Woodstock Teacher Wins Ag Award
Fisher Honored For Commitment To Farming Education
Shenandoah County native Dana Fisher was recognized as the winner of this year’s Young Farmers and Ranchers Excellence in Agriculture Award of a 2013 Chevrolet truck.
In addition to the pickup truck, Fisher will also receive free registration for the 2013 Young Farmers Leadership Conference.
“I was surprised and very excited,” said Fisher. “I had a lot of help along the way, from family to friends to teachers. It was an award that recognized all my involvement [in agriculture] since high school.”
The award was one of three nationwide and the only one awarded to a recipient who does not make the bulk of their income from farming.
“We couldn’t be more proud of Dana and all of our Young Farmers Program participants,” said Wayne F. Pryor, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation president. “It’s great to see that they are receiving national recognition for all of their hard work.”
Fisher, 35, lived in Woodstock until he was about 7 years old. His parents then bought a 50-acre Maurertown farm, and his life changed forever.
“It was a bit of a culture shock when mom and dad bought that farm,” he said. “We went from cable TV to having just six channels.”
But after settling into rural life, “it turned out to be something I really enjoyed.”
Fisher remembers bottle-feeding calves in the winter and raising his own steer for the county fair in high school.
But it wasn’t until his agriculture courses in middle and high school and involvement with the FFA that he was sold on the field as a career.
A middle school agriculture teacher convinced him to attend an FFA convention.
“The day I got back, mom and I found a guidance counselor and changed my whole [eighth grade] schedule,” he said. “That convention really did it for me — just seeing what opportunities were there and other students who were excited about it and all the potential for leadership in [agriculture].”
Fisher attended Virginia Tech and after graduating in 2001 returned to his home county to teach at North Fork Middle School and then his alma mater, Central High, where he’s taught for the last ten years.
Today, Fisher serves on a number of curriculum development committees for the Virginia Farm Bureau, helping to shape how agriculture is taught across the state.
“The industry is constantly changing, so we try to keep up,” he said. “Trying to keep those [curricula] fresh and up-to-date is a constant activity.”
Fisher teaches natural resource management and horticulture, one of the newest agriculture offerings at Central High.
Just last week, the first crop of hydroponic lettuce grown in the school greenhouse was served to students in the cafeteria. The second crop of 20 plants will be grown in the spring.
“It’s a great system,” said Fisher.
As a part of the application process for the award, applicants were asked to discuss what they felt are the most important issues facing agriculture today.
Fisher said he spoke about combining agriculture and leadership in order to find ways to feed the growing world population.
“If we get to the point of 9 billion people in the world and we want to feed them all, it’s going to take all kinds [of techniques], people growing in their backyards, large-scale producers changing the way they grow,” he said.
“It’s going to take a lot of folks working together to make that happen.”
Contact Kaitlin Mayhew at 574-6290 or firstname.lastname@example.org