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Young Farmers shine on national stage

PHOENIX -- A trio of Michigan’s Young Farmers will return to Michigan with some new hardware thanks to their outstanding performance at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) 2017 Annual Meeting, which wrapped up earlier this week in Phoenix, Ariz. Seth and Lyndsay Earl and Amanda Sollman represented the state with what’s become the customarily high level of excellence on the national stage.


An exemplary track record of community service and commitment to agriculture’s mission combined with months of painstaking preparation to propel Mason County “agricultural power couple” Seth and Lyndsay Earl into the upper echelon of contestants in AFBF’s Excellence in Agriculture Contest.

Their warm personal story and devotion to family, coupled with outstanding track records in their work in conservation and dairy industry support, put the Earls among the three runners-up to the top prize. Taking home that top honor this year was Virginia ag educator and FFA advisor Sarah Scyphers.

With more than a year’s worth of preparation and refinement, the Earls said they’re looking forward to incorporating their experience back into their work as agricultural advocates back home in Mason County.

“We love our community and look forward to continuing our efforts bridging the gap between the agriculture and tourism industries—both of which are so vital to our local communities back home,” Seth Earl said.

Discussion meet

In the national-level Young Farmer & Rancher Discussion Meet, Saginaw County’s Amanda Sollman made it through the preliminary rounds Saturday and Sunday before facing off in the final four early Monday morning against competitors from Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia. In the end it was Tennessee’s Matt Niswander who came out on top, but Sollman’s outstanding performance did Michigan “Farm Bureau Proud.”

Winner of MFB’s state-level discussion meet in late November, Sollman’s poise and a thorough knowledge of current agricultural issues made her a formidable opponent throughout the event.

“I’ve been preparing for this since our state annual,” Sollman said. “It’s nice to see all of that hard work go in to making it on to the next level. It’s really fun to talk to people who have really great experiences and really great insights to the topics we’re talking about.”

Sollman and the Earls each won Case IH Farmall 50A tractors, a bundle of STIHL merchandise and cash awards totaling $5,000.