Virginia Young Farmers honored at national convention

virginia farm bureauTwo couples representing Virginia Farm Bureau Federation were named national runners-up and a third Virginian was a semifinalist in annual American Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers & Ranchers competitions. The competitions were held Jan. 7 and 8 during the AFBF Annual Convention.

Justin and Lori McClellan of Smyth County were first runners-up for the AFBF YF&R Achievement Award, and Casey and Stacey Phillips of Montgomery County were first runners-up for the AFBF YF&R Excellence in Agriculture Award. Amy Gail Fannon of Lee County advanced to the semifinal round in the organization’s Discussion Meet.

The Achievement Award recognizes young farmers for their work in building a profitable farm operation. The McClellans own a beef cow-calf and calf feeding operation, as well as an excavation and trucking business. Justin McClellan also serves on the Smyth County Farm Bureau board of directors.

He said he and his wife may have advanced in the award judging because “we paid a lot of attention to detail along the way, and maybe we’re doing some innovative things that other farmers aren’t doing.”

Lori McClellan added that the couple “couldn’t have done this without our farm employees—they’ve really helped us along the way—and the support of Farm Bureau.”

The McClellans will receive a Case IH 50A Farmall tractor, courtesy of Case IH.

The Excellence in Agriculture Award recognizes recipients for involvement in agriculture, leadership ability and involvement and participation in Farm Bureau and other organizations.

Casey Phillips manages his family’s dairy farm, and Stacey Phillips teaches special education at a local elementary school. Both are passionate about sharing information about farming through social media. Four years ago they started a pick-your-own sweet corn operation, and they host school groups and other visitors for farm tours.

“I think we did so well because of what we’re doing with Farm Bureau, and how we’re using Farm Bureau to contact our urban legislators,” Casey Phillips said.

Stacey Phillips added that she enjoys “sharing our story on social media and letting people know what we’re doing on the farm and how we involve our boys—and confronting some of the issues or correcting some of those misconceptions that face farmers online.”

The Phillipses also will receive a Case IH 50A Farmall tractor, courtesy of Case IH.

Fannon won the VFBF Young Farmers Discussion Meet in November 2017 and began preparing for national competition. The Discussion meet simulates a committee meeting in which active discussion and participation are expected. Participants are evaluated on their ability to exchange ideas and information on a predetermined topic and work toward a consensus.

Fannon is a Virginia Cooperative Extension agent and unit coordinator. She is a former member of the VFBF Young Farmers Committee and lives and farms with her family in Hickory Flats, where they raise pumpkins, corn and alfalfa hay.


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