Local educator honored by American Farm Bureau Federation at annual convention
By Sally Voth
Central High School agriculture teacher Dana Fisher's dedication to agriculture earned him national recognition this week.
The 35-year-old won the American Farm Bureau Federation's Young Farmers and Ranchers Excellence in Agriculture Award at the federation's annual convention at the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville.
This fall, Fisher was awarded the Young Farmers Excellence in Agriculture Award by the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.
He teaches foundations of agriculture, natural resources, leadership and horticulture classes at Central High School, and is an FFA adviser, chairman of the Shenandoah County Young Farmers Committee and a member of the state Farm Bureau's Young Farmers Committee.
In a Thursday afternoon phone interview, Fisher said he found out in Nashville on Sunday that his application was in the Top 10. He was interviewed regarding the successes he's had, what he feels are the most important issues and his future goals.
Fisher found out he'd come out on top Monday.
"It was an excellent experience," he said.
There were about 5,000 people at the convention, including U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, according to Fisher.
Fisher said the keynote speaker was former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, who is also the husband of former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
Fisher said he spent the first seven years of his life in Woodstock, and in 1984, his parents moved the family to a farm in Maurertown.
"That kind of got me introduced to agriculture," he said. "I followed my dad and my brother's footsteps in FFA, and had a lot of successes as a student. That led to my career as a teacher.
"If [my parents] hadn't made that move, I know I wouldn't be teaching ag today. I have received a lot of support from the community over the years. It starts with my parents and my wife and my kids."
Fisher said he wants to spread knowledge about farming.
"We want them to be knowledgeable about the industry and to be able to share their knowledge with others so that if they're producers or consumers, we want them to know what agriculture is about so they can make good decisions," he said. "It's the largest industry in Virginia by far. It's the largest industry in the United States by far."
Virginia Farm Bureau Young Farmers Coordinator Ron Saacke said Fisher is the latest in a long line of Virginians involved in agriculture to win at the national level.
"Dana's just an incredible person," he said. "He's always looking to bring people together and find ways to help them better communicate with each other within agriculture and outside agriculture. He's just done a fantastic job of helping break down walls and build bridges between various groups that need to work together."
According to an AFBF news release, part of Fisher's award includes his choice of a 2013 Chevrolet Silverado or 2013 GMC Sierra.
Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org