The third annual Career Day at Colonial Elementary School took place on Tuesday April 9. Said Principal Tammy Tiggs, “The event features 23 people from many different professions.” Professions that ran the gamut from pilot to farmer and had many in between. To educator John Busher who is the Assistant Superintendent of Schools the best description was ” A career is something you do because you love it and a job is something you go to for money.” He has been a teacher, principal and administrator.
NetJets pilot David Radkte is a Blue Ridge resident and has a son at Colonial. Radkte flies a private jet for a living. He graduated from Virginia Tech in Engineering but developed a love for flying early on. A Northern Virginia childhood introduced him to flying. He soloed in a civilian plane at the age of 16 and has the job he loves– flying a jet for the past 20 years. The students in Mrs. Ketron’s Kindergarten Class had fun passing his hat to try on!
Bobby Prince actually attended the Botetourt County school system. He is an alumni of Colonial, Botetourt Intermediate and Lord Botetourt where he was a basketball stand out. He graduated from VMI and Virginia Tech and is a bridge engineer. He is also a coach which he loves and his two sons, Nathan and Owen go to Colonial. “Boom” he shouted as students fist bumped him. He offered words of wisdom in a power point:
“Effort and Focus= Success = Fun; Nothing worth a darn comes easy; Pressure makes Diamonds; Don’t be afraid of failure and expect success; Take a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.”
Roanoke City Police Dog Mia relaxed on the floor behind her officer, Sgt. M. E. Thompson. She is a 7 year old specially trained German Shepherd who lives with Thompson and his family. The conccept of team work is everything between the duo in the K9 patrol. He along with Roanoke City Officers C.M. Lovering and B.N. Kosko explained the notion of K9 patrol as well as being a police officer. Lovering told the students to make good grades and not to get in any trouble. ” I filled out an eight page application and they even talked to people who knew me growing up and in school. ”
Colonial Student Leadership representatives stayed with the visitors at every site. Miss Virginia, Rosemary Willis was on hand to meet and greet. Being Miss Virginia isn’t a career, but the scholarship money for college and the contacts are important to her search for a career. She is a junior William and Mary majoring in Governments and Kinesiology.
Farmer Ned Jeter brought along some livestock for the day. He asked students in Mrs. Trout’s fifth grade class to define “Agriculture.” His definition: “Food, Fiber and Fuel.” Two black Angus calves were on display. The Jeter Farm located just south of Blue Ridge on US 460, is a farm for vegetable produce and a beef cattle operation. The family has had a farm there for a number of generations. In the fall, they host a corn maze and hundreds of school and preschool students as well.
Farmers’ contributions celebrated during Agriculture Week
As you enjoy a good meal or button up your favorite shirt this month, think about the farmers who provide Americans’ food and fiber.
During National Ag Week, March 17-23, consider that Virginia agriculture and forestry contribute $79 billion to the state’s economy each year and make up Virginia’s largest and oldest industry.
“People sometimes take for granted the abundant food supply that we enjoy,” said Candace Monaghan , Co-Chair of Botetourt County Farm Bureau, a part of Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, the state’s largest agriculture advocacy organization.
“It’s good to remind everyone of the important role farmers play in all of our lives. I’m proud to say that one American farmer can feed a total of 155 people—that’s pretty amazing.”
Ag Week is intended to help Americans understand the importance of farmers in providing food, fiber and economic activity.
Virginia’s top three agricultural commodities are broiler chickens, beef and milk. Also in the state’s top 10 farm products are turkeys, flowers and nursery plants, soybeans, corn for grain, tobacco, eggs and hay.
There are many other commodities raised in the state as well, including apples, Christmas trees, clams, goats, mushrooms, peaches, peanuts, pork, potatoes, sweet corn, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, trout, watermelons and wine grapes.
According to the most recent (2007) U.S. Census of Agriculture, Virginia is home to 47,383 farms, which cover approximately 8.1 million acres. The average size of a Virginia farm is 171 acres, and the average farm generates $61,334 worth of sales annually.
The average size of a U.S. farm in 2007 was 418 acres, and there are 2.2 million farms in the nation. Agriculture is the nation’s largest employer, with more than 21 million people working in some part of the industry—from growing food and fiber to selling it at the supermarket or other outlet.
Virginia Agriculture Literacy Week runs concurrently with National Ag Week. During the week of March 17-23 Botetourt County Farm Bureau marked Agriculture Literacy Week by reading the book Kelly’s Big Day, by Tammy Maxey to children at all 7 Elementary schools in the County reaching more than 460 children. Volunteers also donated copies of the book to the school’s library.
