Report on Seminar One in Blacksburg, Virginia

The first seminar of the VALOR program took place on Friday, September 14 in Blacksburg, Virginia and ended on Sunday.  The VALOR director, Dr. Megan Seibel, met the inaugural class and their spouses as she detailed the exciting opportunities of the program.  The program will provide communications training, intrapersonal assessments for heighten self-awareness, problem solving techniques, and leadership development.  The class will travel all across the state of Virginia, nationally, and internationally to develop a broader and deeper understanding of agriculture and it’s many complexities.  VALOR is a premier leadership program for adults in agriculture with few leadership programs of its kind in Virginia.

Susan Gill and Thea Glidden from CALS communication team came to speak about blogging and business communication.  On Saturday Dr. Rick Rudd presented on leading change.  He shared many strategies for change agents to effectively communicate to others their innovation that was largely based on the work of Everette RogersNIFA and USDA initiatives; global warming, world hunger, alternative energy, food safety, childhood obesity, were discussed as foundations for the future of agriculture.

The VALOR class participated in an etiquette lunch and then met with the Deans of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.  Dr. Alan Grant discussed the focus of the college at the university and the state.  Dr. Ed Jones spoke about the efforts of Virginia’s Cooperative Extension and the many extension stations at work across the state.  Dr. Susan Sumner discussed the academic majors that are being offered to prepare students for careers in agriculture.  Lastly, Dr. Saied Mostaghimi shared with the class the innovations taking place at the AREC centers.  The conversation with the Dean’s provided helpful insight into how a land grant university supports agriculture.

A certified Myers Briggs facilitator from VT’s Hampton Roads Center conducted a workshop on communication with different personality types.  The class and their spouses learned their personality types as they participated in a series of activities about preference and decision-making.  Lastly, Saturday night concluded with dinner at Dr. Rudd’s house with his family and members of the advisory council.

Sunday provided the class and the staff an opportunity to wrap up and decompress from the jam-packed seminar.  The class members have been tasked with researching locations for their international trip.  The trip destination will be discussed at the next seminar in November in Tidewater, Virginia.

Look for more introductions from the inaugural class. 

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