RICHMOND, Va. — Tanner Wise of Buckingham County was named the 2022 Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Outstanding Young Agriculturalist on July 30 during the VFBF Young Farmers Summer Expo in Wytheville.
The program is organized by the VFBF Young Farmers Committee and honors high school juniors and seniors for academic, community and agribusiness achievements.
Wise is the son of David and Sherri Wise. He graduated with honors from Buckingham County High School and concurrently completed an associate degree in general studies with a specialization in agribusiness from Southside Virginia Community College.
Wise plans to pursue a degree in animal and poultry sciences at Virginia Tech, where he will enter with junior class standing. He said he hopes to eventually operate his own agribusiness.
In addition to his academic achievements, Wise also works on his family’s sheep and poultry farm, Poplar View Farm LLC, in Dillwyn. His duties include assisting in vaccinating, deworming and maintaining the overall health of the farm’s sheep; managing a flock of free-range hens; and delivering eggs to local markets. He noted remote learning afforded him more time and freedom to work on the farm.
Outstanding Young Agriculturalist competition scoring is based on academics, general leadership, farm or agricultural experience and an oral presentation.
During his presentation, Wise discussed the need for Virginia Cooperative Extension to continue to be fully funded, and speculated how the organization might benefit from an expanded budget.
“Without Virginia Cooperative Extension, communities and the ag community as a whole wouldn’t be able to operate as well,” he said. “Extension is very important to beginning farmers or even farmers who have been in the business 20 years or so.”
Wise reasoned that an expanded budget would allow Extension to establish a larger presence in Virginia’s urban localities. In turn, agents could help promote participation in 4-H and FFA, two organizations of which Wise is a vocal proponent.
“Both of these organizations have given me exposure to more real-world scenarios and situations,” Wise said. “Competing and being in front a judge is like being at a job where your boss is evaluating how you work. It gives you some of that exposure before going into the workforce.”
During his presentation, Wise also advocated for students taking college-level coursework in high school, which can allow them to get ahead in college and start their careers earlier.
Wise served as president of his high school’s FFA chapter and the Buckingham County 4-H Livestock Club, and as Buckingham County High School’s student government treasurer. He also earned numerous accolades for agriscience demonstrations and showing goats and lambs at county fairs and the State Fair of Virginia.
He will receive a $1,500 scholarship sponsored by Farm Credit, Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Co. and Farm Bureau.
First runner-up Rachel Penley of Bland County will receive $500 courtesy of Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Co.
Other finalists were Kaylee Arney, Washington County; Courtney Begoon, Augusta County; Layne Bush, Russell County; Hayley Daubert, Rockingham County; Parker Epperley, Montgomery County; Rachel Glass, Lee County; Kelli Garrett, Washington County; Christy Holland, Hanover County; Sarah Jackson, Cumberland County; Caleb Rector, Washington County; Jill Reiter, Dinwiddie County; and Ann Rae Sisson, Montgomery County.
All finalists will receive $250.
With 132,000 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. For more news and information visit vafb.com/newsroom.
Contact Pam Wiley, VFBF vice president of communications, at 804-291-6315.
–Virginia Farm Bureau