As the Agricultural Marketing and Development Director for Halifax County, Virginia, I serve in the VADO group AND I am a member of VALOR – Class III. As a bit of background, the Virginia Agriculture Development Officers (VADO) was created by then Sec. of Agriculture Todd Haymore as a means for VDACS and the local counties / cities to work together to build opportunities for economic growth in Virginia based in agriculture.
I was fortunate to become a member of VADO with my job as the Agricultural Marketing Director of Halifax County (sorry, I can’t miss an opportunity to plug Halifax County!) and I have been grateful every single day. The resources I have gained and the network that I have developed are invaluable. Rarely a day goes by that I don’t use something that I have learned, reached out to a person that I have met or turned to a resource that I found through VADO. We are a small group and tight group. I believe that it is due to the limit in size that allows us to work so well together as a resource to each other and to VDACS.
I was fortunate again the past year to be accepted into VALOR – Class III. All I could think of upon receiving my acceptance is….what an opportunity to learn even more, build a bigger network and work even harder for my community. After only three seminars, it is certainly paying off. Just as important, VALOR is a leadership program designed to develop ag leaders and agvocates around the state. As the program is only in its third class of fellows, each graduate needs to pull up the next class and turn to each other and share opportunities to lead.
It was interesting for me to sit in the meeting as a member of both VADO and VALOR. My two worlds were coming together. I hope the VALOR class took something from VADO and vice versa. As I sat there one thought came to mind, I can’t look at VADO’s annual January meeting as just another item on my busy calendar and I can’t look at a VALOR seminar as just more days out of the office. I need to look at each as an opportunity for learn and grow as an individual but just as importantly I need to look at each as an opportunity to play my part in building a stronger ag and forestry economy locally and statewide. Yes, that’s right. We each have a responsibility to encourage and support each other in our individual efforts. When these efforts are combined…..well let’s just say that we are unstoppable!