Lee County Extension agent named first runner-up in national contest

Lee County Extension agent named first runner-up in national contest
Amy G. Fannon of Pennington Gap was named first runner-up for the 2019 American Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers & Ranchers Excellence in Agriculture Award. The competition took place at the AFBF Annual Convention, held Jan. 11-16 in New Orleans.

Fannon won the state-level Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers Excellence in Agriculture Award in August 2018. The award recognizes individuals for involvement in agriculture, leadership ability and involvement and participation in Farm Bureau and other organizations.

Fannon said she was “shocked, but in a good way” when she was named runner-up. She’s excited about the Case IH Farmall 50A tractor from Case IH that she will receive as a prize.

The Lee County farmer is a Virginia Cooperative Extension unit coordinator and agriculture and natural resources agent in Lee County and previously was an agent in Wise County. She and her sister are the fourth generation to help run her family’s farm, where they raise pumpkins, corn, alfalfa hay and Katahdin sheep.

Much of her work as an Extension agent, Fannon noted, serves farmers with limited resources. “People often think about the perfect farm and ‘what you are supposed to do,’” she said, but when addressing producers’ real-world problems, “I assist them in finding practical solutions to imperfect situations. These solutions help keep farmers operating and feeding their families.”

During her final presentation at the AFBF convention, Fannon shared that she has been able to secure $290,000 in grants and sponsorship money for local farmers. She believes that is one of her accomplishments that helped her stand out amongst the competition.

She is particularly proud, she noted, of creating the Lee County Livestock Association, a nonprofit organization that now boasts 100 members.

Another favorite facet of her work, she added, is creating educational programs that meet community needs or broaden farmers’ or consumers’ knowledge. Fannon has held programs on beekeeping, gardening, animal health, crop production, leadership and financial skills. Among the largest annual events are a regional cattle conference and a Farm and Family Day that drew more than 500 participants in 2017.

Fannon holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in crop and soil environmental sciences from Virginia Tech. She is a member of the National Association of County Agriculture Agents, the Virginia Association of Agriculture Extension Agents, the Virginia Extension Service Association, the Virginia Cattlemen’s Association, the Virginia Forage and Grasslands Council, and the Honor Society of Agriculture, Gamma Sigma Delta.

          In January 2018 she was a semifinalist in the AFBF Young Farmers & Ranchers Discussion Meet, having won the VFBF Young Farmers Discussion Meet in late 2017. The Discussion Meet simulates a committee meeting, and participants are judged on their active participation, understanding of current agricultural issues and ability to build consensus on predetermined ag topics.

 

With 129,000 members in 88 county Farm Bureaus, VFBF is Virginia’s largest farmers’ advocacy group. Farm Bureau is a non-governmental, nonpartisan, voluntary organization committed to supporting Virginia’s agriculture industry.

Contact Greg Hicks, VFBF vice president of communications, at 804-290-1139 or Ron Saacke, VFBF vice president of young farmers’ and women’s programs, at 804-290-1032.


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