Young Farmers and Ranchers Win Big at #AFBF14

Winners of the Young Farmers & Ranchers Achievement Award, Discussion Meet and Excellence in Agriculture competitions were announced today at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 95th Annual Convention. Young farmers and ranchers from around the country competed for the awards by demonstrating knowledge of and achievement in agriculture, as well as commitment to promoting the agriculture industry.

Brandon and Katherine Whitt of Tennessee won the Achievement Award. They are the winners of either a 2014 Chevrolet Silverado or 2014 GMC Sierra, courtesy of GM. The Whitts will also receive paid registration to attend the 2014 AFBF YF&R Leadership Conference in Virginia Beach, Va., in February.

Brandon and Katherine Whitt (left) of Tennessee won the Achievement Award.

Brandon and Katherine Whitt (left) of Tennessee won the Achievement Award.

Runners-up in the Achievement Award contest are Shane and Mary Courtney of Kentucky,  Jacob and Danielle Larson of Florida and Dwight and Jamie Little of Idaho. The runners-up will receive a Case IH Farmall 65A, courtesy of Case IH, and $3,000 in cash and STIHL merchandise, courtesy of STIHL.

The Achievement Award recognizes young farmers and ranchers who have excelled in their farming or ranching operations and exhibited superior leadership abilities. Participants are evaluated on a combination of their agricultural operation’s growth and financial progress, Farm Bureau leadership and leadership outside of Farm Bureau.

Nathan Prill of Michigan (left) won the Discussion Meet.

Nathan Prill of Michigan (left) won the Discussion Meet.

Nathan Prill of Michigan won the Discussion Meet. He will have his choice of either a 2014 Chevrolet Silverado or a 2014 GMC Sierra, courtesy of GM, plus free registration to the 2014 AFBF YF&R Leadership Conference.

The three runners-up in the Discussion Meet are Caleb May of Illinois, Shelby Watson of Maryland and Chris Pollack of Wisconsin.

Each runner-up will receive a Case IH Farmall 55A, courtesy of Case IH, and $3,000 in cash and STIHL merchandise, courtesy of STIHL.

The Discussion Meet simulates a committee meeting in which active discussion and participation are expected. Participants are evaluated on their ability to exchange ideas and information on a predetermined topic.

Linda McClanahan of Kentucky won the Excellence in Agriculture Award. She will receive her choice of either a 2014 Chevrolet Silverado or 2014 GMC Sierra, courtesy of GM, plus free registration to the 2014 AFBF YF&R Leadership Conference.

Linda McClanahan of Kentucky (left) won the Excellence in Agriculture Award.

Linda McClanahan of Kentucky (left) won the Excellence in Agriculture Award.

The three runners-up in the Excellence in Agriculture competition are Dr. Emily Buck of Ohio, Jennifer Hatcher and Chuck Yoest of Tennessee and W.P. and Amy Johnson of Virginia. Each runner-up will receive a Case IH Farmall 45A, courtesy of Case IH, and $3,000 in cash and STIHL merchandise, courtesy of STIHL.

The Excellence in Agriculture Award recognizes young farmers and ranchers who do not derive the majority of their income from an agricultural operation, but who actively contribute and grow through their involvement in agriculture, their leadership ability and participation in Farm Bureau and other organizations.

Young Farmers and Ranchers Win Big

Winners of the Young Farmers & Ranchers Achievement Award, Discussion Meet and Excellence in Agriculture competitions were announced today at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 94th Annual Meeting. Young farmers and ranchers from around the country competed for the awards by demonstrating knowledge of and achievement in agriculture, as well as commitment to promoting the agriculture industry.

 Ryan and Misty Bivens of Kentucky won the Achievement Award. They are the winners of either a 2013 Chevrolet Silverado or 2013 GMC Sierra, courtesy of GM. The Bivens will also receive paid registration to attend the 2013 AFBF YF&R Leadership Conference in Phoenix, Ariz., in February.

Runners-up in the Achievement Award contest are Michael Springer of Kansas, Dan and Mikki Hosman of Arkansas, and John and Alicia Boelts of Arizona. The runners-up will receive a Case IH Farmall 65A, courtesy of Case IH, and $3,000 in cash and STIHL merchandise, courtesy of STIHL.

The Achievement Award recognizes young farmers and ranchers who have excelled in their farming or ranching operations and exhibited superior leadership abilities. Participants are evaluated on a combination of their agricultural operation’s growth and financial progress, Farm Bureau leadership and leadership outside of Farm Bureau.

Dillon Kjerstad of Arizona won the Discussion Meet. He will have his choice of either a 2013 Chevrolet Silverado or a 2013 GMC Sierra, courtesy of GM, plus free registration to the 2013 AFBF YF&R Leadership Conference.

The three runners-up in the Discussion Meet are Ann Larson of Illinois, Stacy Vincent of Kentucky and Allison Honea of South Carolina.

Each runner-up will receive a Case IH Farmall 55A, courtesy of Case IH, and $3,000 in cash and STIHL merchandise, courtesy of STIHL.

The Discussion Meet simulates a committee meeting in which active discussion and participation are expected. Participants are evaluated on their ability to exchange ideas and information on a predetermined topic.

Dana Allen Fisher of Virginia won the Excellence in Agriculture Award. He will receive his choice of either a 2013 Chevrolet Silverado or 2013 GMC Sierra, courtesy of GM, plus free registration to the 2013 AFBF YF&R Leadership Conference.

The three runners-up in the Excellence in Agriculture competition are Kelby and Kathie Iverson of Utah, David and Meghan Corvin of Tennessee, and Jarrod and Sarah Bowser of Kansas. Each runner-up will receive a Case IH Farmall 45A, courtesy of Case IH, and $3,000 in cash and STIHL merchandise, courtesy of STIHL. 

