Islands in the stream

That is what we are

No one in between

How can we be wrong?

Sail away with me

To another world

And we rely on each other, ah ha

Depending on your musical tastes, you are probably singing the rest of Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers’ classic hit. I am sure you are also wondering how in the world it relates to VALOR. On our recent seminar we visited beautiful southside Virginia. As you may or may not know, this area used to be home to several textile factories that have long been gone. There are many in that area of the state that feel very isolated with the exodus of the major industry. Have you ever struggled to find a professional association that relates to you or your business? How often do your find yourself facing a challenge and feeling there is nowhere to turn for advice, or just have someone that has been through a similar situation?

As we toured Blue Ridge Aquaculture, The Institute for Advanced Learning, and Briar View Farms it became evident that they had all felt the same isolation at some point. However, they have all been able to reach out and form relationships with other businesses, industries, institutions and individuals. I think this is something we have all felt at some point in our lives and often in the agriculture industry. Regardless, we need to learn how to rely on each other, agriculture industry or not, and find common ground to be able to not only solve challenges but also to be able to grow our business, ourselves, and our community.

During our seminar we also took some time to reflect on our experiences through VALOR so far and I couldn’t help but remember our first few seminars. Some of us knew each other and some did not, leaving that feeling of being an island in the stream all by ourselves. As we have spent more time together and shared experiences and insights we each have individually gained, I feel we have all learned how to form those relationships with others, both in and out of our cohort. We have learned how to navigate the waters and bring those islands together. I challenge anyone reading this to be the one to reach out and make new connections to even those that seemingly would not have anything in common with us or our professions and just see how quickly you can find that common ground and get off your island.

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