Three members of the College of Natural Resources and Environment community have received national recognition for work promoting educational outreach and research efforts in geography and forestry.

Bringing remote sensing to the public

Professor James B. “Jim” Campbell of the Department of Geography was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award from AmericaView, a national consortium that partners researchers with government agencies to promote the use of remote sensing technologies while increasing awareness and education among students and professionals.

“When I first arrived at Virginia Tech in 1976, the geography department was just getting on its feet,” Campbell recalled. “I was hired to teach physical geography, but the department chair at the time knew I was interested in the subject of remote sensing and recognized that it was an emerging field. At the time, there were no textbooks and very few courses on the subject.”

To fill that gap, Campbell wrote “Introduction to Remote Sensing,” a leading textbook that is now in its fifth edition with a sixth in progress (both co-authored with Professor Randolph Wynne). That textbook as well as decades of experience teaching students the ins and outs of remote sensing while staying on top of a rapidly changing field are among the reasons Campbell was honored by the consortium.

“It is increasingly difficult to keep up with what is happening in the field of remote sensing,” Campbell said. “Because of this, it’s important to have a group that can connect researchers to one another and foster partnerships.”

Campbell served as a board member for AmericaView from 2004 to 2013, as chair from 2006 to 2007, and as the principal investigator of VirginiaView, the state-level chapter of the organization, from its inception in 1996 until 2019.

VirginiaView works to develop a variety of teaching resources across several educational levels, some of which have been widely used in institutions across the U.S. and overseas, and has been active in supporting the Blacksburg Children’s Museum (now Wonder Universe).

Jennifer Gagnon wearing a face covering
Jennifer Gagnon is coordinator of the Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program.

Society of American Foresters welcomes new Fellows

Jennifer Gagnon and Adam Downing, both of Virginia Cooperative Extension, were recently named 2020 Fellows of the Society of American Foresters. The honor recognizes individuals for service to forestry across local, state, and national levels.

Gagnon is coordinator of the Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program, which provides science-based educational opportunities in the form of short courses, workshops, conferences, and tours. The program, housed in the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, also connects new and established forest landowners with state, federal, and private partners in Virginia.

“As a woman, it is especially significant to be honored by the Society of American Foresters,” said Gagnon, an Extension associate. “I’m proud of the work that we’re doing to help provide forest owners in this region with educational resources that will help them be better stewards of their land.”

Adam Downing wearing a face covering
Adam Downing is a senior natural resources agent with Virginia Cooperative Extension.

Adam Downing, a senior natural resources Extension agent, has been helping people across 28 Virginia counties to make decisions on forest and natural resources management since 2001. He is a partner in the agroforestry team at Virginia Tech, which seeks to advance agroforestry practices through research and educational outreach.

“What is special about this award is that it’s about relationships,” said Downing, who has worked collaboratively with Gagnon on various community outreach projects. “A fellow forester started the nomination process, and others have been integral to moving our nominations along. In that sense, it’s quite honoring and humbling to be recognized by one’s peers and colleagues.”

Written by David Fleming

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