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Executive master of natural resources student partners with Campbell Soup Company to improve health and nutrition in Camden, N.J.


   

: Kim Fortunato, Antoinette Dendtler, and Pam Nagurka standing in an urban garden Executive master of natural resources student Pam Nagurka (right) visits the gardens of Healthy Communities program partner ECO Charter School in Camden, N.J., with Kim Fortunato (left), director of the Campbell Soup Company’s Healthy Communities program, and Antoinette Dendtler, founder and head of ECO Charter School.


NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION, Jan. 13, 2014 – For Pam Nagurka of Arlington, Va., a student in the Executive Master of Natural Resources program offered by the College of Natural Resources and Environment, partnering with the Campbell Soup Company’s Healthy Communities program has opened her eyes to the private sector’s role in social issues.

The Campbell Soup Company launched its Healthy Communities program in 2011 as a commitment to affect measurable change in reducing obesity and hunger in Camden, N.J., by focusing on four core areas: food access, physical activity and access, nutrition education, and public will. The program employs a “collective impact” model, with the Campbell Soup Company currently acting as both the major funder and the backbone organization.

For her capstone directed study project, Nagurka is working with Healthy Communities Director Kim Fortunato to develop a series of resources to help build the program beyond the city of Camden, where the company has been headquartered for almost 150 years.

“Working with the Campbell Soup Company has provided me with the opportunity to learn firsthand how one major private corporation is enhancing global equality,” Nagurka explained. “Since all of my previous work experience has been in the public and nonprofit sectors, I knew little about the efforts of private companies to help the public good.”

“I am impressed with, and applaud, Campbell Soup Company’s commitment to improve the quality of life of its employees, families, and neighbors in its many hometown communities,” she added.

Developing resources for the company’s plants is one of Nagurka’s main tasks. They will serve as a “how-to” for employees who want to volunteer in the community, guiding them toward selecting projects that align with the company’s goals and providing an outline for how collective impact can be used to create sustainable programs in hometown communities.

“As a teacher, I am excited about the opportunity to work with Campbell Soup Company’s Corporate Social Responsibility office,” said Nagurka, who teaches sixth-grade science full-time at Williamsburg Middle School in Arlington. “Academic success is closely linked to good nutrition and positive self-image.”

Nagurka’s interest in teaching is what drew her to the Executive Master of Natural Resources program. She attends program classes one weekend a month at the Virginia Tech Research Center — Arlington and fits in work on the Healthy Communities program and other off-campus projects around her teaching duties.

“I was attracted to the program because my curriculum is a survey course that includes energy and the Chesapeake Bay,” she said. “In order to help students understand the relationship among the various science disciplines, I teach my content through the Earth System Science lens.”

Based in the Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability in the Virginia Tech’s National Capital Region, the Executive Master of Natural Resources program emphasizes the need for effective partnerships involving interdisciplinary, multi-institutional, and cross-cultural collaboration among business, civil society, and government. It includes coursework, an international residency, and capstone directed study projects designed to bring about institutional and policy change, as well as personal and cultural transformation.

“After graduating in the spring, I look forward to using the collective impact model to help solve many societal issues facing our children,” Nagurka said. “My degree will meld my science teaching career and passion for global sustainable practices surrounding the environment, food access, fair trade, and fair wages. At some point in my career, I would like to experience working in the private sector on issues related to children.”

The College of Natural Resources and Environment at Virginia Tech, which consistently ranks among the top three programs of its kind in the nation, advances the science of sustainability. Programs prepare the future generation of leaders to address the complex natural resources issues facing the planet. World-class faculty lead transformational research that complements the student learning experience and impacts citizens and communities across the globe on sustainability issues, especially as they pertain to water, climate, fisheries, wildlife, forestry, sustainable biomaterials, ecosystems, and geography. Virginia Tech, the most comprehensive university in Virginia, is dedicated to quality, innovation, and results to the commonwealth, the nation, and the world.



Virginia Tech Research Center — Arlington

    National Capital Region’s Virginia Tech Research Center — Arlington

The Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability is based in the National Capital Region’s Virginia Tech Research Center — Arlington, a U.S. Green Building Council LEED-certified building located near the headquarters of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, and the National Science Foundation.