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Idahoan wins AFBF Discussion meet

POCATELLO – East Idaho farmer Marquee Ricks has won the American Farm Bureau Federation Discussion Meet, an event that is meant to hone the public speaking and problem-solving skills of young farmers and ranchers.

The Discussion Meet is a national Farm Bureau event that is meant to simulate a committee meeting rather than a debate. When presented with a challenge in the form of a question, participants direct their discussions toward each other in an attempt to arrive at a solution. 

Young farmers and ranchers across the nation compete in various Discussion Meets during the year and the state-level winners of these events compete against each other during AFBF’s annual convention, which was held virtually Jan. 10-13 this year.

The winners of Discussion Meet events are not the ones who are the most dominating or smart but rather the ones who fostered good discussion and ideas among all the contestants. The AFBF competition started off with 29 state winners and Ricks, who farms wheat, barley and mustard near Rexburg, competed against three other young producers Jan. 13 during the final.

She represented Idaho Farm Bureau Federation at the AFBF competition and won a new Ford truck. “My greatest feeling of accomplishment is doing this for Idaho,” she said. “I have a lot of pride in Idaho.”

Ricks said the competition and pressure during the AFBF event was fierce and she was extremely nervous. But, she added, that pushed her and brought out her best.

“This is the first time since high school that I have been this invested in something that I really wanted to win,” she said. “That pressure just brought out my best this week.”

The Discussion Meet is part of Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers and Ranchers program, which is open to producers between the ages of 18 and 35.

Ricks said her focus during the competition was on being personable rather than just sharing facts and figures.

“I appreciate facts and figures; they make people look very educated. But facts and figures alone are not very memorable,” she said. “For me, I think it’s also equally important to be memorable. People tend to remember stories and things you make personal. That’s what I tried for.”

IFBF President Bryan Searle, a farmer from Shelley, said Ricks represented the state well and her victory “brings an energy and excitement to Idaho Farm Bureau that will have lasting effects on our organization in the many years to come.”

Like many other Idaho Farm Bureau Federation members, Searle followed Ricks virtually during the competition.

“I watched all four rounds and she was professional, knowledgeable and most importantly, very considerate and full of ideas and solutions in every one of them,” he said.

Farm Bureau’s Discussion Meets have proven to be more than just a competition but a training ground for future leaders in developing skills that are needed to analyze problems and formulate action, said Brody Miller, an IFBF regional manager in southwest Idaho who oversees Idaho’s Young Farmers and Ranchers program.

Those who participate in the events learn skills that make them better equipped to go back to their communities and lead, he said.

“Our communities need our young farmers and ranchers to show up and be involved,” Miller said. “The Young Farmers and Ranchers program is the ideal training ground for our future leaders.”