Sara Mitchell of Grundy County was named the Young Leader Discussion Meet winner at the Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) Annual Meeting held in Chicago, Dec. 7-10.
In addition to receiving a trophy, Mitchell will receive a John Deere riding lawn mower and $2,500 cash, courtesy of COUNTRY Financial and Illinois Farm Bureau, and expense-paid trips to the 2020 GROWMARK Annual Meeting, courtesy of GROWMARK, Inc., 2020 American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention, 2020 Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leader Conference, and the 2020 American Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers and Ranchers Conference.
Mitchell grew up on a family farm and currently works in the crop insurance and financial services industry. She resides in Verona with her husband, Mark, and one-year old son, Brock, and is active in her family's farm.
“It’s exciting to be a part of Farm Bureau and to see the opportunities it gives Young Leaders and individuals to think about the issues we’re facing as we work together to polish our skills and become leaders inside and outside of agriculture and our communities,” said Mitchell.
The IFB Discussion Meet judges contestants’ ability to manage a small group discussion. Each contestant gives an opening statement. Participants exchange facts and insights on a pre-determined topic. Judges award points based on how well participants work with one another, how well they express themselves and on their knowledge of the topic.
Topics for the 2019 Discussion Meet included a discussion on how can Farm Bureau build upon collaborative relationships to combat nationwide crises such as opioid dependence/addiction and mental health issues; how future food technologies and related products can be beneficially integrated into modern agricultural production without hampering the success of traditional products; how farmers and ranchers can think and respond, through the lens of consumer priorities and marketing trends, to build common values and confidence in modern food production methods; how farmers can develop, invest and commercialize to innovate new uses of agricultural products and by-products to benefit all of agriculture; and how agriculture can creatively and legally address the labor needs of a modern production system.
In the final round of the Discussion Meet, Mitchell discussed the U.S. agriculture labor shortage.
“Often, I believe that we think that farm labor is hard, dirty work, but it’s work that has a really big meaning,” said Michell. “We’re feeding the world.”
Twenty-six district winners vied for the title of state winner during the IFB annual meeting.
“We talked about some big topics yesterday,” Mitchell said. “I challenge my fellow leaders to all go back to our counties and start implementing some of the ideas and solutions we brought forth during discussions. We’re in the work of building those skills of how to have discussions critically, but also compassionately towards other people’s views.”
IFB promotes and sponsors the Discussion Meet with the goals of developing young peoples’ leadership and communication skills on behalf of agriculture and of working together and reaching consensus on how to deal with current issues in agriculture.
The Illinois Farm Bureau is a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation, a national organization of farmers and ranchers. Founded in 1916, IFB is a non-profit, membership organization directed by farmers who join through their county Farm Bureau. IFB has a total membership of more than 386,291 and a voting membership of 79,159. IFB represents three out of four Illinois farmers.