Virginia Agriculture Leaders Obtaining Results (VALOR) is the state’s premier agricultural leadership training program.

FERRUM, VA. (August 10, 2016) – Dr. Tim Durham, assistant professor of agronomy and agricultural science and agriculture program coordinator at Ferrum College, recently graduated from Virginia Agriculture Leaders Obtaining Results (VALOR), the state’s premier agricultural leadership training program, which celebrated the graduation of its second class of leadership fellows at the Hotel Roanoke on July 16, 2016, according to a Virginia Tech press release.

The two-year VALOR program included course-based learning; hands-on agriculture production experience throughout the state; understanding of agricultural policy and communication through visits to the state and nation’s capitals; and a trip to Vietnam to gain a global perspective on agriculture.

“As a newcomer to Ferrum College, it was critical to get immersed in statewide ag circles as soon as possible. VALOR provided that outlet, helping me build a Rolodex of contacts to leverage in and out of the classroom. At the same time, I was afforded the opportunity to evaluate and hone my leadership style (as ag program coordinator), and received valuable media and governmental relations training,” said Durham.

In addition to Durham, who lives in Callaway, Va., graduating fellows include Marilyn Adams, a Farm Credit branch manager from Purcellville, Va.; Lauren Arbogast, a digital learning designer and poultry producer from Harrisonburg, Va.; Shelley Barlow, a cotton and row crop farmer from Chuckatuck, Va.; Basil Gooden, state director of Rural Development (USDA) and Virginia’s incoming secretary of agriculture and forestry from Buckingham, Va.; M. James Faison, president, Milton’s Local from Hopewell, Va.; Jennifer Leech, a dairy herdsperson from Lexington, Va.; Albert Reid, a Virginia State University 4-H specialist from Ettrick, Va.; Adam Shiflett, Farm Credit lending team leader from Staunton, Va.; Josh Stephens, a petroleum sales manager from Quicksburg, Va.; Joe Wilkerson, landscaping business owner from South Boston, Va.; and Cliff Williamson, regulatory affairs with the American Horse Council from Culpeper, Va.

“This class brought a new level of diverse backgrounds and ideas to VALOR,” said Director Megan Seibel. “As a collective voice, representing individual strengths and interests, they join the alumni in gaining recognition for the profound potential of our program and its fellows.”

According to the release, VALOR is one program of about 40 active agricultural leadership programs in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia that promotes culturally appropriate agricultural leadership training that uses a research-based experiential learning approach to build professional leadership skills. The program is housed in Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in the Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education. Support for VALOR comes from the Farm Credit of the Virginias and the Virginia Farm Bureau, small businesses, foundations, and generous individuals.

About the photograph: Front row from left: Marilyn Adams, of Purcellville, Virginia; Shelley Barlow, of Chuckatuck, Virginia; Director Megan Seibel; Jennifer Leech, of Lexington, Virginia; and Lauren Arbogast, of Harrisonburg, Virginia. Back row from left: Cliff Williamson, of Culpeper, Virginia; M. James Faison, of Hopewell, Virginia; Adam Shiflett, of Staunton, Virginia; Josh Stephens, of Quicksburg, Virginia; Timothy Durham, of Callaway, Virginia; Basil Gooden, of Buckingham, Virginia; and Joe Wilkerson, of South Boston, Virginia. Not pictured: Albert Reid, of Ettrick, Virginia. Photo courtesy of Amber Stephens.