Leadership Loudoun Youth
“Making Loudoun County the Best Place to Grow Up”
Hogs, horses and hydroponics were on tap today at Loudoun Leadership Youth, a week-long leadership program made possible via a partnership between Leadership Loudoun and Loudoun Youth Inc. Twenty-six rising sophomores, juniors and seniors took a tour of the Western Loudoun agricultural community and were surprised by the thriving agribusinesses they visited.
The first stop was Great Country Farms where co-owner Kate Zurschmeide led a tour of her family's agritainment farm in Bluemont. Thousands of people visit the farm each month to experience the joy of picking their own produce, taking hay rides and meeting farm animals up close at the petting area. The most popular activity, however, was the giant jumping pad, where the teens reverted to their younger selves, leaping with abandon.
The second stop was Endless Summer Harvest, a hydroponics business that grows 25 varieties of lettuce on just 1/4 acre in Purcellville –producing the equivalent of 12 acres worth of produce while recycling 90% of its water. "This is the future of farming," said co-owner Mary Ellen Taylor. "It's very scientific, eco-friendly, and I hope some of you will consider this as a potential career." The company plans to sell franchises in the near future.
The third stop took the group to Clairvaux, LLC, an equestrian boarding and training center just outside of Leesburg. As co-owner and head trainer Terri Young led a tour of her facilities, she pointed out a variety of career opportunities in the equestrian community. "There are a lot of people making good money in this industry," she said. "From farriers to veterinarians to hay growers to massage therapists and trainers, there are many lucrative careers in this field."
"This is just a sampling of the variety of agricultural businesses we have in Loudoun County," said Jeremy Carter, agricultural district program specialist of the Loudoun County Department of Economic Development, who accompanied the group with Coco Lyons, marketing coordinator for the Loudoun County Department of Economic Development. "It’s a very diverse and vibrant industry, and we encourage you to learn more about what this industry has to offer as you explore future careers."
After the Western Loudoun agribiz tour, the teens were treated to lunch at Historic Whitehall Manor in Bluemont, sponsored by Loudoun Insurance Group and Capital Fiduciary Advisors. John Wolff, president and managing director of Capital Fiduciary Advisors, gave a presentation on lessons learned from his recent 12-day trip to China as one of 44 ambassador delegates from the financial planning profession.
Undaunted by their jam-packed morning, the teens spent the afternoon learning about an important piece of Loudoun history at The George C. Marshall International Center at Dodona Manor. The Leadership Loudoun Class of 2011 (adult program) "Youth Issues & Impact" Issue Day / Community Impact Project group also challenged the LLY2011ers with an eye-opening assignment to create a social media program for a stodgy insurance firm. The teens took on roles typically encountered in a collaborative business environment, such as leader, non-conformist and spoiler - "The Underminer". "It taught me a lot about how to achieve consensus," said one teen. "And it's not that easy."