Young Farmers take top honors at national convention

virginia farm bureauVirginia Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers once again took top honors Jan. 9 at the annual convention of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Sarah Scyphers of Washington County won the AFBF Young Farmers & Ranchers Excellence in Agriculture Award. Chris and Patricia Haskins of Pittsylvania County were runners-up for the YF&R Achievement Award. Dr. Jessica Jones of Pittsylvania County was one of four finalists in the YF&R Discussion Meet.

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

Scyphers is an agriculture education instructor and FFA advisor at Holston High School in Damascus. She grew up on her family’s beef cattle and sheep operation, where they also grew crops to feed their livestock. She, her husband and their two children raise purebred Katahdin and commercial hair sheep, along with Charolais and commercial cattle.

This past school year Scyphers was awarded a Models of Innovation Grant through the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and Virginia Tech for development of an outdoor learning lab and classroom at her school. She also has established a program in which her students educate third-graders about agriculture.

She will receive her choice of a 2017 Chevrolet Silverado or 2017 GMC Sierra pickup truck.

The Achievement Award honors young farmers who are successful in production agriculture and provide leadership on and off the farm. Chris Haskins is a fourth-generation farmer who grows flue-cured, burley and experimental biofuel tobacco. He also manages an Angus/Hereford cow-calf operation. Patricia Haskins works part-time as a small animal veterinarian and with the cattle on the farm. She is a former chairman of the Pittsylvania County Farm Bureau Women’s Committee. The Haskinses are VFBF Young Farmers Committee members and Pittsylvania Farm Bureau Young Farmers Committee members. They will receive a Case IH Farmall 50A tractor, courtesy of Case IH, along with $3,000 in cash and merchandise from Stihl Inc.

The Discussion Meet is designed to simulate a committee meeting in which discussion and active participation is expected from each contestant. Competitors are judged on their discussion skills, understanding of important agricultural issues and how well they build a consensus. This year’s final-round topic was “American agriculture depends on a foreign-born labor force. How would you draft a national immigration policy?”

Jones, a high school agriculture education teacher and FFA advisor, said three words describe the ideal national immigration policy: “reliable, feasible and flexible.”

She will receive a Case IH Farmall 50A tractor courtesy of Case IH, along with $3,000 in cash and merchandise from Stihl Inc.

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