Inaugural VALOR fellows participate in first seminar

VALOR inaugural class

VALOR fellows, from left: Ben Grove, Jim Hilleary, Matt Hickey, Dana Fisher, Andrew Smith, Teresa Lindberg, CJ Isbell, Ian Heatwole, Hunter Richardson, Ken Ryan, and Roger Elkins.

The inaugural fellows of the Virginia Agriculture Leaders Obtaining results (VALOR) program participated in their first of 12 seminars in September in Blacksburg, kicking off the beginning of a two-year journey through leadership development, team building, advocacy training, exploration of industry issues, and stakeholder networking.  The program’s eleven members were chosen from among peers across the state and are a stellar representation of the type of individuals Virginia agriculture has to offer.

Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore welcomed the class via video on behalf of Governor Bob McDonnell and others representing Virginia’s largest industry.  Fellows then learned of details regarding locations and topics for exploring the program curriculum were revealed, which led to a final discussion of the weekend regarding where program participants may go for their international capstone experience in spring of 2014.

This first seminar provided opportunities for Virginia Tech faculty to engage with the group and share expertise.  College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Office of Communications faculty shared information on blogging and effective business communications. Rick Rudd from the Department of Agricultural and Extension Education shared expertise on Leading through Change. Alan Grant, Edwin Jones, Susan Sumner, and Saied Mostaghimi provided information and insight regarding how the college is well positioned with personnel and research agendas to effectively impact the industry through dissemination of research, outreach programs, and academic initiatives around the state.  Stacy Harvey came from the Hampton Roads campus for a Myers-Briggs workshop to begin a discussion of group and team dynamics based on understanding personality.

While exploring global issues with a grassroots mindset, the “premise of learning is based largely on opportunities to engage in critical reflection in order to develop understanding that is hinged on collaborative and multi-faceted approaches to developing leaders for an industry whose livelihood and sustainability depends on articulate and engaged advocates,” said VALOR Director Megan Seibel.  Inter- and intra-personal skills will be fostered and embedded routinely throughout a curriculum that will expose program fellows to the diverse commodities, production and manufacturing facilities, and influential individuals in agriculture and related industry.

For more information about the VALOR program and those involved, please contact the program director, Megan Seibel at 540-231-2375.  We also encourage you to visit the VALOR website to learn more and find links to follow the program on Facebook, Twitter, and through our blog.

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