The Virginia Agriculture Leaders Obtaining Results (VALOR) Program has opened the application process for its second cohort of fellows this fall. Program applicants are expected to complete a two-part application, which is due March 30, 2014.

The VALOR Program is designed to develop leaders who can effectively engage all members of the Virginia agricultural community to create collaborative solutions and promote agriculture inside and outside the industry. Participants, ages 25 to 55, will include individuals with a vested interest in the success of Virginia agriculture and leadership for the industry.

“The program’s goal is to explore the many sides to every issue, law, and practice impacting agriculture in our state and beyond. Participants from varied public and private backgrounds will develop a well-rounded understanding of these topics through shared experiences and opportunities, helping them to shape the future of our industry,” said Megan Seibel, the program's director.

The specialized leadership program will consist of 12 experiential seminars spanning approximately 54 days over 24 months. These seminars will address social, political, and economic issues impacting the agriculture industry and its viability in a variety of settings throughout the commonwealth and beyond, including exploration of global agricultural issues, which will culminate with an international experience abroad.

Participants in VALOR’s inaugural class saw first-hand how production facilities operate on a daily basis, and engaged farmers and legislators to discuss critical issues affecting agriculture. True to VALOR’s mission to groom industry leaders as captains of civic agriculture, the program’s first class participated in a wide range of activities including visits with tomato farmers on the Eastern Shore, media training at Virginia TV stations, and they even met the governor.

“I enjoy not only what I get out of the individual development portion of the program, but also the ability to tour farms and agri-business operations I have known about for years,” said VALOR Fellow Andrew Smith. “It’s one thing being in a meeting with them, but to be at their operation and see them in action, or show off what they do, and the role they play in our industry is crucial.”

VALOR participants also travel outside the state, and each class will make one international trip during the program. The inaugural class is headed to Argentina in March where fellows will learn about potential North-South partnerships, competition in global markets, and challenges in the Argentine agriculture sector that are similar to those of the commonwealth.

After initial applications are reviewed, selection interviews will be held in July, and a formal announcement of the members chosen for the second cohort will be made in early August in preparation for the first seminar in the fall. The application, financial information, calendar, and other information regarding the program are available on the program's website. Questions regarding the program or application process should be addressed to Megan Seibel at 540-231-2375.



Written by Amy Loeffler.
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