Perspectives Online

Birdsell is a winner at Farm Bureau Discussion Meet

Callie Birdsell

Callie Birdsell has competed in the Farm Bureau's Discussion Meet since she was a student at N.C. State University. But the Watauga County agricultural agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension was surprised when she was named one of three runners-up in the American Farm Bureau Federation's national Young Farmers and Ranchers Discussion Meet held in January in Salt Lake City.

Last fall, Birdsell (whose 2004 bachelor's and 2006 master's degrees are from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences) was the top winner in the Farm Bureau's North Carolina discussion meet. She was excited to have the opportunity to compete on the national level but had no illusions of being a top finisher. Out of 37 national competitors, the "Final Four" - the top winner and three runners-up - were all women for the first time in the competition's history. The runners-up each received a $6,000 savings bond and a new Stihl chainsaw.

The discussion meet is a competition that involves a mock committee meeting in which four competitors discuss an issue. Participants, who range in age from 18 to 35, are scored on their cooperation, mastery of content, communication skills and constructive criticism. For the national competition, participants were prepared to discuss four common issues.

"The point is not to dominate or debate the issue, but to discuss and help arrive at a solution," Birdsell said. "You can't get mad - you have find other ways of getting your point across."

Birdsell encourages others to explore the Farm Bureau competitions, including some that provide scholarships and educational opportunities.

-Natalie Hampton