Rogelio Michael Ceja of Gratiot County and the Delta College Collegiate Farm Bureau advanced through two virtual rounds of competition to compete in the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Virtual Collegiate Discussion Meet sweet sixteen on April 30.
Originally slated for an in-person competition during the 2020 Young Farmer and Ranchers Conference — canceled due to the coronavirus — the discussion meet took place remotely instead. AFBF YF&R staff worked quickly with YF&R committee members, state Farm Bureau staffs and event sponsors to create a virtual experience for competitors.
On April 27, AFBF announced the questions for rounds one and two:
Competitors had 24 hours to create a single take, unedited video addressing the issues and providing possible solutions. Judges then had 24 hours to view and score the videos, with the Sweet Sixteen announcement streamed live on Facebook and through a Zoom link.
Rogelio earned a spot in the Sweet Sixteen virtual round, where he was assigned a Zoom room with Mississippi, Texas and Utah. Panelists signed on an hour prior to the competition to test the technology and draw their order for opening and closing statements.
Though the competition was not open for public viewing due to technology constraints, each competitor was allowed one observer to join in the room.
During the 20-minute discussion, the group addressed the question:
Discussion meets are intended to replicate committee meetings where discussion and active participation are expected from each participant. Participants are judged on their ability to exchange ideas and information on an agricultural topic and find answers or solutions related to it.
“I was disappointed when I found out the competition was originally cancelled,” Ceja said. “I’m thankful AFBF was able to provide this opportunity. The virtual format gave us all a chance to still have great discussions on agriculture topics with other collegiate members.”
Rogelio received $525 in scholarship awards from the CHS Foundation for his accomplishments in the AFBF Collegiate Discussion Meet. He is studying general business at Delta College, after which he hopes to work in agricultural leadership and community development.