENCE IN EXTENSION

Spectrum Volume 19 Issue 26 - April 3, 1997

Michael Clifford

By Mary Ann H. Johnson

Michael J. Clifford, Virginia Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth agent at Nottoway and Amelia counties, has received the Virginia Tech Alumni Association Extension Excellence Award for developing outstanding 4-H programs.

"Clifford is dealing in more than educational opportunities for young people. He helps the youngsters take that visionary step to fulfill their dreams," said C. Clark Jones, director of Virginia Cooperative Extension.

"And, he offers this to many youngsters. More than 90 percent of Nottoway County youth are involved in 4-H for at least two years, and he is expanding the Amelia County program to give these opportunities to many more youngsters," Jones said.

Clifford's leadership has particularly developed three programs--Sports-A-Field, Shooting Sports, and Wildlife Habitat Evaluation. But 4-H in the counties has included outstanding programs in such areas as Wilderness Challenge, performing arts, and home arts.

Clifford started his Extension career in 1971, training at the Nottoway County Extension office. Later that year he became 4-H agent in Amelia County where he worked until 1980. After completing a special assignment at Virginia State University, he was named the 4-H agent in Nottoway County. Since 1993, he has led the 4-H program in both Nottoway and Amelia counties.

In addition, he coordinated the development of the Central District 4-H agent 4-H Expertise Network, in which 29 agents volunteered to serve as resource persons for other agents. Each brings an expertise to support the programs throughout the district. The program has become a model for a state-wide exchange of 4-H expertise.

Clifford chairs the 4-H Environmental Education and Natural Resources Curriculum committee. Also, under his guidance, the Nottoway 4-H program won national recognition from Take Pride in America for a handicap-accessible nature trail constructed at Fort Picket. The Wilderness Challenge program has saved the county and state an estimated $100,000 through prevention programs with youth-at-risk.

Co-workers said that 4-H is a way of life for Clifford. He regularly hears from 4-H members who are in the midst of their own careers.

Clifford is a 1970 graduate of Virginia Tech in forestry and wildlife and received his master's degree in agriculture education in 1983 at Virginia State University.

Bruce Zoecklein

By Stewart MacInnis

Virginia's wine industry has grown six-fold in just 10 years, wines produced in the state have garnered national recognition, and Virginia is seen as the most promising new wine region in the nation.

At the center of that revolution is Bruce W. Zoecklein, assistant professor of food science and technology at Virginia Tech and enology specialist for Virginia Cooperative Extension. His efforts have earned him the Alumni Association Extension Excellence Award, which will be presented at Founders Day.

"Bruce is the most influential person in enological thinking east of California," said Patrick Duffeler, head of the Williamsburg Winery and president of the Virginia Wineries Association. "He is an asset to Virginia and has been a direct force in making the Virginia wine industry what it is today."

Zoecklein is senior author of two text books on grape and wine analysis that are widely used by industry and academic institutions. His international reputation has resulted in invited presentations in Argentina, Chile, Italy, Australia, and Moldova.

"When I first came in 1985 I did a study and found that a number of (Virginia) wines had sensory problems and a number had stability problems," Zoecklein said. "Now, it is very rare to find a bottle of wine with a quality problem. We've moved well beyond quality issues and now we are working on stylistic goals."

Zoecklein's laboratory is the centerpiece of his Extension effort. Samples from the 48 wineries in the state are put through a series of analyses looking at chemical, physical, microbial, and sensory properties. More than 200 analyses can be performed. Zoecklein can then match the results against his knowledge of the particular winery to develop meaningful recommendations.

The wine industry in Virginia has taking advantage of the recommendations from Zoecklein. The result is an industry that produces $65 million in direct and induced economic activity each year. The number of cases of Virginia wine sold each year has grown from 35,000 in 1985 to almost 200,000 in 1995.