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Virginia Western to launch new Agriculture Program for Fall 2019

Virginia Western Community College announces a new Associates Degree in Agriculture that will be available beginning in Fall 2019. The program is designed to be flexible and tailored to individual student needs.

The Agriculture Program is transferrable to four-year college, where students can pursue career paths such as extension work, agricultural education, agribusiness and veterinary medicine, for example. Alternatively, if students are not interested in transfer they can modify the program to include technical skills, such as welding, which can help them in their home agribusinesses. Currently there are approximately 330 different careers available in the agricultural industry.    

“The Roanoke Region has a robust agricultural history and we are excited to be offering this truly outstanding program to students,” said Dr. Robert H. Sandel, President of Virginia Western. “Helping individuals develop the skills they need to succeed in an 21st Century farming and agricultural landscape, we believe we will have a lasting positive economic impact on our region.”

Virginia Western will host a launch event for its new Agriculture Program featuring guest speakers and supporters such as Virginia Secretary of Agriculture Bettina Ring and Delegate Terry L. Austin.

WHAT:                 Launch of Virginia Western’s Agriculture Program

WHEN:                 3-4:30 p.m., Thursday, March 28

WHERE:               Whitman Theater, Virginia Western Community College campus (Map and parking)

SPEAKERS:          Dr. Robert H. Sandel, President of Virginia Western

                                Bettina Ring, Virginia Secretary of Agriculture

                                Del. Terry L. Austin, 19th House District

                                Amy White, Virginia Western Dean of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

Specialized classes such as animal science,  plant science and forestry will provide students the basic skills needed to maintain livestock, land and forests. Other classes in the program, such as agribusiness and welding can provide skills needed to handle farm finances and farm maintenance or provide an avenue of additional income.

“Agriculture is interwoven into the history of our region, which is home to more than 4,000 farms,” Austin said. “Virginia Western’s Ag program will ensure that farming remains one of our cornerstone industries for decades to come.”

In addition to launching the Agriculture Program, Virginia Western will also announce a new guaranteed transfer agreement between the program and Ferrum College’s Agricultural Sciences major. Students completing the Virginia Western Agriculture Program will be able to begin as a junior at Ferrum and focus on the emphasis areas of Animal Science, Agribusiness, Agronomy, Horticulture and Equine Studies.  

On the day prior to the kick off, VWCC faculty will be participating in the Virginia-North Carolina AgBio Conference in Danville. This meeting will convene policy makers, farmers, thought leaders, educators, public health officials and industry partners to bring innovative bioscience and technology to the farms. 

“As a 6th generation farmer in this region, the launch of this program really touches my heart because I know how much of a difference it will make in putting students on the path to personal and professional success,” White said. “The local agriculture industry impacts our lives in countless ways on a daily basis, and by passing on the best practices and most up-to-date knowledge and technology, we can ensure it continues to thrive for decades to come. Agriculture is vital to the health and economic success of our region, and it is our privilege to contribute to this robust and dynamic industry. “

For more details about the Agriculture Program, visit http://virginiawestern.edu/academics/stem/programs/sciagri.php or call the School of STEM at 540-857-7273.

Join us for Health Professions Summit on March 20

Virginia Western will host a Health Professions Summit to introduce area high school students and their parents to careers in healthcare as well as provide a job fair open to the community. Presented in association with the Claude Moore Health Academy, the summit will provide program information, campus tours, community resources and a job fair with regional employers represented.


Virginia Western Health Professions Summit


High School students/parents: 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; Open job fair: 12:30-2:30 p.m.; Wednesday, March 20


Fralin Center for Health Profession, HP210,
Virginia Western Community College campus (Map and parking)

Virginia Western presents Distinguished Alumni Award to Deborah L. Petrine

The Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation recognized Deborah L. Petrine (’74), Chairman and CEO of Commonwealth Care of Roanoke and Chair of the Foundation’s Advocacy Council for the Virginia Western Forward Endowment Fund: A Vision of Dr. Charles W. Steger Jr., with its 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award.

A first-generation college student, Petrine first attended Virginia Western in 1973-74, later returning for enrichment coursework.  Petrine worked her way through Virginia Tech as a secretary/receptionist in a nursing home. Upon graduation, she entered the company’s Administrator in Training Program and worked her way up through the company, eventually becoming president at one of Virginia’s largest providers of long-term care services. Under her leadership, the company expanded from skilled nursing facilities to add assisted-living facilities, a pharmacy company and a home health company. 

