One of the main focal points of the Annual Meeting for the Young Farmers & Ranchers program is the Discussion Meet. It kind of looks like a debate, and kind of sounds like a debate, but is most definitely not a debate. Four competitors at a time tackle a question that highlights currents challenges or topics in agriculture, and work together to find common ground and consensus toward solving problems. In essence, it should operate similar to a board meeting where everyone is working toward how the group is going to address the problem.
This competition is a wonderful way to develop leadership potential in the YF&R program. The research required to speak knowledgeably about the questions at hand leave the competitors conversant in a wide range of ag topics, and getting up in front of an audience to talk about all of these issues provides plenty of public speaking experience. And the winner gets a shiny new Chevrolet Silverado, which isn’t a shabby reward for all that work.
I’m writing this a little bleary-eyed, a little caffeinated and a lot motivated. My wife, Anna, and I serve on the Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee for American Farm Bureau with 26 other great young leaders in our industry, and with that comes a lot of responsibility at the annual meeting. Primarily, we’re responsible for putting on the Discussion Meet, Excellence in Agriculture, and Achievement Award competitions (all of which will be discussed in greater detail in later posts), which means that we’re putting in 12- to 18-hour days of work to make sure these events go off without a hitch. If you see some smiling young members running all over the Opryland Hotel while you’re here, there’s a good chance it’s one of us.
But since the 28 of us only get to get together four times a year, we make the most of our socializing time after the work is done, leading directly to the bleary eyes and caffeine needs. (Without going into too great detail, I’ll just say we’ve uncovered some unexpected musical talents among the group in the last two nights.) The bonds that are formed when we’re playing and working together make the 18-hour days fly by, and we’ll all be looking forward to the next time we get together and do it again.
If you’re at the meeting and you have any questions, feel free to grab one of us and we’ll do our best to help you. Odds are good that we’ll know where to find the coffee.
zjhunn is Zach Hunnicutt, a Nebraska farmer. He farms with his dad and brother, growing field corn and soybeans for livestock, and popcorn for people. Find him on Facebook and Twitter (@zjhunn).