Outstanding service awards in business, agriculture and education were presented at the 43rd annual Chamber of Commerce of Smyth County Town & Country BBQ last week in Chilhowie.

Held at the Chilhowie Land Company airplane hangar the event offered an opportunity for citizens to hear about the outstanding accomplishments of some of their fellows and enjoy a dinner, door prizes and music from Valley Grass.

Farm Family of the Year

Randy and Billy Lawson of LL Farms LLC in Chilhowie have been chosen Farm Family of the Year.

“Our honorees tonight are brothers who have worked first on their grandfather’s farm and later for an uncle and always dreamed of a place of their own,” said Smyth County Extension Agent Dr. Andy Overbay, who presented the award.

“Upon graduating from high school, both brothers took jobs in factories and construction,” Overbay said. “While still working at off farm positions, they started their own farming operation in 1999 with a few cow-calf pairs and some tobacco. In 2003, they purchased their own farm, which is a risky undertaking, but with determination they are growing their farm for their growing families. Today their farming operation boasts 300 brood cows and 550 stockers spread over 2,000 acres.”

The brothers also have an agribusiness, L&L Fencing, which was established in 2000 and has been named Conservationist of the Year in Smyth and Tazewell counties.

Business Person of the Year

The Business Person of the Year award went to Tom and Kyra Bishop of Berry Home Centers.

“Tom and Kyra Bishop started their business and now employ over 100 workers,” said Tom Graham, chair for the chamber's Commercial and Industrial Support Committee, who presented the award. “They have shared their success from their business with many charities, churches, and individuals over many years. Tom and Kyra Bishop contribute their time and money with United Way, the Cancer Foundation, local food banks and Smyth County schools. Not only do they help fund many things in Smyth County, they strive to make Berry Home Centers a wonderful place to work, helping out their employees in any possible way.” 

FBLA Student of the Year

Gregory Snavely II, a senior at Marion Senior High School and the son of Melissa Snavely, was named FBLA Student of the Year.

“This year’s recipient of the Outstanding FBLA member came to me during his ninth-grade year,” said Lynn White, FBLA advisor at MSHS. “He set a goal of being FBLA president during his senior year. That year, he competed in word processing and won third place at the regional competition. The next year, he served as FBLA’s secretary and won third place in the American Enterprise Project at the regional competition. During his junior year, he served as FBLA’s vice president and competed in the regional and state competitions. At the regional level, he won first place for business calculations and at the state level he won third place for community service project and honorable mention for chapter’s annual business report. Also during his junior year he passed and received a certificate for the National Test for Accounting 1.

“Over the course of three years he has worked on community service projects to include VFW, Kiwanis and Santa’s Elves programs,” White said of her student. “He is a senior this year and has met his goal set in ninth grade – he is the Marion Senior High School FBLA president.”

FFA Student of the Year

FFA Student of the Year award was presented to Jeb Buchanan of Rich Valley, a 2014 graduate of Northwood High School and the son of Jimbo and Dawn Buchanan.

The award was presented by Will Walker, FFA advisor at Northwood High School.

“He’s an outstanding young man with a positive work ethic,” said Walker of Jeb. “He shows a lot of integrity and he has been active in FFA through school and competed in regional competition.”

Walker said that Jeb works in cattle with both his dad and uncle. He is attending Virginia Tech studying in the Ag-Tech program.

4-H Student of the Year

The 4-H Student of the Year award went to Zack Jones, a junior at Chilhowie High School and the son of Farrell and Julia Jones.

“Zack is in nearly every 4-H club in Smyth County except sewing and cooking,” said Overbay, who presented the award. “He is president of the Shooting Sports Club, vice-president of the Teen Club, president of the Livestock Club and vice-president of the Virginia Junior Simmental Association. He is in the newly formed Horse Club and he is a 4-H camp counselor and volunteer. Zack and his teammates also recently won a state championship in the first-ever VA State Cattle Sales Team Competition.”

Children First Award

Trey White, president of Marion Little League, was presented the Children First Award by Vince Groseclose, chamber Education Committee member.

This award is given to a person who has had a positive impact and made a noteworthy contribution to the education of Smyth County’s students.

“Trey volunteers countless hours to ensure that roughly 200 kids from Smyth County have a wonderful experience playing ball,” Groseclose said. “Trey not only helps out on the field, he does private fundraisers, runs concessions, and has been known to pay for fees, food, snacks, clothing, and equipment out of his own pocket to allow children to be able to participate in this program. Trey White treats every child he encounters either on the field or as an applicant to the program with care, fairness and respect. Children respond positively to his enthusiasm and passion for the game and refer to him lovingly as Coach Trey.” 

Special Presentation

Del. Israel O’Quinn attended the event to make a special presentation to Andy Overbay. House Joint Resolution No. 35 commends Overbay on receiving the Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of County Agricultural Agents, an award that recognizes excellence in the field and is presented to members with over 10 years of experience.

The resolution states in part that Overbay “learned the value of hard work while growing up on his family’s dairy farm in Smyth County; [was] an active member of the 4-H Youth Development Organization; graduated as the valedictorian of Chilhowie High School in 1981; spent a total of nearly 12 years at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees and a doctorate; and while working as a dairy farmer in 2000, joined the Virginia Cooperative Extension service and served the farming community by using scientific research and a variety of teaching methods to build beneficial programs for farm operations; earned the respect and gratitude of many local farmers and fellow agents for his work on dairy nutrition, youth education, and agritourism in Smyth County and Southwest Virginia; was promoted to the position of senior extension agent in 2013; currently serves on the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association Scientific Advisory Board and has served in nearly every office of the Virginia Association of Agricultural Extension Agents.”

Overbay also offered an address to the crowd on the economic impact of agriculture in the county.

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