Botetourt County Farm Bureau is one of 88 county Farm Bureaus in the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. With nearly 150,000 members, VFBF is Virginia’s largest farmers’ advocacy group. Farm Bureau is a non-governmental, nonpartisan, voluntary organization committed to protecting Virginia’s farms and ensuring a safe, fresh and locally grown food supply.
Do you like to swim? Are you interested in learning more about Horsemanship, Cheerleading, Kayaking, Small Animals, Outdoor Adventures, Tie Dye, Robotics, Basketball, Fishing, Cake Decorating plus so much more? Do you want to spend the most amazing week of your summer with your school friends learning new ideas and having a great time? If any of these activities interests you then BOTETOURT COUNTY 4-H CAMP is the place for you to be July 1st – 5th, 2013.
The 2013 Botetourt County 4-H Camp will be held at the W.E. Skelton 4-H Educational Conference Center located on Smith Mountain Lake in Wirtz, VA. Botetourt youth, ages 9 – 13 (as of September 30, 201) and age 14 (after January 1, 2013) are eligible to attend as campers. This year Botetourt will camp with 4-Her’s from Craig and Rockbridge Counties.
Youth will participate in a variety of classes, have time for free swim, learn leadership skills through pack meetings and meet other 4-Her’s from different counties with similar interests. There will be a dance at the end of the week and a Share-the Fun contest where youth can sing, play a musical instrument or other talent. Each evening will feature a different theme (Western night, Hawaiian Night, etc) and will end with a group campfire overlooking the lake. The staff of the Skelton 4-H Center along with trained teens and adult volunteers from each county will work together to provide a safe and fun experience for the 4-Hers. 4-H Camp is an awesome week and a wonderful experience that children will never forget!
Registration for this year’s camp will begin April 17th, 2013 and will be taken on a first come, first serve basis. The cost for attending is $250 with a $100 deposit due at registration and the remainder payable by May 22nd, 2013. Scholarship opportunities are available, so please call for more information. To pick up a registration form or if you have any questions please stop by the Extension Office at 9 West Main Street, Fincastle or call Katherine E. Carter, Associate Extension Agent, 4-H Youth Development at 540-473-8260.
Any person with a disability requiring auxiliary aids, services, or other accommodations for these activities should discuss accommodation needs with Ms. Katherine E. Carter, Associate Extension Agent, 4-H Youth at the Botetourt County Extension Office at 473-8260.
Read Mountain FFA kicked off National Agriculture Day by having WDBJ7’s Melissa Gaona and Adam Ward come visit with early rising members in the Agriscience room. Ms. Gaona and Mr. Ward were able to view some of the class plant projects as well as visit with the class critters. They highlighted some of the activities being held during RMMS’s celebration of National Ag Day which included handing out facts about Virginia’s top agriculture products, displaying a careers in agriculture poster in the cafeteria, painted windows with agriculture information, a variety of ag fact posters throughout the school, a donation drive to Heifer International to provide clean water to needy communities and reading stories with an agriculture theme to the seven elementary schools in Botetourt County. When interviewed by Ms. Gaona, Tess Seibel, president of the Read Mountain FFA said agriculture was the future of the world. “By 2050 we’re expected to have 9 billion people on earth. In order to feed and clothe them all, we’re going to need agriculture,” explained Seibel.
Read Mountain FFA sent two teams to participate in the Virginia Tech Block & Bridle Junior FFA/4-H Hippology event held this past February. The event also served as this year’s FFA State contest. Team A participants placing 8th in teams were Haley Mundy, Abby Whitlock, Hannah Brewster and Ashley Phoenix. Team B participants were Devon Wood, Grace Spangler, and Noah Smith. The purpose of the Virginia FFA Horse Hippology Career Development Event is to stimulate the study of and interest in equine science selection, management, and production through the agricultural education curriculum. During the contest students took a written test, judged two classes of horses, identified tack and equipment and feed, horse colors and skeletal features, as well as parasites and structural problems associated with horses.
RMMS FFA Stockman’s team. Clare Seibel, Tess Seibel, Ashley Phoenix and Mason Sowers.
Read Mountain FFA competed in the Virginia Tech Block & Bridle FFA/4-H Junior Stockmen’s event on March 22 at the Alphin- Stuart Livestock Arena in Blacksburg. Team members were Mason Sowers, Claire Seibel, Ashley Phoenix and Tess Seibel. The Stockmen’s contest is a test of general knowledge of livestock. Students rotate through 15 minute stations that include a 25-question multiple choice quiz ; identification of feeds, equipment, breeds, and retail meats cuts; judging of hay, retail meats cuts, beef cattle, sheep, swine, and meat goats; and questions about the animal judging classes. Stockmen’s contestants take with them an astounding amount of information that encompasses all aspects of the livestock industry. It is a contest that Read Mountain FFA members always look forward to.
