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Volunteering at the Farms

As a SAS student, you are encouraged to volunteer at the campus farms and gain valuable experience while working with a variety of species. During your FYE class you will hear from farm managers who will explain how to get involved.

Below is a video created by Natalie Duncan and the University Advancement Team about the equine volunteer program, as well as some information on the farms where students may volunteer.

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LARNA has a regulation-size riding arena, classroom, servery, and animal holding areas.  This is where the Intro to APSC lab is held, as well as other livestock labs, equitation classes, equestrian team practices, and many other events.

There are two equine facilities on campus, Smithfield and Campbell.  All of the horses have been donated or were born at Virginia Tech. Horses are used for breeding, research, equitation lessons and other courses.

Volunteers are usually involved in daily feeding, care and management of both riding program horses and breeding stock. Additional educational opportunities include shadowing vet and farrier appointments, foal watching, and working with young stock.

VT Beef Center

The VT Beef Center, headquarters for the Beef cattle program, is across the road from LARNA.  The VT beef herd has 110 purebred cows used for teaching purposes and 200 commercial cows used for research.  Research includes reproduction and grazing studies on different forages. 

The beef center has only a few volunteers. However, those who work at the center are involved in all aspects of beef cattle management and care.

Right next to the Beef Center, the Livestock Judging Pavilion building is used for Beef/Sheep Production class, Livestock Evaluation, and Livestock Merchandising sales such as the Hokie Harvest Sale in October.  The Presidential Pardoned Turkeys also live here.    

The Copenhaver Sheep Center houses 500 to 600 sheep, including lambs. Lambing occurs in the fall and spring.  Research that is done here is focused on parasite resistance, reproduction, growth, and fat deposition.  

Volunteers help with all aspects of the day to day work at the barn, from bottle feeding, trimming hooves, and processing lambs, to mucking pens, cleaning jugs, and feeding sheep. 

The Paul B. Siegel Poultry Research Center is located on "chicken hill" across the road from the football stadium and across the street from the tennis pavilion.  The research that is going on here is focused on nutrition, breeding, and genetics in layers and broiler chickens. 

Volunteers are usually involved in feeding, research data collection, egg cleaning, and production flock management. 

The Turkey Center is located on the edge of Blacksburg on Glade Road.  This center is mainly for disease research in broilers and occasionally turkeys. It also has its own feed mill for nutrition research. 

Volunteers are usually involved in daily maintenance and care, as well as making feed and assisting with research data collection.

The Swine Center houses 60 sows and 4 boars, along with about 200 growing pigs.  It is located at the end of Plantation Road, down from the beef center.  The research conducted here is focused on meat quality, embryo transfer, and nutrition.

Volunteers are usually involved in daily care, feeding and assisting with research data collection

The Meat Center is located in the Food Science and Technology building.  It has an abattoir, chill room, and several walk-in refrigerators and freezers.  It also has a retail meat store where customers can purchase Virginia Tech-raised products. 

Volunteers are usually involved in assisting in slaughter, fabrication and cutting of meat, further processing of meat, operating of machinery, packaging and labeling, retail sales, sanitation, and inventory management.  In addition, the Meat Center hires work-study students.