"The Farm Bureau Discussion Meet contest is designed to simulate a committee meeting where discussion and active participation are expected from each participant. This competition is evaluated on an exchange of ideas and information on a pre-determined topic. The judges are looking for the contestant that offers cooperation and communication while analyzing agricultural problems and developing solutions."
Sounds fun doesn’t it? Not your typical debate or public speaking competition, the Discussion Meet focuses on showcasing participant’s ability to idea share and collaborate toward a common goal; skills which are critically important for any Farm Bureau member to possess. The topic may not always be agriculture, but conversations exactly like this pop up almost daily. With the many hats Farm Bureau members wear, you’re constantly faced with conversations involving multiple opinions but needing only one solution. The Discussion Meet is a great platform for Young Farmers and Ranchers to practice these skills that will serve them so well for years to come. Come try your skills out November 8th in Billings!
If you’re interested in participating in the 2018 MFBF Discussion Meet these best practices, adapted from the American Farm Bureau, will help you prepare.
Tricks of the Trade
Utilize government research. Search government agency websites and databases for strong statistics and data to use in your discussions. This information is reliable and well-researched.
Learn from the best. Reach out to former Discussion Meet and Collegiate Discussion Meet participants. Even though the discussion questions change each year, former competitors can provide valuable insight and tips on the nature of the contest. Also, reach out to YF&R staff and committee members who have familiarity with the competition to get clarification. Contact Sue Ann Streufert at email@example.com to get in touch with former competitors.
Pros and Cons. Review each question and create discussion points from both sides of the issue. This will not only give you greater understanding of how an issue developed, but it will prepare you to discuss potential obstacles when working to find a solution.
Diversify written sources. Besides the internet, gather resources and information from the library, newspapers, magazines, Farm Bureau policies and other agriculture publications.
Real talk. Engage in conversations with your local county Farm Bureau members, state and national representatives, lobbyists and agriculture industry employees to gather information and examples. Seek conversations with those who are not familiar with the issue to gain their perspective. Explaining the topic helps provide practice articulating what you know. As you speak, address all angles to gather additional points and as many ideas as possible. Pro tip: contact your County President and ask if you may attend the next board meeting to talk with other leaders and gain more perspective on the topics.
Farm Bureau history. Take time to review county, state and American Farm Bureau history on the topic. What are our standing policies with the questions? A great place to start is with the most recent Centennial blog post.
Expert opinion. If you don’t have a personal relationship with the content of the question, find a credible source who does and get their opinion. Be prepared to cite and properly establish your source as an expert in their field.