This week, the inaugural fellows of the Virginia Agriculture Leaders Obtaining results (VALOR) program participated in their fourth of 12 seminars at the Virginia Farm Bureau building and the General Assembly in Richmond. VALOR is a two-year program that focuses on leadership development, team building, advocacy training, exploration of industry issues, and stakeholder networking. The program’s 10 members were chosen from among peers across the state.
Members of the VALOR inaugural class are:
- Roger Elkins of Jonesville, operator of Elkins Sandy Spring Farm;
- Dana Fisher of New Market, agricultural education teacher at Central High School;
- Ben Grove of Blacksburg, development officer with College of Agriculture and Life Sciences;
- Ian Heatwole of Weyers Cave, producer and manager of Fox Run Farms LLC and FRF Cross Keys LLC;
- Matt Hickey of Staunton, owner of Classic Carriage LLC and vice president of Blue Ridge Mass Appraisal Company;
- C.J. Isbell of Rockville, co-owner and managing member of Keenbell Farm LLC;
- Teresa Lindberg of Jarratt, agricultural education teacher at Edward W. Wyatt Middle School and past-president of the Virginia Association of Agricultural Educators;
- Hunter Richardson of Shacklefords, owner/operator of Scattered Acres Farm;
- Ken Ryan of Edinburg, Va., credit analyst with MidAtlantic Farm Credit; and
- Andrew Smith of Beaverdam, senior assistant director of governmental relations with Virginia Farm Bureau Federation and owner of a commercial hay operation.
At Virginia Farm Bureau, VALOR fellows heard from Martha Moore, Vice President of VFBF Governmental Relations, and Donna Johnson, past-president of the Virginia Agribusiness Council about lobbying for agriculture. They also received media training from Norm Hyde and Sherri McKinney from the VFBF Communications Department.
The second half of the seminar took place at the General Assembly where fellows met with, Governor Bob McDonnell, Chief of Staff Martin Kent, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Travis Hill, and Delegate Bobby Orrock. Participates also met with their legislators and toured the State Capitol.