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Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative (SVEC) Vice President of Member Services, J. Michael Aulgur, was granted a fellowship in the Virginia Agriculture Leaders Obtaining Results (VALOR) program, considered to be Virginia’s premier agriculture-leadership training programs.

“I am honored to be included in this diverse group of individuals, and to receive the chance to further my knowledge of agriculture and hone my leadership skills.  Agriculture is an industry that is vital to the Commonwealth of Virginia and the nation as a whole, and needs to be continued as such,” Aulgur said.  “This opportunity is something that I greatly appreciate, and I will make the most of it.”

From the Virginia Tech release describing the program, “The two-year training includes experiential travel, leadership discourse, and networking designed to prepare fellows to undertake leadership roles facilitating community problem-solving and promoting Virginia agriculture – communicating its realities, vigor, and needs – in forums in, and outside of, the industry.”

VALOR is one of about 40 agricultural leadership programs active in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia. Agricultural leadership programs use a research-based experiential learning approach that builds professional leadership skills in the context of agriculture. In addition to on-the-ground agriculture, agricultural policy and communications are included in visits to the state and national capitals. An international experience crowns each VALOR program by placing Virginia agriculture in the context of world trade, cooperation, and global connectivity. This spring, the class went to South Africa. Previous cohorts have visited Argentina and Vietnam.

The fellows will meet every other month for two years, and travel throughout Virginia’s nine distinct agricultural regions.  Professional and personal development themes for these seminars include ag trade and communicating with others, urban agriculture and national ag policy, team building and collaboration, and communicating the industry, among others.