He’s studied fine wine, history and Hebrew, and spends much of his alone time carefully researching the Thirty Year’s War – that forgotten period in early European history that followed the Protestant Reformation – for a book he hopes to write. And when all that becomes a little mundane, Stan Barringer’s been known to get out his mandolin and play a traditional bluegrass tune.

By day, however, he’s tucked away in the corner of the OTC Building, where he oversees a federal research grant looking for ways to reduce the overwhelming number of Americans who receive help through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly referred to as food stamps. In Virginia, which is one of 10 states to receive a share of the grant funds, the program is being piloted at VHCC and six other community colleges.

“We’re just entering year two of the three-year grant,” Stan said, explaining that he and his staff are providing a variety of educational and training services to help participants prepare for meaningful employment. At the end of the study, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will determine if those services made a difference and, if so, how to proceed.

Stan began his life in Indiana, then moved to Virginia to study Public Relations and Advertising at Liberty University. While a student, he played French Horn in the university’s orchestra and met his wife, Elizabeth. When he was ready for graduate school, he enrolled at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi, and landed a job managing a large wine retail store. With the help of the store’s owner, he began studying to become a certified sommelier.

As a trained wine professional, he has developed a great love for viognier and syrah grapes, learned the proper temperature and food pairings for various wines, and become skilled at proper wine service. He’s happy to recommend a good wine for a special meal or, if you start with the wine, he can suggest a meal that pairs nicely.

After earning an M.S. in History & Hebrew, Stan and his wife moved to Southwest Virginia to be near her family. He began working at Mount Rogers Adult Education, where he served as data specialist and helped write grants, before joining VHCC last year. When his current grant ends in two more years, he hopes to move into some other role on campus.

“It’s a fantastic community,” he said. “I feel like I’m part of a family. Everyone wants to see everyone else succeed, which hasn’t always been the case other places where I’ve worked.”

He hopes also to continue his education one day, perhaps after his book is written, and buy a sailboat similar to the one he and Elizabeth owned in Mississippi. He also likes hiking and biking and spending time outdoors with his two dogs, Guilford, a standard Australian Shepherd/Lab mix, and Griffin, a miniature Aussie.

All that leaves little time for music, but Stan keeps his mandolin tuned for those times when the mood strikes him. And, like other aspects of his life, he mixes it up a bit – playing everything from baroque to bluegrass.