Community Voices, an organization sponsored by the Virginia Tech School of Public and International AffairsInstitute for Policy and Governance, presents the first event in its fall seminar series on Wednesday, Sept. 21. Rick Cavey, a former U.S. Naval officer and diver who now owns and operates an organic vegetable farm, Wagon Wheel Farm, in Southwest Virginia, will discuss lessons learned during a career involved with community engagement.

His presentation, “Adventures in community engagement ─ building consensus by tapping individual motivation,” will be at 7 p.m. at the Alexander Black House, 204 Draper Road, Southwest, in Blacksburg. The event is free and open to the public.

Cavey will share his work leading agricultural initiatives, exploring the Blue Ridge region with children, negotiating peaceful partnerships with other nations, conducting cross-sectoral underwater archeology, and executing military missions.

His talk focuses on his experiences leveraging individuals’ motivations for successful team engagement. Cavey’s motto, “Let folks own it like they made it,” sums up his approach to community engagement and promoting social enterprises.

Cavey enlisted in the Navy and graduated from Navy Diving School. He retired after 24 years of service. Some of his career highlights include leading Partnership for Peace exercises with former Soviet Bloc nations; recovering the cannons, turret, and human remains from the Civil War ship, USS Monitor; working on Hurricane Katrina recovery and rescue operations; and returning with all his men from his tour in Iraq. Following his service, he joined the international consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.

Community Voices is an interdisciplinary group of Virginia Tech graduate students and faculty and community representatives interested in exploring innovative approaches to community building and engagement. The group organizes a series of public talks by leaders from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors who share their insights and experiences helping communities shape their futures. The speakers’ presentations, which include conversation with the audience, are free and open to the public.

In addition to the public events, each speaker also meets with interested students and faculty at Virginia Tech for luncheon roundtable discussions that are facilitated by graduate students and institute director Max Stephenson Jr. Graduate students also interview the speakers for a podcast series produced by institute Senior Fellow Andrew Morikawa. The public presentations and interview recordings are available on the Community Voices website.

For more information, interview requests, or if you need accommodations for the public presentation, please contact Morikawa via email,, or phone, (540) 230-1492.

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