Some 250 alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends came together to celebrate the college’s 25th anniversary Sept. 15-16.

The celebration kicked off at Smithfield Plantation on Friday night with Fiddles and Vittles, a casual get-together featuring the New Standard bluegrass band and food truck fare.

Saturday was a full day of festivities, starting early with a breakfast for retired and current faculty and staff. Dean Paul Winistorfer shared the podium with former deans Greg Brown and Mike Kelly.

The focus then shifted to a Share Fair at the Duck Pond, where student groups engaged visitors of all ages in activities and demonstrations, including timbersports, tree climbing, fishing, and drone flights. Facility tours, nature walks, and a student poster session in the afternoon showcased the learning and research that has given rise to the ranking of the college’s natural resources and conservation program as No. 1 in the nation by USA Today College three years in a row.

The grand-finale jubilee, a business-casual reception and dinner, featured speakers who reflected on the past, gave a snapshot of the present, and looked to the future. The emcee for the evening was alumnus Mike Melo, who chairs the Dean’s Advisory Council.

Alumna Beth Ingalls shared her story about the value of giving back to the college. Students Ebone Smith, Eduardo Molina Montoya, Ella DiPetto, and Kenny Townsend each spoke about a different aspect of their college experience.

Guest speaker Guru Ghosh, Virginia Tech’s vice president for outreach and international affairs, applauded the college and gave a birds-eye perspective of the university. Winistorfer closed the evening by highlighting the goals and objectives of the college going forward.

About two dozen alumni gathered for an impromptu send-off breakfast at Gillies on Sunday, giving them one more opportunity to connect and catch up before saying, “Farewell, for now.”

Leon Kolankiewicz, class of ’77, was among several who expressed their appreciation: Thank you so much for putting together such a wonderful 25th anniversary celebration. I saw some old friends and acquaintances, and made some new ones. The events were all splendid. And of course, I’m proud to have a continued role with CNRE, through annual giving that supports students in the Leadership Institute, participation in events in the D.C. area, and staying in touch through the college newsletter and social media. It’s great to know the college is in good hands!

Reflecting on the college’s anniversary, Winistorfer said, “Twenty-five years is a significant milestone. Today our graduates are pioneers discovering science-based, sustainable solutions to global issues with new digital technologies and innovative applications. We are appreciative of our heritage and foundation, and our eyes and our focus are on the future.”