I’m Jennifer Leech and I am a member of the second class of VALOR fellows. I live in Lexington on my family’s dairy farm, Ingleside Dairy Farm Inc. My main responsibilities on the farm are cow care and financial bookwork. Of course, working with the cows is way more fun and interesting than sitting at the desk. We milk around 340 cows, raise our own replacement heifers, and raise our own forages to feed the herd. My parents, brother, and employees all work together to accomplish everything. To learn more about our farm check out this video.
VALOR stands for Virginia Agriculture Leaders Obtaining Results and it is a leadership development program for Virginia adults involved in agriculture. The purpose of the program is to develop leaders who can represent all segments of Virginia agriculture. In past it seems like once you “graduate” from 4-H and FFA there haven’t been many options to continue to grow and develop as a leader in agriculture. VALOR is filling that gap. It is now more important than ever to have this opportunity because there just aren’t many people that understand farming. We all need to have our voice heard but less than two percent (population involved in ag.) can’t make but so much racket. You can visit the VALOR website by clicking here.
My involvement in the program will last two years. We will have ten sessions around the state learning about the diversity of agriculture and government policy. The class will also take one trip somewhere in the U.S. and another trip abroad. Both destinations will be selected by the class. I can’t wait to see how the voting turns out!
I am excited to be part of the VALOR program because I like learning about the diversity of Virginia’s agriculture, meeting new people, and being able to travel. Our first session was in Blacksburg in September. I was worried about “fitting in” with the rest of my classmates. By the end of the weekend I realized there would be no “fitting in” or should I say, you can’t help but to fit in. Our class is as diverse as our state. Everyone is so unique and we all have something different and great to offer. I am so excited to see what we can accomplish over the next two years and into the future.
Lastly, I would like to thank all of the sponsors for their support of the VALOR program. Virginia agriculture needs VALOR. We need strong leaders that understand the importance of agriculture and all the greatness Virginia farmers are capable of achieving.