Young Farmers and Ranchers Excel at National Conference in Nebraska

by Brett McRae

BOZEMAN, Montana–The American Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ranchers Conference brought together more than 900 young farmers and ranchers from across the country to learn, share and grow together to build a stronger Farm Bureau. Eighteen Montana Farm Bureau YF&R Committee and Collegiate Young Farmers & Ranchers members attended the conference March 8-11 in Omaha, NE. The event offered excellent speakers, breakout sessions, evening activities and tours that provided opportunities for young farmers and ranchers to grow and network with members from across the country.

The group had the amazing experience seeing colleague Matthew Slivka not only participate in the College Discussion Meet but make the Final Four of the competition.

Slivka, who hails from a cow-calf ranch in Winifred, set his target to make the Sweet Sixteen round, but said he was “over the moon” to make the Final Four. “I remember sitting at the table when they announced Montana had made the finals. Not only did I get a chance to compete, but it was great that our state got its name up there, too.”

The student explained that competing in the Collegiate Discussion Meet provides many opportunities to expand your knowledge, meet new people and gain fresh perspectives.

“The Collegiate Discussion Meet is a great way to hone your skills on how to more effectively advocate for Montana Farm Bureau and agriculture in general,” Slivka noted. “If you want to be a future leader in the next generation of agriculture, attend events like this one.”

This was the second national YF&R conference for Montana’s YF&R Committee Chair Nick Courville who praised the agenda.

“We heard from the American Farm Bureau staff in Washington who addressed current events like the farm bill and why it’s important to understand and work on these issues,” said Courville. “Our keynote speakers were excellent. Hearing AFBF President Zippy Duvall is always inspiring and we enjoyed Rick Rigsby, an award-winning journalist who spent two decades as a college professor. He said to be comfortable being uncomfortable and ‘good enough is not good enough if it can be better.’ He added that you can learn life’s lessons from your grandparents.”

Courville joined a tour that visited the University of Nebraska meat science lab where they demonstrated meat cutting. The group also toured a new $7.2 million dollar feedlot which mimics a modern-day hog barn with slatted floors where the manure drops through and can be used as fertilizer.

“The conference was great for the collegiate members to attend,” said Collegiate Farm Bureau Chair Cody Johannes. “They discover there is support and networking. It was beneficial for them to realize subjects like mental health are discussed at the national level.”

Johannes said the conference held abundant learning for students. “Meeting new people provides a unique opportunity. Whether you are visiting with a cattle farmer from Florida or a rancher from Montana, you find out that we all have the same goals. College gives you schooling, but this conference gives you education.”


Montana Farm Bureau Federation

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