Central Florida Students Shed Light on Agricultural Issues

With a constantly evolving industry and increasing misconceptions among the public, educating the public about agriculture remains a priority. Speech contests provided by the National FFA Organization give students the opportunity to shed light on these issues.

Every year, hundreds of FFA members across our state research, conduct, and deliver speeches on important agricultural topics. These speeches cultivate a better knowledge of agriculture among participants and everyone who listens. This year, the students across Farm Credit of Central Florida territory exceeded the expectations of many at the Florida FFA Association sub-district and district competitions.

Kylie Harrell from Kathleen Middle School was one of those students. Kylie conducted a speech about the importance of supporting local, small farmers. She also discussed the impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement on the agriculture industry. She also said that family and small farms are vital to our economy and well-being as a nation. Kylie understands the importance of small and family-operated farms and the support they provide for the industry. “This is an important subject for all American citizens to consider, simply because these small farms provide food, and we need to eat,” Kylie said.

George Jenkins student, Hailee Walz, prepared her speech on advocating for agriculture in today’s technological society. Hailee chose this topic because she was interested in learning different advocacy tactics, and the issues involving current agricultural advocacy. “My speech can benefit the agriculture industry by helping consumers understand the positive side of the industry, leaving it with a better reputation,” she said. It’s evident that Hailee’s topic of choice is valuable and significant in guiding the misconceptions among the industry. We commend Hailee in her efforts of being a better advocate of consumer awareness.

Any student that places first at the district level will compete at the state level in June. Amanda Lawson, a senior at Kathleen High School, accomplished this prestigious feat. Amanda competed in the extemporaneous public speaking event in January and received a first place ribbon for her speech about providing farmers and ranchers with the funds they need to afford farming technology. Due to the increasing population, farmers will be required to produce more crops, leaving them with a dire need for financial support. Amanda chose this topic to assist in educating the public on farm subsidies and how to fund the future of agriculture. Amanda said she believes “…the number one problem that agriculture is facing is miscommunication and the public’s disenfranchisement. In order to combat these issues, we need to shine a light on the importance of agriculture as well as promote opportunities to expand the industry.”

Maddie Dvorak, a junior at Kathleen High School, will also compete at the state level because of her award-winning speech. Maddie spoke about alternative fuel sources and their impacts to the agriculture industry. Biofuels, hydrogen, higher ethanol blends, propane, and petroleum were all acknowledged during her speech. With over a year dedicated to researching this topic, Maddie has completely grasped the importance of fuel sources in the agriculture industry. Her speech focused on emphasizing that while we are driven to feed nine billion people by 2050, we also must fuel them. Maddie says she hopes that her speech will “encourage and remind producers that we must look at the whole process of producing food and getting it to consumers, not just growing it.” After the contest her judge said “Maddie’s passion for the agriculture industry shines through all aspects of her life, especially her speeches. I have no doubt she will go far.”

Farm Credit of Central Florida congratulates these students for their accomplishments. We would also like to thank them for their contribution to building awareness, understanding and a positive perception of the agriculture industry. The future of agriculture is assured in the hands of these FFA members.  

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