Pennsylvania’s competitor advanced to the final round of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Collegiate Discussion Meet.
Rebekah Alstede, a member of Delaware Valley University’s collegiate Farm Bureau program, competed in the final four round of the contest, which was held virtually as part of the AFBF FUSION Reimagined Conference last week. Alstede won a spot to participate at the national level by placing first in Pennsylvania Farm Bureau’s Collegiate Discussion Meet last fall.
“It was shocking,” Alstede said of learning she had made the final round. “I was thrilled with the opportunity. It was absolutely amazing.”
Organized by the Young Farmers & Ranchers program (Young Ag Professionals in Pennsylvania), discussion meet puts participants in situations where they must analyze agricultural problems and decide on solutions. The competition is designed to help young agriculture professionals and students build communications skills, develop an understanding of important agricultural issues and explore how groups can pool resources to reach a consensus and solve problems.
Alstede’s father was a discussion meet contestant and she grew up watching the competition at Farm Bureau conventions.
“I just always wanted to do it,” she said.
She said participating has helped her not only learn how to better communicate with people of all different backgrounds but also to work collaboratively and build on others’ idea while developing her own. She said her preparation for the contest has helped her communicate more effectively about agriculture.
“I’ve been able to engage at the higher level with all the research I did for discussion meet,” she said.
During the competition, Alstede and other contestants examined issues such as trade, broadband internet access in rural communities and the use of data in agriculture. For the final four round, she drew on her background working with her family’s direct-market farm to discuss how Farm Bureau can help revitalize rural communities.
“There were a lot of really good points that I was able to talk about for the final four round,” she said.
Alstede is majoring in agriculture business and sustainable agriculture systems at DelVal while continuing to remain very involved in managing her family’s 600-acre fruit and vegetable farm in northern New Jersey. Alstede and her siblings are the second generation on the farm, which offers pick-your-own opportunities, sells produce at several farmers markets and has a CSA. She plans to eventually transition into an ownership role.