By Ryan Cornell
WOODSTOCK -- More than 300 students from 12 schools, including Shenandoah, Frederick and Clarke county high schools and Robert E. Aylor Middle School, gathered in Central High School's gymnasium on Tuesday for its agricultural and natural resources college fair.
Organized by Central's Future Farmers of America Leadership class, the second annual college fair featured 16 booths, including three represented by Virginia Tech.
Thomas French, 18, said his mind had already been set on studying dairy science -- his family runs French Brothers Dairy in Woodstock -- but the fair "finalized plans" of how to get there.
He said he plans to attend Lord Fairfax Community College for a year and transfer to Virginia Tech.
A booth for Virginia Tech's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, which includes the Department of Dairy Science, was one of the more popular tables at the fair. Bobbie Potter, coordinator of recruitment and community college liaison, said she talked to "easily over half" of the attending students and had run out of brochures near the end.
"Organization was great," she said. "We got exposure to a lot of students."
Another representative from Virginia Tech, John Haworth, recruited students from across the gym for the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation.
"It's surprising how some of them are in eighth grade and they're very professional, asking about jobs in forestry," he said.
He said the career field, a multi-billion-dollar industry in Virginia, still has room to grow.
"A lot of people are retiring, creating a demand for new resource managers," he said.
Colleges in Virginia weren't the only schools at the fair. Two ambassadors from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville provided information to students about programs in its College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.
Ambassador Kemia Amin said graduates of their biosystems engineering program earn more on average than graduates with traditional engineering degrees. She said she noticed considerable interest from students about their animal sciences program.
Other schools at the fair included Lord Fairfax Community College, Dabney S. Lancaster Community College, Northern Virginia Community College, Virginia State University, Ferrum College, West Virginia University, Potomac State College, Lincoln Technical Institute, Clemson University, University of Mount Olive and Universal Technical Institute.
Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org