Virginia Farm Bureau Federation honored Gayle Barts of Sutherlin as inaugural recipient of the VFBF Distinguished Farm Bureau Woman award March 30 at its annual Women’s Spring Conference in Bristol.
The award was introduced this year to honor involvement in a farm or agricultural business, or an agricultural leadership role, as well as community activities. Recipients are nominated by their peers within Farm Bureau.
Barts has maintained 40 years’ worth of bookkeeping, tax records and payroll for her family’s farm. She is a past administrator for the Danville Science Center Foundation, a past legislative aide to former U.S. Rep. Robert Hurt when he was a state legislator, and to former Del. Donald Merricks (R-Danville) and Del. Les Adams (R-Chatham). She also served as Hurt’s field director during part of his Congressional tenure. In 2010 and 2015 she received gubernatorial appointments to the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, and she served on that body’s agribusiness, education and Southside economic development committees.
Additionally, she serves on the Virginia Natural History Museum advisory committee and is assistant clerk for Ringgold Baptist Church and treasurer of Laurel Grove Volunteer Fire and Rescue and Dan Valley Republican Women. She is an active member of the Pittsylvania County Farm Bureau Women’s Committee.
Looking forward, she noted, “two of my biggest goals are to promote high-speed internet in rural Virginia and support projects that are beneficial to farmers and provide alternative crops and opportunities. As I retire from full-time employment, I plan to become more involved in community activities sponsored by our (Farm Bureau) Women’s Committee.”
Barts and her husband, Larry, have three adult sons and seven grandchildren.
She will receive a $500 cash prize, courtesy of Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co., as well as travel packages to the 2019 VFBF Annual Convention and 2020 AFBF Annual Convention, and a one-year paid county Farm Bureau membership.
Cynthia Gregg of Brunswick County was named runner-up. She is a longtime Virginia Cooperative Extension agent and unit coordinator in Brunswick, where she provides educational programming related to animal science.
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 Pam Wiley
, VFBF communications, at 804-290-1128 or Angela Haskovec
, VFBF Women’s Program and fundraising manager, at 804-290-1031.