Reno, NV—Lauren Heberling of Sanilac County advanced through three rounds of competition to compete in the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Collegiate Discussion Meet final four during the AFBF Young Farmers and Ranchers (YF&R) Leadership Conference on February 18 in Reno, Nevada. Madi Heath of Lenawee County was also one of the 59 competitors in this national event.
“My experience in Reno was absolutely amazing. Being able to make the final four round of the Discussion Meet was something, quite honestly, I never imagined and I am beyond excited,” said Heberling of her achievement.
In the final four round, Heberling and college students from Alabama, California and Florida discussed the question: “With a growing demand for U.S. farm products abroad, how can agriculture overcome public skepticism of foreign trade to negotiate new trade agreements and open new world markets?”
“I learned a lot about the discussion topics and agricultural issues throughout the AFBF YF&R Leadership Conference breakout sessions,” said Heberling. “But what I learned most, or rather was reminded of, was our combined ability to brainstorm solutions for today's problems and our individual ability to begin and implement that change.”
Lauren Heberling is a sophomore at Michigan State University studying agribusiness management. Lauren grew up on her family's Sanilac County dairy farm where she was part of all aspects of the farm from feeding to milking, also judging and showing cows through 4-H. At MSU, she is involved in Collegiate Farm Bureau, Dairy Club and holds a chair position in Sigma Alpha Professional Sorority. After graduation, Lauren hopes to pursue a career in marketing or sales for an agricultural company. Lauren received $1,250 in scholarship awards from the CHS Foundation for her accomplishments in the AFBF Collegiate Discussion Meet.
Madi Heath advanced through the first two rounds of the national competition. Heath is a junior at Michigan State University studying agribusiness management with a minor in economics. Madi grew up on her family's cash crop farm where they grow corn, soybeans and wheat. At MSU, she is the president of the National Agri-Marketing Association and an active member of Collegiate Farm Bureau and Sigma Alpha Professional Sorority. After graduation, she hopes to become a grain merchandiser. Madi received a $100 scholarship from the CHS Foundation for her participation in the AFBF Collegiate Discussion Meet.
“Starting at the chapter level and now advancing to nationals here in Reno has been amazing. I have gained so much from leadership to public speaking skills,” said Heath. “Also the opportunity to meet so many people from around the nation and to learn from them has been incredible.”
Lauren and Madi placed first and second, respectively, in the Michigan Collegiate Farm Bureau Discussion Meet to advance to the national contest. Michigan Farm Bureau Discussion Meets test young leaders with a unique public speaking challenge; participants are rewarded for their knowledge of current agricultural issues, there cooperative demeanor, innovative problem solving and the tact and civility of their delivery. As the contest moderators explain in their opening remarks, these are discussions, not debates.