Roanoke Times Reporter Wins Top Journalistic Honor for Agricultural Coverage; Other News Professionals Lauded As Well

Casey Fabris, a business reporter for The Roanoke Times, captured Virginia Farm Bureau Federation’s 2020 Ishee-Quann Award for Media Excellence, the top honor in Farm Bureau’s annual Journalism Awards program. Fabris also won in the award program’s daily newspaper category. She has been a reporter at The Roanoke Times since 2015.

Her work in the past year has included coverage of the Franklin County Agricultural Fair; opportunities for cheese processing as demand for fluid milk has declined; Christmas tree farming in a recession; the toll of last fall’s drought conditions on farms surrounding Roanoke; the work of volunteer gleaners to help feed their communities; and a pandemic-related spike in demand for local foods.

The Ishee-Quann Award is named in part for Jeff Ishee, who operates On the Farm, a daily, web-based farm news service, and who is a former serial recipient of VFBF Journalism Awards. The late Homer Quann was WSVA Harrisonburg radio’s farm news director for several decades and was known as the most dedicated agricultural reporter in Virginia.

VFBF Journalism Awards recognize exemplary ongoing coverage of agriculture issues, practices and events by print and broadcast news operations.

  • Competition in the category for weekly and semiweekly newspapers resulted in a tie, one “for the records”—specifically the Kilmarnock-based Rappahannock Record, which marked its fifth consecutive win and its 14th in the past 16 years; and the Greene County Record of Stanardsville, a first-time winner. Rappahannock Record coverage in the past year has included drought’s impact on the 2019 corn and soybean crops; a hydroponic produce operation; and challenges the COVID-19 pandemic wrought on the local and national food supply chains. Greene County Record coverage has included the enduring appeal of home canning; the need for farmers and motorists to exercise caution when equipment needs to be moved on local roads; and the resilience of area farmers as the pandemic took hold in Central Virginia.
  • Morning anchor Neesey Payne of WDBJ7 in Roanoke captured her second consecutive award in the television category. Her work includes Grown Here at Home, an ongoing series of agricultural stories.
  • Operations Manager Frank Wilt of WSVA in Harrisonburg won in the radio category for a second consecutive year. Wilt co-hosts WSVA’s Early Mornings show, covers a broad range of agricultural topics and reports weather for stations in the Harrisonburg Radio Group.
  • Honorable mentions went to Jessica Wetzler of the Daily News-Record in Harrisonburg and news team members Hayley Henson, Santiago Melli-Huber, Eric Pointer and Kara Thompson of television station WFXR in Roanoke.

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