The Montana Farm Bureau held its Annual Speech Contest March 23, 2017 during the state FFA Convention in Great Falls. 

The contest was open to students in the 7th through 9th grades. The topic: Put yourself in the shoes of a local Representative or Senate candidate running for office in the Montana Legislature and prepare a campaign speech indicating your top priorities for serving agriculture and rural Montana if elected. 

Gracie Smith of Victor, FFA, captured first place. In her “campaign speech,” Gracie, who was “running for House District 87,” said, “I am a fifth general Montanan and still live on the farm my great, grandfather homesteaded right after the Dust Bowl.  As a candidate who was born and raised here, one of the most important things to me is the preservation on agricultural lands. In the U.S., every two minutes, there are two acres of farmland being lost to development. That is a devastating statistic.” 

Second-place winner Lily Challenor, Victor FFA, noted “My biggest passion is agriculture.  One way I believe out state can make agricultural life better is by passing House Bill HJ15. HJ-15 references Grizzly Bear hunting season. Each year Grizzly Bears cost thousand for dollars in property damage and thousand more in livestock losses.” She also cited a rancher she who spend thousands of dollars of his own money thinning Forest Service trees that were falling on his fence. “If I am elected, I will plan it so ranchers get reimbursed for damages they pay themselves.” 

“The Montana Farm Bureau Foundation is proud to be involved with FFA and to hold our Annual Youth Speech Contest during the FFA Convention,” said Scott Kulbeck, MFB Foundation Coordinator. “We feel that public speaking and being able to communicate effectively is one of the most important leadership traits.  We commend all of the contestants who worked hard in preparing and delivering their speeches.” 

This year the MFB Foundation awarded more than $1,000 to the top five speech contest contestants. 

Interested in donating to the MFB Foundation to promote ag educational and leadership opportunities? Click here or call Scott Kulbeck, 406-587-3153.