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Mecosta County’s Beth Wernette wins state Farm Bureau discussion meet

Mecosta County cattlewoman Beth Wernette took the top spot at Michigan Farm Bureau's 2023 Young Farmer Discussion Meet Nov. 29 at MFB's 104th Annual Meeting in Grand Rapids. Image credit: Michigan Farm Bureau
Date Posted: November 29, 2023

The Sweet 16 of Michigan Farm Bureau’s 2023 Young Farmer Discussion Meet competition narrowed to a Final Four who matched wits to open the Nov. 29 Final Four Breakfast. Taking home the state-level win this year was Mecosta County’s Beth Wernette.

Wernette raises beef cattle outside Remus and earlier this year graduated from ProFILE, MFB’s elite leadership development program for young farmers.

Her Farm Bureau resume includes years of active involvement in Mecosta County’s membership, Young Farmer, Promotion & Education programs, as well as attendance at the organization’s Young Farmer and Growing Together conferences and the MFB State Annual Meeting.

With her state-level win, Wernette will advance to represent Michigan in national-level competition.

Rounding out the Final Four were Matt Hensley (Lenawee County), Sam Ludlam (Ottawa County) and Madeleine Smeltzer (Wexford County).

The Final Four participants of the 2023 Young Farmer Discussion Meet competing on stage at the MFB Annual Meeting.

The Final Four contestants in MFB’s 2023 Young Farmer Discussion Meet (from left) Matt Hensley, Sam Ludlam, Madeleine Smeltzer and Beth Wernette.


Discussion Meets are a competitive simulated committee meeting, where participants are judged on their ability to explore a problem and find solutions.

The final round question saw the contestants examining the challenges young farmers face in amassing the capital necessary to start or grow their operations, and how Farm Bureau could better serve its members in surmounting those obstacles.

Rounding out this year’s Sweet 16 were Drew Bordner (St. Joseph), John Bowsky (Sanilac), Matt DeJonge (Washtenaw), Melissa Fusilier (Washtenaw), Amanda Goodfellow (Mecosta), Darcy Lipskey (Sanilac), Charles Loveland (Jackson), Nate Scovill (Shiawassee), Riley Travis (Isabella), Mark Trowbridge (St. Joseph), Morgan Walton (St. Joseph) and Zoey Zupin (Kent).

As the state-level winner, Wernette earned a $2,000 cash prize sponsored by AIS Equipment and will represent Michigan at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmer & Rancher Discussion Meet in Salt Lake City, Utah in January.

FB names collegiate, high school Discussion Meet winners

Also on Wednesday, Delta Collegiate Farm Bureau’s Audrey Martin (Midland) and Croswell-Lexington’s Makayla Blashill won Michigan Farm Bureau's 2023 Collegiate and High School Discussion Meets.

2023 Collegiate Discussion Meet participant Audrey Martin participating in a discussion meet.

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.

Runners-up for the Collegiate Farm Bureau were Mackenzie Strong (MSU Main Campus Collegiate Farm Bureau), Samantha Van Dort (Muskegon Collegiate Farm Bureau), and Victoria Caine (Montcalm Collegiate Farm Bureau).

Martin receives $500, a Collegiate Farm Bureau polo, plaque and an expense-paid trip for them and a guest to the 2024 American Farm Bureau Young Farmer & Rancher Conference March 8-11 in Omaha, Nebraska, to represent Michigan at the AFBF National Collegiate Discussion Meet Competition.

2023 High School Discussion Meet participant Makayla Blashill participating in a discussion meet.

High School Discussion Meet finalists were Anjel Solis (Lenawee Tech Center), Brent DeSaegher (Ithaca High School), Dori Steuver (Capac High School), Grace Torsch (Montague High School), and Hunter Bognar (Jonesville High School).

Blashill receives $250 and a plaque.

Katie Eisenberger headshot

Katie Eisenberger

Young Farmer Manager
517-679-5444 [email protected]
Megan Sprague headshot

Megan Sprague

Young Farmer Programs Specialist
517-679-5658 [email protected]
Jon Adamy

Jon Adamy

Media Relations Specialist
(517) 323-6782 [email protected]