The Extension and outreach roles of the Hampton Roads AREC are many and varied.
The extended campus graduate program graduated its last student in 2009, bringing the total number of graduates to 68. This program is now online as the Masters in Agriculture and Life Sciences degree. Our faculty are also major advisors or on graduate committees of students enrolled in programs on the main campus in Blacksburg in the departments of Entomology, Horticulture, and Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science. In addition to publishing journal articles, faculty and staff present new research-based information at a number of conferences, commodity group meetings, and training sessions during the period. Faculty authored a number of chapters of the Virginia Tech Pest Management Guides, handled requests for plant and insect identification and plant disease diagnosis, assisted clients by telephone and site visits, and cooperated with the garden writers of the daily newspapers to get timely information to the general public.
The Hampton Roads AREC benefits from the Master Gardener program by utilizing these volunteers in projects that would otherwise be impossible to complete. Master Gardeners have complete responsibility for conducting the annual flower trials, installing and maintaining the perennial, herb, and vegetable demonstration areas, and assisting in the Arboretum.
Our AREC hosts numerous events and groups. The Tidewater Chapter of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association holds an annual cookout in April, and we have our annual Field Day in September. The largest event is the Monarch Fest hosted by the Butterfly Gardening Society of Virginia and held at our AREC, drawing several hundred attendees from the local public.
Our AREC continues to make its facility available to related state agencies such as VDACS, who have offices here and use the classrooms for pesticide recertification examinations and training sessions. Space is also provided to Tidewater Community College classes in horticulture and Master Gardener training sessions. Our AREC hosts a number of monthly planning meetings such as the Mid-Atlantic Horticultural Short Course and the Virginia Flower and Garden Show. Field trips to our AREC include classes from Norfolk State University, Hampton University, and Old Dominion University. Graduate students at other universities have used greenhouse space for their research, and we serve as an adoptive partner to Bayside Elementary School.