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Four industry leaders inducted into the Virginia Livestock Hall of Fame

The 2018 Livestock Hall of Fame inductees were (from left) Eileen Beckman, Gary Hornbaker, Charles Moyer, and Lynda Schmidt Stuart.

The 2018 Livestock Hall of Fame inductees were (from left) Eileen Beckman, Gary Hornbaker, Charles Moyer, and Lynda Schmidt Stuart.

Four people were recently inducted into the Virginia Livestock Hall of Fame for their outstanding and uncommon contributions to the state’s livestock industry.

The ceremony was held at the College of Agriculture and Life Science’s Alphin-Stuart Livestock Arena on Virginia Tech’s campus during an unveiling of portraits of the 2018 honorees.

Established in 2009, the Virginia Livestock Hall of Fame bestows honor and recognition on outstanding Virginians who have made significant contributions to the state’s livestock industry and its people. The Virginia Cattlemen’s Association, Virginia Pork Industry Association, Virginia Sheep Producers Association, Virginia State Dairymen’s Association, and Virginia Horse Council can nominate living or deceased individuals to the Virginia Livestock Hall of Fame. This year’s honorees are listed below.

Eileen Beckmam founded and operated Otteridge Farm in Bedford County, where she bred and developed superior hunter ponies. Her ponies were exhibited and shown very successfully, but her greatest contribution was her teaching children and adults to ride with proper horsemanship and sportsmanlike conduct. She was also a well-respected judge. Recognitions include being inducted into the Virginia Horse Shows and the National Show Hunters halls of Fame. Beckman passed away in 2010.

Gary Hornbaker is a recognized agricultural innovator and leader in Loudoun County and the greater Northern Virginia area. His career in Virginia Cooperative Extension and county services is dedicated to the livestock industry and economic development. He is a cattle and sheep producer specializing in producing animals for research. Recognitions include citations from the Virginia Cattlemen’s and the Virginia Sheep Producers associations and national and state agricultural Extension groups.

Charles Moyer, of Amelia County, has been a lifelong dairyman and breeder of Oakmulgee registered Holsteins. He is a distinguished and respected agricultural and civic leader and promoter of agricultural cooperatives. He has served on numerous state and national industry boards and committees. Recognitions include FFA’s American Farmer Degree, Virginia Holstein Association’s Distinguished Service Award, and Virginia’s Outstanding Farm Family.

Lynda Schmidt Stuart is an accomplished farm manager and leader with a background in both the beef and dairy industries. She grew up on a registered Holstein farm in California and with her father developed Genetics Inc., an artificial insemination firm. She came to Virginia in 1975 and has served as president, CEO and manager of Stuart Land and Cattle Co. since 2008.

— Written by Zeke Barlow

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Paul Rogers Jr., former Virginia Tech Board of Visitors member, named Virginia Farmer of the Year

Paul Rogers Jr.

Paul Rogers Jr., of Wakefield, Virginia — a former member of the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors and strong supporter of the university’s agricultural technology program — has been selected as state winner of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award.

Rogers has had a long and successful farming career and an equally extensive and rewarding avocation as a youth league and high school baseball coach.

Rogers joins nine other individuals as finalists for the overall award that will be announced on Oct. 16 at the Sunbelt Expo farm show in Moultrie, Georgia.

A modest individual, Rogers runs a farm encompassing 1,680 acres of open land. He rents 1,122 acres, owns 558 acres of open land, and also owns 499 acres of timber.

“I’m just a humble man who tills the soil,” he said.

Rogers has chaired an advisory board for the Tidewater Agricultural Research and Extension Center. He’s on an advisory board for Virginia Agricultural Leaders Obtaining Results (VALOR) and served on an advisory board for groundwater management in eastern Virginia. He served on the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors while president of the Virginia Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

He has been a director of the Peanut Growers Cooperative Marketing Association, the Virginia Crop Improvement Association, the Virginia Cotton Board, the Virginia Corn Board, the Virginia Corn Growers Association, the Colonial Agricultural Education Foundation, and the Virginia Agribusiness Council. He also took part in leadership programs offered by the University of Virginia’s Sorensen Institute.

“It is a pleasure to recognize Paul Rogers this year,” said Bobby Grisso, associate director of Virginia Cooperative Extension. “He is a hard-working famer, serves the community, university, and the state, and is a leader whose actions are committed to agriculture.”

Among the crops Rogers raises is Virginia-type “ballpark” peanuts, and he receives premiums for jumbo and fancy peanut kernels. Having coached baseball for more than 50 years, it’s appropriate that Rogers grows ballpark peanuts.

A baseball coach at Tidewater Academy since 2005, his team won a state championship in 2013. He has long been active as a coach and director of youth baseball in Wakefield. Recently, the town named its youth league baseball fields after Rogers, and in 2004, his former players placed a plaque in his honor at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

“My professional goals are more than the bottom line,” he said. He keeps his farm profitable, but said, “I am guided by my passion to be a role model as a father, coach, and mentor and to give back to the field of agriculture. My wife Pam and I have incorporated this passion into our lifestyles.”

Rogers said he has matured as a farmer and business owner by serving on many boards and organizations. He appreciates his family for keeping the farm running during his absences.

As the Virginia winner of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo award, Rogers will receive a $2,500 cash award and an expense-paid trip to the Sunbelt Expo from Swisher International of Jacksonville, Florida; a $500 gift certificate from Southern States cooperative; and a Columbia vest from Ivey’s Outdoor and Farm Supply.

He is now eligible for the $15,000 cash prize awarded to the overall winner.

