Staffers from the offices of Senator George Allen, Senator John Warner, and Representative Virgil Goode recently toured the Virginia Tech Aquaculture Center and the Horseshoe Crab Center at Blacksburg in the College of Natural Resources. Delegations included Ann Loomis and Conrad Schatte from Warner's office, A.J. Jeffries from Allen's office, and Candace Friel from Goode's office. Allen, Warner, and Goode have all been strong supporters of pats aquaculture initiatives.

On hand to discuss the research and Extension work underway at the aquaculture center were Ewen McLean, director of the center, and Steven Craig, a fish nutritionist from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. McLean showcased the variety of species and systems being studied at the center, which runs the gamut from cobia and summer flounder to yellow perch and tilapia.

The group also viewed the work of Jim Berkson at the Horseshoe Crab facility. Berkson explained the complex nature of the crab's ecological role as well as its significant economic and public health importance. He also showed the visitors some of the current species residing at the facility.

"We were very pleased to have the opportunity to show the results of the investments made in our work by federal, state and university sources," McLean said.

The program at Virginia Tech's College of Natural Resources has been recognized by peers as among the top five. Areas of studies include environmental resource management; fisheries and wildlife sciences; forestry; geospatial and environmental analysis; natural resource recreation; urban forestry; wood science and forest products; geography; and international development. The college's Horseshoe Crab Center is now considered by governmental agencies to be the definitive research facility for horseshoe crabs.

Written by Hilary Fussell, Public Affairs Assistant