Farm Bureau members help support the Young Farmers Program, which offers contests, seminars and networking opportunities for future agricultural leaders. “Attending the Young Farmers expos has exposed me to different sectors of agriculture that I am otherwise unfamiliar with,” said Dinwiddie County dairy farmer Coley Drinkwater of the twice-yearly events. “Participating in contests helped me to develop leadership skills and gave me that extra push to take my farm to the next level.” Farm Bureau Young Farmers are men and women ages 18 to 35 who support agriculture through farming or other work in the agriculture industry or who simply want to help promote the industry. Members of the state and county Farm Bureau Young Farmers committees work to build leadership skills through personal and professional development opportunities. They also participate in community outreach programs to help increase agricultural awareness. They actively support Virginia’s Agriculture in the Classroom program by raising money through raffles and auctions. Many of them read to children in their local schools during Agriculture Literacy Week in March. Since their formation in 1975, the Young Farmers have donated more than $50,000 to AITC. In 2001, Farm Bureau established Collegiate Young Farmers programs—first at Virginia Tech, then Ferrum College in 2005, and in 2008 Virginia State University became home to the third collegiate chapter. In 2009 collegiate programs were started at Blue Ridge Community College , Bridgewater College and James Madison University. The Young Farmers Program grew from fewer than 200 members in 2001 to 2,700 in 2014. Today, they are an award-winning group. Representatives won an American Farm Bureau Federation national award in 2003 and they have captured national AFBF accolades every year from 2010 through this past January.