Remarkable Woman: Joy Powers

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BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. (WFXR)— Joy Powers has been service-oriented since she was a small child. Her father, Jeff Powers, says, “When she was little, someone asked her what she wanted to be, and she told them an Agriculture Missionary. They said they had never heard of that. To that, she replied, ‘I haven’t either but I want to be the first.'”

Being raised on a farm in Bedford County, Powers knows a lot about Agriculture, and she uses that knowledge to make a difference.

“I had the opportunity to grow up in FFA and 4H, and I’m a big advocate and supporter of those organizations still,” said Powers. She later goes on to say, “So, this has been something that I have been developing for 15 years, the resources and skills to do this.”

By this, Powers means writing the curriculum and making sure people have what they need for Restore The Harvest. The nonprofit, which she created, is dedicated to strengthening agricultural education. They provide agricultural resources that are custom-created for each community. One of the places where the organization operates is Malawi, Africa.

“So, we create lesson plans only using resources that are free and accessible to the teachers. We don’t want it to be discouraging. We believe that whereas we can’t change the world, we know that those students can change their communities. So, that’s what we’re focused on,” said Powers.

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According to Powers, it’s important for them not to create dependency. They want to create community and relationships, which is why offering teachers conferences is so important. Those conferences allow them to come back and teach hundreds of students tangible life skills they can use. It’s a grassroots effort she says is working.

“The income of villages has just doubled, and we’ve watched this change in just a couple of years. But instead of just starting them over, saying you have to do it like we do it here in America, we say, well, what do you need from us? And we say, okay. Well, here’s what we can do for you,” said Powers.

Her father says while his daughter has always worked to serve others here at home, when she started going on mission trips with her church, that’s when she started to make a difference on a much higher, global scale, leading her to start Restore The Harvest.

“I’ve never been surprised at anything that Joy has done, and some of the things she comes in with seem maybe even far-fetched, maybe impossible, but it doesn’t surprise me. I mean, the way her mind works, like I said, service-oriented, always looking to help somebody, always looking to do things and to pick out Malawi, those people over there they have very little but what they have they’re proud of. She fell in love with those people when she went over there and just felt like she needed to help,” said Jeff.

“I had never witnessed that level of poverty before, but for me just being a farm kid, I saw the lack of agriculture, the lack of resources that they had there, and to me, I just made the connection of extreme poverty is due in part to a lack of agricultural resources and stability,” said Powers.

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She saw a problem she could help with. And while it is important to note the difference Powers makes across the globe, it’s equally important to note the difference she is making here at home.

Powers led a group that wanted to bring back the Bedford County Fair after a 40-year hiatus. The fair became a reality in 2015 with Powers serving as the fair’s Superintendent. Powers says the free gate, volunteer-run fair, averages about half-a-million-dollars in economic impact every year. She is still a big advocate and supporter of FFA and 4H, serves on the Bedford County Ag Board, serves as chairman of the Education Committee, and is a registered foster parent. She has a four-year-old son named Eli whom she fostered and then later adopted.

“Everybody has the opportunity to make a difference. What I have to offer is just knowledge on agriculture. That’s what I do,” said Powers.

She continues a legacy that started with her grandparents. It’s something she says is not only important to her but that she believes in.

“My grandparents started a farm and a business that I still have the privilege of working in today. But alongside that, the impact and the difference that they made on their community is something that people still come up and talk to me about, you know, sometimes 50, 60 years later.”

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