Joyce Latimer of Moneta, Va., professor of horticulture in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist for greenhouse crops at Virginia Tech, has received the university's 2010 Alumni Award for Outreach Excellence.

Established by the university's Commission on Outreach and International Affairs with the support of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, the Alumni Award for Outreach Excellence is presented annually to recognize outstanding contributions by Virginia Tech faculty members who have extended the university's outreach mission throughout the commonwealth, the nation, and the world. Recipients are nominated by their peers, receive a $2,000 cash prize, and are inducted into the university's Academy of Outreach Excellence.

Since joining the faculty in 1999, Latimer has provided invaluable state, regional, and national leadership in the greenhouse and perennial production industries. Her outreach focus for both Virginia Cooperative Extension agents and the commercial greenhouse industry has proven to be relevant, effective, and impactful, according to Alex Niemiera, associate professor of horticulture.

While Latimer's outreach work covers a wide range of topics related to the greenhouse industry, her main research and extension work deals with the influence of growth regulators on herbaceous perennials, which are popular garden center and landscape contractor items.

As the Extension specialist for greenhouse crops, Latimer re-established a working relationship with the ornamental plant industry and the Virginia Flower Growers Association, assessed and addressed the industry's research and education needs, and implemented an educational program to improve the profitability and sustainability of the greenhouse industry. "Given the economic importance of the green industry in Virginia, Joyce has re-established a vital outreach connection – with the greenhouse growers in particular – in her roles as researcher and Extension specialist," said Niemiera.

"Her focus and continued research on plant growth regulators have been beneficial in developing programs to grow increasingly successful and healthy crops. She has offered computer programs and grid formulas for Virginia growers to use for tracking costs. Her research with plant growth regulators has allowed for more plant material on the benches and has resulted in a compact and vigorous plant for resale," said Mark Landa, owner of Boulevard Flower Gardens in Colonial Heights, Va., and president of the Virginia Flower Growers Association. "Joyce has been a leader in encouraging growers in the importance of quality and the benefits of consistent pricing, helping local growers find profitable margins. Her assistance provides hope and promise for sustaining our industry throughout the state."

Latimer has conducted more than 170 greenhouse grower programs and given more than 230 talks. In addition, she has reached thousands of growers with seven Web-based resources.

Latimer earned her bachelor's degree from Virginia Tech and her master's degree and Ph.D. from Purdue University, all in horticulture.