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EAST LANSING, MI -- In October and November, the Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) opens the annual discussion contest to FFA members with each region offering an individual contest. In 2016, the competition will include any interested 4-H members and high school students with an interest in agriculture.

”We want to give these other students an opportunity to compete,” Alex Schnabelrauch, MFB Young Farmer Department Manager, said. “There are not FFA chapters available for all the students, so we will be inviting other young people to participate.”

The competition is a discussion meet, not a debate, and the participants will be judged on a number of standards. These include their cooperative attitude which involves listening, asking questions, encouraging discussion from other participants and courtesy to other’s views; delivery with voice quality, clear enunciations, and interesting choices of words; problem solving and implementation which includes ability and judgment in seeking answers and solutions and organizational understanding to include Farm Bureau in implementing action programs; analysis, topic, or problem with the contestant attempting to stay on topic and identify problem causes; and the opening and closing statements which are scored separately.

The students prepared by studying the chosen topics for the regional contests and the state competition. The topics for the first level of the contest related to educating consumers about agriculture and encouraging the younger generations to consider a production agriculture career. The state subject involved sustainability, the progress made, and the future of agricultural sustainability.

The purpose of the meet is to provide leadership training, basic discussion skills, understanding other’s views in a group setting, sharing ideas, and problem solving. The contests are divided into three sections: opening statement, body of discussion, and closing statement with contestants given an opportunity to share in each.  Three FFA members were selected to move on to the state level from each of the regions. The state competition was held on December 1 during the annual Farm Bureau convention.

The following students participated in the 2015 MFB State FFA Discussion Meet: Colten Aikens, Dundee; Jake Bushey, Lakers; Jordan Maust, Lakers; Hanna Dutcher, Corunna;  Lauren Heberling, Sanilac; Loren King, Branch Area Career Center (BACC); Cailyn Hines, BACC; Kollin Johnson, BACC; Madeline Meyer, Ionia; Isaiah Nutt, Ravenna; Luke Wheeler, Sand Creek; Janelle Declerg, Durand; Kaitlynn Harper, Caledonia; Colin Heath, Milan; Autumn Zwiernik, Laingsburg; and Miranda Hill, Whittemore-Prescott.

During the awards ceremony, Kaitlyn Harper was named the state runner-up while Loren King was named the 2015 FFA Discussion Meet winner.

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