The Excellence in Agriculture Award recognizes young farmers and ranchers who do not derive the majority of their income from an agricultural operation, but who actively contribute and grow through their involvement in agriculture, their leadership ability and participation in Farm Bureau and other organizations.

Congratulations!

All Good Things Must End

All good things must end and the closing session of AFBF’s 94th Annual Meeting is upon us. The meeting kicked off with a presentation to the retiring board members of the AFBF Board of Directors. Next up was Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack who emphasized the importance of a five year farm bill being passed. Vilsack commented that rural America was losing relevance and we needed to look for ways to expand our reach in less conventional ways.

Another highlight of closing session was retired astronaut Capt. Mark Kelly from NASA who has made four trips into space. He talked about how practice, persistence and the drive to never give up are what contributes to success. He also says there is no excuse for not properly communicating with those you work with.

He shared his account of his wife, Gabby Giffords, being shot in Arizona while she was visiting constituents. He said he never dreamed his wife would be the one to almost lose her life by serving our country, he was the pilot, not Gabby. He said every day as Gabby leaves the house and goes to rehab her last words to him are “fight, fight, fight.” Kelly said one of the highlights of his life was seeing his wife return to the U.S. House floor to cast one of her final votes. Hearing her voice on the House floor was inspiring to so many.
Following Kelly’s speech, the Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee was introduced. The winners of the Y&R contests were announced next. Chairman Glen Cope announced the new chairman for the coming year which will be Zach Hunnicutt from Nebraska. President Stallman then handed Zach his diamond pin which is tradition. Stallman thanked everyone in attendance and invited everyone to come back next year to San Antonio, Texas.

Chris Chinn is a Farm Bureau member in Missouri, serves  on the Missouri Farm Bureau board of directors and will represent her state at the delegate session in Nashville. She is a hog producer, 5th-generation family farmer and former chair of the national AFBF Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee. Find her on Facebook and Twitter (@ChrisChinn).

The Waiting is the Hardest Part…

My husband, John, and I are priviledged to be the Indiana representatives in the Young Farmers and Ranchers Excellence in Ag Award here at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 94th Annual Meeting.

 

Excellence in AgThis award is for Young Farmers and Ranchers who do not make the majority of their income from production agriculture. The Excellence in Ag Award is based on involvement and leadership in agriculture, Farm Bureau and the local community.

We first competed for this award in Indiana before our annual convention in December. We submitted an application that included details about our farm (beef cattle and hay), our off-farm jobs (we are veterinarians in a rural town and I am a blogger), our involvement and leadership roles with Farm Bureau, with other agriculture groups, and with non-agriculture groups. Then we waited.

The top three competitors in Indiana were asked to give a presentation to a panel of judges in Indianapolis. Then we waited. The winners were announced at the Indiana Farm Bureau Annual Meeting early in December and the rush was on to get prepared for the national competition! We submitted another application to the AFBF Young Farmer and Rancher coordinator and then we waited.

The first part of the AFBF Annual Meeting in Nashville was the opening session. All the Excellence in Ag competitors were grouped together at the front of the ballroom. We nervously watched the parade of states, and listened to AFBF President Bob Stallman give his “State of Farm Bureau” address. We waited for the announcements of the Top 10 competitors. John and I applauded for and celebrated with the first 9 states who would be competing in the next round of competition… And then we waited…

After what seemed like an extraordinarily long pause…

Our names were called! We had made it to the Top 10 round of competition! What a relief, an honor and a new bout of nervousness to have made it to this level!

We went to our competitor orientation, drew our order for the presentation round of the competition… and learned we would be waiting some more. We would be the 9th presenters, in a group of 10.

We spent the rest of the afternoon at the conference, taking in the trade show, going to a breakout session and catching up with old friends. We got up this morning ready and just a little nervous.

We patiently waited our turn (with a little more than our fair share of pacing). We bounced around the room a little bit, psyching ourselves up for the presentation backstage-style, ramping up our energy levels. We gave our presentation to a packed house. A lot of our Indiana delegation came out to support us in this competition and we were so excited to have them there to share this experience with us. We put our hearts, our personalities, and our passions into our presentation. I know our Indiana crew enjoyed it and we can only hope that the judges did, too.

And now, we wait some more. We know we have done our best and we are certainly proud of our accomplishments. Indiana had competitors in the Top 10 for both the Excellence in Ag Award and the Achievement Award, and in the Discussion Meet Sweet 16. We are so thrilled that we all have been able to make Indiana proud.

The announcements of the winners of the Excellence in Ag Award, the Achievement Award nd the Discussion Meet will be announced this afternoon at the closing general session. If you see some young farmers wandering around looking nervous, stop to say hi and give us a few words of encouragement. We’ve worked very hard to reach this level of the competition and we’re waiting for some big announcements.

I can’t talk about these awards without mentioning our sponsors. Without the support of the state Farm Bureaus, none of the Young Farmer competitors would be here. We all owe a huge thank-you to STIHL, Case IH and GM. Thank you for your support!

The application and the presentation? While they both took a lot of work, it now seems like that was the easy part of this competiton. The waiting truly is the hardest part… But we are loving every minute of the anticipation!

alarmclockwars is Marybeth Feutz, DVM, of Indiana. She and her husband, John, have a beef cattle farm and work together in their family’s veterinary practice. She is a member of the Indiana Farm Bureau’s Women’s Leadership Committee. Check out her blogs: AgriCultured — Where People Who Eat Get Their Food Questions Answered (http://www.agricultured.org/) and Alarm Clock Wars (http://www.alarmclockwars.com/). Find her on Twitter (@AlarmClockWars).

Discuss, Discuss, Discuss

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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.