BLACKSBURG — The Virginia Agriculture Leaders Obtaining Results(VALOR) program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech received the 2015 National Association of Agricultural Educators Outstanding Postsecondary/Adult Agricultural Education Program Award.

The award was presented at the National Association of Agricultural Educators annual convention in New Orleans on Nov. 18. Virginia Agriculture Leaders Obtaining Results is one of only four programs nationwide that received the 2015 award.

The program is a two-year fellowship for adults working in agriculture who want to develop their communication, problem solving, and critical thinking skills, in addition to broadening their knowledge of global and local agriculture. The mission of Virginia Agriculture Leaders Obtaining Results is to develop leaders who can effectively engage all segments of the Virginia agriculture community to create collaborative solutions and promote agriculture.  

The program is housed in the Department of Agricultural and Extension Education and receives funding from participant fees, the college, and Virginia Cooperative Extension, as well as from philanthropy from individual donors, industry organizations and, agribusinesses. Its success stems from raising participants’ awareness of the diversity and profitability of agriculture in Virginia. 

The program also focuses on helping participants develop new partnerships and fosters deeper collaboration across the state between agriculture stakeholders. Through Virginia Agriculture Leaders Obtaining Results, participants also increase their civic engagement and learn more about public affairs related to Virginia’s agriculture community. Social, political, and economic issues relevant to agriculture and the community are addressed in each of its 12 seminars. In these seminars, students interact with hosts in a sector of Virginia agriculture to learn about that person’s role as a leader in Virginia agriculture. These seminars push past the boundaries between student and professional and allow both to ask questions and participate in active learning.

Virginia Agriculture Leaders Obtaining Results "strives to reduce the individual silos that are so prevalent in the industry today and serves as a bridge to connect each entity by developing adult agriculture leaders who can effectively create a positive change,”  said participant Teresa Lindberg, an agriscience teacher.

Each of the four regional Outstanding Postsecondary/Adult Program Award winners was recognized at the NAAE convention in New Orleans. The Outstanding Postsecondary/Adult Agricultural Education Program award is sponsored by Monsanto as a special project of the National FFA Foundation. NAAE is the professional association for agricultural educators. Its mission is “professionals providing agricultural education for the global community through visionary leadership, advocacy, and service.” The NAAE office is located in Lexington, Kentucky.

Written by Amy Loeffler

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