Five outstanding Virginia livestock industry leaders are being inducted into the Virginia Livestock Hall of Fame this year. Their portraits will be permanently displayed in the gallery at the Virginia Tech Alphin-Stuart Livestock Arena in Blacksburg along with 72 others who have been inducted since 2010.

Normally, the current year’s inductees are honored at a special ceremony held every fall. Although the portraits will still be hung this year, the formal in-person ceremony is postponed indefinitely due to restraints caused by COVID-19.

Nominees for the livestock hall of fame award come through the member state commodity organizations, namely The Virginia Cattlemen’s Association, The Virginia State Dairymen’s Association, the Virginia Pork Council, the Virginia Horse Council, and the Virginia Sheep Producers Association.

Charles W. Ahrend (deceased) was a New York native and a revered agricultural and civic leader in Rockingham County and Virginia. He was best known as a pork promoter who prepared and served pork products at many public events. His service on the Rockingham Board of Supervisors and his support of 4-H swine programs cemented his widespread value and popularity.

Christopher Chenery (deceased) was a native of Virginia who bred successful thoroughbred horses at Meadow Farm in Caroline County. These important and influential horses include Hill Prince, First Landing, Cicada, Riva Ridge, and the record-setting Triple-Crown winner, Secretariat. Recognitions include the Eclipse Outstanding Breeder Award and the Virginia Thoroughbred Hall of Fame United States Racing Hall of Fame and Pillar of the Turf Award.

Robert E. Foster, of Washington County, has had a monumental impact on the Virginia cattle industry through his long-time buyer activity, support, and promotion of Virginia Feeder Cattle. He helped to shape the cattle industry not only in the commonwealth, but also across the country, making Virginia cattle a household name in the nation’s beef industry.

H. Franklin Graves’ fruitful career was focused on marketing Virginia livestock. The Madison County native and Virginia Tech alumnus served the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services as livestock services program manager for 33 years. His leadership in market development and livestock grading created enhanced marketing opportunities for Virginia livestock producers and resulted in numerous personal awards.

Riley and Barbara Wagner have had  a profound impact on the dairy industry. Their Rilara Holsteins have had a marked positive impact on the genetic improvement of the Holstein breed. They had an equally tremendous impact as leaders in the dairy industry, serving numerous roles for state and national organizations as well as promotion and management of many sales and conventions.

—    Written by A.L. (Ike) Eller Jr.

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