The Dan River Year AmeriCorps program at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research received a generous grant from the catering service Sodexo’s Stop Hunger Foundation to volunteer at God’s Storehouse as a special service project on April 20th.

Working with the Cedar Terrace Youth Center on Memorial Drive, AmeriCorps service members aimed to fill 100 backpacks of food for the Malcolm Huckabee Backpacks Program at God’s Storehouse.  The Malcolm Huckabee Backpacks Program strives to provide healthy weekend meals to grade school children in Danville.  

The “Backpack Buddies” service project day corresponded with Global Youth Service Day and ran from 3:00 to 5:00 pm at the food pantry.

21.2% of children in Danville are “Food Insecure” and 39% of Danville’s children participate in SNAP.  Though a generous effort, there are still more than twice the children in the Huckabee Program who need these weekend meal backpacks than these volunteers can cover.  So donations are always appreciated year round.

As an added bonus to the children on Global Youth Service Day, the volunteers ran a special Kool Kids Recipe Contest and announced the winners during the service project on the 20th.  The Grand Prize winner received a Rachel Ray 12 piece cookware set valued at $100, and other prizes included cooking utensils, cookbooks and more.

Any student K-12 could enter a recipe of their choice for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Each recipe could contain no more than 10 ingredients, and only one recipe submission was allowed per participant.

PhotoJessica Beebe, Advanced Learning Program Coordinator and Emily Holder, Assistant Director of God’s Storehouse, help pack 207 bags for CIC Headstart children in Danville.

Under a new Strategic Research Collaboration, Tyton BioSciences and the Institute will increase the significant impact of their organizations’ respective capabilities by now serving a wide array of new clients and projects.  

Tyton creates solutions to help old industries meet current consumer expectations for environmentally sustainable products without compromises in quality, price, or convenience.  The one-year agreement with Tyton has allowed them to utilize IALR’s advanced chemistry and advanced material labs, along with the skillsets of Scientist Dr. Jeremy Beach and Analytical Chemist Yimeng “Jack” He.

With these labs, IALR scientists are able to identify and characterize Tyton’s materials, ranging from recycled waste fabrics to multi-layer food packaging materials, to allow optimized processing conditions and ensure the desired end product is obtained.

Tyton BioSciences Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Business Development Conor Hartman and IALR Executive Director Mark Gignac.

IALR’s fun-filled Drone Academy saw 18 elementary adventure seekers take to the skies for two days of action-packed education and entertainment.

After learning to design and code their own drones, program coordinator Bruce Waller led the group of third to eighth graders in the computer labs to learn more about the mission control software, TinkerCad, and experiment with 3D constructs in an interactive celebrity hide-and-seek game.

Advanced materials scientist Dr. Jeremy Beach exhibited a 3D printer and how it can replace broken drone propellers or even make your own custom action figures and toys.  Students also got to interact with the 3D printers aboard the Inspiration Lab, the Institute’s mobile STEM educational experience.  

Research assistant Samantha Smith-Herndon displayed the real world applications of drones as she demonstrated her use of the AgBot for farm monitoring, inspiring the next generation of precision farmers.

As the highlight of the Institute’s Spring Break camp, students piloted their own Quadcopter mini drones to test their control and handling skills and upgraded to the larger and more advanced Phantom drones on the second day.

Additional photos can be found by clicking here.

Bruce Waller instructs a group of 3rd-8th graders on how to piece together their own personal drones in the Institute’s Inspiration Lab during the two-day Drone Academy STEM camp.




Using Technology, Science, and the Sky – Precision Agriculture

Using Technology, Science, and the Sky – Precision Agriculture

  Thanks to a Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission grant, Institute scientists are showing Southern VA growers how to make farming more profitab...

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