The Center for Watershed Studies received the university's 2009 Alumni Award for Outreach Excellence.

The 10 affiliates of the center who share the award are

  • Brian Benham, associate professor of biological systems engineering, Extension specialist, and director of the center;
  • Kevin Brannan, former research associate;
  • Theo Dillaha, professor of biological systems engineering;
  • Conrad Heatwole, associate professor of biological systems engineering;
  • Sang Min Kim, postdoctoral associate;
  • Karen Kline, research scientist;
  • Saied Mostaghimi, the H.E. and Elizabeth F. Alphin Professor and head of the Department of Biological Systems Engineering;
  • Mary Leigh Wolfe, professor of biological systems engineering;
  • Gene Yagow, senior research scientist; and
  • Rebecca Zeckoski, former research associate.

Established by the university’s Commission on Outreach and International Affairs with support from the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, the Alumni Awards for Outreach Excellence reward Virginia Tech faculty members who as individuals or team members have extended the university's outreach mission throughout the commonwealth, the nation, and the world. Awardees or teams are nominated by their peers, receive a $2,000 prize, and are inducted into the university’s Academy of Outreach Excellence.

The Center for Watershed Studies was created in 2004. Though research, teaching, and outreach it helps people develop, evaluate, and implement watershed planning and management process – with the ultimate goal of improving the integrity of the nation’s waters.

The center’s programs have helped scores of Virginians take action to improve water quality. The center has also made an impact beyond the commonwealth through its presence online and by developing workshops that have been conducted across the United States and in South America. The center has generated more than $1.3 million in external funding.

The center’s work has largely focused on developing and implementing total maximum daily load (TMDL) planning for waterways that require such procedures. As a result of a lawsuit, Virginia is required to have 650 such plans by 2010, and other states face similar requirements. The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that TMDL-related costs will rise from $1 billion to $4 billion nationwide over the next decade, and the Center for Watershed Studies is helping to address this issue by working to increase the efficiency of TMDL processes.

“We are fortunate in Virginia to have the Center for Watershed Studies as a technical and watershed planning resource to the Virginia TMDL Program” says Charles Lunsford, a TMDL implementation program manager for the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. “The contributions from the team at the center have benefitted government, industry, academia, and the citizens of the commonwealth.”