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Virginia Tech honors Bennett family for contributions to university, agricultural community


The Bennett family and Dean Alan Grant The Bennett family, (left to right) Brian, Cara, Annette, Barbara, James, Tracy, and Paul, was recently inducted into the Virginia Tech's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Hall of Fame for its contributions to the state and the university. Dean Alan Grant (third from right) presented the award.

BLACKSBURG, Va., April 13, 2012 – Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences recently inducted the Bennett family into the Hall of Fame for its outstanding service to the college, university, and the agricultural and life sciences communities. The Bennett family, of Knoll Crest Farm in Red House, Va., received this recognition during a March 16, 2012, event held at The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center.

“As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the land grant system this year, we greatly appreciate the significant role of alumni and friends such as the Bennetts, whose engagement is key to that success,” said Dean Alan Grant of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “We thank the Bennetts for helping this college continue to grow, expand, and be a leader in the agricultural community.”

The Bennett family — whose members include James, Barbara, Paul, Tracy, Brian, Cara, Jim, and Annette — runs Knoll Crest Farm, a cattle operation on 3,000 acres in Red House, Va. James’ father started the farm in 1929 and it has remained a family operation and leader in the state’s cattle operations ever since. James brought one of the first registered herds of Hereford cattle to Virginia in 1944 followed by Gelbvieh cattle in 1981 and Angus cattle in 1991. Bulls from each breed were used as studs and females were sold around the world.

In 1972, the Bennett’s developed the Red House Bull Evaluation Center, which was under contract with Virginia Tech until 1998 for performance testing of bulls owned by other purebred breeders for the Virginia Beef Cattle Improvement Association.

James has served on the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors; the Virginia Cooperative Extension advisory board; the Southern Piedmont Agricultural Research and Extension Center advisory board; the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services board; the American Polled Hereford Association as president; and the National Beef Improvement Federation Board, of which he was the chairman. Brian and Jim are on several local advisory committees, including FFA, 4-H, and Extension.

Paul has served as president of the Virginia Beef Cattle Improvement Association, president of the Virginia Cattlemen’s Association, and president of the National Beef Improvement Federation. He also serves on the advisory committee of the National Beef Cattle Evaluation Consortium, the Virginia Angus Association Board of Directors, and the Virginia Cattlemen’s Foundation. He has spoken to numerous classes and student organizations in both the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. He also hosted many students at the farm.

Paul graduated from Virginia Tech in 1983 and Brian graduated in 1987. Three of the 10 Bennett grandchildren are enrolled at the university.

Nationally ranked among the top research institutions of its kind, Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences focuses on the science and business of living systems through learning, discovery, and engagement. The college’s comprehensive curriculum gives more than 3,100 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.