Young Farmers to Compete for National Honors, Prizes During AFBF Virtual Events

VFBF Young Farmers competing at the 2020 AFBF Annual Meeting

Winners of four Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers competitions will compete against their peers from across the nation.

Matthew Heldreth of Wythe County, winner of the VFBF Young Farmers Achievement Award; Jonathan and Kelsey Grimes of Wythe County, winners of the VFBF Young Farmers Excellence in Agriculture Award; and Jacob Gilley of Orange County, winner of the VFBF Young Farmers Discussion Meet will compete for the national titles during the 2021 American Farm Bureau Federation Virtual Convention in January.

Díaz Tompkins, a student at Southside Virginia Community College, winner of the VFBF Collegiate Young Farmers Discussion Meet, will compete in the AFBF Young Farmers & Ranchers Collegiate Discussion Meet, to be held virtually during the Farm Bureau FUSION Conference in March.

The Achievement Award honors young farmers who are successful in production agriculture and provide leadership on and off the farm. Heldreth and his wife, Shelbie, manage a beef cattle operation at Heldreth Farms, with 350 cow-calf pairs on 1,200 acres. He serves as chairman of the Wythe County Farm Bureau Young Farmers Committee.

The Excellence in Agriculture Award recognizes individuals for involvement in agriculture, leadership ability and involvement and participation in Farm Bureau and other organizations. Jonathan Grimes is an agricultural education teacher and FFA advisor at Fort Chiswell High School in Wythe County. Kelsey Grimes is a Virginia Cooperative Extension 4-H agent in the county and has served 9,600 youth through 4-H since 2012. The Grimeses established a square-bale hay operation in 2020.

The Discussion Meet competition is designed to simulate a committee meeting in which discussion and active participation is expected from each contestant. Competitors are judged on their discussion skills, understanding of important agricultural issues and how well they build a consensus. Gilley and his wife, Jennifer, currently own and operate JG Livestock and sell meat locally through the Heaven’s Hollow Farm brand. Gilley is vice president of the Orange County Farm Bureau, and the Gilleys serve on the VFBF state Young Farmers Committee.

Tompkins, winner of the Collegiate Discussion Meet, plans to pursue degrees in agribusiness and intellectual property. He is a former VFBF Outstanding Young Agriculturalist finalist.

Winners of the AFBF Young Farmers & Ranchers Achievement Award, Discussion Meet and Excellence in Agriculture Award will receive a new Ford truck, courtesy of Ford.

The three runners-up will receive a Case IH Farmall 50A tractor, courtesy of Case IH.

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