GRAND RAPIDS — Michigan State University’s Emma Barnum and Perry FFA’s Ava Hendricks won Michigan Farm Bureau's 2022 Collegiate and High School Discussion Meets Nov. 30 at MFB's 103rd Annual Meeting in Grand Rapids.
Andrew Smith (MSU) and Cassidy Cashen (Ionia FFA) finished runner-up.
Competitors from Collegiate Farm Bureau chapters throughout the state advance through preliminary and final rounds at the state level, while the winning high school competitors earned one of three spots at their regional level competition to earn a spot in the state preliminaries.
Hendricks earned $250, while Cashen, as runner-up, received $150, with sponsorship coming from DTE Energy and the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture.
Barnum’s collegiate win solidified her spot at the 2023 American Farm Bureau FUSION Conference March 2-6 in Jacksonville, Florida, where she’ll represent Michigan at the AFBF Collegiate Discussion Meet Competition.
“It’s critical we have young people in place to help agriculture move forward,” said Katie Eisenberger, MFB's high school and collegiate programs specialist.
“Look at Emma Barnum: In 2019, she won the State High School Discussion Meet and now can add the collegiate level to her list of accomplishments. She saw the path that will prepare her for the real ag world, and that begins at discussion meets like this.”
Discussion-meet competitors answered questions relevant to a farmer’s ability to juggle off-farm jobs, the future of autonomous equipment, and economic challenges.
The meets are designed to test young leaders with a unique public speaking challenge; participants are rewarded for their knowledge of current agricultural issues, their 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.
Also competing in the Collegiate Discussion Meet: Ryan Sturgeon (Kellogg Collegiate Farm Bureau), Breanne Reif (Kellogg Collegiate), Tanner Carr (Montcalm Collegiate Farm Bureau), Emily German (Montcalm Collegiate), Olivia Caine (Montcalm Collegiate), Dylan Knauf (Montcalm Collegiate), Brianna Hill (MSU Main Campus Collegiate), and Corbin Haak (MSU Main Campus).
Other finalists rounding out the final round competitors for the High School Discussion Meet include Brent De Saegher (Ithaca FFA), Makayla Blashill (Sanilac FFA), William Barnum (Mason FFA), and Erica Holup (Whiteford FFA). Finalists in the preliminary rounds included Sidney Monahan (Olivet FFA), Karlie Goble (Marshall FFA), Kailee Logan (Van Buren Tech Center FFA), Kenzie Gray (Whiteford FFA), Peter Pena (Milan FFA), Peyton Prowse (Sanilac FFA), Reece Eustace (New Lothrop FFA), Lauren Gorsuch (Montcalm Area Career Center FFA), Lauren North (Grand River 4-H), Rylee Carncross (Clare-Gladwin FFA), Jenna Miller (Stall Stompers 4-H Club), and Madison Forfinski (Hide-N-Hare 4-H Club).