Young Leaders Offer Plain Talk About Tough Topics

2012 Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leader Discussion Meet set for December 1 in Chicago.

2012 IFB Young Leader Discussion Meet Winner Katie Pratt was named a runner up in this year's national competition.

2012 IFB Young Leader Discussion Meet Winner Katie Pratt was named a runner up in this year’s national competition.

AGCO is proud to encourage development of agricultural leadership through a variety of organizations and events, including the Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) Young Leader Discussion Meet.

Including a series of district meets that begin each year in August, the IFB program judges contestants’ ability to manage small group discussions on a range of agricultural-related topics. Each contestant gives an opening statement, then exchanges facts and insights on a pre-determined topic. Judges award points based on how well participants work with one another, how well they express themselves and on their knowledge of the topic.

Participants from each district meet deemed by a group of judges to have the best ability to manage such a small group discussion earn the opportunity to compete at the state meet, planned this year for December 1 in Chicago. Topics this year include immigration as it relates to agricultural labor issues, estate planning, and what can be done to encourage young farmers and ranchers to return home to the farm, even if it means living in a rural area that does not provide the same amenities as a metropolitan community.

Last year’s IFB winner, Katie Pratt of Lee County, received $1,000 cash from the Illinois Farm Bureau, use of an AGCO-made tractor, and expense-paid trips to the 2012 GROWMARK annual meeting and 2012 Young Leader state conference. She also earned an expense-paid trip to the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) 2012 annual meeting in Hawaii and the opportunity to represent Illinois at the national discussion meet, where she advanced all the way to the final four and was National Runner Up.

“Farm management is all about relationships,” Pratt says, “and good relationships are built on good communication. That’s what I believe the discussion meet attempts to foster—good communication skills.

“That helps not only on the farm,” continues Pratt, whose family farm operation includes work on 5,200 acres, “but also in the public arena of talking about agriculture and farming, and addressing consumers’ concerns about specific farming practices.

For more information about the 2012 Young Leader Discussion Meet, visit the IFB website.