Three faculty members in Virginia Tech's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences have received honors from the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA).

Dixie Watts Reaves, associate professor of agricultural and applied economics, and Jerry Williams, associate professor of horticulture, have earned 2008 North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Teaching Fellow Awards to recognize their contributions to higher education. In addition, Ruth Lytton, associate professor of agricultural and applied economics, has received the group’s Teaching Award of Merit, which is selected by each college or university to recognize faculty members and graduate students for outstanding teaching.

During her 15 years of teaching experience at Virginia Tech, Reaves has been an integral part of classroom teaching, academic and extracurricular advising, and curriculum reform efforts in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, the college, and the university. She has reached more than 3,500 students through nine different courses for a total of 77 classes, ranging from a 10-person internship course to a 275-student introductory microeconomics course. Reaves advises more than half of the department’s undergraduate majors, or about 70 current advisees.

“Beyond these university activities, Dixie has had a lasting impact on the students she has worked with and their families,” said Kevin Boyle, professor and head of the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics. “Whenever I meet students’ parents or alumni they continually tell me how Dixie’s mentoring and support helped them to attain success in their professional lives that would have been impossible without her assistance.”

A member of the Department of Horticulture faculty for more than 24 years, Williams has made himself available to students through undergraduate advising and an open-door policy, attracted students to the department through an indoor plants survey course and developed one of the first online horticulture classes at Virginia Tech.

“Everything about Jerry Williams contributes to his effectiveness and compassion in his dealings with young people,” said Jim McKenna, professor of crop and soil environmental sciences. “He has guided more than 300 advisees since 1983. In addition to his working with undergraduates, he has volunteered to participate in the Virginia Governor’s School of Agriculture since its founding seven years ago.”

Williams has reached out to the campus community and the public, especially members of underrepresented groups. For example, he participated in a video teleconference called “Careers in Horticulture” that was broadcast to minority high school students across the commonwealth. Although he does not have an Extension appointment, Williams regularly provides instruction for the master gardeners program.

With twelve years of experience in higher education, Lytton has taken a strong leadership role in the new financial planning option in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics. In addition to classroom instruction, Lytton provides student services for the option, including academic and career advising, internship supervision, and placement.

Lytton also serves as director of the Certified Financial Planner™ Board of Standards Inc., and the International Association of Registered Financial Consultants undergraduate program at Virginia Tech. Under her guidance, three Virginia Tech students won last year’s Ameriprise Financial Planning Invitational and garnered $10,000 in scholarship money to support the college’s financial planning option.

PHOTO INFORMATION: (left to right) Ruth Lytton, Dixie Reaves, and Jerry Williams

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