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Wythe County couple places fourth in national contest

Wythe County couple places fourth in national contest

Jonathan and Kelsey Grimes of Wythe County placed fourth in the 2021 American Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers & Ranchers Excellence in Agriculture program. Young farmers competed Jan. 10-13 during the AFBF virtual convention.

The Grimeses won the state-level Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers Excellence in Agriculture Award in October 2020. The award recognizes individuals for involvement in agriculture, leadership ability and involvement and participation in Farm Bureau and other organizations.

Jonathan Grimes is an agriculture education teacher and FFA advisor at Fort Chiswell High School in Wythe County, and Kelsey Grimes is a Virginia Cooperative Extension 4-H agent. The couple has raised a cumulative $339,000 through grants and fundraising to promote agriculture and education.

Growing up, Jonathan spent all of his free time on his family’s fourth-generation beef farm, which instilled his love of the land. The Grimeses established a square-bale hay operation in 2020, focusing on orchard grass and timothy hay while transitioning to alfalfa. They also own an agricultural mechanics safety curriculum company that is being taught annually to over 11,000 students in 27 states.

They represent the New River Valley region on the VFBF Young Farmers Committee, and have been Excellence in Agriculture Award finalists since 2017. Jonathan has served as VFBF Young Farmers Safety Subcommittee chair, and Kelsey as VFBF Young Farmers Youth Outreach chair since 2019. Kelsey received a grant to establish a Youth Discussion Meet as a recognized Virginia 4-H competition, and both she and Jonathan have promoted and led Youth Discussion Meets for 4-H and FFA participants. Kelsey has served on the Wythe County Farm Bureau Women’s Committee since 2013.

“For us, it’s an honor,” Jonathan said of the AFBF award. “And it’s humbling—with the competition at the state level, and to be able to make it to the American level. It was our goal to make it to the top 10, and this was an opportunity to represent Virginia well in the top four.”

The Grimeses said VFBF staff worked overtime to help them prepare for the national competition.

“Because of the support the state (VFBF) board gives the Young Farmers, plus the sponsors of our contests, we have a great foundation of support across the state for the program,” Jonathan said.

The couple will receive a Case IH roll cabinet and top chest and a $500 Case IH parts card, courtesy of Case IH.

With 130,000 members in 88 county Farm Bureaus, VFBF is Virginia’s largest farmers’ advocacy group. Farm Bureau is a non-governmental, nonpartisan, voluntary organization committed to supporting Virginia’s agriculture industry.

Contact Pam Wiley, VFBF director of communications, at 804-291-6315, or Ron Saacke, VFBF vice president of young farmers’ and women’s programs, at 804-290-1032.