Friday, January 29, 2016

Episode 301 (2-1-16): A New Student Internship Program Helps Launch the Second 50 Years of the Virginia Water Resources Research Center

CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (3:33)

Transcript of audio, notes on the audio, and additional information follow below.

All Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 1-29-16.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of February 1, 2016.

This week, we eavesdrop on a water-fountain conversation between two Virginia Tech students.  And what do you know—they’re talking about the people who bring you this radio show!  Sound unbelievable?  Well, just have a listen for about 90 seconds.

SOUND - ~3 sec

Friend: Oh hey Taylor, I heard you got a new internship?

Taylor: Yeah I did!  At the Virginia Water Resources Research Center!

Friend: What a mouthful!  What is that, some sort of center that controls water in our faucets?

Taylor: No.  The Water Center is a federal- and state-funded program with a three-part mission: teaching, research, and engagement.  They offer resources and support to students, researchers, educators, citizens, and decision-makers throughout the state.

Friend: Oh, really?  So what sort of things do they do?

Taylor: Well, they helped to develop and coordinate a new water major that started last year at Virginia Tech.  They’ve got grant programs that support graduate faculty and students doing water research at universities and colleges.  And they regularly provide information to help Virginians stay up-to-date on important water issues—even on the radio!

Friend: Well that sounds really interesting.  I've never heard of the Water Center before.  Is it new?

Taylor:  Not at all.  In fact, 2015 was the Center’s 50th anniversary.  But the internship is brand new – and I’m the first!

Friend: Dang!  50 years, and you’re the first intern.  You must feel special.  What do you do for your internship?

Taylor: Well, it’s all semester and I get to do a bunch of new things, like visiting Congress and the Virginia General Assembly, helping with their public outreach, assisting in some field research, and meeting lots of water professionals.

Friend: Wow!  Sounds like a great opportunity.  I wish I could do it!

Taylor: Well, why don’t you apply next year?  Part of my job is helping the Water Center develop the internship program, so next year it’ll be even better.

Water Center colleague: Hey, Taylor, wanna give me a hand with this D.C. trip?

Taylor: Oh, oh.  Gotta go!

Friend: See ya.

Since 1965, the Virginia Water Resources Research Center has worked to provide teaching, research, and information to help Virginians make decisions about water.  As the typewritten newsletters and research bulletins of the 1960s have become the blogs and podcasts of the 21st Century, the Commonwealth’s lakes, streams, rivers, coastal waters, and groundwater continue to present great challenges and opportunities for the Water Center to serve professionals, elected officials, citizens, and students.

Thanks to Kriddie Whitmore, Liz Sharp, and the Water Center’s Spring 2016 intern Taylor Richmond for lending their voices to this episode.

For more Virginia water sounds, music, and information, visit us online at, or call us at (540) 231-5463.  Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close the show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


The audio states that Taylor Richmond is the first Water Center intern.  To be more precise, Ms. Richmond is the first intern under a new internship program that the Water Center began in Spring 2016.  In the past the Water Center has had many students performing various kinds of more limited internships, but—to our knowledge—the Center has never before had an internship program designed for the student to experience and participate in most or all facets of the Water Center’s mission and activities.


At the start of the Virginia Water Resources Research Center's first 50 years: the cover of the Center’s first Research Bulletin, “Water Resources of Virginia: Inventory of Printed Information and Data,” by Frederick McJunkin and William Walker, March 1966.


(Source: Virginia Water Resources Research Center, online at

In 1964, a congressional act established a network of 54 water resource programs to be placed at land-grant universities across the nation.  Virginia Tech was selected to house the Commonwealth’s water center in 1965 under the name “Virginia Water Resources Research Center” (“The Water Center”).   The Water Center began operations with federal and state funding administered through the Virginia Tech’s Research Division, and was authorized by the Virginia General Assembly as a state agency in 1982.

The center annually receives a federal base grant for program administration and development from the U.S. Geological Survey, under the Department of the Interior.  This funding is combined with a state budget appropriation, faculty and staff funding through Virginia Tech, and funding secured from project-specific contracts and grants.

The Water Center is affiliated with the Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment and is a member of the National Institutes for Water Resources (NIWR) and the Universities Council on Water Resources (UCOWR).  A Statewide Advisory Board provides feedback and guidance on Water Center activities.

The Water Center has a long-standing tradition of offering resources and support to researchers, educators, and decision makers throughout the state.  The Code of Virginia (Sec. 23-135.7:8) states that the Water Center exists
“for the purposes of developing, implementing and coordinating water and related land research programs in the Commonwealth and transferring the results of research and new technology to potential users.”

The Water Center’s functions, powers, and duties as established by the Code of Virginia including the following:
*Consulting with the General Assembly, federal, state and local agencies, nonprofit organizations, private industry and other potential users of research;
*Establishing and administering agreements with other universities of the Commonwealth to carry out research projects;
*Disseminating new information and research results;
*Facilitating the application and transfer of new technologies
*Being a liaison between Virginia and the federal research funding agencies as an advocate for Virginia’s water research needs; and
*Encouraging the development of academic programs in water resources management in conjunction with the State Council on Higher Education.


National Institutes for Water Resources (NIWR, a coordinating group for the 54 state and territory water centers and institutes), online at

Universities Council on Water Resources, online at

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), “Welcome to the WRRI Program” (describing the federal-state partnership that supports state and territory water centers and institutes), online at

Virginia Tech College of Natural Resources and Environment, online at

Virginia Water Resources Research Center, online at


For a previous episode on the water resources undergraduate major at Virginia Tech, please see Episode 243 (12/8/14), “Water’s Complexity, Connections, and Challenges Await Students as Virginia Tech’s Undergraduate Water Resources Degree Debuts in 2015,” online at

All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (


This episode may help with the following Virginia’s 2010 Science Standards of Learning (SOLs):

Grades K-6 Living Systems Theme
6.7 - natural processes and human interactions that affect watershed systems; Va. watersheds, water bodies, and wetlands; and water monitoring.

The episode may also help with the following Virginia 2008 Social Studies SOLs:

Civics and Economics Course
CE.7 – government at the state level.
CE.9 – public policy at local, state, and national levels.

World Geography Course
WG.10 - cooperation among political jurisdictions to solve problems and settle disputes.

Government Course
GOVT.8 – state and local government organization and powers.
GOVT.9 – public policy at local, state, and national levels.
GOVT.16 – role of government in Va. and U.S. economies, including examining environmental issues and property rights.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at