Inaugural VALOR class named

The inaugural VALOR class includes, from left, Ben Grove of Blacksburg, Va.; Jim Hilleary of Marshall, Va.; Matt Hickey of Staunton, Va.; Dana Fisher of New Market, Va.; Andrew Smith of Beaverdam, Va.; Teresa Lindberg of Jarratt, Va.; C.J. Isbell of Rockville, Va.; Ian Heatwole of Weyers Cave, Va.; Hunter Richardson of Shacklefords, Va.; Ken Ryan of Edinburg, Va.; and Roger Elkins of Jonesville, Va.

by Lori Greiner

The inaugural class of the Virginia Agriculture Leaders Obtaining Results Program met at Virginia Tech in September to kick off the two-year leadership training program.

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ VALOR Program is designed to develop leaders who can effectively engage all segments of the Virginia agricultural community to create collaborative solutions and promote agriculture inside and outside the industry.

“I am excited to be a part of the inaugural class of the VALOR Program,” said Dana Fisher, an agricultural education teacher at Central High School in Woodstock, Va., and one of the 11 professionals chosen for the program. “At a time when the majority of our state and country are far removed from production agriculture, it is vital that competent leaders step up to inform the public about the challenges and successes of an industry that provides us with the world’s safest yet most inexpensive supply of food, fiber, and natural resources.”

Program participants will take part in 12 experiential seminars spanning a total of 48 days over 24 months. The seminars will address social, political, and economic issues impacting the agriculture industry and its viability in a variety of settings throughout the commonwealth and beyond, including exploration of global agricultural issues. The program will culminate with an experience abroad.

“I am excited about the group we have compiled for the inaugural class,” said Megan Seibel, VALOR director. “They will lay the foundation for the program and establish its reputation for greatness among industry stakeholders. We anticipate their tremendous impact as strong industry leaders for years to come.”

Application to the program was open to public and private sectors of Virginia’s agriculture industry, and more than 100 nominations were submitted. Selection was based on an extensive application and a face-to-face interview.

Class members will gain and share experiences throughout the program that will take them to local, national, and international destinations.

For more information about the VALOR Program and how to support the program and its participants, contact Megan Seibel at 540-231-2375 or visit