“I think we’re a lightbulb college,” said Andrew Ickes '11, who joined the College of Natural Resources and Environment as the assistant dean of advancement. “While we have roots in traditional natural resources areas such as forestry and wildlife conservation, the research taking place here brushes up against many of the major issues confronting the world today.”

Ickes, who will lead the college’s advancement efforts, plans to turn on a few lightbulbs by engaging and building relationships with donors, alumni, parents and families, and friends of the college.

“Having conversations about the potential of cross-laminated timber, about packaging being the third-biggest industry in the world, about the critical role that the rainforest plays in both carbon storing and biodiversity preservation — all of those topics are areas where we have a great deal of expertise in this college,” Ickes said. “I’m excited to share all this with the people I talk to.”

An alumnus of Virginia Tech’s College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, Ickes brings an extensive background in fundraising and development to the role. An Eagle Scout, he began his fundraising career as a district executive for the Blue Ridge Mountains Council of the Boy Scouts of America before returning to his alma mater as an annual giving officer for the Advancement Division. He then served as an assistant director of leadership gifts, where he played a critical role in securing gifts and early support for the Beyond Boundaries Scholarship program, which provides opportunities for high-achieving and underrepresented students.

Ickes then joined the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC as director of development before returning to Lewisburg to take on the role of development director with the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine. He said an important component to his advancement career has been, and continues to be, working with organizations that are doing work that makes a difference.

“There is definitely a personal alignment as far as values with the work that I’ve chosen,” Ickes said. “I believe that the work happening in the college is truly impactful. Our students and faculty are addressing key questions about conservation and about being a good steward to the environment, and I’m excited to connect our donors to those important efforts.”

Paul Winistorfer, dean of the College of Natural Resources and Environment, said Ickes’ previous experience working in advancement at Virginia Tech will be a significant asset to the college.

“We are pleased to have Andrew join the college in this important role,” said Winistorfer. “With previous experience at Virginia Tech, he has a strong understanding of the advancement model, and he knows how important donor support, alumni engagement, and communications are to the college. I’m excited to have Andrew with us, and I know that our stakeholders will enjoy their interactions with him.”

For Ickes, the highlight of advancement work is having the opportunity to help donors make a difference for future generations.

“The best part of this work is providing people with the ability to make an impact,” he said. “There are people who have the means and resources to make a difference, and it’s very fulfilling to help guide them toward giving opportunities that provide access to the leaders of tomorrow.”

Ickes is excited to return to Blacksburg, which he looks forward to sharing with his family.

“Virginia Tech has been a big part of my life. I went to school here and worked here, and I’m really happy that my children are going to grow up around here,” he said. “This area is the best of both worlds: you get the benefits of great outdoors spaces and recreation but there are also fantastic cultural opportunities, and I’m grateful to be back here.”

By David Fleming