VFBF, Van Vlack shine at Farm Bureau’s convention

ORLANDO, Fla. (Jan. 19, 2016) — Virginia had finalists in each of the three Young Farmer and Rancher competitions at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual convention last week, including Chris Van Vlack, overall winner of the discussion meet.
Van Vlack is a Loudoun County farmer and local soil and water conservation district employee. As winner of the national discussion meet, he will have his choice of either a 2016 Chevrolet Silverado or a 2016 GMC Sierra, courtesy of Chevrolet, plus free registration to the YF&R Leadership Conference.
In the Achievement award category, Sam and Ashley Gardner, of Bedford County, Va., were runners up. William and Cala Tabb of Mississippi won award.
Sam Gardner is president of Gardner Heifers Inc. who grows forages and raises dairy heifers for farms in Virginia and Maryland. He also is the 2011 VFBF Young Farmers Environmental Stewardship Award winner. Ashley Gardner is a quality engineer and supervisor for a manufacturer of equipment for electric and tree service companies. She also chairs the Bedford County Farm Bureau Women’s Committee.
The achievement award recognizes young farmers and ranchers who have excelled in their farming or ranching operations and exhibited superior leadership abilities. Participants are evaluated on a combination of their agricultural operation’s growth and financial progress, Farm Bureau leadership and leadership outside of Farm Bureau.
In the excellence in agriculture competition, Mindy McCroskey, an agriculture and teacher from Washington County, Va., was one of three runners-up. Michael Miron of Minnesota won the award.
The excellence in agriculture award recognizes young farmers and ranchers who do not derive the majority of their income from an agricultural operation, but who actively contribute and grow through their involvement in agriculture, their leadership ability and participation in Farm Bureau and other organizations.
Runners up in the achievement award and excellence in agriculture competitions receive a Case IH Farmall 50A tractor, and $3,000 in cash and STIHL merchandise.