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NJC's Farm Bureau students active at all levels


Students in the collegiate Farm Bureau organization at Northeastern Junior College are learning firsthand what it means to take a stand on various issues related to the agriculture industry. Better yet, they also are learning how to defend a stance through open dialogue.

In late January, NJC students attended the Colorado Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher Leadership workshop held in Colorado Springs and in early February, nine NJC students traveled to Orlando, Fla., for six days to participate at the American Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher discussion meet contests and leadership workshops.

Mindy Waterman of Windsor and Joshua Deines of Montrose were among the students that represented NJC at the Colorado Collegiate Farm Bureau Discussion meet competition held in 2010. They captured first and second place, respectively. Two other NJC students, Megan Finlay of Loveland and Scott Meyers of Fruita placed third and fourth, respectively.

There are currently three collegiate Farm Bureau programs in Colorado. In 1999, the Colorado Farm Bureau Board of Directors authorized the formation of a Colorado State University Collegiate Farm Bureau. In 2002, a second Collegiate Farm Bureau chapter was formed on NJC's campus and since then, Lamar Community College has opened a chapter. Collegiate Farm Bureaus are supported by the Colorado Farm Bureau and membership is open to any student attending these colleges. They need not be an agriculture major, simply have some kind of ties to agriculture and/or an interest in the industry.

Northeastern is by far the largest, most active chapter in Colorado. There are an estimated 20,000 members nationwide.

The chapters annually elect officers who are responsible for the planning and execution of all chapter programs. A faculty advisory from the college's agriculture department is named and the chapter functions much like a county Farm Bureau. Projects are broken down by committees such as legislative affairs, debate, ag education and ag promotion. At NJC, agriculture professor Mike Brownell is the sponsoring faculty member.

In addition to the collegiate chapters, Colorado Farm Bureau also has The Young Farmer & Rancher Program, which provides an excellent opportunity for young farmers, ages 18 to 35, to actively participate in Farm Bureau programs and become leaders in the Farm Bureau organization, regardless whether or not they are enrolled in a college with a chapter. The college age students often mix with members of the YFRP and compete against them in preparation for the collegiate contests.

Pete Ambrose of Fairplay, an Associated Student Government officer at NJC, has been involved in Farm Bureau for the past two years. He is an ag education major and feel strongly that what he has learned through Farm Bureau has enhanced his leadership skills in other areas. "I've learned so much through the meetings.. Every activity we do tells some portion of the story of agriculture and it is all directly related to my major."

In the discussion meet competition, members are tested to see how well they are able to analyze agricultural problems and decide on solutions that best meet the needs of the group or program. Students discuss a current agricultural issue in a committee meeting format. Competitors are judged on analysis of the topic, problem solving and implementation, a cooperative attitude, and general delivery. Each participant makes an opening and closing statement and participates in a general discussion period.

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