Hope Kincheloe is from Dillon and serves on the MFBF Young Farmer and Rancher committee.  The winner of the 2013 state Discussion Meet, Hope represented Montana at the AFBF Discussion Meet in San Antonio, TX.  Recently, Hope hosted a successful Discussion Meet in her home county.  Below, she shares how easy it can be to organize and why a YF&R Discussion Meet is a beneficial event for every County Farm Bureau.

Oh no!  Sue Ann has been pushing you for months to host a discussion meet and you finally gave in. One big problem, you have no idea what to do.

Planning a Discussion Meet is really quite simple:

  1. Pick a venue: find one with enough room and it never hurts to find a place that serves ice cold beverages.

  2. Pick a date: work with your venue and try to avoid scheduling over the top of other local events that pull young people from your community.

  3. Start advertising: Social Media, newspaper, email distribution list, and posters at local businesses are all good medium of getting the word out. If there’s a local radio station, make friends with the traffic manager and get on air to advertise and inform the public about the discussion meet, YF&R, and Farm Bureau. Word of mouth is always the strongest tool for promotion: ask each Farm Bureau board member or YF&R committee member to personally recruit or invite one contestant.

  4. Get sponsors! Outside of contestants, sponsors are one of the most important factors. Competing for a prize is a lot more fun than competing for braggin’ rights.

  5. Get the rule book! Lucky for us – the rules are already written. Read, download and print all the rules and guidelines here.

  6. Line up helpers: An MC, timer and, most importantly, judges; these should be a nice blend of industry leaders, Farm Bureau members, and community leaders.

  7. Invite Farm Bureau and community members: It is a great way to showcase some of Farm Bureau’s up and coming members and leaders! Make sure you invite the local newspaper to attend, invite local politicians and policy makers, and send a personal invite to your local 4-H and FFA chapters to encourage the next, next generation to see what's down the line!

This sounds simple. What could go wrong?

Problem: There isn’t enough interest.
Solution: Simple! Recruit folks who would make great Farm Bureau members. Let them participate and if they win, then they need to join. This is really a win-win for the interested person and the local Farm Bureau.

Problem: There isn’t an audience.
Solution: An easy fix is to host the DM during a meeting, annual meeting, or make lots of reminder phone calls the week and day of the event. Make a post that you can hang on local business bulletin boards, and use the electronic version to post on your personal Facebook pages and on your county Farm Bureau's social media.

Problem: Coming up with topics is hard!
Solution: Again, this is too easy. The state office would be more than happy to provide your county with the questions from the American YF&R discussion meet. There's all right here.

Problem: There isn’t any interest in sponsorship.
Solution: This can be difficult and some businesses do have set budgets so asking last minute might not bode the results you were hoping. Perhaps the local membership can offer a free trip to the state convention and a small prize if you can't find a solid prize from a local business sponsor. Keep in mind, they will be competing for a Polaris Ranger at the state DM and that alone is a pretty substantial prize!

It really is too simple. All the rules are written and the questions are selected. There is a bit of work that the local YF&R/Farm Bureau needs to do, but the great thing is it gets the local organization some press and it makes us engage with our members and future members.  At Farm Bureau, we’re one big family so if you have questions pick up the phone and call the state office or another YF&R for help!

Also… did we mention there's a brand new Polaris Ranger up for grabs at the State Discussion Meet at Annual Convention Nov. 13-17? There's a brand new Polaris Ranger up for grabs at the State Discussion Meet at Annual Convention Nov. 13-17 in Billings, Montana. Seriously!

About our guest blogger: Hope was born and raised on cattle and sheep ranch in Melstone, Montana. In 2010, she graduated from Montana State University with a degree in Ag Business. Currently, she works at Great Harvest Franchising in Dillon but has work experience in ag lending as well. Her involvement with Farm Bureau began in 2012. She's been on the WLC Committee and YF&R committee. Hope is serves as the President of Southwest Counties Farm Bureau.