“Being the Farm Manager for IWCS has been one of the most rewarding careers I have had,” said Judkins. “I have a passion for agriculture and every day I am able to be outside working around the farm and sharing my knowledge and love for the industry with our students.”
Judkins accepted the position with Isle of Wight County Schools in April of 2017 as the division was revamping its offerings for Career and Technology Education. The plan was to create a working farm to provide real-world, authentic learning opportunities for students in the Agriculture program. Under his direction, and in partnership with Agriculture teacher Jason Brittle, the Land Lab has grown from six acres of uncut grass to multiple pastures with a variety of livestock and a vegetable garden. The property welcomed a beautiful barn and classroom facility in the fall of 2018. Judkins makes agriculture come to life by showing students the skills needed for animal and plant production and management. He has coordinated a farm to table effort with the students with the sale of products from the Land Lab to the public and also to the division’s culinary arts program. His next goal is to develop a more comprehensive Farm to School program where the agriculture students furnish produce that will be served in school cafeterias throughout the division. IWCS recently received a $15,000 America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education grant to help launch this “Farm to Fork” project. In addition, Judkins was selected to serve on the Virginia Farm to School leadership team. The team was formed by the Virginia Department of Education’s school nutrition programs and the Virginia Cooperative Extension to enhance using locally grown produce in school systems.
“It has been great through the years watching students grow and master goals and then share their knowledge with newer students in the program,” said Judkins. One project of which he is especially proud is when students were learning how to build and install fencing. The students were excited to learn the new skill and extremely gratified when they saw their completed work.
Judkins graduated from Virginia Tech in 2007 with a degree in Animal Agriculture. He lives with his wife and two young sons on a sixth generation farm located in Surry, VA. He operates a commercial cow/calf operation with his father. In addition to the 50 head of purebred angus and angus cross cattle, they also harvest and store all the hay needed for the herd. Judkins also serves Vice President for the Surry County Farm Bureau Board of Directors and is Chairman of the Surry Young Farmers Committee.