Nash Community College recognized Robert Elliott of Sanford as the 2018 Outstanding Alumni Award recipient at the Curriculum Graduation ceremony Friday, May 11, 2018.
The annual award honors a graduate or student who is making outstanding contributions in their chosen profession and service to their community.
Robert Elliott served as an aircraft mechanic in the United States Marine Corps flying in many parts of the world. Following his military service, he graduated from Nash Community College with an Associate in Applied Science degree and established Cypress Hall Farms.
Elliott attended North Carolina State University (NCSU) while returning to work on the farm that has been in his family since the 1800s. He plans to graduate next year with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Environmental Technology from NCSU.
Elliott’s entrepreneurial spirit and work in agriculture led him to develop a niche business selling free-range meat to local customers and establishing a reputation as a resource for veterans transitioning into farming.
As a farmer, Elliott began with 100 chickens, and soon successfully sold at area Farmers Markets. After beginning with chickens, he added hogs, sheep, beef, turkeys and mushrooms with all of the livestock being pasture-raised, and antibiotic-free with emphasis on quality.
After a presenting to leaders in agriculture at Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) in Pittsboro, NC, Elliott gained more notoriety. The media shared his story, and veterans began to contact him to learn how to start a farming operation.
Cypress Hall Farms provided on the farm training and assistance programs were established through the founding of Elliott’s non-profit organization, The Veteran’s Farm of NC, Inc. (VFNC), with support of RAFI.
His work led him to create a statewide network to help farmer veterans connect and support one another as well as a new program educating veterans on the business of farming.
Robert Elliott has received recognition as a national award recipient for the Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives in Agriculture, the Innovative Young Farmer of the Year by Farm Credit Associations of NC, Farm Aid Farmer Hero and the News and Observer’s Tar Heel of the Week.
Elliott is President of the Franklin County Small Farm Association and the United Farmer Veterans of NC and assists Feeding Franklin, helping feed the hungry in Franklin County.
Elliott’s work has taken him to Fort Bragg, NC where he established the Soldier to Agriculture Program through NCSU’s Agricultural Institute for soldiers transitioning into careers in agriculture.
Elliott will accept the award at Nash Community College’s spring commencement ceremony.