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March 15, 2016
Farm Credit today announced the top honorees of the Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives program, a nationwide search to identify and honor 100 leaders who are changing rural communities and agriculture for the better. The top 100 honorees are being recognized for their exceptional contributions to their communities, and were announced at a National Ag Day event at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
“Farm Credit has supported rural communities and agriculture for 100 years, and we understand the vision and commitment it takes to remain successful as rural America evolves and changes,” Dave Lawrence, CEO, Farm Credit of the Virginias. “The Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives honorees are inspiring examples of leaders who are creating a brighter, more vibrant future for rural America.”
The Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives program is the cornerstone of Farm Credit’s 100th anniversary of supporting rural communities and agriculture. The search took place between July and December 2015, and netted more than 1,000 nominations from all 50 states. Selected by a panel of experts on rural matters, including Farm Credit leaders and others from around the agriculture industry, the top 100 honorees represent the very best of those positively shaping what is next for rural communities and agriculture.
One such leader is Laos native Maykia Xiong, an IT professional and North Carolina poultry farmer, who helps fellow Hmong producers with limited English skills access important USDA programs. Recognized in the Mentoring and Volunteerism category, Xiong said, “Through my struggles and hardship with financial institutions, integrators and government programs, I want to make resources available to assist Hmong-American farmers in all aspects of their farming needs.”
A dedication to helping others is a strong theme across the Fresh Perspectives honorees. Marc Breslaw represents the NRECA International Foundation, a branch of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) that represents 900 consumer-owned electric cooperatives in America. These co-ops bring electricity to more than 2,500 of America’s counties, including the most rural. NRECA International does the same for communities in underdeveloped countries. Breslaw says, “We recognize the transformative impact that access to power has on people, and we’ve worked to bring electricity to rural communities in 42 nations around the world.”
Honoree Addy Battel, demonstrates that a strong commitment to making a difference can start young – in Cass City, Mich., she is already a driving force in her community. She helped start a junior high FFA chapter and a 4-H club, serving as president for both, and has been instrumental in starting a hunger relief project, a dairy education clinic, and her own maple syrup and meat businesses. Just 13 years old, Battel is a student, volunteer, mentor and advocate for agriculture, and is already focused on the future. “I believe the future of agriculture depends on our future generations, the agriculturalists like my friends and me who are still young. But we don’t need to wait to make a difference. Even if we can’t vote or drive, we are agvocates and we can educate and create a better future now.”
The Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives selection panelists evaluated nominations of individuals and groups who demonstrate influence, leadership and innovation in the following categories:
“It was truly inspiring to learn more about individuals and organizations dedicated to making a meaningful difference every day,” said Jennifer Sirangelo, President and CEO, National 4-H Council, Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives selection panelist, and moderator of the Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives honoree panel. “After reviewing the nominations of so many exceptional leaders, I am proud to say the future of rural communities and agriculture is remarkably bright.”
The top 10 honorees — one from each nomination category — will receive a $10,000 award to help further their contributions to thriving rural communities and agriculture, and be recognized in Washington, D.C. at a special Farm Credit 100 event in June.
A complete list of Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives honorees is included below. To learn more about the Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives honorees, visit www.farmcredit100.com/top100.
Farm Credit of the Virginias provides over $1.7 billion dollars in financing to more than 10,000 farmers, agribusinesses and rural homeowners throughout Virginia, West Virginia and western Maryland. Farm Credit is a cooperative capitalized largely through investments made by farmers, ranchers and the rural homeowners and businesses that borrow from them. Farm Credit helps maintain and improve the quality of life in rural America and on the farm through its constant commitment to competitive lending, expert financial services and for facilitating and sharing knowledge and resources through the Farm Credit Knowledge Center. For more information, visit www.FarmCreditKnowledgeCenter.com or www.FarmCreditofVirginias.com.
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