News & Features Home

Wythe County couple places third in national farming award program

Wythe County couple places third in national farming award program

Matthew and Shelbie Heldreth of Wythe County took third place in the 2021 American Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers & Ranchers Achievement Award program. Young farmers competed Jan. 10-13 during the AFBF virtual convention.

The Heldreths won the state-level Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers Achievement Award in November 2020. The award honors young farmers who are successful in production agriculture and provide leadership on and off the farm. State-level winners from Farm Bureaus across the nation compete for the AFBF award, and judges narrow the field to 10 finalists. The finalists then meet individually with the judges to discuss their entries.

The couple manage a beef cattle operation at Heldreth Farms in Rural Retreat, which consists of about 350 cow-calf pairs on 1,200 acres. Matthew serves as chairman of the Wythe County Farm Bureau Young Farmers Committee, and Shelbie serves on the county Farm Bureau’s Women’s Committee.

“There was some very good competition, farmers from all over the country,” Matthew said after the winners were announced. “So we were just excited to be in the top 10 nationally. Coming in third is a once-in-a-lifetime achievement.”

Shelbie said they’re thankful for the support of Wythe County Farm Bureau. “We’re just happy to represent Rural Retreat, Wythe County, Virginia and Virginia’s Young Farmers!”

The couple will receive products from Stanley Black & Decker valued at $1,850, a $2,500 cash prize from American Farm Bureau Insurance Services Inc. and products from Case IH valued at $3,500.

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 special programs, at 804-290-1032.