Young Farmers and Ranchers compete in national contests
It was an eye-opening experience for a group of Oklahoma young farmers and ranchers when they competed with more than 90 of their counterparts in contests held during the annual American Farm Bureau Federation convention Jan. 11-14 in San Antonio, Texas.
"It was a wonderful opportunity to represent Oklahoma and meet farmers from other states," said Mindi Clark, Burlington. Clark was a contestant in the Discussion Meet where farmers are judged on their ability to discuss national agricultural issues.
Clark, who teaches agriculture education at Fairview High School, said the national competition gave her a chance to expand her knowledge and pass it on to her students.
"I'm a life-long learner and as a teacher it's important for me to stay informed on the latest news and technology," Clark said. "I want my students to understand the huge diversity that exists in our industry."
Scott Storey, Stillwater, competed in the Excellence in Agriculture category. This contest is for young producers who do not receive the majority of their income from agriculture. Storey works as a biological science technician at Oklahoma State University but is actively involved in running the family ranch in McCurtain County.
"As I talked with some of the other young farmers and ranchers from around the country, I learned they are struggling with some of the same challenges I have here in Oklahoma," Storey said.
Jodi Simmons gives a strong nod of approval to that statement. Jodi and her husband Jack farm and ranch near Stillwell and she competed in the Achievement Award category which recognizes young producers for their management and leadership skills.
"We're all grass-roots leaders and facing the same management challenges even though we produce vastly different commodities," Jodi said.
All the young agriculturists believe in their industry and are convinced 2009 will be a good year.
"This is an opportunity for agriculture to lead this country out of the economic recession." Clark said. "We can be the miracle that so many people are looking for as we produce the world's safest, most abundant and affordable food supply."