Member Spotlight

Women in AG!

Best Friends Start Sunflower Festival to Promote Education

Meet Savannah Engel McQuarrie and Leah Muniec. Savannah Engel McQuarrie grew up on her family’s grain farm. Helping her father around the office while obtaining a degree in business management, she decided to stick with the family business and go to work full-time in administration for Engel Family Farms.  "I enjoy being able to see and work with my family every day. My dad, Kevin, brothers Chris and Casey all work on the farm and handle our own division of the farming operation," Savannah notes.

Leah Muniec also grew up on her grandfather’s grain and beef farm. She enjoyed going to the fields and working cattle with her brothers and cousins. Making special memories with her grandfather is what motivated her to start Eagle Rock Farm, a sheep grazing operation; affording her children an opportunity to be involved in the production of their own source of food and instilling responsibilities.

Savannah and Leah have grown up together, spending many summers with each other’s families and working together on both family farms. Early on most chores included tasks like: taking soil samples, setting up and running irrigation, feeding cattle, moving equipment, and going on parts runs. Now, both ladies work together at Engel Family Farms where, along with Leah’s mother, they are responsible for payroll, record keeping, bill paying, FSA filings, and scale house reports.

In 2019, Savannah came up with the idea to start an agritourism festival that hosts a sunflower festival in Doswell, VA each fall. Savannah and Leah enjoy putting the event together at the historic Meadow Farm, giving families the opportunity to make memories of their own that reflect a positive outlook on agriculture in our community. Guests may pick sunflowers, use the breathtaking scenery as a backdrop for family photos, try their skills at navigating a corn maze, participate in kid friendly activities, taste some of the best local cuisine, and talk to educators from AG in the Classroom, Soil and Water Conservation, Virginia Farm Bureau, and many more.

Savannah points out, “We want to do our part to be stewards of education for the public and future generations about agriculture and how farmers truly care for the land and the people it provides for.” 

Women in AG!

Meet Seana Ankers. She is a Landscape Designer and Horticulturist with Meadows Farms Nurseries and Landscape, in Chantilly and Warrenton, VA. Seana is also the current Past-President and Legislative Policy Chair of the Virginia Nursery and Landscape Association (VNLA), as well as a Past-President of the Northern Virginia Nursery and Landscape Association (NVNLA). She is also a Byron Wates Award Recipient and has served as a volunteer and mentor in the green industry for many years.

Seana’s Agribusiness career officially began 27 years ago, but that was not when her interest in horticulture and agriculture began. Before she could even walk, both sides of her family immersed her in agriculture. Seana grew up growing and harvesting fruits and vegetables to be taken to the market, as well as decorating pumpkins and wreaths for the holiday season, but she never saw it as a career option. That all changed with what was meant to be a seasonal position at Meadows Farms and a mentor who saw her potential in this industry.  She was encouraged to expand upon her plant knowledge and to study to become a Virginia Certified Horticulturist, as well as to pursue positions in various departments and nurseries within the company. While taking classes, she met so many strong female role models who showed her that there was a path for her in this industry beyond just office work. She held several industry positions before coming back to landscape design, which allowed for a more flexible schedule for family, advocacy and education.

Seana joined the NVNLA Board in 1997 and found her volunteering passion, helping plan educational meetings and certification trainings, while working closely with Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) and the Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS) with the Green Industry Professional Seminars and Field Day (GIPS).  Through volunteering, she experienced first-hand how “you can learn through collaboration with likeminded individuals for the purpose of growing knowledge, credibility and a unified voice for the industry”.  She was later inspired to join the VNLA Board and Legislative Committee, where this unified voice could make a greater difference through advocacy efforts in Richmond and Capitol Hill, while working closely with the Virginia Agribusiness Council, AmericanHort and others on key topics and legislation impacting agribusinesses.  While Seana does not hesitate to reach out with legislative questions and concerns, “just knowing the VAC is there, watching out for the best interest of all agribusinesses, gives peace of mind to our members and board. It is a priceless partnership that industry greats before me had the forethought to put into place.” 

Women in AG!

Meet Candice Wilson. She is the Office Manager at The Mennel Milling Company, in West Point, VA. Candice also serves on the board of the Virginia Grain Producers Association and has an appointment to the Small Grains Check Off Board. Candice is a Class V VALOR (Virginia Agriculture Leaders Obtaining Results) Fellow at Virginia Tech set to graduate July 2022.

Candice began her Ag journey as a teenager grading wheat for quality in the summers at Mennel Milling. She pursued a college degree in education; however, after graduating, she realized that her passion was in agriculture. She returned to Mennel Milling as their Office Manager. Candice currently oversees grading, origination, and logistics for the company. She became more involved in the industry and attended her first Ag event at the Virginia Agribusiness Council’s Council Connections. “The [Virginia] Agribusiness Council Connections were the first events I went to when starting my career. It was a great way to get introduced into the industry and connect with people,” Candice remarked.

Candice enjoys working with the customers and being part of the agricultural community that she calls family. “I get to work with some of the best people, farmers,” Candice said. Her extended family grew up on a tobacco farm; however, Candice did not have a background in Ag. Over the years, her co-workers, peers, and farmers mentored and involved her in leadership roles. These opportunities have allowed Candice to reconnect with her families’ agricultural roots and sharpen leadership skills to be a stronger voice for Virginia’s Agriculture.

Virginia Agribusiness Council
(804) 643-3555;
9323 Midlothian Turnpike, Suite T
 Richmond, Virginia 23235
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software