Virginia Tech's colleges have named winners of the first annual College Awards for Outreach Excellence.

The awards, made possible through funding from Virginia Tech's Outreach and International Affairs, recognize the efforts of faculty who have made outstanding contributions in "putting knowledge to work" for the benefit of constituencies outside the university.

This year's winners are:

Ted Koebel of Blacksburg and Carole Kuhns of Fairfax Station, who share the award from the College of Architecture and Urban Studies;

LuAnn Gaskill of Blacksburg, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences;

Audrey Zink-Sharp of Blacksburg, College of Natural Resources;

Howard Feiertag of Blacksburg, Pamplin College of Business;

Russell Jones of Blacksburg, College of Science.

The winners, each of whom received a $500 cash award and a plaque, were honored at the Commission on Outreach and International Affairs meeting last month.

Throughout his career, Ted Koebel has served in leadership roles for organizations promoting affordable housing and community development. As director of the Virginia Center for Housing Research, he is regularly invited to serve on subcommittees of the Virginia Housing Study Commission, and is routinely contacted for advice about community development and housing policy. Most recently he served as an adviser to the Governor's task force on ending homelessness. He has developed ongoing relationships and memberships with many professional organizations, including the Urban Land Institute and the American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association.

Carole Kuhns is director of research and education for the Institute for Public Policy Research, Center for Public Administration and Policy. State agencies and the Virginia Governor's Office rely upon Kuhns to provide information that helps to shape policy decisions and initiatives in the areas of social services and child welfare. One such recent activity includes the Women, Infants, and Children Survey of 1,500 former participants to assist the Virginia Department of Health in identifying areas for improved services. Her recent "Department of Social Services Child Care Training" video will increase the availability and accessibility of training for child care providers in Virginia. She is beginning a multi-year evaluation of the Virginia Department of Health's Lead-Safe Program. Her work provides agencies with feedback on program outcomes and adequacy of staffing and funding.

LuAnn R. Gaskill, associate dean of outreach and external relations, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, and head of the Department of Apparel, Housing, and Resource Management, combines scholarship, research, and outreach for her contributions in support of small business development and entrepreneurial sustainability in the international business setting. The results of her international pursuits include web-based course development, international keynote presentations, case study research on small businesses, refereed journal publications, video creativity, curriculum modifications and course development, research presentations/proceedings, consulting activities, and a Fulbright Senior Specialist Candidacy. She uses the results of her research to support her assistance to small businesses. International pursuits for improving small businesses have included on-site travel to and collaborations with colleagues, practitioners, and communities in Mexico, Peru, South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Korea, Malaysia, Holland, and England.

"Wood Magic" is a comprehensive, sustained outreach activity originating from the vision and commitment of Associate Professor Audrey Zink-Sharp, 2004 winner for the College of Natural Resources. In her words, "Wood Magic is not simply a show-and-tell approach to educating children and teachers, it is based on and utilizes good science and examples to provide a foundation for learning and application." She has received numerous awards and recognition for her outreach including the Oak Ridge Associated Universities Junior Faculty Achievement Award, and the George G. Mara Award of Excellence from the Society of Wood Science and Technology. She is president-elect of the Society of Wood Science and Technology. She was appointed as a U.S. delegate to the European Society for Wood Mechanics. Her current research, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Research Initiative Competitive Grants program is on re-engineering the wood cell wall. She participates in the Wood-Based Composite Center and the Sustainable Engineered Materials Institute.

Howard Feiertag, a leader in all aspects of outreach activities, has accomplished this through his involvement in research, continuing education, publishing, consulting, and supervising off-campus service learning for students. His outreach work, which won for him the 2004 award for the Pamplin College of Business, involves hospitality and tourism industry training in areas of customer service, improving sales productivity, employee relations, and maximizing meeting and conference return on investment. He has received numerous prestigious hotel and hospitality industry awards including: the Meeting Professionals International President's Award, induction into the Convention Industry Council Hall of Leaders, and appointment as a Fellow of the Educational Institute of the American Hotel & Lodging Association for his lifetime achievements in industry education and mentoring.

Russell T. Jones, professor of psychology, is the recipient of the 2004 College of Science Award for Outreach Excellence. An elected Fellow of the American Psychological Association and an elected board member of the International Society of Traumatic Studies, Jones is especially well known for his research on children's reactions in emergency situations and their approach to coping with traumatic events, such as house fires. He has shared his research expertise with the local community through his involvement with the Montgomery County Red Cross and the Mental Health Association of the New River Valley. Jones regularly consults with the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control of the Center for Disease Control, the Terrorism and Disaster Branch of the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress, and the Department of Health and Human Services. Recently, he spearheaded an innovative initiative to develop a curriculum that will teach firefighters nationwide how to assist children and families in recovering from fire-related emergencies. The primary goal of this program is to reach across the United States, "to foster a truly integrated, state-of-the-art readiness, response, and recovery program for our nation's children and families."

Founded in 1872 as a land-grant college, Virginia Tech has grown to become the largest university in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Today, Virginia Tech's eight colleges are dedicated to putting knowledge to work through teaching, research, and outreach activities and to fulfilling its vision to be among the top 30 research universities in the nation. At its 2,600-acre main campus located in Blacksburg and other campus centers in Northern Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Hampton Roads, Richmond, and Roanoke, Virginia Tech enrolls more than 28,000 full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries in 180 academic degree programs.