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Alumni Profile: Dana Beegle


Dana Beegle Dana Beegle

May 15, 2014 – Weaving together science and small business practices, Dana Beegle (’94 B.S. in forestry) is a shining example of education and entrepreneurship. Beegle applied her forestry background while working as a technical writer for Virginia Tech Pesticide Programs, initially developing training manuals for commercial pesticide applicators and now helping to revise the state’s crop profiles on a part-time basis. She also spent three years at Seattle’s Washington Park Arboretum, designing and implementing environmental education programs for K-12 youth and public programs for arboretum visitors.

These days, she and her husband Jon keep busy with StoneRoot Farm, their 70-acre property in Floyd County, Va. They sell shiitake mushrooms grown in their woodlands through Good Food–Good People, a Floyd- based local food distributor, and sell pasture-raised beef directly to local families. Jon also operates Bootleg BBQ, a mobile kitchen serving lunch and dinner to customers in town. The couple often tows the kitchen to catering gigs and festivals, and their four varieties of homemade barbecue sauce are sold in local stores.

To supplement their farming operation, the Beegles started a small landscaping company in 2000. They have completed several projects on the Virginia Tech campus, including the Smithfield Plantation parking area landscape and bioretention ponds, and the green roofs on the Agricultural and Life Sciences buildings.

As if working as a technical writer, running a range of home-based businesses, and raising five children weren’t enough, Dana decided to return to Virginia Tech in fall 2013 as a part-time student to pursue a master’s degree in agroforestry, working under Associate Professor and Forest Management Extension Specialist John Munsell. But when she was awarded the $34,200 George E. and Hester B. Aker Fellowship in January, it put her on the short track to pursuing her dream.

“The Aker Fellowship has allowed me to concentrate on my studies so I can complete the program in half the time,” she said. Part of the fellowship will be used to support her studies of farmer use and adaptation of agroforestry practices in the mid-Atlantic and the role of permaculture in agroforestry design.

“Once I complete my master’s, I plan to apply the principles of agroforestry on my own farm, possibly creating a model farm for the area, as well as work in extension or other outreach or teaching activities related to sustainable land use,” Beegle explained. “My goal is to gain the skills and expertise to develop a sustainable, whole-farm plan for our own property as well as to educate others about how agroforestry practices can increase the productivity of land and farms in our region.”

If there’s one thing this supermom knows, it’s that you don’t have to compromise your dreams. She is an inspiration to anyone who wants to have their cake and eat it too, or, in this case, scrumptious barbecue.

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