Previous state winners from Virginia include Nelson Gardner, of Bridgewater, 1990; Russell Inskeep, of Culpepper, 1991; Harry Bennett, of Covington, 1992; Hilton Hudson, of Alton, 1993; Buck McCann, of Carson, 1994; George M. Ashman Jr., of Amelia, 1995; Bill Blalock, of Baskerville, 1996; G.H. Peery III, of Ceres, 1997; James Bennett, of Red House, 1998; Ernest Copenhaver, of Meadowview, 1999; John Davis, of Port Royal, 2000; James Huffard III, of Crockett, 2001; J. Hudson Reese, of Scottsburg, 2002; Charles Parkerson, of Suffolk, 2003; Lance Everett, of Stony Creek, 2004; Monk Sanford, of Orange, 2005; Paul House, of Nokesville, 2006; Steve Berryman, of Surry, 2007; Tim Sutphin, of Dublin, 2008; Billy Bain, of Dinwiddie, 2009; Wallick Harding, of Jetersville, 2010; Donald Horsley, of Virginia Beach, 2011; Maxwell Watkins, of Sutherland, 2012; Lin Jones, of New Canton, 2013; Robert T. “Tom” Nixon II, of Rapidan, 2014; Donald Turner, of North Dinwiddie, 2015; Tyler Wegmeyer, of Hamilton, 2016; and Robert Mills Jr., of Callands, 2017.

Virginia has had three overall winners, Nelson Gardner, of Bridgewater,  1990; Charles Parkerson, of Suffolk, 2003; and Robert Mills Jr., of Callands, 2017.

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Delbert O’Meara inducted to Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Hall of Fame

Alan Grant, Delbert O'Meara, and Dixie Watts Dalton

Delbert O’Meara (center) was inducted to the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Hall of Fame at the annual college alumni awards ceremony. He is pictured with Alan Grant, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and Dixie Watts Dalton, president of the college’s alumni organization.

Delbert O’Meara, of Walters, Virginia, a 1962 graduate of animal science and a 1967 graduate of agricultural education, was inducted to the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Hall of Fame on April 20, 2018, at the annual college alumni awards ceremony.

O’Meara was born a year before the beginning of World War II and was raised on a farm in Loudoun County. As a youngster, he was an active 4-H member. Throughout his formative years, he enjoyed working with livestock. This led him to become the Sears and Roebuck Pig Chair and a state 4-H poultry winner. O’Meara also helped to establish the Prince William County Fair, the Fredericksburg County Fair, and the State Fair of Virginia. It was through these accomplishments that his early leadership skills were recognized, and he earned a trip to attend the National 4-H Congress in Chicago.

The young man’s 4-H experiences helped him develop numerous programs that are vital aspects of youth development today. These include the State 4-H Fair, the creation of 4-H centers across the commonwealth, and the State 4-H Horse Project. In addition, he was instrumental in establishing partnerships with the Virginia land-use taxation program and agricultural commodity groups, which serve as the backbone of Virginia’s agriculture. Following his youthful passion for 4-H livestock judging teams, O’Meara has served as a member of the National 4-H Livestock Contest for more than 50 years, and continues to attend the event to this day.

This alumnus has not only shown himself to be dedicated to the youth of the state and to 4-H, but also to his fellow and future Extension agents. He began his career in Extension in 1962 with the Nansemond County Office and went on to work in the Southeast District Office in a variety of positions until his early retirement in 1991. Throughout his career in Extension, O’Meara has been a mentor, working with both the Virginia and National County Agents Association on many programs for staff development. In conjunction with his work as a mentor in Virginia, he helped provide professional development for staff and new agents, starting the Agricultural and Extension Agent Leadership Fund. Delbert also brought Virginia Cooperative Extension to the national stage when he helped to plan and host the National Extension Meeting in Virginia in 1976.

In addition to his contributions of time and effort, O’Meara has made a number of philanthropic gifts to Virginia Tech and is a Distinguished Benefactor in Virginia Tech’s Ut Prosim Society.  

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Wade E. Thomason receives Alumni Award for Excellence in Extension

Wade E. Thomason

Wade E. Thomason, professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences and Extension grains specialist, has received the 2017 Alumni Award for Excellence in Extension.

Sponsored by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, the Alumni Award for Excellence in Extension is presented annually to two Virginia Cooperative Extension faculty members who have made outstanding contributions to the land-grant mission of the university. One award goes to an Extension specialist and the other is given to an Extension agent. Each award winner receives $2,000.

Thomason’s Extension education and research in Virginia’s corn and small grains industries focuses on the integration of corn, wheat, and barley into practical, economical, and sustainable cropping systems for the eastern U.S. He serves as a member on the board of directors of the Virginia Grain Producers Association, where he actively engages in education and leadership with such programs as Annual Small Grain Field Day, Virginia Ag Expo, and the annual Corn and Soybean Conference.

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Phillip K. Blevins receives Alumni Award for Excellence in Extension

Phillip K. Blevins

Phillip K. Blevins, unit coordinator and Extension agent in agriculture and natural resources for the Virginia Cooperative Extension, has received the 2017 Alumni Award for Excellence in Extension.

Sponsored by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, the Alumni Award for Excellence in Extension is presented annually to two Virginia Cooperative Extension faculty members who have made outstanding contributions to the land-grant mission of the university. One award goes to an Extension specialist and the other is given to an Extension agent. Each award winner receives $2,000.

Blevins responds to the needs of the community through extensive programming. Beef cattle is a major commodity in Washington County, Virginia, so Blevins has dedicated a significant amount of time to enhancing this area. In 2010, he initiated the Master Cattleman program, which provides educational foundations for more than 400 participants, as well as giving producers hands-on workshops with experts.

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