This Week’s Headlines
Paulette leaving Va. Tech’s Kentland Farm on Dec. 1
By JANE W. GRAHAM
BLACKSBURG, Va. (Nov. 29, 2016) — As Thanksgiving was approaching and he is set to retire Dec. 1, Dwight Paulette preferred to view his long career at Virginia Tech’s Kentland Farm in terms of things he is thankful for rather than as personal accomplishments.
Paulette, 68, has been with the university’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences since 1983. In 1990 he was appointed college farms coordinator and has played a key role in the development of the facility.
His list of thankfulness includes being able to serve the Lord; his wife Lucy and their family; being able to work for CALS all these years; Dr. Andy Swiger, former Animal and Poultry Science head and dean, for hiring him; and Dr. Saied Mostaghimi, current CALS associate dean and Agricultural Research and Extension Center Director for trusting him and allowing him broad decision-making responsibilities.
On the professional side, he said he is thankful for includes the men and women who have worked for the college farms over the years; the opportunity to develop Kentland Farm; the three-year success of the VT Farm & Family Showcase and those who made it possible.
Sitting in his office at the farm, Paulette said the university acquired the Kentland Farm on Dec. 31, 1986. The existing farm was formed by combining a beef farm and a dairy farm, acquired in a land trade with the previous owners. At that time Tech’s horticulture facilities were located at the intersection of U.S. Route 460 and Route 114 in Christiansburg. That and other land was part of the trade and is now part of the shopping hub for the New River Valley. Paulette recalled that there were no good fences on the farm when the university acquired it. He said they were falling down and the land was growing up in brush, Johnson grass and thistles.
In 1990, the college restructured its animal science, crop production and horticulture farm staff, and placed it under Paulette’s leadership.
“So then it was my responsibility to develop Kentland into a research and teaching facility and grow all the feed for animal and dairy science and support research for all plants,” Paulette said.
The father of three grown sons was born in the Red House community of Appomattox County, Paulette grew up on a diversified 100-acre farm that grew beef cattle, hogs and flue-cured tobacco. He earned degrees in Agricultural Education and Vocational-Technical Education at Virginia Tech and one for Agricultural and Extension Education at Mississippi State.
While Paulette is looking forward to planting a garden for the first time in 15 years and spending time with his family, especially the grandchildren, he is not done at Kentland. He will be returning in six months to finish some projects that are still ongoing.
At 1,785 acres, Kentland Farm is the university’s main agriculture research center and source of food for its beef and dairy cattle herds. Food grown there also helps feed the students due a joint project between the Department of Horticulture and Dining Services. It is also home to unmanned air and ground machines for research in the College of Engineering. It includes airborne drones and land-based equipment developed for the Department of Defense.
Paulette said right now about seven departments in CALS utilize the farm for teaching and research. In addition, five other colleges in the university have used the farm for their research and educational purposes.
He went on to report that the farm currently supports the work of about 100 CALS faculty plus about as many graduate students. He said about 40 faculty members from other colleges and their graduate students also have projects at the farm.
In addition, the cooperative project between the Horticulture department and Dining Services allows students to learn and to help grow and care for food plants.
The dining services staff then helps harvest the foods that go straight to the university’s dining halls.