March 17-24 is Agriculture Week in Virginia. Lord Botetourt FFA member, junior Courtney Henderson has penned a story for the Botetourt View. For the Hendersons every week and every day is a celebration of farming in Botetourt County.
Ever wonder what it is like on a dairy farm during the spring? From growing up one of the seven dairy farms in Botetourt County, I know that spring is the busiest time of year. Flowers like clover, wild mustard, and daffodil are blooming making the air smell fresh and clean. On the farm, the hay is shooting out of the ground warning us that it will be ready to cut soon. The cattle are restless from their long slumber in the barn. They want to go frolic in the fields. We are all restless from having to stay inside the barn out of the cold. We are awaiting the warm weather so we can fix fence and work on the tractors. The pregnant cows that have been kept in the upper pasture all winter are starting to udder up and enter their final stages of pregnancy.
During calving season, I watch the weather very closely. Cows, frustratingly, tend to calve whenever the weather takes an unexpected turn. Thunderstorms, hailstorms, snowstorms, it does not matter what kind of storm it is; cows will become excited and stressed and have their baby. No scientific proof exists that weather affects calving; but some people believe that whenever the barometric pressure drops the animals become stressed.
On the dairy farm, the calves are only allowed to stay with their newborns for the first 12 hours, then the cow must be milked and the calf must be put into a pen. Once they are put into a pen, it is my job to muck the stall, apply new bedding, feed the calf and vaccinate it. The vaccine will prevent the calf from becoming susceptible to certain diseases like pneumonia and other respiratory diseases. The food they receive will help to keep their bellies full and help them grow big and strong.
I become very close to the heifer calves, but sometimes the bull calves brighten my day. Calves are just like people. They have different personalities and no two calves are the same. The last calf that I raised was a white calf with black eyes and ears. His name was Black Eyes. He was the sweetest calf with the biggest eyes that were black as coal. He rode on the float in the Fincastle Christmas parade two years ago. The sad part about living on the dairy farm is knowing that the farm is a business and if an animal is not making us money, then it has to be sold. Black Eyes was sold last year; it hurt to let him go but that is part of life.
A good dairy farmer knows that spring is a hectic, but rewarding time of year. We are able to see animals and plants grow and flourish during the warm months. The crops that have lain dormant during the winter shoot out of the ground showing us that they are alive. The cows that have been meandering around the field for nine months are ready to have a calf. Watching the farm come to life during spring is the one reason I love being a dairy farmer.
Clean Water Farm and Forest Steward Awards Presented
Mountain Castles Soil and Water Conservation District (MCSWCD) held their annual awards presentation at their March Board of Directors Meeting in the USDA Service Center in Bonsack. Those present included Virginia Department of Forestry staff, VA Cooperative Extension personnel, Farm Service Agency staff and staff and the Board of Directors of MCSWCD.
The morning began with an introduction from Preston Wickline, Vice-Chairman of MC and the MCSWCD staff: Marlon Old, Ag BMP Technician; and Erica Moore, TMDL Tech/Education Coordinator; Staci Merkt, Office Coordinator. In addition to Preston, other members of the 2013 Board include Jeff Henderson, Chairman, Botetourt County; Michael Beahm, Treasurer, Associate Director, Botetourt County; Kate Lawrence, VCE; Ann Harrell, Craig County; John Eakin, Craig County and Walter Nelson, At Large Appointee, Botetourt County.
The awards presentations then commenced and were given to the following:
The 2012 Clean Water Farm Award for Craig County was presented to Jeff Snider, owner and operator of a beef cattle farm located in the Sinking Creek Valley in Craig County on Sinking Creek. Mr. Snider is currently participating in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) through the Natural Resources Conservation Service on his farm. Through his participation in this program, Jeff has addressed erosion issues, water quality, grassland productivity as well as wildlife habitat. He has excluded livestock from approximately 6,200 feet of Sinking Creek and installed over 7 acres of forest and herbaceous riparian buffers. His innovative livestock watering system is gravity-fed and includes a well, reservoir, over 9,000 feet of pipeline and 7 water troughs. To develop his grazing system, he has installed 15,000 feet of fencing including 10 grazing paddocks and over 90 acres of pasture and hay land planting as well as brush management. In addition to practice installation, Jeff has spent many hours of labor to reclaim this property to establish a productive grazing operation. With all of his structural practices in place, Jeff will begin implementing his prescribed grazing plan this year. The Mountain Castles Soil and Water Conservation District would like to thank Jeff for his contributions to our community’s viability and overall health.
