The North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) has recognized Allison C. Echols of Gap Mills, W.Va., with the 2011 Graduate Student Teaching Award. She is a master’s degree student in the Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech.

The NACTA Graduate Student Teaching Award recognizes and rewards graduate students who excel as teachers in the agricultural disciplines. To qualify, a graduate student must be a member of NACTA and must have participated in classroom instruction for at least a year. Award winners will receive a plaque at the 57th annual NACTA conference at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, on June 14-17.

Throughout her graduate studies at Virginia Tech, Echols has taught more than 200 students as a teaching assistant for Introduction to Animal and Poultry Sciences, Livestock Management and Handling, and Beef/Sheep Production classes. Her students describe her as “enthusiastic,” “approachable,” and “fair.”

Emily Tanner of Eldersburg, Md., a sophomore double majoring in animal and poultry sciences and dairy science, wrote that Echols was able to make her lab “interesting and exciting.”

“By loving what she does and portraying that through her teaching, [Allison] was able to gain the interest and respect from her classes that she rightfully deserves,” Tanner said. “When it came to teaching the class, she was always confident and was able to relay the information extremely well. Anyone that has ever taken a class that Allison has taught knows that she demands a great deal from her students, and does so in order for her students to completely know the information and to be able to do their best.”

Brendan Martin of Mount Solon, Va., a junior majoring in animal and poultry sciences, wrote that Echols cares for each student in her classes.

“Since she grew up on a large farm and enjoys working with livestock, Allison brings with her knowledge and strategy when it comes to working with animals,” Martin said. “Allison sets herself apart from other graduate teaching assistants because she understands production agriculture and can relay the information to students in a way that is concise, enjoyable, and well-organized.”

According to Scott Greiner, associate professor of animal and poultry sciences, Echols has not only shined in her teaching and academic responsibilities but also contributed to Virginia Cooperative Extension’s adult and youth programs by providing educational seminars and assisting with events and workshops. She has demonstrated her scientific acumen and proven herself an effective writer through her research on the relationship among lifetime measures of body weight and frame size in beef cows.

This spring, Echols received a Certificate of Merit for Graduate Teaching from the Virginia Tech Graduate School. In addition to NACTA, she is a member of the American Society of Animal Science; the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Design Alumni Association; the American Angus Association; the West Virginia Cattlemen’s Association; the Virginia Cattlemen’s Association; and Gamma Sigma Delta.

Echols completed a bachelor’s degree in animal and nutritional science and a minor in agribusiness management from West Virginia University in 2009.



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