Carroll County has been awarded the highest honor bestowed by the Virginia Association of Counties (VACo).
During the Carroll County Board of Supervisors’ Sept. 14 meeting, Dean Lynch, Deputy Executive Director of VACo, presented the county with VACo’s 13th Annual Achievement Award for the STEM Lab for Agriculture at Carroll County High School. VACo exists to support county officials and to effectively represent, promote and protect the interests of counties to better serve the people of Virginia. Lynch said the organization received a record number of 92 entries this year.
“And Carroll County was recognized as the best achievement award in the class, and by the class, I mean all 95 counties. This program is a very competitive program and only the best entries are selected as winners,” Lynch said. “This is the second time Carroll County has won, but the first time they have won the high achievement award. They won back in 2009 for the economic milestone program.”
Lynch said entries were judged on whether a program offers an innovative solution to a problem, whether the program promotes intergovernmental cooperation, and whether the program provides a model that other local governments can implement. The winning program, Carroll County’s STEM Lab for Agriculture, was born in 2008 when the board of supervisors set a goal to assist Carroll County Public Schools to better prepare high school students and post-secondary students for success in education, Lynch said. In 2010, the board refined the goal to include a STEM Lab for Agriculture, which was fully functioning in 2014.
“It is planned that the STEM Lab students will learn scientific protocols that will assist local producers to meet food safety levels with providing lab services that will enhance their necessary documentation,” Lynch said. “At the same time students are solving real-life problems. It is expected other uses of the lab will be developed as new needs for analysis are developed.”
Lynch said Carroll County will be presented with the award at the VACo Annual Conference from November 8-10.
“We had some great entries this year, but this one stands on top of them all,” Lynch said.
Supervisor David Hutchins, who is also President-Elect of VACo, said the county was thankful and appreciative of the award. He said Carroll County has a deep-rooted history in agriculture. It’s a proud community, he said, and it continues to improve its agricultural offerings. Carroll County offered the first agriculture program in the nation at Woodlawn under the Smith-Hughes Act in 1917.
“STEM is something that there are a lot of children out there that aren’t challenged, and I think this gives an opportunity to do that,” Hutchins said.
The supervisor noted the CCHS Stem Lab has gotten a lot of media attention, not just locally, but also statewide, and even nationally. Congressman Morgan Griffith has visited the lab, and U.S. Senator Tim Kaine made a recent stop to see it as well.
“Each person who has been there has come away with a better understanding of the things you can actually teach using this,” said Hutchins, noting that Dr. Oliver McBride was one of the first folks to begin talking about such a STEM Lab in Carroll County back in 2007. “Thank you for the award, thank you for the recognition, and I think the high school students there will continue to grow.”
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN