James M. Orband of Yorktown, Va., unit coordinator and agriculture and natural resources Extension agent in the York County Office of Virginia Cooperative Extension, has received Virginia Tech's 2008 Alumni Award for Excellence in Extension.

Sponsored by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, The Alumni Award for Extension Excellence is presented annually to two Virginia Cooperative Extension staff members who have made outstanding contributions outside the classroom. One award is conferred an Extension specialist and one is given to an Extension agent. Each recipient is awarded a $2,000 cash prize.

Orband has served Extension for 32 years, 30 of which have been spent in York County, first as 4-H agent and later as the agricultural and natural resources agent specializing in environmental horticulture.

Orband was recognized for his efforts and support for the 4-H programs as well as his work with the Master Gardener program. His work with the Master Gardeners has supplied York Country with a tremendous pool of trained, knowledgeable volunteers who have provided hundreds of thousands of hours of instruction, education, and program support. In 2007 alone, these master gardeners provided more than 13,000 hours of Extension horticulture programming, serving as an excellent multiplier effect of Extension outreach.

In 2000 Orband developed an award winning 4-H lawn mowing program. Partnering with master gardeners he developed curriculum to teach youth ages 10 to 18 mower safety, customer service, horticultural practices, and mowing business tips. Youth are introduced to business concepts and skills that prepare them to approach adults in the community in a positive, respectful manner to acquire business and to build positive youth-adult relationships.

Orband is well recognized for his expertise in horticulture locally, regionally, and statewide. For the past 11 years he has appeared monthly as the horticulture expert guest on a live gardening radio broadcast.

Orband received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in horticulture from Virginia Tech. He has received numerous state, regional, and national programming awards. He also received the Virginia Association of Agricultural Extension Agents Wall of Fame Award and is a member of the Virginia 4-H All-Stars.

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