Kenny Rodeffer left his mark on the Shenandoah Valley, especially in Rockingham County, well before his passing in 2014.
As a livestock grader for the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Rodeffer was frequently seen roaming around livestock sale rooms and running the 4-H and Future Farmers of America show and sale during the Rockingham County Fair.
He shared his knowledge of cattle, cattle marketing and management to anyone he met and, in his honor, the Rockingham Feeder Cattle Association created a scholarship fund to help future generations of cattle producers and agriculture professionals.
“Kenny has an impact on cattlemen up and down the Shenandoah Valley and the board wanted to bring that to the youth, that was the objective with the scholarship,” said John Benner, animal science extension agent at the Augusta County Extension Office.
With funds gathered from local cattlemen and women each year through various fundraising efforts, the scholarship selection committee was able to award six students with the Kenneth W. Rodeffer Memorial Scholarship, with this year’s recipient being Buffalo Gap High School graduate Samuel Hadacek.
Hadacek served as his high school’s FFA chapter president for 2019-20 and is planning to attend Blue Ridge Community College in the fall, which his $1,000 scholarship will go toward. He said he hopes to be able to transfer to a four-year university in the future to study agricultural business.
Benner said Hadacek was selected out of several candidates due to his volunteer efforts and involvement with the agricultural community.
“He has helped with extra volunteer work for the Augusta County 4-H and FFA market animal show and sale, helps with [Virginia-North Carolina] wool pool and drops vegetables at the Augusta County Fair,” Benner said. “He is just very involved in every 4-H activity.”
Lisa Chambers, who works for Rockingham Livestock Sales, said the scholarship helps to promote the value of youth in agriculture, as well as the need for people to farm.
Anna Foley, a Fort Defiance High School gradate and 2016 scholarship recipient, said she was able to use the funds toward her education at Virginia Tech.
“Having support from scholarships like the Rodeffer scholarship allowed me to pursue my career and studies without having devote more of my time to a part-time job while in school,” Foley said in a press release.
After completing her undergraduate studies at Virginia Tech, Foley enrolled at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine where she is pursing her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree.
Since the scholarship program was created, six students have been able to use the funds toward the education. The first recipient was East Rockingham High School graduate Gabbrial Conlye, who attended West Virginia University in 2015.
Typically, scholarship recipients are recognized during the Rockingham Feeder Cattle Association’s annual meeting in June, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the meeting was postponed. Hadacek was able to receive a commemorative plaque from Mary Rodeffer in honor of his achievement and his name will be added to the plaque featuring other scholarship recipients displayed at Rockingham Livestock Sales and Rockingham County Fairgrounds.
Chambers said if people are interested in applying for the scholarship next year, applications will open in January.