Home sweet home

Having only lived in Virginia four years, one of my goals for participating in VALOR is to help Virginia feel more like home. Visiting Richmond and Seminar III took a huge step in that direction! Touring the capitol, meeting elected officials and participating in the Virginia Agribusiness Council annual dinner – and knowing more people there than I thought I would – all helped me feel more like a Virginian.

One difference between state government in New York and Virginia is Virginia’s part-time legislature. I have a hard time wrapping my head around that, but it seems like the VA legislators put in a ton of work to get the job done in a short window.

New York and Virginia do have some similarities. They both have large population centers and sometimes rural residents think their needs are not being considered in decision making. It is vital to be involved in the discussion, both individually and as members of industry organizations, to make sure agriculture’s needs are being met.

Living in a urban area now, as opposed to the rural area I grew up in, gives me the unique opportunity to share issues of importance to agriculture and rural life with urban lawmakers. When meeting with my State Delegate, he said I was the first constituent to come into his office and say I wanted to talk about agriculture. I’m glad VALOR is giving us the tools needed for engaging in advocacy and giving us the opportunity to practice.

One area we got to learn about and practice during the seminar was media interviews. I work for a communications organization so this wasn’t my first media training. But it is so important to keep practicing. Media interviews are definitely a use it or lose it kind of thing. In addition to participating in an interview, I got to experience being behind the camera to interview Dave. Following  media training at Virginia Farm Bureau on Wednesday, I was at the American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention doing a media interview on Sunday. Talk about putting the training into action!

We also did personality and leadership training through the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator. I have a preference toward introversion so one of my big takeaways from the training was to ask for more time if I need it. Extroverts get energized by interacting with people and taking action. They often like to think through ideas by talking them over with others or take action on a plan that isn’t fully developed. I usually find this frustrating, but it is what works best for them. I tend to reflect more and take more time to think through an idea or plan before sharing it.

I found the activity we did to demonstrate the sensing vs intuition preference to be fascinating. Dr. Tyler-Mackey put a picture on the screen and asked us to look at it for a few minutes then discuss it. Me and the rest of the sensing group picked out all the details, like words and colors. We focused on what was real and tangible. The intuition group saw the big picture. They developed a story about the picture. They saw things in the picture that I did not even notice because I was so focused on details in a certain area. This demonstrated the benefit of bringing a diverse team together. I need teammates with a preference for intuition to help me avoid getting bogged down in the details.

I’m looking forward to welcoming the VALOR fellows to northern Virginia and DC this week and continuing to explore the state throughout the rest of the program.


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