GRAND RAPIDS — Amanda Sollman of Saginaw County took the top spot at Michigan Farm Bureau's (MFB) 2016 Young Farmer Discussion Meet Nov. 30 at MFB's 97th Annual Meeting in Grand Rapids.
Sollman grew up on a small farm in Sanilac County, showing pigs and sheep in 4-H and achieving state-level office in FFA. Currently director of marketing and client relations for Mark Jewell Speaking and Training, Sollman helps provide clients from across the agriculture sector with leadership and sales development.
Farm Bureau discussion meets test young farmers to a unique public speaking challenge; participants are rewarded for their knowledge of current agricultural issues, their cooperative demeanor and the tact and civility of their delivery. As the contest moderators explain in their opening remarks, these are discussions, not debates.
After a dozen regional contests across the state, 37 participants competed in two opening rounds. Round three saw the field cut to 16 semifinalists, then four finalists faced off to determine the statewide winner.
The other three finalists were Mitch Bigelow, Bay County; John Delmotte, Monroe County; and Matt Jakubik, Iosco County.
This year's discussion topics address four current issues of concern among the agricultural community:
As the state-level winner, Sollman received a $2,000 cash prize from AIS Equipment. All four finalists received an MFB Carhartt jacket courtesy of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and a Yeti cooler sponsored by BASF.
She now advances to compete in the national-level Young Farmer and Rancher Discussion Meet at the American Farm Bureau Federation 98th Convention and Annual Meeting, Jan. 8-11, 2017 in Phoenix, Ariz.
NOTE: Contact the MFB Young Farmer Department at 517-679-5444 for more information after Dec. 1.