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Reprinted from

RICHMOND, Va. — Anne Kathryn Martz doesn’t need a farm background to make a lasting impact in agriculture. The Rappahannock Community College freshman from Essex County was named the 2024 Virginia Farm Bureau Ambassador at the recent Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Women’s Leadership Conference in Roanoke. She plans to begin pursuing a degree in agricultural education at Virginia Tech next fall.

Faye Hundley, VFBF Women’s Leadership Committee chair, said the award recognizes young adults for their achievements in agriculture and provides them with an opportunity to serve as an ambassador for Farm Bureau and the state’s largest industry.

“Growing up, I didn’t really understand anything about where my food came from,” Martz said in her presentation to award judges. “But learning about everything that agricultural education has to offer, I fell in love, and I plan on taking that passion to the next level.”

A current Virginia FFA vice president, she was inspired by “other passionate agriculturalists” she met in her FFA travels. Those experiences coalesced into a personal mandate she calls “We Are the Future of Agriculture.”

Martz’s platform identifies goals to share the story of agriculture with schoolchildren among their core classroom subjects. She said this can be accomplished through social media outreach, and collaboration with local agribusinesses, ag-centered youth organizations and advocacy groups like Farm Bureau. Youth can deepen their awareness with resources available through Virginia Agriculture in the Classroom.

“And I plan to meet with school boards to share my story, and the importance of agricultural education and everything it has to offer, so they understand and provide more support and funding to their agriculture programs, or maybe even start one!” Martz continued.

She learned that 57% of U.S. school students don’t have access to agricultural education programs or opportunities. This leaves a gap for misinformation to take root. But knowledge builds on knowledge, she said.

“The elementary-school level is where we can start exposing young students to a strong foundation of agricultural knowledge,” Martz concluded. “Every student should have this opportunity. Without the future of agriculture, we have no future.”

Martz earned a $2,000 cash award courtesy of Colonial Farm Credit and Farm Bureau.

Runner up is Faith Feazell of Franklin County, who is majoring in agribusiness at Ferrum College. She was awarded a $500 cash prize.

Participants in the Virginia Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Program support agriculture, the state’s largest industry, through educational efforts in their communities; local outreach projects; and advocacy for Farm Bureau policies.

With almost 135,000 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.

–Christina Amano Dolan, Virginia Farm Bureau