Just like Gene Kelly, VALOR Class IV was caught in a downpour and still had a wonderful night! As chair of the Tidewater session stop hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Paul Rogers, Jr., it’s my responsibility to share that event with our devoted blog followers. (And as promised in my introductory blog it is also my responsibility to provide you with a song in every post.)
First, a little background about Paul. Paul was named the 2018 Virginia Farmer of the Year to represent our state at the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year competition. If you read more about his accomplishments, you’ll see just why he was so deserving of this award. Paul has served as president of the VA Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services, is on the VALOR advisory board, and has been a director of the Peanut Growers Cooperative Marketing Association, the VA Corn Growers Association, and the VA Agribusiness Council, just to name a few.
Paul and his wife were kind enough to host us at their hunt club for a night full of delicious food and fellowship. Hosts from earlier stops, such as the Commonwealth Gin, even joined us again to continue the conversations and networking. Glenn Rountree with Bayer CropScience and VDACS Deputy Commissioner Charles Green were welcome new additions who brought interesting perspectives to the table.
One major theme of all discussions at this stop was technology. Despite the pouring rain, Paul was able to give each of us the opportunity to operate his self-steering tractor. (No naming names, but he said he would hire some of us and pass on the others!)
Naturally, in an evening centered around technology, GMOs came up. “Controversial” subjects remind us why we are in VALOR in the first place–the goal isn’t to agree with everything we hear and see, but strive to have productive conversations about tough topics in a respectful manner.
Towards the end of the evening, Paul was asked what advice he would provide to us as future leaders. His answer was simple, yet poignant: “Give back.” He went on to explain that when he’s in Richmond or another location serving on a committee or board, he knows that something goes lacking at the farm. However, he feels this is the most important way he can ensure agriculture has a future. Paul wasn’t the only one giving back that night. Every single person who joined our class that night gave up their time and were giving back to VALOR Class IV, even after some had already spent the day with us! How generous is that?
For their time, hospitality, and willingness to have candid discussions, every person at that stop deserves our respect and thanks!