The Northern Neck of Virginia offers a distinct view of the commonwealth, a region unlike any other with its rural life, “rivah” sauce, national history, and all things seafood. The VALOR program does many things well, but in particular the culture immersion that comes with each regional session is truly the icing on the cake. The Northern Neck region was no exception as the fellows went beyond simple pleasantries and truly dove into intricacies the region had to offer.
The peninsula where the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers meet the Chesapeake Bay is referred to as the Northern Neck. Located in the northeast portion of the state, it is flanked by Virginia, Maryland, and the Chesapeake Bay, and is easily accessible by scenic roads from the mid-atlantic metropolitan areas. The Northern Neck website invites visitors to “experience the road less traveled,” and does an excellent job promoting facets of the region that make it stand out for many, including outdoor adventures, fresh Virginia seafood, agriculture experiences, and historical significance.
The VALOR fellows were able to experience the full range that the Northern Neck has to offer on their most recent regional seminar. The fellows began at Stratford Hall, birthplace of Robert E. Lee, to experience agricultural and personal history of the region. Initial focus of the first few days related to agriculture, both on the land and in the water. Many local farmers and agribusinesses took great care in explaining the role of agriculture in relation to the local and global economy, shared with successes and challenges that the region has to offer. Agriculture in the Northern Neck also includes farming the sea, as evidenced at Bevans Oysters and Cowart Seafood of Lottsburg.
The next portion of the seminar brought the VALOR fellows up close and personal with the Chesapeake Bay. A trip to Tangier Island and the adjacent Port Isobel arranged by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation afforded the fellows multiple opportunities to discuss Bay issues in relation to agriculture, connect with local waterman, and participate in traditional activities such as crabbing and dredging to explore wildlife.
Once back on the mainland after a less than calm boat ride from Tangier, the VALOR fellows finished the Northern Neck seminar with an experience in fish at OMEGA Protein in Reedville. OMEGA Protein manufactures both human and animal quality products through harvesting of the Menhaden fish.
The varied environments presented in the Northern Neck and Chesapeake Bay seminar were invaluable in their relation to understanding the rural area and its abundance of agriculture – both on land and in the water. The learning experience is sure to stick with the fellows, much like the distinct smell of menhaden. Follow along as the fellows document their seminar experiences on the VALOR blog, or stay in contact on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
Keep an eye out for upcoming adventures as the fellows travel to Florida for their national seminar in November!