Ozzie Abaye of Blacksburg, Va., and Thomas Wilchynski of Virginia Beach, Va., received Andy Swiger Land-Grant Awards for their contributions to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech.

Established to reward creative achievement and commitment to the college, the award recognizes both a faculty and a staff member whose accomplishments in teaching, research, or Extension greatly benefit the agriculture industry and improve the quality of life for Virginians.

The college recently honored Abaye during the faculty and staff recognition luncheon and Wilchynski during the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Staff Association picnic. Both Abaye and Wilchynski received a plaque and a monetary award for their excellence.

Abaye, associate professor of crop and soil environmental sciences, was honored for her involvement and interaction with students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Along with her teaching and advising responsibilities, Abaye has served as the Virginia Tech Crop Judging Team coach and mentor for 15 years. She is noted for her unique personal teaching and advising style that allows her develop a remarkable rapport with her students.

“I can think of no one who better exemplifies the land-grant concept than Ozzie; she takes ‘city kids’ and makes them knowledgeable as agriculturalists,” said David Parrish, professor of crop and soil environmental sciences. “At the same time, she takes students from rural backgrounds and opens them to a whole world.”

As the Safety and Mechanical Manager for the Hampton Roads Agricultural Research and Extension Center (AREC) in Virginia Beach, Wilchynski is responsible for maintenance and environmental health and safety for the center. Through his diligent efforts, he has been able to integrate facility systems to improve efficiency and environmental quality, as well as help to reduce costs. In addition to his facility responsibilities, he also assists faculty with a variety of research needs such as fabricating and repairing instruments, which helps them keep their research on time and on track.

“Thomas’ experience and enthusiasm make him a valuable resource,” said Peter Schultz, director of the Hampton Roads AREC. “He has been instrumental in leading the AREC staff into areas they have often been reluctant to address. Thomas has made such a positive impact here at the Hampton Roads AREC.”

Generous contributions to the Andy Swiger Land-Grant Award Endowment make the annual recognition possible. “With others in the industry and university, we created these awards to keep the land-grant spirit alive by honoring an outstanding college faculty and staff member each year who most personify this spirit by serving the industry through making a real difference in the areas of food, agriculture, and biological sciences,” said Dean Emeritus Andy Swiger.

In addition to recognizing two college personnel each year, the endowment honors Swiger’s leadership and service in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Swiger, who began his Virginia Tech career in 1980 as head of the Department of Animal Science, was associate dean from 1986 to 1992 and dean from 1992 to 2003.

Nationally ranked among the top research institutions of its kind, Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (www.cals.vt.edu/) focuses on the science and business of living systems through learning, discovery, and engagement. The college’s comprehensive curriculum gives more than 2,200 students in a dozen academic departments a balanced education that ranges from food and fiber production to economics to human health. Students learn from the world’s leading agricultural scientists, who bring the latest science and technology into the classroom.