“Debbie’s journey typifies the best outcomes of community college opportunity. Her accomplishments and service have made an indelible impact on so many lives, and we are honored and proud to recognize her as a Distinguished Alumna,” said Dr. Robert H. Sandel, president of Virginia Western Community College.

Virginia Western’s Distinguished Alumni Award was established in 2006 by the Virginia Western Alumni Association and recognizes Virginia Western Community College alumni and former students who have attained extraordinary distinction in their professional field or life. The award serves to honor all the men and women whose attendance at Virginia Western helped them achieve their educational and professional goals, allowing them to better serve their communities.

In 1996, Petrine co-founded and served as President of Colonial Care, LLC, managing facilities in Virginia and North Carolina. This company grew throughout Virginia and was purchased in 1998. Petrine’s desire to be a “hands on” manager and to own and operate facilities led her to leave that organization to form CCR. CCR began operating in July 2001 and has grown to 12 skilled facilities. Additionally, in 2010 she served as president of Longleaf Senior Living, LLC, managing 35 assisted-living facilities in North Carolina.

“The one attribute that Debbie possesses that makes her a treasured mentor, colleague and friend is her internal compass. Debbie’s compass points the right way, a true north,” said David W. Tucker, President and COO of Commonwealth Care of Roanoke.

In 2005, Petrine was awarded the prestigious James G. Dunton Lifetime Achievement Award for her service to the elderly and infirm in Virginia. She served as the first female Chair of the Virginia Health Care Association from 1993-95. She also served a two-year term representing Virginia on the American Health Care Association Board of Directors. Additionally, she served four years on the Board of Examiners for Nursing Home Administrators, was appointed in April 1997 to the statewide Nursing Facility Advisory Committee where she served two years, and was appointed by the governor in 2010 to a four-year term on the Governor’s Advisory Council on Revenue Estimates.

Petrine received her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Virginia Tech, where she has remained active. She was appointed by the governor to the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors in 2011 and was elected Rector in 2014, making her the first female in the school’s history to lead the board.

“I am sincerely humbled and honored to be selected for this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award and to be included alongside the previous recipients,” Petrine said. “Virginia Western was the perfect place for me. The college provided an excellent educational foundation and enabled me to pursue my dreams. Looking back, I wonder where I would be now if Virginia Western had not played such an important role in my early life. For that and the support of my family, friends and mentors along the way, I am grateful.”

Petrine continues to serve on the Board of Visitors and also on the Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business Advisory Council. She was a member of the Virginia Tech Foundation and the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine Board for two years, served as the first Chair of the Center for Gerontology Futures Board upon its inception in 1992 and subsequently as the first Chair of the Pamplin College Management Department Advisory Board. She is also a lifetime member of the Women in Leadership and Philanthropy and a member of the Roanoke Valley Hokie Club.

Married and mother to two adult children, Petrine is active in her community and currently serves on several local and regional boards, including the GO Virginia Region 2 Council and Feeding America Southwest Virginia.

A Franklin County resident, Petrine will be recognized for her contributions and impact at an upcoming event on campus hosted by the Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation.

For more information on the Virginia Western Alumni Association, see virginiawestern.edu/alumni or contact Philanthropy Director Amanda Mansfield at amansfield@virginiawestern.edu or (540) 857-6962.

Prior Distinguished Alumni honorees: 

2018 – Elizabeth Testerman (’06)

2017 – Dr. Carol Swain (’78)

2016 – Dr. Mary Loritsch (’74) and Chief Michael Crawley

2015 – Debbie Yancey (’97)

2014 – Chief Craig S. Harris (’00) and J. David Wine (’73)

2013 – Cheryl Cunningham (’86)

2012 – Anne Hogan (’76)

2011 – Carolyn Webster (’81)

2010 – Russell H. Ellis (’80)

2009 – Shirl D. Lamanca (’75) and Dennis R. Cronk (’72)

2008 – Donna L. Mitchell (’81)

2007 – Dr. Kent A. Murphy and Charlotte C. Tyson (’84)

2006 – John B. Williamson III (’75)