Mentoring

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.  If you are interested in learning more about and participating in mentoring activities in one of our areas, please contact the respective coordinator.

Meet Our Farm Mentor Coordinators

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Kelli Scott
kescott1@vt.edu
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
jim.hilleary@vt.edu
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
afannon@vt.edu
Far Southwest Virginia (e.g. Wise, Lee, and Washington Counties)

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. 

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Sarah Weaver Sharpe
seweaver@vt.edu
Greene, Albemarle, Fluvanna, & Louisa Counties

Sarah Weaver Sharpe currently serves as the Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent with a focus in local foods and horticulture. While she is housed in Greene County, she will also serve Albemarle, Fluvanna, and Louisa counties. Sarah grew up in Madison County on her family's pork, beef, hay, and row crop farm. She has personal experience in the local foods movement as she has been attending farmers markets on Saturday mornings for 20 years and has seen the local foods movement grow and explode. She is very passionate about helping producers start businesses and break into the local foods movement as well as helping to educate consumers about how food is grown and the production methods utilized. Sarah grew up in 4-H in Madison County, participated as an intern for two summers in both 4-H and Ag and served as a 4-H Program Educator in Orange County for 4 years. She also has experience starting and running small businesses as she started a pick-your-own pumpkin patch on her family's farm when she graduated from college.

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Charley Maxwell
mcharley@vt.edu
Chesterfield County

Charley Maxwell serves Goochland County as the Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Agent with an Animal Science focus area. Since starting in May 2015, Maxwell has offered programs in the areas of beef cattle production, equine, backyard poultry, ponds and beginning farming. Our office can assist with weed identification, soil sampling, pesticide certification and recertification, forage recommendations and more. 

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Tracy Porter
tpor6839@vt.edu
King William County and King and Queen County

Tracy received his B.S. in Economics at the Virginia Military Institute and his M.S. in Crop and Soil Science at Viginia Tech. Tracy now owns the Morning Glory Farm, LLC and is the unit coordinator and Agriculture and Natural Resources extension agent serving King William Coutny and King and Queen County, thoug he works in several other neighboring counties, as well.

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

The Virginia Beginning Farmer & Rancher Coalition 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 #2017-70011-26861, and the Southern Risk Management Education Center Grant #545015. For more information about the program or funding, contact Kim Niewolny, Program Director and Extension Specialist, at niewolny@vt.edu or 540-231-5784.

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