Many of the articles in this issue of CNRE News reflect on our continual march toward relevancy in today’s complex world and our comprehensive reach for excellence at the margin. How are our academic programs relevant to students for whom a college degree is out of reach? Our Beyond Boundaries Scholars, as well as our many other scholarship recipients, are testament to the vision, support, and generosity of our donors, who are providing students a path to Virginia Tech and our college. We are relevant to students from underrepresented groups, first- generation students, and the brightest students because we can help them financially. Thank you, donors — you are changing lives.

How do we help our students gain real-world experiences that will help them develop and be more competitive in the job market and graduate school? Funded undergraduate research experiences, like the support provided by the Morton and Spapperi Family Foundation, make a significant difference.

How do we help our faculty jump-start a contemporary research idea or experiential learning opportunity that needs seed funding to engage students and the public in the importance of our work? Virginia Tech’s new crowdfunding program, appropriately named Jump, is that vehicle. Crowdfunding allows individual donors to make an impact in support of worthwhile projects and student experiences.

How do we forge partnerships with external organizations that help our students and benefit our partners? Our college career fair is an exceptional opportunity for students to learn about career options and develop relationships with organizations across the spectrum of natural resources disciplines. Our partners who participate in the career fair gain an early insight into our students and their potential as future employees. Many college alumni come back to campus representing their organizations — there is no better way for our students to hear about career opportunities first hand.

How do we help our students differentiate themselves early in their career? The Leadership Institute, funded with private gifts, is a signature program of the college that offers each year’s student cohort a strategic view of leadership in state and federal agencies, nongovernment organizations, and the private sector. We need leadership in natural resources, and our students need to develop the skills, knowledge, and aspiration to lead their future organizations.

Our college leadership team, faculty, staff, and students seek excellence in all that we do in the college. The moment that we think we cannot get any better or go any higher is the moment that complacency emerges and plants a seed that enough is enough. If one side of the coin represents excellence in all we do and aspire to do, the other side represents complacency, lagging behind, and settling. Which side of the coin to you want to be on? The marginal cost of excellence can be significant but is worthy to pursue. We will continue to pursue excellence in all that we do in the college in 2018 and beyond.

Warm regards on behalf of our faculty, staff, and students,