Virginia Farm Mentor Networking

The Virginia Beginning Farmer & Rancher Coalition Program is building a Farm Mentor Network that provides farmers the opportunity to reach beyond technical assistance and connect with folks working in agriculture. The Virginia Farm Mentor Network will promote connections between established farmers & ranchers and beginning farmers & ranchers.    

The Virginia Farm Mentor Network facilitates the exchange of knowledge and skills of experienced farmers and ranchers with the beginning farmer and rancher community.  It also provides an opportunity for long-term working relationships for successful farming.  We appreciate your interest in the Virginia Beginning Farmer & Rancher Coalition program’s Farm Mentor Network. 

Meet Our Farm Mentor Coordinators

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Kelli Scott
New River Valley

Kelli Scott serves Virginia Cooperative Extension as the Agriculture and Natural Resources agent representing Montgomery County, VA.  Agriculture and natural resource management has been a passion of hers for many years.  Kelli grew up in Brunswick County, located on the coast of southeastern North Carolina nestled in the Cape Fear region.  Like many traditional agriculture families in the area, her family conventionally produced tobacco, corn, and soybeans.  As a child, Kelli was very involved in her local food system, supported by a very large family vegetable garden and their own livestock.  She has seen a number of transitions in the family farm throughout the years.  Kelli looks forward to sharing her knowledge, experience, and service with the Virginia Farm Mentor Network and beginning farmers and ranchers across the Commonwealth. 

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Jim Hilleary
Loudon County area of Northen Virginia

Jim serves as Loudoun’s ANR-Livestock Agent and Unit Coordinator. A long-time resident of Virginia, his Northern Piedmont heritage reaches back six generations. Prior to joining the Loudoun VCE staff, he served as Coordinator of Fauquier Education Farm, where he oversaw farm operations and administered the Northern Piedmont Beginning Farmer Program. Jim also works for Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences supporting the Virginia Farm Mentor Network as the Northern Region Mentor Coordinator. A career military veteran, Jim retired from the United States Army, having served as an enlisted infantryman and later a commissioned signal officer. He has earned an Associate of Science in Business Administration from Northern Virginia Community College, a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Virginia Tech, a Master of Military Art and Science from the United States Army Command & General Staff College, and a Master of Agriculture Extension Education degree from Colorado State University. Jim and his wife Susan live in Fauquier County and raise goats, hogs, poultry, and water fowl at their home.  

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Amy Gail Fannon
Far Southwest Virginia (e.g. Wise, Lee, and Washington Counties)

Sarah Weaver Sharpe
Greene, Albemarle, Fluvanna, & Louisa Counties

Charley Maxwell
Chesterfield County

Amy Gail Fannon is from Hickory Flatts, Virginia in Lee County.  She farms with her family producing corn, alfalfa hay, and pumpkins.  Amy’s interest in agriculture started at an early age with encouragement from her family when she started showing livestock and helping with the family farm. She received her B.S. and M.S. from Virginia Tech in Crop and Soil Environmental Science. Amy is currently the Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Agent for Lee County, working with farmers in her community.  She has a wide variety of interests and loves the world of agriculture. 

Beginning and experienced farmers & ranchers are necessary in the development of a Farm Mentor Network

What can beginning farmers (mentees) gain?

  • Vital Skills
  • Information from Experienced Farmers
  • Technical Assistance
  • Business Capacity for Long-term Farming Success
  • Community Support

We are looking for experienced farmers & ranchers and beginning farmers & ranchers with the following qualities:

  • Cooperation & Respect
  • Convey Honest Realities
  • Strong Work Ethic
  • Mutual Trust of Mentor Network
  • Land/Ag Stewardship
  • Desire to Educate/Train/Nurture  

From the NESFI: The On-Farm Mentor's Guide, 2006

Learn more about the Virginia Farm Mentor Network

If you have any questions about the Virginia Beginning Farmer & Rancher Coalition Program or the mentor network, please contact Kim Niewolny, program director, at If you are interested in learning more about and participating in mentoring activities in one of our three areas, please contact the respective coordinator.


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If you want to stay informed about our program activities using social media, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or subscribe to our listserv.  If you have comments or questions, please contact Allyssa Mark by email.

The Virginia Beginning Farmer & Rancher Coalition Program is a state-wide and coalition-based Extension program housed in Virginia Tech’s Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education. Funding was sponsored by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Award #2015-70017-22887. For more information, contact Kim Niewolny, Program Director and Extension Specialist, at or 540-231-5784.


For website updates, such as broken links, please contact Allyssa Mark, Program Associate.