The Top Four Challenge

Since my return from London in 2005, I’ve been very involved in New York Farm Bureau (NYFB). My experiences with them has opened my eyes to the world of agriculture and the challenges farmers face both in the public’s eyes and the legislative arena. Farm Bureau has been good to me. In 2006, my county helped fund a trip to the World Urban Forum, a conference in Vancouver sponsored by UN Habitat. This summer, I was one of 15 women selected to participate in American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) Communications Boot Camp. I’m on two state committees, I’ve been on the policy development committee and I’m on the county board. Let’s just say I’m a busy girl.

One of the state committees I sit on is Young Farmers and Ranchers (YFR). YFR is for anyone 18 – 35 who is interested or involved in farming. It’s about leadership training, opportunities to become involved, to educate and to learn. Every year, YFR sponsors competitions one of which is the Discussion Meet. A discussion meet isn’t a debate but rather a collective problem solving exercise. It’s an intense conversation between four people. I’ve been a state finalist twice and I help run the collegiate version on the state level.

The winners from the state competitions go to the AFBF Annual Meeting and compete there. NYFB won back in the mid-90s and over the past few years we’ve gotten someone into the sweet sixteen.

Now, I’d like to think of myself as someone who isn’t particularly competitive but I realize that’s not true. I love to win, I strive to be the best. And, as socially unacceptable as this may be to admit, I get a thrill from showing people just how smart I am (yes, I have issues). I’m the freak that loved exams.

Anyway, the new discussion meet questions have been released. I have until the end of October to prepare for the first round of competition. This year I have a goal: to get into the final four at nationals. What does that mean? It means that this year I actually have to study and prepare and not rely solely on my ability to BS through things. It means I start now, today (ok, maybe in a few days – I’ve got 9 months after all).

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