Preparations are already well underway for the 2021 Indiana Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ag Professionals Regional Discussion Meets, which will be held virtually on Aug. 21.
The discussion meet is a competition designed to help young Farm Bureau members learn how to share and build upon ideas that address important agricultural issues. It simulates a committee meeting where each participant is expected to be actively involved in the discussion.
“The meet was more of a conversation rather than a debate,” said Nathan Bush of Johnson County, who was the winner of INFB’s 2020 contest.
This is the second year the regional meets will be held virtually rather than as in-person competitions. The original reason for the change to a virtual format was to protect participants during the pandemic, and that remains the case this year, said Brandon Rice, INFB leadership development coordinator.
“We don’t know what the situation will be like in August, so rather than waiting until the last minute to decide on a format, we thought it would be better to just plan on a virtual event,” he said.
But while participant safety is the main reason for the decision to go virtual, it’s also true that the virtual format was very well received in 2020, Rice said.
“We had a lot of positive response to the first rounds being virtual,” he said. “There were several competitors who felt as though this lowered the barrier of entry because they were more comfortable competing from their own homes.
“We had others talk about the convenience of not having to drive anywhere for the competition and that it took less time overall,” he added.
"I believe the virtual format in 2020 benefited me because public speaking sometimes makes me nervous,” Bush said. He noted, however, that he also missed out on “connecting with the other contestants.”
“The best part of the competition was gaining a deeper understanding about current ag issues and connecting with industry experts," he added.
The final two rounds of the competition will be held at INFB’s 2021 convention, planned for Dec. 9-11 in French Lick. The state winner will receive a $4,000 cash prize from Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance and an all-expenses paid trip to compete at the American Farm Bureau Federation Discussion Meet at the AFBF annual convention, to be held Jan. 7-12, 2022, in Atlanta, Georgia (pending COVID-19 restrictions at the time of the event).
More information – including registration forms, discussion topics and other materials to help participants prepare for the competition – will be available soon at www.infb.org/YFAPDM.