Last week our cohort class IV of the VALOR program made our first traveling trip to the tidewater and eastern shore region. I had never been to that part of the state prior to last week and I can’t wait to return. We were met with open arms from all our host and it was very rewarding to me to see something that is common in our industry. For those of us fortunate enough to be in the agriculture industry, we see a common thread of generosity and kindness that I can only hope exists in other industries. Powerful and busy leaders took liberties with their schedule to host our group and without exception, did so until our schedule dictated that we should leave. Not only were we given rare access to large and small operations in the area, we were hosted by almost a thankfulness that we were there and for that I want to thank all our host last week if you happen to read this.
The diversity of agriculture in the tidewater and eastern shore region of our state is impressive. We toured peanut, pork and cotton processing facilities, shipping ports, ag education programs and family farms that are almost as impressive as the families that operate them. While I am aware of the time commitment that we as VALOR fellows endure, the time commitment of the operators that we were able to gain access to is a deep commitment to this program. Having been involved in agriculture my whole life in several states, I am often in awe of Virginia’s agriculture and the service industries that support its well-being. VALOR brings a unique opportunity to its fellows by sharing its network with us and for that I am thankful.
As I look forward to many trips we will take as a group over the next couple of years, it is hard to imagine that all of those trips will be met with the kindness that was shared with our group last week on the southeastern region of our state. We all learned so much about the area’s agriculture success and challenges, but the most important takeaway for me on this trip was that agriculture everywhere, but specifically in southeastern Virginia possesses a rare thread of uncommon kindness.