Farm Bureau honors three women for impact on agriculture, communities

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BRISTOL—Virginia Farm Bureau Federation recognized three women on March 30 for their service to and accomplishments in agriculture and their communities. The organization held its annual Women’s Spring Conference March 29-31.

Dr. Megan Seibel of Botetourt County was named inaugural recipient of the VFBF Outstanding Woman in Agriculture Award. The award was introduced this year to honor women for achievements and contributions to the agriculture industry.

Seibel is a Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist in Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and inaugural director of the Virginia Agriculture Leaders Obtaining Results Program. She previously served 18 months as deputy secretary of agriculture and forestry under former Gov. Terry McAuliffe. She has served on the Roanoke County Farm Bureau board for 12 years and is in her third term as that organization’s president. In 2015, she was named America’s Farmers Southeast Mom of the Year in a recognition program sponsored by Monsanto.

In 2012 Seibel and her husband, Andy, were recognized with the VFBF Warren Beach Award for their support of young farmers. The Seibels manage their family farm in Botetourt, where they have raised three children, beef cattle and commercial wine grapes. Megan Seibel holds a doctoral degree in agricultural and extension education and a master’s in career and technical education from Virginia Tech and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from James Madison University.

She will receive a $500 cash award, courtesy of Colonial Farm Credit, as well as travel packages to the 2019 VFBF Annual Convention and 2020 VFBF Women’s Spring Conference, and a one-year paid county Farm Bureau membership.

Gayle Barts of Pittsylvania County was named inaugural recipient of the VFBF Distinguished Farm Bureau Woman award. The award was introduced this year to honor involvement in a farm or agricultural business, or an agricultural leadership role, as well as community activities.

Barts has maintained 40 years’ worth of bookkeeping, tax records and payroll for her family’s farm. She is a graduate of Danville Community College, and her past employment includes time as administrator for the Danville Science Center Foundation and as legislative aide to former Rep. Robert Hurt when he was a state legislator, and to former Del. Donald Merricks (R-Danville) and Del. Les Adams (R-Chatham). She also served as Hurt’s field director during part of his Congressional tenure. In 2010 and 2015 she received gubernatorial appointments to the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission. Additionally, she serves on the Virginia Natural History Museum advisory committee and is assistant clerk for Ringgold Baptist Church and treasurer of Laurel Grove Volunteer Fire and Rescue. She is an active member of the Pittsylvania County Farm Bureau Women’s Committee.

She will receive a $500 cash prize, courtesy of Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co., as well as travel packages to the 2019 VFBF Annual Convention and 2020 AFBF Annual Convention, and a one-year paid county Farm Bureau membership.

Chelsea Bickley of Louisa County was named 2019 Virginia Farm Bureau Ambassador. The Farm Bureau Ambassador program recognizes young adults for their interest and achievements in agriculture and provides an opportunity to serve as an ambassador for agriculture and Farm Bureau.

Bickley is the daughter of Cynthia Bickley and the late Robert Bickley of Kents Store. She grew up on her family’s farm, where they raise beef cattle, corn, soybeans, wheat, barley and hay. She has helped care for cattle, operated equipment and assisted with maintenance work. The former 4-H president and FFA chapter president graduated second in her class at Louisa County High School and is pursuing a degree in animal science at Virginia Tech. She is active in the university’s Block and Bridle Club, Beef Leadership Council and Collegiate Young Farmers chapter.

She hopes to earn a master’s degree in agricultural education and become an agriculture teacher.

Bickley will receive a $2,000 cash award and will make public appearances representing Farm Bureau.

Media: Contact Pam Wiley, VFBF communications, at 804-290-1128.

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