Umberger Named Director Of Virginia Cooperative Extension

BLACKSBURG, Va., Feb. 5, 2003 – Steven H. Umberger has been selected as the new Director of Virginia Cooperative Extension, according to Gregory Brown, interim dean of Virginia Tech's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

For the past six years, Umberger has been Associate Director of Extension for Agriculture and Natural Resource programs. His career with Virginia Cooperative Extension began in 1980 when he became 4-H livestock specialist in Virginia Tech's animal science department. He also served as Extension Sheep Specialist and Animal Sciences project leader before being named Associate Director in 1996.

Umberger will be replacing J. David Barrett, who is retiring later this month. Brown said, "Dave is leaving some large shoes to fill and his leadership will be missed.  We want to express to Dave our deepest appreciation for his 30 years of service to Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech and the Commonwealth and to wish him our best for the future.

"We have every confidence that Steve will step in and continue to provide strong leadership for Extension and the college. He has certainly demonstrated that ability over the past six years as Associate Director," Brown added. "The partnership between Extension and University Outreach forged by Dave Barrett will be continued by Steve.

"We are very fortunate to have someone with Steve's talents and dedication assuming the role of Director at this critical time in Extension's history. I feel he is ready to meet the new challenges of the 21st Century," Brown said.

Mark G. McNamee, University Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, said, "Throughout his career, Dr. Umberger has proven to be a leader and has time and again shown the ability to pull people together to get the job done. Those attributes along with his years of knowledge about Virginia Cooperative Extension and its programs will make him an effective Director.

"In addition, Dr. Umberger is respected across the Commonwealth. He already has support from many individuals and organizations throughout the state," McNamee said. "We are extremely pleased that he has agreed to accept this position. Given the enormous budget challenge, the next three years will be critical to the future of Cooperative Extension."

Umberger said, "I am grateful for this opportunity. I know there are challenges ahead, especially in light of the state budget cuts, but by working together with our many supporters, Extension will continue to play a vital role in Virginia's future.

As Associate Director, Umberger indicated that, "It was a particularly rewarding experience to get to see and hear about the outstanding educational programs conducted by our agents, specialists, and volunteers. During my more than 22 years as a part of Virginia Cooperative Extension, I cannot recall a time when agents and specialists have been more focused on the delivery of high quality educational programs.

A joint program of Virginia Tech and Virginia State, Extension provides educational programs in Agriculture and Natural Resources, Family and Consumer Sciences and Community Initiatives, and 4-H Youth Development. It has 107 local offices across the state as well as educational programs at 13 Agriculture Research and Extension Centers and six 4-H Centers.

"I believe that through our experiences over the past 10 years, we have developed a formula for success in Virginia," said Umberger. "Given our current fiscal challenges, it is important that we take advantage of the organizational strengths we have established and maintain the capacity to rebuild as new opportunities arise. I very much look forward to being a part of and providing leadership for that process."

As professor of animal and poultry sciences and an Extension sheep specialist at Virginia Tech for more than 15 years, Umberger was credited with significant contributions to production and marketing aspects of Virginia's sheep industry.

Umberger was born in Portsmouth and grew up in Bristol. He earned his bachelor's degree in animal science from Virginia Tech and a master's degree in animal science from the University of Tennessee. He earned a doctorate in reproductive physiology from North Carolina State University.

His educational programs have had an impact throughout the Mid-Atlantic region and beyond. Results from his research on high concentrate diets for feeder lambs and enhancement of spring breeding performance of ewes are being applied on farms throughout the U.S. and Canada.