Brookings farmer advances to national discussion contest

Courtesy photo: Katy VanderWal

HURON – Katy VanderWal of Brookings will represent South Dakota Farm Bureau at the national Discussion Meet contest that will take place during the American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention, Jan. 11-16, 2019 in New Orleans. 

VanderWal, a farmer and registered dietician, would like to build on and even exceed the success that SDFB’s 2018 contestant had at the AFBF national contest. In January 2018, Jared Knock of Willow Lake finished in the top four at the national Discussion Meet competition. 

“Preparing for this experience has taught me a lot about the importance of learning more about issues in a way that I am able to carry on a conversation that will hopefully help our industry,” VanderWal said. “Combining that with my real-world experience as a farmer, dietician and mom will hopefully give me an advantage in the competition.”

The AFBF Discussion Meet contest is a debate-styled competition for young farmers which relies on an individual’s skill in reasoning and logical discussion of issues. The dialogue between four contestants each round simulates a committee meeting where discussion and active participation are expected from each participant. 

This competition is evaluated on an exchange of ideas and information on a pre-determined topic. Participants build basic discussion skills, develop a keen understanding of important agricultural issues and explore how groups can pool knowledge to reach consensus and solve problems.

“One of the questions I am preparing for asks how Farm Bureau can be more inclusive to all of agriculture including women in ag, organic production, fresh produce, forestry and aquaculture,” VanderWal said. “As a registered dietician, I visit every day with patients about how to add more healthy foods into their diet, and this includes food raised by farmers and ranchers. I believe this gives me a unique perspective that will add to my conversations.”

VanderWal, who farms with her husband, Tom, near Brookings, advanced to the national competition after winning the South Dakota competition that was conducted at the SDFB Annual Convention in Rapid City in November.

Other participants of the state contest were members of the SDFB Collegiate Farm Bureau including: Jen Hurlbert, Raymond; Cameron Mengedoht, Arlington, Nebraska; and Katie Stiltanen, Barnum, Minnesota. The competition is open to Farm Bureau members between the ages of 18 to 35.

By winning the South Dakota Discussion Meet, VanderWal received a $500 cash award and an expense-paid trip to the AFBF Annual Convention, where she will represent South Dakota.

A video of the South Dakota competition can be found on Facebook at https://bit.ly/2Val4Wl. 

To learn more about South Dakota Farm Bureau visit www.sdfbf.org.


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