Agreement moves DEVELOP forward
December 20th, 2013

WISE — County supervisors last Thursday approved the necessary steps to allow the local National Aeronautics and Space Administration DEVELOP program to continue.

Supervisors unanimously approved a request from the Wise County/Norton circuit court clerk’s office to establish a new department and budget for the program for the current and 2014-15 fiscal years.

A letter included in the board’s packet notes that the clerk’s office recently entered into a new cooperative agreement with NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton.

That five-year agreement began Dec. 3 and involves $5 million in funds to be awarded in annual increments of up to $1 million. The new department, Develop National Program, and budget were needed to facilitate the spending of these funds, according to the letter. The program’s fiscal 2013-14 budget totals $561,340 and will span Dec. 3 to June 30, 2014.

The DEVELOP program enlists career transitioning professionals, early career professionals and students to work on applied Earth science projects from within the county courthouse, explained Melanie Salyer, chief deputy clerk, via email.

The local program involves three, 10-week terms each year and supports 14 global DEVELOP locations.

Wise County’s team last summer used NASA Earth observing assets to study environmental issues related to Rwanda agriculture and energy, Mexico forest fires and Virginia health and air quality. “By continuing to work with NASA’s Applied Science Program, we are able to continue applying Earth science data results to address community concerns,” wrote Salyer.

Circuit Court Clerk Jack Kennedy added that the program “also provides the opportunity for the region to conduct international research projects through engaging international scholars in Wise who bring an international science perspective to our community.”

An estimated 30 participants are expected to work on DEVELOP projects next year in Wise, including local students and those from Rwanda and other nations, wrote Salyer.

For more information on DEVELOP, visit