The 2012 Clean Water Farm Award Winner for Botetourt County was Carl “Butch” Benson. The Bensons’ farm is located in the Brughs Mill area of Botetourt County. The Angus cow/calf operation is managed by Butch Benson and his son Hank. The Benson’s current objectives are to have more control over their beef herd for management of cattle health and forage production. As part of the Looney/Mill Creek TMDL Implementation, the Bensons installed close to 4,000 feet of fence to exclude their cattle from more than 2,000 feet of headwater steams to Mill Creek and two spring-fed ponds as well as establishing 4.5 acres of riparian buffer. To facilitate rotational grazing, the conservation plan also included the installation of 7 frost-free water troughs and 5,000 feet of pipeline that supplied fresh, clean water for the cattle herd from a well water supply. Four stream crossings provide emergency access points for livestock water and a stabilized location to move cattle between grazing paddocks. An additional 2,500 feet of fence was installed to create these paddocks in support of rotational grazing. In addition to running a successful cattle operation, the Bensons are extremely busy running the family business, Advanced Transportation and Logistics. The Mountain Castles Soil and Water Conservation District would like to thank the Bensons for their contributions to our community’s viability and overall health.
Selections for the Clean Water Farm Awards were based on the implementation and maintenance of the Best Management Practices and conservation programs that were initiated on each farm. Each winner was presented a sign to be placed at the farm entrance, in recognition of their conservation efforts.
The 2012 Outstanding Forest Award was presented by Denny McCarthy of the Virginia Department of Forestry to Jack and Mary Lynn Leffel. They have owned a farm in the Eagle Rock section of Botetourt County since 1981. Over the years, they have taken this 157 acre farm that was once mostly cattle grazing land and surrounded by early succession fields and less desirable, unproductive trees and turned it into a wildlife sanctuary. They have logged a small portion of the property ridding much of the less desirable species and favoring those trees that will benefit wildlife species such as deer, turkey and quail. He’s adopted a wildlife preserve mentality, working and manipulating every square foot of ground towards attracting, feeding and keeping game species on the property. His management includes planting food plots with corn and overplanting with rye, planting warm season grasses like switch grass (which is burned periodically to enhance growth and development) and managing other plots as natural early succession fields where the cedars and broom sedge benefit rabbit, turkey and released quail. The Leffels’ land ethic will last long beyond their ownership, as a conservation easement has been created for most of the acreage, ensuring that this property will have the potential to benefit not just local wildlife, but Botetourt County residents and the Commonwealth of Virginia for generations to come.
Mountain Castles SWCD is a political subdivision of State Government that uses local, state, federal, and private resources to promote conservation. Mountain Castles SWCD works with local landowners in Botetourt and Craig Counties to implement a variety of conservation programs. Every farm is unique, and the staff at Mountain Castles is trained to work with landowners to develop a conservation plan that fits each property and farming operation.
Anyone interested in learning how conservation practices will benefit their farm should contact the Mountain Castles SWCD at firstname.lastname@example.org or (540) 977-2698, extension 3. Those practices include stream exclusion fencing, cross fencing, woodland protection fencing, well drilling, spring development, pumping equipment, reservoirs, pipeline, watering facilities, stream crossings, winter feeding pads, waste control facilities, establishing riparian buffers (tree planting), stream bank stabilization, and sinkhole protection and cleanout.
VTCE 4H agent Katherine E. Carter speaks to the Botetourt Chamber of Commerce.
At a recent Chamber of Commerce luncheon, VTCE agent Katerine E. Carter touched on the numerous things both the 4H program and Virginia Tech Cooperative Extension (VTCE) do to make life better for the people in Botetourt County.
Here are just a few of the activities 4H holds for young people in Botetourt County.
Four community 4H clubs: Honey Bees, Kids and Critters, Horse and Pony, Shooting
Special interests like the Lamb and Goat Show, robotics, embryology, annual talent show, public speaking, science engineering and technology, robotics and Character Counts, Elementary Lego Robotices, From Garden to Table, After School Enrichment are aided by VTCE in Botetourt and beyond. 4H covers just about every topic imaginable.
The annual 4H camp every summer hosts hundreds of Botetourt children and young people at W.E. Skelton 4H Center on Smith Mountain Lake.
For adults VTCE offers farm and agricultural science assistance. Water testing, soil testing, canned food preparation, dam maintenance and much more in the way of personal interaction are seminars and classes by VTCE Agent Kate Lawrence and others in the VTCE system.
For more information call the VTCE office at 473-8260.