Staff from Canon Virginia, Inc. (CVI), the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR), and the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences at Virginia Tech (VT) celebrate a recent collaboration. CVI’s imaging technology will help IALR and VT monitor plant health in their joint Controlled Environment Agriculture Innovation Center. Courtesy of IALR.

Here’s a round-up of news briefs from around Southwest and Southside. Send yours for possible inclusion to

* * *

Canon partners with IALR and Virginia Tech plant health project

Canon Virginia, Inc. has announced a collaboration with the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville to assist in an agricultural project to monitor plant health. CVI is using its patent-pending imaging technology to monitor plant anomalies and external factors that can inhibit plant life such as pests, disease and temperature. IALR has brought in Virginia Tech’s School of Plant and Environmental Sciences to help with the project.

“Canon Virginia, Inc. has long been a pioneer in imaging technology, so to add their expertise and first-rate technology to our research efforts is not only an honor but will further enhance our innovation and leadership in controlled environment agriculture studies,” said Dr. Scott Lowman, Vice President, Applied Research in a statement.

The collaboration began in March 2022 and the project is set to continue for two years.  The purpose of the research is to help discover symptoms of diseases at an early state and identify plant health to growers. The protocol involves introducing anomalies to healthy plants that will ultimately affect the health of the plant. Canon imaging technologies will then capture images of the plant’s progression and the effects of the anomalies on plant health. Over time, these images will provide insight on diseases, their symptoms and assist growers with identification and remedial possibilities.

“Collaborations like this one are vital to help us develop new technologies to feed a growing global population,” said Michael Evans, Director of the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences and a co-PI on the research project said in a statement.  “Controlled environmental agriculture is not only a great way to grow food closer to growing population centers but it is also a good economic development tool for Virginia.”

Located in Newport News, Canon Virginia, Inc. serves as Canon’s only manufacturing, engineering, recycling and technical support center in the Americas region.

* * *

Virginia Rural Health Association receives $1.5 million to expand services

The Virginia Rural Health Association (VRHA) is one of four awardees in Virginia who  will receive $1,545,000 in funding through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Rural Public Health Workforce Training Network (RPHWTN) Program. The program expands health  services capacity by supporting public health job development, training, and placement in rural and  tribal communities. 

VRHA will use this grant to train approximately 110 new Community Health Workers, doulas, LPNs, Peer  Recovery Specialists, and similar positions at the associate degree level or below to strengthen the  public health safety net in rural Southside and Southwest Virginia. This initiative will not only increase  career opportunities for individuals who wish to enter the healthcare workforce but also increase access  to care and resources for community members seeking a variety of services, from prenatal care to  recovery services.  

Partnering organizations will include the New River/Mt Rogers, Blue Ridge, and Western Piedmont Workforce Development Boards, who will recruit community members to participate in the program  and coordinate with community colleges to assure scholarship eligibility for trainees; Carilion Clinic and  Sovah Health, who will serve as trainee sites and provide mentorship to program participants, and the  United Way of Roanoke Valley, who plans to host 2 Community Health Worker workshops a year. 

Target areas for this project include Franklin, Giles, Henry, Pittsylvania, Rockbridge, Tazewell, Danville,  Martinsville, and Lexington. All localities are in Mental Health Professional Shortage Areas, despite  having some of the highest rates of drug overdoses in Virginia. Four of six hospitals located in the service  area offer no labor and delivery services at all. The other two have no certified doulas within their  catchment area to help improve prenatal care and birth outcomes. VRHA’s proposed project will address health care service gaps by increasing the capacity of facilities in the region to provide efficient,  value-based care to their clients in multiple ways, including screening and prevention, prenatal and  postnatal care, recovery services, and patient navigation. 

* * *

Southside pregnancy center holds three events

The Pregnancy Support Center of Southside Virginia will be holding three events this fall:

Walk for Life Appomattox – Sat., Sept. 3, 8:30 a.m., Courtland Festival Park

Walk for Life Farmville – Sat., Sept. 10, 8:30 a.m.,  Main St. Entrance of High Bridge Trail

Walk for Life Buckingham – Sat., Sept. 17, 8:30 a.m., Central Virginia
Christian School

Registration opens at 8:30 a.m. for each event.  Forms can be downloaded at or call (434)391-1011.