18 Feb Winning a New Pickup for Discussing Ag Issues
Jackie Mundt comes from a long line of national champions. They train, practice, live and breath the passion and the lifestyle that results in the amazing opportunity to bring home a National Championship. However, Jackie’s National Championship is more than just a sporting event, it’s the American Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ranchers Discussion Meet, and, instead of a ring or a medal, she came home with a brand new pick-up truck!
A discussion meet is about using the skills practiced by successful employees every day, no matter the career. It emphasizes your ability to have a conversation, understand the background of an issue, develop an opinion, articulate said opinion, and have an active conversation to be a part of moving that issue forward.
Organized to simulate a committee meeting, some people have likened walking into the competition room as if you are walking into a board meeting or a hearing. Five big picture topics, related to agriculture, are presented at the beginning of the year to allow competitors time to analyze and learn anything and everything about the topics.
“How can Farm Bureau get involved, how can I get involved?”
- Opening Statement
In groups of 4-6 people, each has an opportunity to give 30 seconds of what their initial impression of the topic is and why it is important. It is also their opportunity to make a connection.
- Opening Statement
- Open Panel Conversation
Roughly 20-30 minutes is given for a productive conversation, not a debate, where contestants are expected to help lead the conversation to find an understanding and potential solution to the topic.
While there is a moderator present, they only step into the discussion if absolutely needed (i.e. off topic or rude). This is a discussion, not a debate.
- Closing Statement
Competitors have one minute to gather their thoughts and then an additional minute to present a recap and potential next steps or outcomes from the conversation.
- Ability to present ideas and speak
- Understanding of the problem
- Problem solving skills
- Ability to articulate next steps
Leading up the National Competition
Jackie’s Background in Discussion Meets
“I come from a long line of discussion meet champions,” Jackie laughs. “I have been competing for almost 20 years! Most people don’t compete in sports for 20 years!”
Originally from Wisconsin, Jackie won the high school state level her senior year before heading off to college. There she placed Discussion Meets on the back burner, knowing that with an age limit of 35, she had plenty of time to learn and apply herself to her education at Fresno State. In college, she was re-introduced to the competitions at the collegiate level as a part of the collegiate farm bureau group at Fresno state.
Preparing for a Discussion Meet
Jackie had to win Kansas, the state that she currently calls home, before advancing to the national level. In states with active groups, you may have to win a county, local or regional chapter to advance to the state level. Each state has their own qualification rules so make sure to check with them if you are interested in participating.
“When I am in competition mode, I equate this to being a performance athlete, like those who train for marathons or sports,” Jackie explains. This meant that she went to bed early, rose early, practiced extra, treated her mind and body right, and other disciplined aspects of performance competition.
Mentally she had to be knowledgeable about all the topics presented. Understanding her learning method as a workshopping technique, Jackie spent time every week discussing ideas with mentors who were specializing in those topics. This preparation allowed her to grow her knowledge and experiences base, allowing her to become an expert.
Knowing her rubric, pulling from her past experiences, and working with her team, Jackie knew that what specific points she needed to “hit.” She also kept the standard that every time she opened her mouth, that she touched on a point that was relevant and unique, connected with it and included a solid tangible solution to move forward in order to be successful.
This unique form of competition provides an amazing opportunity to not only build the leaders of agricultural advocacy, but also help educate and promote ways of critical thinking and thought articulation for the future success of agriculture. Jackie encourages you to reach out to her on Facebook or email at firstname.lastname@example.org, where she would be more than happy to answer your questions and visit with you!
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