Virginia Tech's College of Natural Resources in the Capital Region awarded 22 students a Certificate of Graduate Study in Natural Resources in a special ceremony recently at the Tower Club in Vienna, Va.

The College of Natural Resources is the only program of its kind in the Mid-Atlantic region and serves working professionals who want to change careers or seek a higher education level in the field.

David Trauger, director of the extended campus graduate education in Northern Virginia, said, "The Capital Region Natural Resources Program has expanded rapidly in scope and numbers of courses and students since 2001. Our vision is to become an academic leader in preparing a new generation of natural resource professionals to address emerging management and policy challenges in the sustainability of natural resources."

The program addresses the complex ecological issues related to natural resources in the rural-urban transitional environment, an issue of national scope and significance. As land use for urban and suburban development increases, traditional natural resources values are either altered or reduced. "Consequently," Trauger said, "we must find ways to protect ecologically significant habitats and maintain vital ecosystem services in urban areas. Communities and corporations are becoming aware that maintaining a connection between people and the natural environment is a vital component contributing to quality of life and sense of well-being."

The Capital Region Natural Resources Program focuses on these emerging information and policy needs in urban and urbanizing environments.

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 170 academic degree programs.