Montgomery County couple wins Excellence in Agriculture Award

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Casey and Stacey Phillips of Montgomery County are this year’s Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers Excellence in Agriculture Award winners. They were recognized July 29 during the VFBF Young Farmers Summer Expo in Roanoke.

The Excellence in Agriculture Award recognizes individuals for involvement in agriculture, leadership ability and involvement and participation in Farm Bureau and other organizations.

Casey Phillips manages his family’s dairy farm in Radford, and Stacey teaches special education at a local elementary school. Even though Casey grew up on a farm and Stacey did not, they both are passionate about sharing information about farming with the public.

Four years ago they started a pick-your-own sweet corn operation, which they market through Facebook, roadside signs and word of mouth. “We have invited those in our area to follow the process of bringing fresh and local produce from the farm to their table,” Stacey Phillips explained. Allowing the public to come to the farm and pick corn allows them to “feel what it is like to pick their corn directly from the stalk it was grown on and not from a grocery store shelf. We’ve been happy with the conversations we have been able to have because of it.”

The Phillipses also host school and scout groups on their dairy farm and have offered tours for Virginia Tech dairy science students and members of the Virginia Cooperative Extension Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition Program. Additionally, they hosted a tour for the Arkansas Farm Bureau board of directors, for whom they explained conservation practices used on the farm.

Casey Phillips serves on the Montgomery County Farm Bureau board of directors, and the couple also serve as District 3 representatives on the VFBF Young Farmers Committee. Casey holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration, and Stacey holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction.

They will receive a Kubota RTV utility vehicle, courtesy of Virginia Farm Bureau Insurance Services, and a Stihl chain saw from Mid-Atlantic Stihl. They also will receive a travel package to the 2018 American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention in Nashville, Tenn. While attending the convention they will compete for the AFBF Young Farmers & Ranchers Excellence in Agriculture Award.

Amy Fannon of Lee County is this year’s Excellence in Agriculture runner-up. She also will receive a travel package to the AFBF convention and $500, courtesy of the VFBF Women’s and Young Farmers committees and Farm Credit.

Other finalists were Jonathan and Kelsey Grimes of Wythe County; Livvy and Richard Preisser of Southampton County; Joy Powers of Bedford County; and Jonathan Wood of Patrick County.

Each will receive $500, courtesy of the VFBF Women’s and Young Farmers committees and Farm Credit.