Virginia dairy farmer named 2019 national Agriculture Advocate


Members of the agriculture community deserve to be recognized for their hard work and hours of dedication helping future generations. Debbie Brubaker, a Franklin County, Virginia, beef and dairy farmer, has been honored with the 2019 Agriculture Advocate Award by the National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization and the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry.

The award recognizes Brubaker’s dedication to advancing agricultural literacy in her community for more than 10 years. In partnership with the Franklin County Farm Bureau Women’s Committee, Brubaker has provided information about agriculture to an estimated 60,000 children.

Brubaker’s work as an agricultural spokesperson began in 2001 with her involvement in her children’s school. She and another “dairy mom” began a “Dairy Day” in 2006. They personally financed the event, which began with three stations that educated students about dairies and farming. Over the years, Brubaker expanded the dairy event to include 20 learning stations that teach students about topics like milking cows, gardening, making healthy food choices, and supporting pollinators. She also has designed resources and activities to engage students in hands-on learning using agricultural concepts.

Her peers say Brubaker stands out as a volunteer not only because of the positive impact she has had in her community, but also because of the design skills she brings to the table.

“Debbie’s creativity in reaching children makes her remarkable,” said Tammy Maxey, senior education manager for the Virginia Agriculture in the Classroom program. “Her off-the-farm work as a graphic designer has paid dividends in her volunteer projects.”

Thanks to Brubaker’s talents, many students in the rural county have learned more about milk production by interacting with a cow replica that shows its digestive system, or one that demonstrates how cows are milked.

“Agriculture in the Classroom’s strength lies in its grassroots network of volunteers like Ms. Brubaker who are passionate about spreading agricultural literacy in schools,” said Will Fett, NAITCO president.

Brubaker and the Franklin County Farm Bureau Women’s Committee joined forces with local schools and organizations to broaden the reach of agricultural literacy in their community. They participate in annual STEM events, read in schools during Virginia AITC’s annual Agriculture Literacy Week, and host hundreds of students at the Franklin County Fair’s Dairy Days.

“We are thrilled to see Debbie receive this honor,” Maxey shared. “She has been an exceptional spokesperson in her community, and we have been fortunate to have her engagement as a board member for the Virginia Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom. Her passion for agriculture and children is evident, and we are so pleased to see her accomplishments celebrated.”

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