Twenty-five minutes, four competitors, one question. In a single round of the Young Farmers and Ranchers Discussion Meet contest, competitors strive to display their agricultural knowledge and commitment to improving the industry.
In order to be successful one must perform a balancing act by presenting original and fact-based thoughts while helping to facilitate discussion in a cordial manner.
Over the past several days at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 96th Annual Convention and IDEAg Trade Show, dozens of finalists from around the country have aimed to do just this.
Before the final round I had the chance to catch up with Megan Hansen, a “top four” finalist and Young Farmers and Ranchers member from Iowa. For Hansen, success can be found in doing your homework ahead of time.
“Have your opening and closings down, or at least a strong idea of what you want to do with them,” she said. “Have three to five strong points that you want to come across with in the conversation and at least have a couple of solutions to go right along with those thoughts.”
As a mom, Hansen also encourages competitors to utilize more than just facts, and draw from personal experiences. “Take those questions to heart and just see how they can be applied to your farming operation or your everyday life.”
The final round took place this morning with the question, “Should farmers and ranchers be held liable for possible food-borne illnesses when the food item of concern can be traced back to their farms or ranches? Why or why not?”
The top four competitors were (in no particular order):
Megan Hansen – Iowa
Jeremy Barron – Indiana
Sean Arians -Illinois
Doug Giles – Tennessee
The results will be announced in the final general session with the top four finalists receiving a $2,500 prize, and the overall winner receiving either a 2015 Chevrolet Silverado or a 2015 GMC Sierra pickup.
Although the prizes are large and the title of Discussion Meet Champion is prestigious, Hansen reminds future competitors to simply have fun with it.
“Enjoy it!” she said. “It’s there to help us as young professionals and as a part of the young farmers and ranchers committee to be able to have the conversation.”
KennaLewis is a student at California Polytechnic Institute. She was a summer communications intern at the American Farm Bureau Federation in 2014.