All but one of this year’s district-level Young Farmer Discussion Meets are in the books, meaning the roster of state-level competitors who will face off at the annual meeting in early December is mostly set. From the first-timers to the seasoned veterans, their thoughts about the experience are remarkably consistent with the feedback from discussion meet participants going back decades.
Here’s a sample.
Last year was my first discussion meet. It being my first time and not knowing what to expect, the district level caught me off guard. I honestly didn't know there were so many Young Farmers that passionate about their industry. That was refreshing to see.
The competition aspect is fun, but the camaraderie was great.
Being that I had no previous formal training (4-H, FFA, collegiate FB, etc.) I really appreciated being pushed out of my comfort zone to develop speaking skills in a meeting setting while learning more about issues in our industry, state and Farm Bureau family.
Sometimes it can be challenging to not just listen, but really engage in other points of view. Discussion meets encourage participants to develop their listening skills and provide positive feedback to others’ thoughts, concerns and ideas. For me that is a very valuable professional growth opportunity among very talented, knowledgeable and critical-thinking Young Farmer peers.
This was my first time, and it was harder than I expected! But it was also great, because I’m getting involved in my community and meeting others who are interested in common values in agriculture.
I learned a lot about myself in that type of setting and ultimately that this is my in to making effective change the right way.
I think discussion meets can help in our everyday life in agriculture because it challenges us to focus on the solution and not the problem.
This was my third time competing at a discussion meet. What I really take away from it is every time I compete, I leave with a new friend or acquaintance. I think it opens the door for new networking opportunities with these new people.
I competed my first time mostly out of curiosity. I was in FFA in high school and after I graduated there weren't many competitions related to agriculture so when I heard about the discussion meet, I had to see what it was all about. This was my third now and I look forward to many more.
It gives us an opportunity to get our thoughts out and meet new people. I think that's the biggest reason for coming back every year.
Young Farmers are responsible for carrying agriculture into the future, and by discussing issues and ideas with each other, we can learn ways to combat the struggles we face. The discussion meets give me a podium that allows me to expand people’s understanding—as well as my own—about modern agriculture and the struggles we face.